Li An Lee

Li An Lee (b. 1986, Colchester)  is a Surrey-based artist 


The practice is involved with the development of a person’s character/ self-development and the flow of input into a life, emphasizing play as part of the everyday life of a child and that independence is often hindered, particularly through the environment. These photographs also act as documentary portraits capturing an aspect of the wonderment within childhood. The images often freeze a moment of movement which is fleeting, they capture the every day from a unique angle. This peering into the daily life of another raises intrigue and curiosity. The view is so unique that it is the only place in the given environment where all the visible objects can be seen. The photograph shares knowledge previously unknown and causes notions of surveillance. This suggestion of monitoring echoes the eagle-eyed helicopter parent, so common in this day and age. As the mother, I am seen as an extension of the child’s self; part of the furniture. When I take an image, they are blind to my presence, they do not stop their play; allowing for candid images of the everyday. They are also articulations of attitudes with multi-layered intentions. Covering the mother’s gaze, interactions with the environment, independence-encouraging-environments, oppression from society, documentation, and the everyday. Often the moments caught are ones that amaze through the mother’s gaze as the watcher of their development (not exclusive mother’s, simply my viewpoint but I use the term  ‘mother’s gaze’ including parent’s or guardian’s gaze). These images act as a portal into an intimate moment of a child’s intellectual engagement with their surroundings; an intimacy that is only experienced within the safe and sacred bond of mother and child. A reoccurring theme within this practice is the moments of independence caught. This raises awareness that independence-encouraging-environments are not readily available in current society. There is an injustice happening. The photographs within this practice show independent encouraging scenarios regardless of an anti-independent environment. In many of the images, the pictures are divided side to side by a line within the image this geometrical composition allows the two areas of happening to be highlighted and compared. The curation of the photographs is one in which the viewers need to seek out the image and its meaning. The play elements for the viewer are encouraged through the process of observing the work. In the physical, these works often require the movement of the viewer to engage with the work.