Reclaiming Narratives: The Portrait

Reclaiming Narratives:
The Portrait

A joint project between the Barber Institute of Fine Arts and the College of Medical and Dental Sciences

In Spring 2022, a group of MDS students teamed up with award-winning artist photographer Marley Starskey Butler* and the Barber for a three-part portraiture workshop. The aim was to document their college and explore what it means to be an MDS student today, reflecting on portraiture hung around the building and asking whose faces were missing from the walls.

Equipped with disposable cameras, the students captured and celebrated the current lives and stories around the college, crafting their own contribution to the University of Birmingham archives.

Reclaiming the Portrait, Reclaiming Narratives Zine, is a photo zine curated by the students, which offers a snapshot of the fantastic artistic output and conversations that took place during these creative sessions. You can find this Zine in Libraries across the University Campus.

The students then nominated two new portraits by Marley Starskey Butler. These will be added to the Medical Schools walls later this year.

This project was put together collaboratively with Marley Starskey Butler*, Kirsty Clarke, and MDS students Jennifer Escott, Aysha Kallay, Kexin Ma, Alexandra Spinu, and Pranathi Yannamani.

We want to thank the MDS Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team who commissioned this project and all the MDS colleagues and students featured in it.

*Marley Starskey Butler (b.1987)​ makes visual, audio, and written works. His work is about opposites, parallels, memory, love, loss, mortality, and the politics of belonging within self and in society. His concurrent practice as a Social Worker keeps him tied to the lives, stories, and experiences of the most vulnerable and complex members of society, whilst being a jigsaw piece in ensuring children in care have the best futures possible.