Waiting for Lorelei: Olivia Arthur and Family at Home • Olivia Arthur • Magnum Photos

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Waiting for Lorelei: Olivia Arthur and Family at Home

Olivia Arthur prepares for her family of three to become four

Olivia Arthur

Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos

Magnum Home, is a project that saw a large cross section of Magnum Photographers, based all over the world, present a portrait of what the concept of ‘Home’ means to them. Last week, as the group exhibition opened in London, we presented British Magnum photographer Mark Power’s  portrait of a changing family dynamic, as his daughter Chilli left her home in Brighton to begin university in London. Here, we present London-based Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur’s intimate document of domestic life as her young family prepared to grow to four, with the birth of her second child – a daughter named Lorelei.

Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos

Home for me has always been about family. Growing up, we moved house every few years. There was no particular place that held all my childhood memories together. But there was family, and importantly my siblings, of which I have three. We were, and continue to be, extremely close. Now I have a family of my own, with my husband, our daughter Thea and our second child, who was on her way when I was making these pictures.

As we all looked forward to her arrival, there was also suspense in not knowing how it would change things in our family. I don’t normally photograph too intensely at home. As a photographer I am always going away for work and so coming home is the time when I take my photographer hat off and take pictures just for us. But a combination of the feeling of anticipation, and the belief that this would be the last time I would be pregnant, changed that for me. Suddenly, this period of waiting became the most important thing I could record.

Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos

"Suddenly, this period of waiting became the most important thing I could record"

- Olivia Arthur
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos

"As a photographer I am always going away for work and so coming home is the time when I take my photographer hat off and take pictures just for us"

- Olivia Arthur
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos

"I was happy to also spend time recording and reflecting on this last period that we would be a family of three"

- Olivia Arthur
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos

The moment I found out my second child would be a girl I immediately felt a special connection to her. I am a second sister myself and that has had an influence on who I am. I hoped that Thea would be a good older sister. Emotionally we swung between an impatience to meet and get to know this new person and a nervousness for the chaos that would inevitably come with her arrival. The memory of a difficult first birth and the injury that Thea had sustained also hung over me as the days grew nearer and photographing this period of anticipation became somewhat cathartic. As I rushed to finish various other work to clear my time for the months to come, I was happy to also spend time recording and reflecting on this last period that we would be a family of three.

Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos
Olivia Arthur Family life. London, England. 2017. © Olivia Arthur | Magnum Photos