14 April 2014

Optimism




I'm really enjoying my Easter break, two weeks into April and it feels very spring-like. The seasons have been scarily wonky recently and although this winter wasn't very cold in Britain it was incredibly wet. So to see nature stretching and reaching back into life at a speedy pace makes me feel very optimistic. I walked into Manchester today to visit the newly reopened Central Library (which will have to be the topic for a future blog post). The hour long journey takes me through the hinterland of the city, starting as thinly populated suburbia then passing through post-industrial dereliction and finally on to the sparkle of 'town'. I've always liked this in-between space and often photograph the battle that goes on between nature and humankind as you can see in the pictures from today.

I'll be getting my hydrangeas out soon too as I'm part of a group exhibition taking place in Manchester from next week. It has been curated by Liz Ball who runs Iris Artistic Platform and I'm looking forward to showing alongside my friends and fellow photographers Aj Wilkinson and Mike Stephens, together with a host of others that I've yet to meet. Liz has created a poster for each exhibiting artist, I've included our three below but you can see the entire collection here:

Iris Artistic Platform

Please come along if you can make it next week - Private view on Friday evening...





08 April 2014

Glow




One of the things I'm enjoying about making these still life pictures is the sense of complete control. I feel that I'm working a bit like a sculptor, selecting objects and then experimenting with their placement and positioning. Hours disappear in this process, as I explore colour, composition, light and shadow.  Everything is staged for the camera, and working with daylight the arrangements last only a fleeting time before the intensity changes and the alignment loses its power. 

The further I push with this work the more I realise that in some ways I'm creating self portraits, my state of mind influences the choices I make in terms of colour, object, atmosphere, etc. I'm attempting to strip a photograph back to an almost abstract meditative state, creating a graphic representation of my thoughts at that moment in time. The fact that I'm making these pictures in the confined box room of my home using objects found around me reinforces the intimate, almost claustrophobic nature of the framing and I hope that the choice of colours suggest an alternative reality.

02 April 2014

Acid





Following on from a post a few weeks ago about my use of colour, composition and possible influences, I've a couple more creatives who I think have exerted some sway over my own approach to image making. One from a few decades ago, one contemporary but in my mind both connected by a winding and brightly coloured aesthetic thread. 

Viviane Sassen's work walks a stylised path between fine art and fashion photography, being simultaneously both and neither. She's not afraid of colour and splashes it around with aplomb. Just when you thought there was nothing new to be done with the medium she brings a fresh twenty first century surrealism to the table (or should that be light-box or screen?). She uses bodies like props, limbs from several people forming new imagined beasts, albeit beautiful beasts. She seems to play with our lack of trust in digital photography, has it been Photoshopped or is it clever staging? 

Guy Bourdin could be Sassen's photographic Great Grandfather, born in Paris in the 1920's he was Man Ray's protégé absorbing his avant garde approach to photography and inventing his own stripped back nod to surrealism. Bodies become objects, objects become animate, acid colours scream and clash, fighting for attention. His images take on a more sinister voice if you read even a little about his life and his unsettling narratives seem to play out a series of misogynist fantasies. Despite or because of, he helped change the face of fashion photography, his images still looking contemporary several decades after his death.

I'm excited by both photographers and admire their use of colour and clean, graphic composition, which has probably been absorbed by osmosis into my own work. So above three new still lifes from me, and below some of my favourite examples of the aforementioned photographers.

If you missed my original blog post you can find it here:

Shapes Of Things


Four from Viviane Sassen:







© Viviane Sassen


Four from Guy Bourdin:





© Guy Bourdin


31 March 2014

Bright



An extra little blog post to help see out the month of March and usher in April and hopefully spring.

A few weeks ago I made some portraits of a young writer called Furquan Akhtar, it was very much a collaboration with him providing the clothes and style. We managed to create an impromptu studio in the box room which acts as my workspace, using Manchester's finest daylight and the chimney breast as a backdrop. So here is my favourite picture from the shoot which I'm posting by way of saying a public congratulations to Furquan as he won the BBC's Alfred Bradley Bursary Award on Saturday.

You can find out more about the award here:

BBC Writer's Room

You can also follow Furquan's writings here:

Huffington Post

28 March 2014

Mother Stands for Comfort



I was pretty obsessed with Kate Bush as a child and then as a teenager. Wuthering Heights should have been the first single I bought when I was ten years old, but I'd spent my pocket money on How Deep is Your Love by the Bee Gees a few weeks before. Although we weren't very well off when I was growing up we had a very good hi-fi and headphones in the days before we wore them all the time. So as I grew into a moody, confused adolescent Kate's esoteric sounds and eccentric lyrics helped me escape to a different me. She has stayed part of my life ever since, kindly releasing The Sensual World album just as I got my first student grant cheque. When I moved to Antwerp I soon ran out of money, eventually after much angst I managed to get a cleaning job. On my first day I discovered a full set of Kate's vinyl whilst I tidied up and as I played them at full blast in this grand, high ceilinged apartment I knew everything would be okay. Tickets went on sale this morning for her first concerts since 1979 and I managed to get some! The world and all of us have changed a lot since then, but it was really special to see the excitement and feeling being expressed across all the social media we have now by those who carry a bit of Kate with them still.

I struggled a bit to find the right picture today, but eventually went for one from a little series I made a couple of years ago called Nest. It is about home and memories, so seemed appropriate. I've titled this post in honour of one of my favourite tracks which also seems particularly pertinent as it's Mother's Day on Sunday and I'm looking forward to making some new memories with my own mum. I think there will definitely be some Kate Bush tracks on my iPod for the journey back to Gloucestershire.