“The hardest thing of all to see is what is really there.” J A Baker

Many years ago I filmed an artist called Colin Gilbert who lived in a council flat in Middleton, Greater Manchester. He had mirrors on all his walls. He told me that it helped create more space, but it wasn’t until lockdown that I understood the genuine reason for the mirrors: it provided another self. I realise that I’ve been using the mirrors around my house to do this all the time - more often during lockdown. It takes the form of a quick glance as I pass a mirror. It’s not narcissistic. I’m checking in with myself - an affirmation that I’m still here - still surviving.

Since my work with Colin, on my photo shoots, I’ve taken a mirror with me in my bag, and I’ve asked passers-by to hold the mirror for a portrait.

During lockdown, I’ve started using mirrors and photography to explore my feelings - in my home and on my designated walk. There’s always a possibility that by using a mirror this way it falls into the trap of being pre-conceived. But all images are reflections of the person behind the camera - even if you can’t see them. There’s a long tradition of artists revealing their presence in mirrors - photo-cryonics - freezing the state of being - holding it in suspension within the boundaries of the image.

This exhibition isn’t about the mirror. I sought places that expressed the vast swathe of emotions that I’ve been going through, and used the mirror to project myself into the frame. My reflection is an imposition on a scene which hoards my feelings.

The process was cathartic and helped sooth my raw emotions. The mirror became a window into another world. It was a comfort to see another self. I saw Colin in there too - as a memory of a past that can’t be retrieved. It expanded my boundaries and became a point of reflection and introspection. With the mirror I garnered an empathy with our need to make a mark, which produced an atavistic urge to record my hand in the reflection.

I’ve called this exhibition ‘Silvered Glass’ - because that’s what’s really there isn’t it?

Silvered Glass

This online exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Colin Gilbert.

Here's the film I made about him and his remarkable work.

Andy Marshall

is an architectural and interiors photographer based in the UK.