I love Amsterdam. It is such a special place. Looking forward to an intense three days of stimulation and insight. Started at Elliott Halls Gallery this afternoon. I saw their Falmouth lecture and found it really informative about the gallery process so it was magic to be able to see it in person.
Elliott Halls Gallery Barnaby Irish
I arrived early so had Barnaby and Annelie to myself which was a real treat. As they had a talk to give when all the students arrived they didn’t want to say much so I talked about what I saw. With Barnaby’s work I felt a primeval atmosphere. As I talked more I said my sons had taken Ayahuasca and these images connected with me from what they had said and shown me. I told him Tom my middle son had just spent two months with a Shaman deep in the Amazon studying this and other plant medicine. Barnaby said…funny you should say that….much of this work he was showing was inspired from Ayahuasca experiences.
I can’t take Ayahuasca on my doctors advice because of heart medication I am taking. I am really interested in its effects. In particular the way it gets people to look at existence in a completely new way. Time collapses in to a continuum and the idea of ego dissolution really intrigues me. The Beatles got a lot of their inspiration from psychedelics and there is clearly something interesting going on in this space.
Back to the images.
Barnaby is obsessed with his work which is inspiring to see. He is in to cosmic and microscopic. He is also in to screen printing. His work is fascinating. I felt some connection on a deep level with this work. The images move something inside me as I contemplate them. The patterns are taken from images of the universe, MRI scans of the brain and body and include a clever method of getting an image of the rods and cones in the retina of our eyes. His idea to hand make oak frames as a connection with nature, photons and our way of being.
I am going through a process of working out what my practice is about in photography. Laura Hynd is freeing me up to move away from representation and meaning and to just be. Barnaby’s obsession fits well with this.
I am resisting and interested in ‘old’ technologies like cyanotype. This is a good tension. I want to use my eyes and experience to capture an image. There are an infinite number of ways of doing this and I am currently tied to trying to find out what I can do with the kit I have. This work challenges me on my position.
Elliot Halls Gallery Annelie Bruijn Double Emotions
Annelie is a successful model and fashion artist. In photography she is self taught and seeking to express herself with her images. Her images are double exposure within camera. There is a consistency to her presentation. The colours are soft and warm.
The insight I took away from talking to her was that like Barnaby she is following an urge. I asked her about how she plans her shoots. They happen she said. When the time is right. I keep making lots of images until I find what I want to do. They really are distinctive and grabbed my attention. I felt I knew something about her from her images but that is just me projecting. What I felt I knew about her was good.
The work prompted me to think about multiple exposure again as I had some success with this process with images in Cyprus earlier this year. Every way of taking an image has an infinite number of possibilities that go with it. This is the challenge but seeing this work prompted me to do some more work with multiple exposure.
Representation and Meaning
Laura Hynd has provoked me beautifully on these two themes. Does my work have to represent something or mean something? I thought yes to both and was busily thinking all this through. There comes the problem. I now realise that it is a constraint and an obstacle to the child in me. So tonight I played with my camera and just took images that appealed to me for whatever reason. It was so much fun. Don’t know where this is going to end up but for this module I think I am going to just let go and see what happens.
The focus of my attention for this fair is to look at work that may be relevant to and influence the direction of my project. In keeping with the above thoughts on representation and meaning making I have tried to follow my emotional responses to images I see. If it captures my attention, I look longer and capture for consideration. Also interested to see what other colleagues see and like.
Hans Bol – God’s Allies Revisited
There is a mood and a feeling here. The images are simple but I know how difficult they are to achieve. In the first image I notice the birds on the planks first, am drawn to the bird in flight and the juxtaposition of each with the waves and the beach. In the second image the flock taking off with the unavoidable sun gold leafed into the very grey sky reflected in the dark foreground. There is something about life just being.
There is definitely an outbreak of cyanotype at Unseen19. I am told two years ago it was canvas and stitching. I have been resistant to ‘going backwards’ to old methodologies and instead seeking to achieve effect through digital kit and processes. These images caught my attention. There is something spiritual about these hands. In my own work I am often finding that my images of me are not showing the state I am in. This is causing me to ask if I am in the state I think I am in…….good therapeutic effect….or if I just haven’t found the way to express (represent/meaning make!!) it. As I am resistant I need to explore this technique and see if it can offer something for my project.
Really grabbed by these images. Marcelo is a keeper of memory in Argentina and somebody I will look at some more. He has taken images from many of the conflict zones around the world and adjusted them in his distinctive style. He colours the hands a colour, orange for Amsterdam. He adds words to help the viewer form a view on what is going on.
There is a lot to consider here. Adding colour or text to images. Telling the viewer what the message is. Great food for thought and ideas for experimentation.
This work is the closest to what I have been playing with to date. I am prompted to explore similar staged images of myself with Karen. There is a painterly quality to the colour scheme and lighting in these images.
This morning I caught some reflections of bamboo on tea caddies from the morning sun. That appealed to me in the same way as this image. I am not a perfect human being and this globe with its scratches and dirty smudges reflects an imperfection.
I love images like this. Quadrants in differing proportions. A subject of the grass and flower in the foreground and interesting lighting. It has the combination of nature carrying on against a backdrop of frustrated human endeavour. The element of abandonment arises often in work I like so I notice that here also.
Hilde took me to this image and said it is an image her husband would love. A collection of objects with associated meaning. It was not an image I naturally moved towards but as I look deeper I can see some ideas for collecting objects together with some form of association to what I want to say.
This is what I want to achieve. The images here have too many reflections that spoil the effect but these are a perfect example of what I would like to convey in my work. The looks say so much. I have my interpretation and you have yours but I think there are strong narratives here. I am going to try to rephotograph these ideas using myself as the model.
Life size images that take my breath away. For much of his career he has used himself to make images raising issues about apartheid. I looked at some other images he has made which were breathtaking. Another artist to explore further in relation to my project.
Maud and Théo
This just looks like great fun. If all the locked up stuff inside me could be let out then this is what I would be doing. I both resist the idea and aspire to this free moving, dancing and letting go idea. Time to take ayahuasca and see?
I stopped by this image on the way to portfolio review. It initially caught my attention as an example of the objectification of women in advertising. As I walk around I am looking at how advertising is presenting itself to women, men and children. It feels ironic to hear so much criticism of such advertising and yet to see it everywhere. It is a beautiful image to look at also!
As I stopped to look I also looked at the early morning reflections of light and considered if I could get a shot of me merged on this face for my project. Then I saw the reflection of the building behind me in the form of a cross (it was Sunday morning) and how the reflection of the trees merged with the make up of the model. Out of it came this image.
Thankyou Amsterdam. A wonderful few days and I will be back.