Winter Time – with a hint of chiaroscuro

 

 

It’s been a long couple of days shooting this series. With nothing really to “aim” for with it, apart from my own enjoyment. I really just wanted to shoot something that captured simplicity. Some more traditional Still Life, with produce rather than detritus, on two planes, the vertical and horizontal. Without complex heights, layering or position. Natural light and one reflector.  Without a “polished” background, something rough and in tone.

Winter vegetables and winter flowers.

Here’s what I came up with:

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The World Behind the Mask a Poet Wears

I’ve really put off writing anything on this blog about the main series that I am working on. Some of that is because it’s going to be a really long haul series. Some of that is because I’ve stalled on it at the moment – it takes so much time for each shoot, and my health and weight have not been good lately, which doesn’t work when you’re shooting yourself as the subject, and you can’t make yourself configure in the way you want to for your images… Some of it is a reluctance to say anything about it because it’s complex, and I don’t want to to have to explain it’s complexity until it’s complete, and it can talk for itself as a narrative.

But it will be a while before I start shooting it again, and I do want it to at least sniff the air a little.

It is, in a holistic sense, a series about what it means to take the journey of a poet. More specifically it references the poetry of Yeats, and it does so because as a poet I have sought out so many other writers and drowned myself in their words. I have lived their journeys as I have lived my own through words and verse. Yeats is one of those I consider who have a pull in their poetry that sucks me in the deepest.

When I was struggling to shoot, as I have been for all this year, I sat and read his later poems, and I thought, I know what these make me feel. Can I express in pictures to others my empathic reaction? That was how it started, just to get me shooting again, but it became so much more, as  I explored verse after verse the images became more about the masks I wear as I shoot and write, they were my experiences on a journey of words.

There is so much more to shoot, but here, briefly is a snapshot of the first narrative from the series, that of:

The Muse

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Returning to My Roots

It’s hard to know where to being with this post. There’s a large part of me that is trying to get me not to write it. How do you describe what is almost a rebellion against my own desire to be an artist? An urge to bury my creativity? An anger against the very concept of whether I am an artist?

Why should I feel this way? Why am I struggling so hard to conquer that feeling? I’m not alone I know – it does seem true that being an artist also involves a hefty chunk of angst, uncertainty, denial and confusion. I am just one of many expressing these thoughts, and that in itself is one of the reasons, I think, that I am questioning my intention of creating art.

Who am I to think I’m special? Who am I to know what to do and how to achieve it?

Let’s face the truth here, I suck at social media and networking. I am a recluse, an introvert. It’s not an affectation, it’s who I am. I have a blog, I have a Facebook page, I have a website, but I don’t have the ability to push it out there and make myself known. My peacock feathers are my artworks… they are not the rest of me. The rest of me is hidden in a quiet, bland and un-noteworthy  shell. Just as I like it.

And if my art is my display, then it is flawed, for it does not fit into the local market, and I lack the ability to kick my way into other markets elsewhere, even if they would welcome me…

And so I question where I stand at present… After all if I am not really made for notoriety and success with galleries and punters and all the rest, then what am I doing? For I keep trying to make series and works that will be shown as exhibitions. I heed the advice of gallery curators, critics and my own mentors – who tell me what not to keep working on and what makes fine art and where I should stretch myself. They define what is “play” and what is “true” uniqueness. They shove me into corners where apparently only I will live, struggling to be an individual in the face of all those other poor buggers also stuck in their corners, trying to be individuals. Rather than reaching into my soul to pull out what is there I am sanctioned only to allow the emergence of what is “original”. When it seems that these other authorities are the keepers of the definition of what it actually means to be “original”.

But what does that make me? Surely then I am not “myself” the artist, I am “them” the artist.

