New beauty project launch

‘Place’ – the home of our creative programme at Sneinton Market is launching a brand new project exploring beauty, led by photographer Laura Dicken. We caught up with Laura and Suzannah, our Creative Director, to find out more…

Tell us more about the project…

Laura: The project is about exploring non-conventional aspects of beauty experienced by individual women from a variety of cultures, ages and life experiences.

Suzannah: It came about as the result of conversations with local communities in Sneinton. We’re partnering with MCO (Muslim Community Organisation) and other groups to bring different groups of women together.

Laura: We hope it will empower women to explore individually and in groups, what beauty means to them and where and how they feel most beautiful. As part of the project, I’ll be making portraits which will culminate in an exhibition and publication, which I hope will capture the essence of the project and the unique beauty of the women taking part. The exhibition will launch in November in a local gallery or community space, along with the publication and a set of postcards featuring some of the portraits.

Who can take part?

Laura: The project is open to women based in Sneinton and we’re encouraging women of all ages and backgrounds to take part, with everyone welcome to share and explore notions of beauty, self-care and the female experience.

Suzannah: We’re hoping it will be ideal for women who may not be able to spare the time or money for beauty treatments and products, because they’re running a busy home, often working, and taking care of a partner, children and relatives.

What can women expect?

Suzannah: We want the project to be organic and community-led so I’m sure it will evolve, but we’re aiming to bring at least two beauty workshops to Sneinton, led by an experienced and accredited beauty practitioner. At these workshops, women will be able to find out more about things like natural beauty and traditional and homemade remedies, and enjoy free treatments.

Laura: I’ll be encouraging women to share their personal stories of beauty and beatitude, including beauty secrets passed down through the generations, to explore both contemporary and ancient notions of beauty. The workshops will provide women with a safe, open space in which to get to know each other and bond. Hopefully, some of the participants will make meaningful connections and friendships that will continue to evolve and unfold throughout the project and perhaps even afterwards.

What are you hoping to challenge?

Suzannah: We hope to challenge ideas around beauty in terms of how it’s packaged and sold to women, often from a very Western-centric perspective – by exploring differing cultural notions of what beauty is and what everyone’s idea of their own beauty is. We’re also hoping to look at beauty within, as well as external beauty, particularly ideas from the Muslim faith. For instance, the Islamic history of cosmetology, developed as a branch of herbalism/medicine.

Laura: I hope that as the work unfolds some of the conventional signifiers of modern beauty, such as Western beauty’s preoccupation with youth and perfection, will be dissolved. I want the project to explore how multifaceted beauty is and can be. Beauty doesn’t necessarily have to be an aesthetic, it can be a scent, a feeling, an experience.

Why have you chosen Sneinton?

Suzannah: Sneinton is very multicultural but there aren’t many opportunities for people from different communities and backgrounds to come together, share ideas and learn from each other. We’re really interested in learning from all the different cultures we have in this exciting and vibrant neighbourhood, exploring different attitudes to beauty and bringing this knowledge to the wider world, through Laura’s lens. We also want people to see the richness of our diversity and celebrate the women of Sneinton.

Laura Dicken portrait - Jacquie YouAreAnotherMe

Jacquie – You Are Another Me

Photograph by Laura Dicken

Lauren Dicken portrait - Nicki&Lorraine 100Masters

Nicki & Lorraine – 100 Masters

Photograph by Laura Dicken

Laura Dicken Susan NeverNotWorried

Susan – Never Not Worried

Photograph by Laura Dicken

What does beauty mean to you?

Suzannah: Beauty is actually very complex – I think it has something to do with someone feeling completely comfortable in who they are, which shines through, rather than conventional or consumer notions of beauty. For instance, there are times when you feel more beautiful than other times, it might be as simple as clothes, hair, make-up…yet it’s possibly just as likely to be the mood and self-confidence that results from these things, rather than the other way around

Laura: For me, beauty is deeply personal, it’s completely nuanced to each individual. It can be a feeling, emotion, colour, movement… I think there’s great power in opening out the conversation with individual women, groups and communities. The more we share our personal experiences of beauty, the more we can help others to be aware of the many different aspects and experiences of beauty that they may have potentially overlooked.

Do you have any beauty secrets you’d like to share?

Laura: I only use natural and cruelty-free beauty products. I also use coconut oil every day as a make-up remover, moisturiser and hair conditioner. I often make my own face masks with ingredients such as aloe vera, turmeric and honey.

Suzannah: I have really sensitive skin and have been frustrated at how expensive skincare can be, and how, even when you pay for a premium brand, it doesn’t always deliver. Through research on nutrition and talking to others I’ve scaled it down to using coconut oil to wash my face, rosewater from the local shop as a toner and pure vitamin E oil to moisturise my skin, especially under my eyes. I was very nervous it wouldn’t work and it took a while to ‘come off’ branded products, but now I’ve never been happier with my skin!

How can women find out more and get involved?

We’re working with community groups in Sneinton but we’d love to hear from other Sneinton-based women who’d like to take part. Please email us or follow Place on Facebook or Instagram.