Chrystel Lebas - 30th September 2019
Chrystel Lebas created a series called 'Field Studies' which focused on a landscapes Edward James Salisbury the ecologist had photographed.
'Lebas’s images have a kind of heightened elementalism, being dark both in their colour tones and their atmosphere. She uses a panoramic camera and often shoots at dusk when the light quality in these still, quiet places can be almost otherworldly. The air of mystery, even mysticism, that hovers around some of Salisbury’s indistinct glass plate landscapes is echoed here in the soft tones and muted light.'
Hidden Nature (to the left) is a series created by Lebas, I particularly liked this series due to the muted dark tones and the abstract feel.
"Walking alone in the forest recording close up scenes or tableaux, I attempted to reveal the hidden side of nature, the nature we have glorified forgetting its real harshness and purpose, questioning man’s relationship with the natural environment and man’s response to a lost wilderness."
Another series of Lebas which links closely with my John project is called 'The Quest'. This series seen below shows a journey. I took this idea and created my own journey for one of our coursework tasks, but it also links very closely to the journey I go on each time to take my photographs linking to 'What's left behind?' and John.
"This series illustrates a walk in the forest of my childhood searching for places where we used to play and build huts.
The camera shutter was pressed every 2 metres recording the search in progress in this familiar yet unknown forest."
Chrystel Lebas work has many strong links with my own, and has experimented with a range of concepts and ideas. I particularly like the surreal ethereal of the image to the left. The image was created using a pinhole and "drawing" the image as it is exposed. The images capture the main parts of the landscape, the trees, sky, ground; but form a type of dreamscape which transports the viewers back to fairy tale lands.
John Sexton - Listen to the Trees - 7th October 2019
After a chat with one of my peers, she recommend a book she had come across called Listen to the Trees by John Sexton. Throughout the MA we have been in contact and discussed our projects regularly so we are always looking out for other artists who may inspire or help each other.
John Sexton worked alongside Ansel Adams and is a photographer I hadn't come across before. As soon as I looked up his work I felt an instant connection, particularly because of the main subject, trees.
"As I stand within an aspen grove in Castle Creek Valley, Colorado, I am reminded again of the rejuvenating quality of trees, how being surrounded by them can cleanse the mind, body and soul of the distractions of what we call the "real world." I am afraid that, as time has passed, what we accept as the real world has become distorted. As I wander with my camera in this beautiful stand of aspens, it is clear to me the real world is right here. The real world is within the natural environment, and for me one place to find the real world is within he forest."
Sexton's work in particular his series on trees explain exactly what I have been exploring and trying to explain during my projects. I have always felt a strong connection when in a forest, and feel we escape as Sexton says 'the real world' but in fact the real world is that environment. It keeps us alive, we breathe because of the trees and for myself in particular it becomes a mediation when I am among the trees. I reflect whilst on my walks through the trees, thinking about reactions, emotions, purpose and existence.
Sexton is fascinated with the trees, he sees them with personalities and photographs them when the light is hitting them just right to emphasis their qualities. He also feels at peace when surrounded by them.
"I feel at home here, I feel at peace, I feel as if I have been delivered from those distractions we accept as the real world"
I felt a relief when I found Sexton, his work and in particular his book listen to the trees. I have always had some difficultly talking about my work and getting across the points I want to share. It is reassuring to find someone who feels exactly as I during the process of photographing trees, but also thinks about the concepts of our existence. Why do we surround ourselves with materialistic things, a house, cars, etc when in reality when we are within nature that when we feel most at peace and at home. As my project moves forward I want to take these ideas but also link it with existing myths and fairy tales. Stories as I have spoken about previously are a way of making sense of the world. Greek Mythology comes from making sense of emotions and reactions, for example the goddess of Hope, being left in Pandora's box and therefore now Hope has become just that. Something left within us.
The stories I want to tell within my photography I want them to be able to relate, to become a reflection process for the viewers, to see the stories, the myths, the fairy tales from our imagination, which shows it is ok to question our existence, to show it is ok to live in an alternative world... or is it really an alternative world, or just one we keep hidden?
Ellen Rogers - 12th October 2019
Ellen rogers has always been an inspiration in terms of not only her process and prints, but they way she explores her concepts and ideas. I admire the way Rogers talks about her work and isn't afraid to very clearly express and state what the work is about. She often produces work relating to myth, folklore and religion but is currently exploring the idea of 'Why the sad girl sells' through her fashion history PhD.
The style and aesthetics of Rogers prints captured me to begin with, then the delicate and time consuming nature of hand tinting her prints. Rogers does also experiment with C-41 (coloured film) but often chooses to use black and white. The work she produces not only tells a story in each image but the series she chooses to piece together takes you through a journey of emotions.
