Marta Soul on the Interplay Between Reality and Fiction

 Marta Soul, participant in the artist-led project 209 Women, creates photographs which generate visual reflections of the interaction between social constructs, aesthetics and behaviour. Born in Madrid and based in the UK, Marta’s relationship with people is essential to raising profound questions about stereotypes.

MP Gill Furnis

Gill Furnis, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough

It’s really exciting to hear about your contribution to 209 Women, can you give us some insight into your creative process behind your photograph of MP Gill Furniss?

At first I thought about taking a picture that depicted Gill’s life, her background and her passion for Sheffield. For instance, her father was a steel worker and she seems to be passionate about the steel industry. I realised that although this idea could be a good representation of Gill, it would not disclose much about myself. Instead, I thought about what Gill and I had in common and had the idea of using people as the link between us.

I usually create images of people showing different roles of themselves. I love producing scenes and situations in the interplay between reality and fiction. Gill Furniss is a female politician, very engaged with others concerns. She works to protect consumers, and this is something affecting all of us.

I ended up using different characters as the background for the portrait. The initial idea was to place Gill into a crowd; the problem with this was how to define a crowd and decide what characters could best represent it. It’s not possible to represent all types of people within one picture, so I decided to include friends, relatives and people close to Gill and I; people that one could meet on a normal day in Sheffield. This made things so much easier!

Ama Y Bebe

Ama y bebe 

You are interested in exploring social narratives and stereotypes, how did this impact the construction of your photograph?

I often generate narrative scenes in relation to situations experienced on a daily basis. It’s not about representing those scenes through depicting the actual event, but about recreating them in a personal way.

In the case of this particular image, it was important to represent a person with political duties, so I had to discover what characteristics were defining of that type of social stereotype. A person committed to politics should have a number of virtues, but I was mainly inspired by honesty, firmness, empathy and elegance. With these ideas in mind, I tried to visualise the portrait of Gill that I wanted to show. Then I decided to incorporate her within the crowd to reinforce these values.



You must be proud to be part of such a powerful project! Is it important to you that your work brings attention to wider topics such as gender equality?

I consider 209 women an important project with a legitimate cause. It shows the actual volume of female photographers currently working in the UK, as well as the importance of female politicians. Being from Spain, the first thing I thought when I received the proposal, was to export the idea to my country’s reality.  Although I have never seen my work as a gender-equality centred one, this is a topic that has always concerned me at a personal level. There are many aspects of my work that reference the stereotypes of femininity and masculinity, adopting a sarcastic approach.

On the other hand, all my works are shown from the perspective of a female photographer, so it is important for me that this is considered in a positive way – as added value rather than a differentiating aspect. Things are changing in a positive way and perspectives are now broader. Those with a biased view of photography are moving forward, pushed by social movements defending gender equality. 209 Women is a brilliant project that has been able to show the importance of photography created by women in the United Kingdom.

I also take part in #nosinfotografas, an activist group in Spain. This is a platform aimed to tackle cases of gender inequality observed in the field of photography.  As a photographer, I think that it is important to get involved in these types of initiatives.

21st Century Photo-novels

21st Century Photo-novels 

You’ve had an exciting 2018, contributing to 209 Women and being a finalist for Emerge – what do you hope to achieve this year?

I started to work on a new series in 2018 and I would like to move it along this year. 209 Women will travel to Liverpool’s Open Eye in February, and this will enable new opportunities to show my work in the UK.

I have been living here for over 4 years now and I would like my work to gain a similar level of recognition to what it has already achieved in Spain. I’m also planning to deliver a few workshops in Latin America and trying to take part in an exhibition in France. This is all still in its very early stages, so I can’t reveal too much!

Marta’s work will travel North to Open Eye Gallery in February
28 February -14 April 2019

Website/Follow Marta on Instagram 

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Ellie Isaacs

Community Manager