Growing up in the New Age is an artist initiated research project and forms part of artist Marjolaine Ryley’s artistic practice. It explores ideas of memory, history, familial relationships and archival narratives. Using photography, moving image, text, objects and archival photographs she explores a range of themes and issues that look at linking her own personal experiences to broader social and political narratives.  Her work moves between the personal album and the social document.

“Research is as much about asking questions as it is about providing answers. It is a journey from speculation to knowledge, with the discoveries made along the way being as important as the conclusions reached at the end. Practice-based research is a new enough concept in academia for it to be only partially recognised as such, although it has always been central to artists’ methodology” Val Williams, Field Study No.1, p.2


‘Growing up in the New Age’ explores the alternative world of ‘the counterculture’, from communes in the South of France, squatting in South London and ‘free school’ education to the many forays into all things ‘New Age’ set against the backdrop of social and political happenings of the era. Ryley's photographs and texts works have the feel of an 'Alice in Wonderland' psychedelic dream, looking back at the counterculture through the prism of time, recapturing her memories of places, people and events. The work uses the archival to revisit and understand the past, while the image and text works explore the duality inherent in much of the ‘New Age’ and countercultural philosophies, which hope to create both inner and outer states of ‘Utopia’.

Throughout her work there is a strong interest in history and memory both of the individual family and its relation to wider culture. Working with multiple images, grid structures and the book format, she explores the temporal and transient, the indexical and the archival nature of photography. Her moving image work brings together new narratives of place which mirror the past, conflating the two as documentary evidence. Her still images cumulatively narrate familial and social histories, exiles and returns. The work can be read as sitting between fact and fiction, past and present, the real and the imaginary.

This project is also supported by and in collaboration with Professor Val Williams, Director of PARC (Photography and the Archive Research Centre) and Malcolm Dickson, Director of Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow and Wolverhampton Art gallery, UK.