The idea of choosing just one image for a project doesn't seem possible to me, as a visual person I am always wanting to know more so having a series of images I can piece together captivates me more. I would like to produce some images in a similar style to Rogers, which again is very similar to that of Julia Cameron's work. However I do not want to limit myself at the moment as I am still exploring my visual language.
Pre - Raphaelite - 16th October 2019
The Pre - Raphaelites were a group of artists, painters, sculptors, writers and poets. Their themes were initially religious but also explored subjects from literature and poetry, mainly in relation to love and death. 'Drawing inspiration from visual art and literature, their work privileged atmosphere and mood over narrative, focusing on medieval subjects, artistic introspection, female beauty, sexual yearning and altered states of consciousness.'
One painting in particular I have always been fascinated by is John Everett's painting of Ophelia. He took his inspiration from Shakespeare's play Hamlet and created a visual image relating to the description and story.
'There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up;
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes,
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element; but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.'
I am very interested in getting inspiration from literature and poetry as well as existing paintings, objects or characters.
The rich colours of the paintings created in the Pre- Raphaelite style is something I want to explore. Particularly the colours in John William Waterhouse's painting 'The Lady of Shalott' which was inspired by Tennyson's poem.
'And down the river’s dim expanse
Like some bold seer in a trance,
Seeing all his own mischance –
With glassy countenance
Did she look to Camelot.
And at the closing of the day
She loosed the chain, and down she lay;
The broad stream bore her far away,
The Lady of Shalott.'
Whilst researching the Pre-Raphaelites I also came across the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. She was a photographer who worked within the Pre Raphaelites era however Dante Gabriel was the only woman to publish with the group contributing poems to their 'magazine' called The Germ.
Julia Cameron produced portraits usually using the collodion process. 'She is known for her soft-focus close-ups of famous Victorian men and for illustrative images depicting characters from mythology, Christianity, and literature. She also produced sensitive portraits of women and children.'
Julia Cameron's photographs remind me of Ellen Rogers, due to the colouring and the sensitive soft portraits of females, Roger's also links her work to myths with some religious elements too. The colouring in Cameron's photographs are achieved by the printing process. I would like to recreate a similar style with the photo shoot I have planned based on the mermaid Hawstead Panel.
Tim Walker Exhibition at the V&A - 23rd October 2019
One of the most outstanding exhibitions I have been to yet!
I have always been interested in Tim Walker due to his ability to create photographic stories which have been developed from his imagination.
"Making photographs, to me, is really a kind of dream state... the picture you end up taking becomes a souvenir brought back from the daydream." - Tim Walker 2019
Dreams, subconscious and imagination underpinned my work during my degree and is always present within my work however I am exploring the feelings that are part of these at the moment.
Seeing Tim Walkers exhibition has inspired my work to be more free and know that whatever I want to create, or feel like creating is justified. Too often I get stuck on what is right or what makes sense to others, but it will make sense if I just explain. I don' want to create work that makes sense to people initially. Like Walker I want to create beautiful images in my own style and once the explanation is read it becomes clear to the viewer. I want the viewer to have an initial reaction, but I want them to ask questions.
Walking through the exhibition I saw the work I'd only ever seen in magazines and online and to see the physical prints, sometimes torn or unfinished at the edges was simply incredible. However the most magical part of the exhibition was seeing the images Walker created from the objects, poems, garments, prints, from the V&A archive he was lucky enough to explore.
Walker created a vast amount of images with a team of other creatives relating to each item in the archive. Each of the images displayed had their own theme, for example the area with images relating to an Alexander McQueen dress was circular as though you were in a room being altered with white dresses hanging above. The sound of scissors cutting through fabric echoed through the room and the images displayed were on old silk screens. The images themselves were mainly white and crisp much like the dress he used but had one element of colour which popped.
The images here are all the ones I took at the exhibition and I could write about Tim Walker no end, but for me the main thing I took away from this exhibition was Walkers desire and passion to create but also how he builds relationships with his subjects.
"When I take someone's portrait, I do a lot of research about them. I ask myself 'who is this person, what do they represent and believe in?' Portraiture is about exploring someone's identity and that's a very tender vulnerable thing. The portrait is the handshake, the embrace, the agreement where we meet halfway along a collaborative path." - Tim Walker 2019
Although at the moment I am exploring someone who is no longer with us, the project based on John is my way to say thank you, I guess a kind of 'handshake', a thank you for all of your inspiration, values, thoughts and ideas, thank you for being you. Taking the project further I want to explore people who are with us and access their vulnerabilities, I want to access areas they fear to express or if they do express them, how?