So here I stand in the middle of uncharted nowhere – do I just go off and make a career with money and nice job title or do I keep going? It used to be that I would shoot and play around and edit for hours and days and feel happy and if not satisfied, then would not think that  the time had been wasted or lost to me forever. Do I push and shove and try and pummel myself into an artistic creation that belongs to other people – which maybe one day the world will say “She is truly gifted, what a talent” or do I say, no I am who I am, I do what I do, and I create what I create?

It seems to me, that that is the only true answer. And so here I go, giving it a try, returning to my roots – playing with the camera and props and bits of nature and whatever I can find. Seeing what the hell comes out of Photoshop when I set my crazy mind to it!

I hope that you enjoy this journey with me – I hope that the works which will appear hear in the future are beautiful and meaningful and true to me, and that in being all those things, they still inspire you… If you want pure photography, if you don’t like digital imagery, if you are a purist, you probably want to look away now.

Here are the first of those images – made from the detritus of the fierce storms that lashed us last weekend, the leavings of the garden so drenched and windswept…

All are fragile

All Are Fragile

The root of all stems

The Root of All Stems

Univers in the curls of a leaf

Universe in the Curls of a Leaf

Against the Autumn Windstorm I Will Hold

Against the Autumn Windstorm I Will Hold

Delivered on the storm

Delivered on the Storm

From the stem of winter

From the Stem of Winter

 

Sensitivity in art

It’s been a while since I posted other artists whose work resonates with me. In some ways I have been living in a cocoon of shelter from so many things lately. When I came back from New York, there was a wonderful sense in my heart and soul of artistic optimism, yet sadly, since that time it has been quite subdued. Much of the art  I see around me here does not have the inspirational, challenging sensitivity that lifts me up and tosses me on the winds of seeing and broadening my understanding.

Instead of pushing me to create, it has enclosed me and suffocated me, until I wonder if there is art at all around me. Certainly how can I exist in the local art market, when it is governed by principles which have little place in what I create?

And so, like bread crumbs when starving, I have hoarded my little collection of artists whose work lets light in through the cracks of this soulless room. Landscape, Portrait, Abstract…. Painting, Drawing, Photography… I open their websites, or flip through the pages of their books late at night, with just a lamp on, and I am warmed again. There is a resonance, and  – almost – a belief in my own creativity again.

Is this not what art should be – sometimes the spark, not always the flame?

One of the artists who has reminded me so much of this feeling is Antonio Palmerini  – if you haven’t seen his work, check out his tumblr page here: http://antoniopalmerini.tumblr.com/

For on this page he has not just his beautiful, soulful and moving artwork, but also some words that I have found deeply moving, and pertinent for me as an artist. Not least, when I think of my first incarnation thanks to depression, the words of Vincent Van Gogh:

“Art is to console those who are broken by life”

And when asked about what techniques he uses he replied  “Photoshop, all the possible textures… and my sensitivity”

What could be more right in art? If we do not have feeling, empathy and the understanding that we hold something delicate in our hands when we create, something we must not shatter, if we do not have these things, how empty and how barren is our creation?

I hope you enjoy his beautiful art as much as I do:

Antonio Palmerini:

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Time in America – The photographic story of a road trip

It’s taken me a few more months than I had intended; but here it is, edited and ready for viewing – the Time in America series, part fine art, part landscape and part documentary photography, it’s been a thought provoking and genre changing experience for me:

You can learn a lot about yourself from doing photography – sitting in a car all day, feeling the miles go by and staring out of the window. We took this road trip because I don’t like to fly (even though I love looking down at the world from so many feet above and taking photos of it in it’s wonderful, distant abstraction), and we have told all of our friends that in doing so, by staying at “ground level” we have been given a better understanding of the US.

It’s true – but maybe not how most people would view it.

For my friends, especially my photo doco friends it would have meant experiences with the people: surprise encounters, an instant acquaintance. There would be connection and thenceforth photographic image… That one moment of linkage making a photo which would reach across the world.

