Happy Accidents

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Sometimes we spend so much time thinking and planning as artists and conceptual thinkers, that we forget how useful happy accidents can be. Case in point; these photographs. What started as a simple and very basic projection experiment in my bath room, soon turned into something much more interesting. I had not considered ever using it as an art material, yet my shower curtain came in surprisingly handy. It picked up and diverted the light of the projector to create this rippling and water-like effect across the surface of my images.  

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Although it’s presence is very subtle in some cases, I just feel it adds a certain depth to the image. It creates a collection of layers that bring painterly elements to a photographic setting. Looking at these, I felt again like I was painting; constructing the direction in which the layers would formulate; manipulating the imagery to satisfy my intentions. I could not have been more delighted in this accident occurring. I have a theory that half the genius scientists made their discoveries accidentally and then decided to tell everyone that was what their intention all along! I’d probably do that if I was in their boat and ever discovered anything significant. Although, it’s more likely I would pass it off as intentional because I’d be too embarrassed to admit I’d made a mistake!

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In some cases I was so fixated  and fascinated by  the reflection of the shower curtain, that it took more priority then my actual projected images! Consequently ,abstract images such as the above came into creation. Now there is one happy accident! I think the reason I found it all so mesmerising is because there was so much movement within these ‘reflections’, yet they were entirely static. They are highly evocative of water, yet there is not water present. There is only the suggestion of water and the associations of its sound and movements, all of which enhanced my experience of these images. 

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I wasn’t too bothered about getting the camera in focus either, in fact the lack of focus really worked in this instance. Especially in relation to the colours; the soft pastel hues are not a result of editing, merely a result of the lighting in the space. For me there’s something calming about the way the reflection of the curtain falls across the image. I don’t know if that’s because the images themselves are quite peaceful with their blurry lines and lack of forceful energy. Or if it’s simply because the rippling reflection is so reminiscent of water and all of the connotations that carries. The soothing sound of a river gushing, water’s necessity in the continuity of life, the comfort of a cold, refreshing shower. Or maybe I’m just getting carried away with all my contemplation of water. Then again, it’s such a big part of this whole zen thing that everyone’s got going on that why not join the crowd and start listening to waves and water as I fall asleep!

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Exposed (Working Title) Series

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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! 

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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. 

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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!