Hawstead Panels - 28th October 2019
As part of my ‘What’s left behind?’ project I am exploring the Hawstead Panels which are currently situated in Christchurch Mansion. The Mansion is in the same location as John’s Bench.
‘The panels contain a series of emblems of the kind associated with emblem books—images fashionable throughout Europe for private religious meditation in that age. The original sequence of the emblems is unclear, although the panels as arranged under their Latin "headings" are as originally devised.’ (Meakin, 2013 p.143) I have always been drawn to the panels, this is because of the stories they create. Each one has a Latin 'heading' which adds to the individual painting. I enjoy looking at the paintings before finding out what the heading is, this allows me to create my own narrative. One I read the heading this adds to the painting by making links in terms of symbolism as well as the subject. The paintings are linked to themes and techniques of meditation developed by the preacher Joseph Hall who was a spiritual advisor to Lady Drury. This links to the topics I am exploring within my project, I am looking to find ways in which others reflect and organise their emotions and thoughts.
Meakin, H. L. (2013). The Painted Closet of Lady Anne Bacon Drury. Ashgate Press: Aldershot, UK. pp. 149–153
The panels are a way of expression for Lady Drury, although it is not certain that she painted them herself. Lady Drury lost her daughter and looked for guidance from poets and other advisors, it feels as though these panels were a way of dealing with her grief which links back to my project based on John.
Mariam Sitchinava - 4th November 2019
Mariam Sitchinava’s work has a beautiful aesthetic, her images are very ethereal with soft colour palates. They are often linked to nature and female characters.
I have started to incorporate people into my images, creating portraits that are linked to our inner selves rather than physical.
I have particularly been interested in Sitchinava's Nymph series. This inspired me to look further into Greek Mythology. I have been looking for a way to incorporate a character with the Hawstead Panels, I am beginning to take words, or symbols within the panels and turning them into Greek Gods, or Goddess, for example, the Mermaid image I have created is linked to Amphitrite as well as the Latin heading and painting.
Mariam Sitchinava also creates in camera double exposures. The layers provide depth and each time the viewer looks at the image they can see another level. I find double exposures express the different layers within our minds and the way we reflect on thoughts. For me they also express hidden aspects of our minds that we mostly keep to ourselves.
Greek Mythology - 11th November 2019
I have always been interested in Greek Mythology. I find it fascinating how much the Greeks believed in these Gods and Goddesses but also the stories that were created. Since I was young I have been interested in Greek Mythology ever since my parents brought a painting of Icarus.
We have so many words, or meanings today that have come derived from Greek Mythology such as the word and meaning of Echo.
I have been reading the book Mythos by Stephan Fry, it is quite a heavy read with lots of cross overs but I have skipped ahead to areas which relate to the project I am creating.
I decided to link the Hawstead Panels with Greek Mythology by looking at the Latin headings or the symbols within the paintings. For example I looked at the panel including the Mermaid which had the heading 'pinning ones hopes on appearances' I looked into the painting which is of a mermaid holding a mirror, but also the Goddess of the sea. I took both of these ideas after looking at other artists and photographs work in relation to the Greek Goddess Amphitrite.
I am going to look at each of the panels which resonate with me and see if I can link the myths of the Greeks with the panels.
Leonora Carrington - 18th November 2019
Leonora Carrington was a Surrealist Painter who focused on female sexuality as well as animals, myth, and symbolism. The female sexuality she explored was based on her own experiences rather than theories produced by Freud.
When Carrington moved to Mexico she delved into Mayan imagery, tarot and Buddhism. She created paintings which were filled with furred and feathered hybrids and horned beings. Her paintings often incorporate fantastical creatures.
The painting to the left called Eluhim, is the Hebrew word for ‘God’ or ‘gods’. Not only do the elements of Surrealism interest and inspire my work but Carrington also explored ideas around mythological beings. This painting in particular really reminds me of the Hawstead Panels. The colours and style are representative of the panels as well as the use of symbols.
Carrington was one of the last remaining Surrealists, she released a book called The Hearing Trumpet, which I have now ordered to help inform my work. The book is based on an older lady who gets put into a home and begins to discover evidence of mysterious gatherings and hints of the supernatural. The characters within the book undergo mysterious transformations and encounter figures of mythology and engage with aspects of the natural world.
Unfortunately this book won't arrive until Monday but I am looking forward to seeing how this may inspire my work further. Leonora Carrington was a suggested during the last module feedback and has definitely influenced some of the shoots I have created during this module. She links clearly with the Surrealist elements I want to create but also the mythology side of my work.
Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) Alice Liddell, summer, 1858
Annie Leibovitz - Natalia Vodionova, Vogue 2015
Miles Aldridge ‘Lily Cole’, Vogue Italia February 2005
John William Waterhouse, ‘Pandora’ 1898