Jane Lam: Aglaia

Gareth Gardner Gallery's next exhibition is a photographic exploration about two cities of displacement, generational trauma, and motherhood, told through the trees that live and grow alongside us.

Exhibition dates:
27, 28, 29 October 2023, 2pm–6pm
Private view: 26 October 2023, 6pm–9pm

Recipient of the 2022/23 Architectural Photography Fund award, Jane Lam presents her debut photographic exhibition Aglaia. The exhibition draws inspiration from a narrative of generational trauma, focusing on four women in Lam’s family. In this story, all of their names are replaced by the name of a tree, Aglaia.

The project delves into the complexities of womanhood before the defining role of motherhood takes hold of their identities. Lam’s individual story mirrors the history of generations of Hong Kongers, constantly uprooted and separated from one another, and wider experiences of migration.

The story of a tree

At the core of this exhibition lies the Lam family’s treasured tree, an Aglaia Odorata (Chinese Perfume) plant. It was a cherished gift from her grandmother, planted by Lam’s parents in their garden in Fairview Park, a suburban housing estate in Hong Kong’s New Territories near to the Chinese border.

Lam has grown up alongside the tree since her birth, and she left it behind upon her migration from Hong Kong to London. Symbolising the enduring threads of family and heritage, the family tree has borne witness to the transformations of both Lam’s family and the city of Hong Kong. However, to the tree, this chapter represents merely a fleeting moment in its long existence.

Analogue photographic techniques

In Aglaia, Lam has created photographs using a variety of different analogue techniques. Notably, she has created images of leaves from the family’s tree using Kirlian photography, a largely forgotten technique relying upon electrical currents rather than light to expose film. The leaves were sent by her mother from Hong Kong. The changing aura of the leaves, affected by time and displacement, symbolise the evolving nature of identity within the Aglaia women’s journeys.

The Kirlian photographs are accompanied by a further series of textural and abstract images of trees around London, investigating the ways in which trees can connect people and place.

Storytelling supported by the bursary

Lam’s passion lies in crafting visual and textural personal narratives that explore themes of displacement, personal and collective trauma, womanhood, and interspecies relationships.

As the 2022/23 recipient of the Architecture Photography Fund, she received a small grant to aid development of the exhibition project, mentorship from architectural photographer Luke O’Donovan over the past year, and the production of an exhibition of the work at Gareth Gardner Gallery.

‘There are so many exciting stories about people and place with photographic potential, but unfortunately they remain untold due to the lack of access to our industry.’ comments O’Donovan. ‘Working with Jane over the past year has been everything that I hoped the mentorship would be, there’s such a beautiful storytelling element to her work, and it’s been wonderful to see her grow so much as an artist over the course of developing this project.’

Hosting Lam’s exhibition is an exciting opportunity to display work that talks about cities and a sense of place in a lyrical way, adds photographer and curator Gareth Gardner. ‘We are thrilled to be hosting Jane’s first exhibition, and hope that her delicate and beautiful images provide inspiration to other emerging image-makers from under-represented backgrounds.’

To see more of Jane's work


For more information contact:

Gareth Gardner: gareth@garethgardner.com
Luke O’Donovan: contact@lukeodonovan.co.uk