One of the things I love most about making art is that I constantly surprise myself. If you had told me three years ago that I would be doing a shoot like this I would have laughed in your face. Why? Because it involved getting totally naked in front of someone who was not a lover! Well, ok not totally naked in the sense they saw everything, but the only barrier between myself and them was a beautiful piece of material.
Prior to the shoot I was slightly nervous and self-conscious at the thought of stripping down. However once we started it felt like the most natural thing in the world. It wasn’t embarassing or awkward, it was purely about making the art. And I loved it! It was a very liberating experience for me and really allowed myself to loosen up about my body. It also added a new dimension of thought for me to contemplate in my art.
Sadly in a lot of cases, once you get naked for art that is all your art is suddenly about. That’s all the person reads when viewing it. Which I think is tragic as there’s obviously so much more to it then that. Of course I’m not saying that’s always the case, or that everyone does it. I just know a lot of people do. So let’s look past the nudity and more into what is actually going on here. Firstly, it’s material fascination. My friend has had this material hanging in her studio for ages and her love for it became kind of infectious for me. She was so fascinated by the colours and the way it worked in light that I started to see more and more in it every time I visited the studio. I even started liking how pink it was! It’s a very tactile material which is very appealing but also multi-sensory given the crispy, rustling noise it makes – like the wind drifting through the trees.
So of course I started to think about the material in relation to my own body. Through it’s tactility I was already starting to engage with it, but I wanted to further this engagement. That’s when the idea of water came to me. As I mentioned in my last post, I have been thinking a lot about water and time recently and am starting to bring them into my work more. So I asked my friend, given her highly articulate understanding of this material, if she could help me capture these images. And what a perfect job she did! We used my desk lamp as a spotlight, my bath tub, her material and my body to produce these shots. It involved a lot of stretching, balance, holding uncomfortable positions and very cold bath water, but it was worth it!
I’d explained at the beginning how and what it was I wanted to capture, and the more photos we took, the more we evolved and arrived at what it was I was after. The results are sensitive and subtly sensual, but not overly sexual. The images hint at nudity without being too overt, partly because I wanted to avoid that instant jump to ‘naked art’. You would think the contrast between such an artificial material and my skin would be harsh, but the colours of the material dance so beautifully over my skin in the light that the two almost blend together. I think the water helps this, there’s this whole question of what is wet and what is dry and I think that really enhances it.
You know you’re doing something good when you start to get really excited about something you make. These photographs are one of those special moments, I feel these are just the tip of the iceberg and hopefully a lot more will come from them!