I have written to a wide range of professionals I have met over the past two years and am humbled by the generous responses I have received. Here are a selection
‘“Mark Neville has re-imagined what documentary photography could be, should be. Instead of the bland ‘deconstructions’ that pass so lazily as ‘critical’ in contemporary art, he makes extraordinary pictures and finds extraordinary ways to get them back to those he has photographed.” David Campany’ (Neville)
Mark understands trauma as he suffered PTSD after his commission in Helmand Province about which he produced ‘Battle Against Stigma.’ Mark comments on my work..
‘I applaud your attempt to respond to this trauma. I do not know if I would be able to do it. I always think of my work as a very sublimated attempt to deal with trauma. But maybe I should learn something from your direct approach.’
‘“At seventy-five and with the world the way that it is, I sometimes come close to losing heart, but when I see work like this I’m back in the game. The Heath is a beautiful job. Honest about mixed evidence… open to both joy and sorrow. Robert Adams’ (Sewell)
‘Selected by Martin Parr as “a photographer likely to make his mark on the future of photography”’ (Sewell).
Andy’s comments as follows and I am arranging a zoom for further specific input.
‘I’ve just taken a look at your work. It’s a moving study of what must have been a devastating experience. It’s taking me a while to find the right words, I think because each sentence I write sounds a bit like a cliche. And I guess this is one of the problems we commonly face in trying to find words, or pictures, for grief and loss. Part of your works success is that it manages to negotiate these cliches, it’s full of tenderness and sentiment, but avoids sentimentalism.
The combination of self portraits with the details and still life is effective. The sequence works well and there are some really strong pictures. The work tells a specific story but also has plenty of space for me to bring my own experience to it, there is an openness and ambiguity that I value.
If I was doing a full crit there are a couple of pictures I might question—would be interested to see what other frames you have around them—and I feel the end it not quite as strong as the rest of the work. Have you considered hand writing the poem at the end and photographing it? Maybe in relation to the moleskin picture this could be a good way to begin the end sequence . . . and after that finish maybe with another of those details of hands and bodies touching (I think these are really strong!). Anyway happy to have a quick zoom chat if you are interested in talking about these kind of specifics.’
‘Nuñez has pursued a PhD by publications on the power of the self-portrait at the University of Derby UK. Her essay “Self-portrait as Self-Therapy” has been published on academic publications such as the European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, Routledge, London and “Autofocus” by Prof. Stefano Ferrari and Prof. Chiara Tartarini, of the University of Bologna.’ (Nuñez)
I participated in Crisitina’ Self Portrait Experience workshop from April to August this year with 8 other artists from New Zealand to the USA to Spain. It gave me great insight into the power of self portraits to express emotion and internal states.
Cristina comments on my work.
‘During the SPEX workshop, which happened in the months that followed the loss of his wife, Len produced a very powerful series of autobiographical images (self-portraits and landscapes) and brought them to dialogue with images he had taken of his wife and family in recent years. Despite the difficult times, Len managed to transform his emotional pain into a high number of beautiful and meaningful photographs which others have found extremely moving. Len lying naked and feeling lost on the empty bed. Len sitting helpless on a chair, suggesting the feeling of emptiness. Drops of blood in the sink. Len sits alone in the terrace while the cat places herself to his right, forming a perfect composition. A magnificent self-portrait looking angry and desperate, but strong and charismatic. Another close self-portrait weeping in his car. A blurred landscape picturing his blurred emotions. A dead bird. Her empty bed. Sunlight on the wall. The sea, in black and white. Finally Len lying on the grass with open arms, perhaps free to start a new life.
Len triggered a profound creative process that brought him to completely transform his painful experiences and construct impactful images to compose a monumental artwork in honor of his beloved wife.
Len has a natural talent to constantly produce beautiful photographs!’
‘Li is an interdisciplinary artist working with the moving image, photography, sculptural assemblages and performance. In his practice, Li examines the manifestation of culture in the everyday, finding new meaning to the familiar, making visible the seemingly invisible.’ (Li)
Dinu has been a guest reviewer of my portfolio throughout the final module of the MA. His insight and encouragement have been inspirational and I have learnt from his work with video and sound. Dinu’s comments are
‘Eclectic in approach, Williamson’s work is presented as an allegory haunted by thoughts of mortality. He interrogates the body as a landscape of disease, pain, loneliness and often appearing lost at sea. The use of metaphor in his photographs speaks about our existence and our midnight howls when realising our precious mates are gone forever. Light permeates across Williamson’s images, as if the soul remains close-by when the body returns to a distant landscape.’
NEVILLE, M. (2020). Mark Neville [online] Available at http://www.markneville.com/bio (Accessed: Nov 10th, 2020)
SEWELL, A. (2020). Andy Sewell [online] Available at http://www.andysewell.com/ . (Accessed: Nov 10th, 2020)
NUÑEZ, C. (2020). The Self Portrait Experience. [online]. Available at https://www.cristinanunez.com/the-self-portrait-experience1/ (Accessed: Nov 10th, 2020)
LI, D. (2020). Dinu Li [online] Available at https://www.dinuli.com/Info Accessed Nov 10th, 2020