Encompassing diverse media and materials—including plaster, tinfoil, video, printmaking, found objects and performance—Daphne Wright’s work is eerie and unsettling, suggestive and moving. Prayer Project, an installation of meditative video portraits, was installed to dramatic effect in the chapel at the National Trust Tyntesfield as part of her major solo exhibition, Emotional Archeology, organized by the Arnolfini in Bristol in 2016. Curator Josephine Lanyon writes that “These tranquil, often silent, films place religions on an equal footing in their stripped down, human form, showing faith as a part of daily life. We are invited to explore the notion of communion, both in the sense of its religious connotations (a communion with god) but also in the old sense of the word as communication, community, or dialogue with the self or with an ‘other’."
Wright’s Prayer Project is in contemplative counterpoint to the devotional paintings on view in The Medici’s Painter: Carlo Dolci and 17th-Century Florence. While Dolci’s pictures expressed and encouraged religious piety, Wright’s filmic portraits create space for the quiet consideration of devotional diversity, inviting empathy and shared awareness.
Predicated on extensive negotiations with religious leaders, Wright’s portraits are of Bryan Appleyard, Vice President and Chairman of the Buddhist Society in London; Sister Frances Dominica, filmed at the All Saints Convent, Oxfordshire; Jay Lakhani, Education Director for the Hindu Council UK; Rabbi Francis Berry of the Bristol and West Progressive Jewish Congregation; Prafula Shah, a leading community representative of the Jain faith; Vanessa Gilliland, member of the nondenominational Vineyard movement; and Dr. R. David Muir from the Evangelical Alliance.
Wright’s work has been exhibited widely in England and Ireland since 1994, and is held in many private collections and the Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Germany; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; and Dublin and Towner Art Gallery, Sussex. Daphne Wright lives and works in Bristol and Dublin, and is represented by Frith Street Gallery, London. Curated by Lisa Fischman, Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director of the Davis.
Daphne Wright, Image © 2016 Frith Street Gallery, London