To coincide with the launch of Sunderland’s intention to bid for UK City of Culture 2021, Julian Germain photographed babies born on Wearside in the summer of 2015. As representatives of Sunderland’s newest residents, the photographs not only ask us to consider the mystery of being human, but also the mystery of the future, what will it hold for them?
‘I recently discovered that it is possible, with concentration, patience and some luck to make portraits of babies within only a few days of birth. I do not simply mean pictures (admittedly charming), but actual photographic portraits, where they are looking intensely and directly into the lens, despite the fact that they are virtually blind, helpless and have barely any control over their limbs. They are unformed. At that age we don’t know what colour their eyes will become. If it can be captured, the young life behind their gaze is surely the most mysterious of all.
So many questions are raised. How can we possibly imagine what they are imagining? How will they turn out? What does the future hold for them?
As adults, we are also presented with a serious challenge, because we are responsible for the world they will grow up in.’ Julian Germain July 2015
Newborns was commissioned by NEPN and the Northern Centre of Photography at the University of Sunderland in partnership with the MAC Trust. Supported by University of Sunderland and Arts Council England through Grants for the arts.