And on one level we did meet people and speak to them – the lovely shop assistants in small towns who wished us a great journey, the waitress who when told we came from another country wondered if it was New England, and to our family and friends who gave us such wonderful, sometimes unexpected glimpses of America. But for us, shy and introverted in our own way, safe in the bubble of our vehicle, we did not attempt to make those connections solely so we could take them with us and display them via photography.

For me, instead, I like to watch and absorb, to listen and wonder – and to do so from the slight separation that is my own personality. My photography mirrors who I am – too nervous of the Universe to approach people for a portrait, too honest most of the time to skulk in corners and take one without permission.

So this is a series about a road trip from the perspective of the road, the roadside motel, the roadside walks and quiet spaces: America from a distance, and from the fleeting safety of the car window. America in motion through time and space.

You are looking at what the people have made and where they have and still do live. Their effect upon the land, and the traces they leave behind.

Can you see them? They are there, just out of sight.

 

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on the road

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Mount Olympic NP

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Mount Olympic NP

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Port Angeles

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Port Angeles

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Mount Rainier NP

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On the road to Yellowstone

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on the road to Yellowstone

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on the road

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on the road

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into a storm

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heading across the States after seeing the Utah Parks

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heading across the States after seeing the Utah Parks

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New Jersey

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New Jersey

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the road in the late afternoon

9th Annual Black and White Spider Awards

One of the images from the series in development Narrative of Things: Formerly of Use was nominated for the 9th Black and White Spider Awards in the Still Life: Professional category.

 

So excited and proud to be involved in this. Check out the link below to seem some truly amazing black and white photography:

http://www.thespiderawards.com/gallery/9th/index.php

 

Bottles in a row

Formerly Of Use – Bottles in a Row

Things We Would Have Left Behind – Remembering the 2013 Blue Mountains Bushfires

I cannot tell you how tired I am tonight, but I meant to do this several days ago, and didn’t.

Last Friday marked the first anniversary of the beginning of the bushfires which hit the Blue Mountains, and specifically devastated Winmalee, where I and my family live. I remember as if it was yesterday standing at the Rural Fire Service State Air Desk, watching on the big screen as someone announced there was a smoke sighting at Linksview Rd Valley Heights. That’s not Valley Heights, I said, it’s Springwood, I have a friend and work colleague who lives there. (Her house was safe in the end.) I remember us all watching as it moved so unbelievably fast. I will never forget the ever rising reports of lost houses, as we raced to send trucks and aircraft. I will never forget being two hours from home and unable to do anything except hope my father had got our pets and himself out alive. I will never forget the minutes I did not hear from him and did not know. I will never forget how lucky we were. There but for a change in wind direction were we – our house stands today, while  193 and more do not.

I am not a documentary photographer, but there are somethings that must be recorded, and the sight of my house, in the unnatural stillness that first midnight, as we walked in the door, with all of our belongings just sitting where they had been left, that was one of those things. I lifted up my camera (one of those items which had remained, afterall it was insured) the next morning, and this is the story of what I saw.

For once I am not giving you beauty or mystery or creativity. For those uncertain hours these were but Schrodinger’s Things – neither here nor gone. When I took these photos, in my eyes they had been transformed utterly.

 

Fire Season.

 

Then I stood a moment

Midnight

In the famine silence of the famished beast

With the darkness all around

 

There between the weatherboard, the fibro and the brick

Is a gaping hole

Where a narrative of people

Used to be.

 

The lights are out – but the tree trunks smolder demon red

To show the way

In a world which is now turned about

 

And I am standing

Waiting

 

In full PPE

With the fire pump hose in the garden

Watching the plumes

 

The smell burns acrid into lungs

And chokes upon itself

While the wind plays games to pass the time

This way first and then the other

Annihilation is the prize.

 

Waiting

 

As the Earth shakes from the whirling rotor blades

And the Skycrane silhouettes a dragon black

Against the brown smoke sky.

 

We are still standing

Though others aren’t.

 

So many others aren’t.

 

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