Robert Broughton


Sorrow in Flight

I first met Jan and her sculpture of ‘Sorrow in Flight’ in September 2020 and was immediately drawn to the figurine. We were both showing our work at Artists Around Wetherby Open Studio’s, and towards the end of the exhibition, Jan asked if I would take some photographs of her sculpture.

Jan’s inspiration came from a series of articles that featured in the press, highlighting both the beauty and the plight of the Bedouin women. The Bedouin is a marginalized nomadic society in the middle east to which being a woman brings further repression by dominating men.

Within the articles, one particular image featuring a woman in the burka wearing a beaked mask as she stood caught in the strong Saharan wind and resembling a bird in flight caught Jan’s attention. She was intrigued by the mystery of who was behind the mask, her story and her plight.

‘Could she be trying to escape to freedom in the vast space of the desert? Could she be trying to flee her lot, or was she resigned to it, not having ever known freedom from her enveloping robes and all their incumbent way of life? Who’s are the eyes behind the mask, what is her mystery and what insight into her soul.’

Sorrow in FlightThrough all these questions and reflections, Jan modelled a full-length marquette which following her mothers’ death became part of her cathartic healing, giving space and meaning to her deep sense of loss and grief.

With such deep attachment, I wanted to connect with Jan’s feelings and relationship with the sculpture to ensure the images felt empathic and meaningful. Sitting in meditation with the figurine I cultivated an empathic resonance with the feelings of grief, loss, beauty and repressed strength, healing and hope, which I have tried to capture within these images.

Sculpture by Jan Wilkins

Photographs © Robert Broughton, 2020

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