Jocelyn Lee's first UK solo exhibition surveys The Appearance of Things (NSFW)

19 April 2018

Jocelyn Lee has a very certain way of looking at people. Her work is often driven by themes of “sexuality, family, death and ageing,” and in turn, there is an eeriness to her photographs that viewers just can’t help looking at.

Born in Naples, Jocelyn moved to the States to study a bachelors in philosophy and visual arts at Yale. From there she studied a fine art master’s at Hunter College, followed by fellowships at NYFA and the Guggenheim. Since then, her work has caught the eye of photography fanatics globally. Joceyln’s photographs are in the collections of numerous museums and galleries and have appeared in the pages of The New Yorker, New York Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Snoeks, Photo Raw, and Real Simple. However, this month marks the first opportunity to see Jocelyn’s work in the UK, in her first solo show The Appearance of Things.

The Appearance of Things, is a series which highlights the richness of Jocelyn’s work. Utilising portraiture as a form of storytelling, particularly focusing on females, each photograph is descriptive, featuring “foliage, fabrics and flesh” as possible narrative devices. Comprising of new works, the show spans between “still life, portrait and landscape genres,” with works which “depict bodies enmeshed in an ephemeral environment,” Huxley Parlour Gallery, who are displaying the exhibition explain. “Collectively, the works offer a melancholy yet unsentimental reflection on life’s transitions through stages of birth, blossoming and death.”

Through Jocelyn’s range of styles, props and subjects, the photographs “seek to question and expand on the traditional definitions of female beauty — her portraits steer clear of the conventional and idealised,” the gallery continue. For the photographer the aim of The Appearance of Things is similar, wanting “to expand the notion of the beautiful to include the more vulnerable stages of life, including adolescence, pregnancy, middle age, old age and illness,” she explains. “I am interested in embracing what others may see as physical imperfection or vulnerability, and documenting it with the eyes of a lover.”

Across the gallery, Jocelyn’s photographs are printed large scale, “floating against a rich dark background, the photographs beckon the viewer to a cinematic immersion in the image,” says the photographer. Additionally, displayed as both diptychs and triptychs, there is a juxtaposition within the curation of the show of “various bodies in divergent earthly environments,” which then “shift scale significantly across the images”. Consideration of how the work is displayed is evident within translating The Appearance of Things into an exhibition so that the “works are meant to engage the body of the viewer and become galaxies of their own through the use of space and the dilation and contraction of scale,” Jocelyn continues.

“My hope is that the images will appear as if seen from the sky at night (the perspective from the deep universe above) looking down at the illuminated stage — spotlit moments of real magic occurring all over our extraordinary planet simultaneously.”

The Appearance of Things will be on display at Huxley Parlour, London until 12 May.


Jocelyn Lee: Barberry and Joyce, The Appearance of Things


Jocelyn Lee: Dark Matter 2, Pomegranate, The Appearance of Things


Jocelyn Lee: Raising The Cherry Tree, The Appearance of Things


Jocelyn Lee: Riding the Apple Tree, The Appearance of Things


Jocelyn Lee: Sinking Roses, The Appearance of Things


Jocelyn Lee: The Bath, The Appearance of Things


Jocelyn Lee: Sunflower and Sky, The Appearance of Things


Jocelyn Lee: The Burn Pile, The Appearance of Things

Share Article

Further Info


About the Author

Lucy Bourton

Lucy (she/her) is the senior editor at Insights, a research-driven department with It's Nice That. Get in contact with her for potential Insights collaborations or to discuss Insights' fortnightly column, POV. Lucy has been a part of the team at It's Nice That since 2016, first joining as a staff writer after graduating from Chelsea College of Art with a degree in Graphic Design Communication.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.