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‘Real examples of parenthood’

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Months ago Bermudian photographer Meredith Andrews set out to capture the relationships of single fathers and their children on camera.

What she learned from those nine families is something she considers a “gift”.

Not only did it give her the opportunity to experience family dynamics different from her own, it also allowed her to witness the strength of the family bond.

Her latest series, entitled 'Fathers. A Portrait Series' is currently on display at the Bermuda National Gallery until November 22.

It started as a response to an original series she shot featuring portraits of single mothers — part of a broader exhibition entitled 'Eyes on Bermuda', looking at current socio-economic issues on the Island.

Ms Andrews said: “Members of the public viewing the 'Mothers Series' asked the obvious question of where the fathers in the represented families were and why I had chosen not to additionally represent single fathers. My 'Fathers Series' is a response to these questions.”

One of the most inspirational fathers she had the chance to meet through this latest project was Stanfield Brangman Sr, who she described as a “true inspiration”.

The photographer said she was greatly impacted by seeing how the single dad was able to overcome adversity after losing his wife to cancer seven years ago and raise his four children into “accomplished, charming and insightful” adults.

“It was an honour to be welcomed into their home and photograph them,” she added.

Ms Andrews became interested in photography over 20 years ago, after picking up her first camera in 1993.

“I suffer from dyslexia and have always been more visual than verbal,” she said. “I believe this lead me to my career as a visual communicator and photographer.”

The artist is currently living in Sweden with her husband and two children; and works freelance for a variety of clients throughout Europe.

She said these two recent projects on Island have taught her that a family is greater than the sum of its parts.

“The time I spent with these families was brief, but I was struck by the love, respect and pride the fathers have for their children,” she explained.

“It was clear they were willing to sacrifice a great deal for their children. “The children, whether young or grown, reciprocated great admiration for their fathers and I believe they appreciate the sacrifices made for them.”

While shooting her earlier series on mothers, she said her attention was drawn to the strength of the women.

But with the series on fathers she looked more closely at the children and their relationship with their father figures.

One social challenge that became more evident after the shoot was the difficulties faced by some fathers sharing child custody with their former partners.

“In the case of international co-custody arrangements I was struck by the lack of rights and security available to the fathers,” she said. “Many estranged fathers do want, but don't get custody of their own children.

“Admittedly, when documenting the fathers, I was concerned about how the absent mother would feel about my representation of her family. “As a mother myself I was sensitive to the absence of the mother figure.”

Ms Andrews said she initially had concerns that the new work might somehow undermine the 'Mothers Series' and the statement she was trying to make about the “problematic, disproportionate number of women raising children without a father figure in Bermuda”.

But she hopes the Fathers series can actually serve as a complement to that, while also highlighting the strong role that fathers play and open up a dialogue between residents on the construct of families in the 21st Century.

The photographer hopes the images highlight the importance of fathers is a healthy society and the struggle of raising children as a single parent — for both males and females.

“It shows the strength of these men as active, caring and responsible parents of Bermuda's future generations. They are real examples of parenthood,” she added.

For more information on the artist and upcoming exhibitions, visit:

www.meredithandrewsphotography.com or find her on Facebook: Meredith Andrews Photography.

www.bermudanationalgallery.com

Stanfield Brangman Sr and his four children: (not in order) Stanfield Jr, Shawn, Shawnette and Shawnae. The picture will be included in a new exhibit 'Potraits of Power' at Bermuda National Gallery highlighting single fathers in the community and the important roles fathers play in the lives of their childreny.
Single father Howard Paynter has been raising his daughter, Tinasia, since her mother died in a car accident years ago. The picture will be included in a new exhibit 'Potraits of Power' at Bermuda National Gallery, highlighting single fathers in the community and the important roles fathers play in the lives of their children. (Photo by Meredith Andrews)

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Published October 01, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 01, 2013 at 9:17 am)

‘Real examples of parenthood’

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