We are thrilled to spotlight our latest Marfa Muse, photographer Lily Bertrand-Webb. Lily lost her hearing from a young age and now wears a cochlear implant which replaces acoustic hearing with electric. She taught herself to lip read and it is through her
photography and film where she visually accentuates her other senses. Lily has worked with artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson, iconic photographer Dorothy Bohm and now has one of her own portraits in the permanent collection at The National Gallery.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR CAREER BACKGROUND
Born and bred West Londoner of half Dominican & half English heritage. I grew up in a household of creatives, my mother is a casting director, my father is an actor.After losing my hearing from a young age I now wear a cochlear implant which replaces acoustic hearing with electric, allowing me to hear sounds I’d never heard before. I also have a special superpower… lipreading!
WHAT LED YOU TO WORKING IN PHOTOGRAPHY?
It was my photographer godfather who first introduced me to the magical world of the camera at a young age. I studied photography in GCSES, A Levels and went on to graduate from Bournemouth Arts Institute in 2011 with a BA Photography degree. The summer I
graduated I went on to do a summer internship with the artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson. I then went on to work for a small photography gallery Fitrzovia for a couple of years where I was fortunate to work with the iconic photographer Dorothy Bohm. It is through photography and film where I am able to visually accentuate my other senses – from the way I observe my surroundings, to my affection for sheer colour bliss. I always strive for my work to be a visual representation of my experience of the world as a half deaf and half hearing person. As an artist, I am constantly searching for the imitation of sounds in my daily life, through both silence and the electronic sounds that my cochlear implant gives me. The National Portrait Gallery purchased my portrait of the artist John Keane for their permanent collection.
TALK US THROUGH YOUR JOURNEY SO FAR
I became profoundly deaf from a young age & wore hearing aids until I received my cochlear implant when I was 9. The cochlear implant, which replaces acoustic hearing with electric sounds has ensured I experienced life independently. However, I still do need to lipread in my everyday life. Coming from a creative family has helped me achieve independence.Today, after overcoming many obstacles and journeys, I’m now where I want to be. Taking photos for a living and fun along the way!
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Ohhh! That’s a difficult one. I think I have many proud moments from different times in my life. From the time I heard the birds sign for the time- To winning the 200m sprint beating the tallest girl in the race (not bad for a 5ft 2inches!)
- To surfing my first green wave in Cornwall with my dad
- To The National Portrait Gallery purchasing my work
- My dog beating cancer
- My sister becoming a playwright
- My sculptor boyfriend getting his first commission
- Becoming a godmother to my three godchildren
- I could go on… All life's delights!
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO ARE THINKING ABOUT GETTING INTO SIMILAR ROLES?
Just go for it. If you fail, get up and go again. Being rejected takes you on the path to start again as the stronger and better version of yourself! Believe me, I’ve fallen many times and many times I get back up again! And guess what, it’s ok, everyone falls.
HOW DO YOU STYLE YOUR MARFA STANCE PIECE?
I wear the dark olive, bronze side when I'm walking my dog. And the wine outside when I want to dress more ‘smart casual’. The big pockets are SO ideal for putting in practical things. Keys wallet, poo bags, phone, camera, film rolls! The true LBW essentials!