How long ago did you graduate from Falmouth University? How has it been working within a professional context since?
I graduated from university a year ago. Spending the summer reaching out my work to magazines, collectives and supportive creative platforms, I was lucky enough to exhibit my graduate work in a few different places which was a great bridge from education to the real art world. The reception from these experiences definitely encouraged me to keep pursuing photography as a creative career and placed my work and ethics into a more professional context. Growing a network of working artists outside of university was really important and kept me in the creative loop when everyone goes their separate ways. Seeing how valuable collaboration is, especially in London, I would definitely recommend utilising this at university, when you leave you see how many people are involved in a single project.
As a result of winning the South West Graduate Photography Prize last November, I am currently working on a commission/ residency with Fotonow CIC in Plymouth. Immersed in new surroundings with new influences, I am incredibly lucky to have found an accessible jump from university into a professional creative career that works for me.
Your work is often, if not always, concerned with the body. Can you tell us a little about where this initial interest came from and how it has evolved since then?
I think that photography itself is often concerned with the body; a relationship between the artist and the subject initiates a constant exchange of space, distance and being. Gravitating towards a more abstract perspective and ideology in my second year at university, I think that themes between the self and a spatial relation will always retain in my work whether it be through a comfortability or a metaphoric theory.
My first project that looked at the body in space was in first year, a very simple representation of the falling in mid space -and perhaps it all escalated from there. In my second year I returned to the subject, picturing the exposed body contorted into unconventional spaces in the home (No Body’s Home, 2017). Following this series, I inadvertently continued to study the metaphoric language of the body even further. Highlighting the surface of more indistinguishable and distorted space (Antumbra, 2017), and then consequentially to make TCITTW (2018). I find it quite interesting to see my practice in a timeline from the moment I began photography to now and decode its growing influence.
Am I right in thinking your work is self-portraiture in nature? If so, is there a specific reason you tend to photograph yourself as opposed to models?
A lot of my work has taken form in a self-representative expression, whether it be through the use of models or myself. With an ability to look at these images more open-mindedly, I find it easier to use myself as a test subject and am much more open with ideas and mistakes when I am working on my own.
Is your use of the female body one to express empowerment or is it more of a universal approach to the human body, one that goes beyond gender? Historically within art, women have most often been depicted as a subject of voyeuristic observation, have you ever encountered this issue within your work? How much do you think these socio-historical perspectives remain within our society and art?
My use of the body is indifferent to the representation of gender. The body and the self, to me, is a safe space; our only real constant and a universal being so unique. I have preferred to work with an abstract representation of the body as opposed to the traditional ‘figure’ for this reason. Stripped back, I want to focus on form, simple existence and just being in this world. Learning to accept the space we have been given, my work often compares the body -to vast, growing landscape but also to an anchored but fragile structure.
Ideally hoping to strip back an idea of the body as a voyeuristic observation, my earlier work definitely spoke more of the female body than the idea space which I wished to metaphorically express. From this reception, I envisioned a performance of the figure in its simplest form. Form and figure will always come back to renaissance sculpture and the human study however to move on from inherent ideologies we must challenge them.
Antumbra is a project of yours that encompasses an array of aesthetically different photographic images. The word Antumbra defines a body (in astronomy) that partially eclipses a source of light, creating a peripheral glow. In using an array of techniques and materials, the photographs seem to become a portrayal for the photographic medium itself and its scientific relation to light; the word photography literally meaning: ‘light-writing’. Is your work a comment on the photographic medium itself, as well as the body?
I admire photography’s ability to capture, imprint and materialize an image that doesn’t solely exist in the world without the medium. Antumbra was about the inimitable and painterly expressionism I could create in the camera. With unexpected outcomes and coincidental patterns, I found that the ‘manipulation of light’ is what photography really means to me. Originating from a feeling of disconnect and fragility, the images in this series are more ethereal through my use of blur, distance, colour (or lack thereof) and abstraction. Through picturing the body in different states and situations, I am ultimately always looking at the same subject but through different mentalities and moments in time.
Again, in discussing the physical form of your photographs, you often leave elements within the photographs such as dust and scratches or the edges of the filmstrips. Do you do this as a way of drawing attention to the physicality of the photograph and the medium, or is there another reason you choose to do this?
Antumbra marked a change in the way I approached photography as an artistic medium. Through trying not to think about the technicalities of photography as much I allowed myself to the autonomy of creative expression. The images are raw, grainy and obscured, considering the materiality of ‘the photograph’, likened to seeing brush strokes on a painting, imperfection is what makes these photos real and unique. This series taught me a lot about letting go of intentions and expectations, allowing me to let images and projects propel themselves in a more natural, expressionist direction (The Chair Is Touching the Wall, 2018).
How did you come to utilise sculpture in your work: The Chair is Touching the Wall?
The incorporation of sculpture unified ideas from Antumbra into a three- dimensional realm. Moving in a physical, constructed space combined a visceral interaction with the materiality of sculpture and the (im)materiality of the body -as a sculptural impression itself.
Your sculpture reminds me of other artists work, such as Richard Serra and Fred Sandback in terms of balance and minimalistic linear form. Some elements also seem to emulate characteristics of work by the Suprematist artist Kazimir Malevich, with its use of angular shapes and form in relation to movement. It is extremely effective when illustrating the body and its participation with surroundings. Was the work of these artists an initial influence on you? Who else specifically inspires and informs your practice?
Primarily influenced by my surroundings and distance, isolation focuses the mind on themes addressed in my work -a relationship between the self and the environment that surrounds it. My visual inspiration for The Chair Is Touching the Wall came from James Nares, Giotto Circle #2 (1990) and Laurent Millet’s Translucent Mould of Me (2013). Combining a study of work that I admire with reading of philosophical theory, TCITTW embodied an idea very relevant to me personally.
You are currently working on a project called The Blind Spot. Could you tell us a little about this work and where you think it is heading?
Working with performative artists, The Blind Spot (2019) refers to a sense of destabilized reality and a point in humanity of fleeting existence. Through a simulation of shape and form I want to represent the mind-body dualism that roots our predetermined nature with an im-potentiality-of-being. Through this project and I hope to expand my relationship with a wider community of dancers while in keeping with a constant theme of space and being into a broader context.