Considering The Year Ahead, Life, Death And Photography

It would be impossible to think of the future without considering that there is the potential for me to die from heart disease. As you’re aware I have decided not to have surgery for my heart condition. I can see how dieing could be a scary experience, but I have been at peace since making this decision.

Knowing that I have a limited time left has most certainly helped me to focus on living well and considering whether my daily actions improve the quality of my life. This doesn’t mean running around like a mad march hare and doing, doing, doing. Sometimes I just want to sit still and do nothing, others I want to read or birdwatch, and occasionally I want to be around people.

I’m not used to being around people, and I can struggle even when I’m around those who I love and feel safe with. Getting the balance right for me isn’t easy, I’ve had a wonderful Christmas, but I’m ready to go home now.

When I return home my plan is to begin meditating daily. Meditation is most definitely linked to my creativity and photography. I have a few ideas for photographic project’s and I know meditation will help with developing these. I have vague ideas about making photos with others who identify as being non-binary or gender fluid, and making use of masks or props to explore and express gender identity.

I’ve particularly enjoyed my embroidered photography this year, for my project “Some Emotional States Of My Anorexia, And The Strengths Of My Recovery.” I completed the project just before Christmas, but I don’t feel ready to make these public at the moment. The wonderful thing is that I already have a gallery/arts project who would like to exhibit the series. I can see the potential for building upon this work to explore mental health further. Meditation will definitely aid my progress in these areas.

“Snippets” is a series I’m currently working on in which I write down snippets of overheard conversation and take a photo in the area of which the conversation was heard. I got the idea from a fellow OCA photography student Chloe Halstead. The idea is to have this as a long term project using my Huawei Mate 20 Pro, and to present the series as a photo book.

Hopefully I will also have some news about my application for a bursary to study an Open Foundation in Creative Writing, with the Open College of the Arts, I can feel some more photo essays coming along.

Colour is also going to feature in the clothes I wear, it’s time to bring more colour and variety into my attire, and today I’m top to bottom in yellow. I’ve also seen some green corduroys that I like. I’ll give them some thought.

I guess I’ll need to tone the colours down when birdwatching, something which I plan to do more of this year. I’m so grateful that I discovered RSPB Rainham Marshes. One thing that would aid my birdwatching would be finding a teleconverter that I can attach to the front of my Mzuiko 75-300mm lens. I can’t currently afford one. However, I have four photos appearing in The Loudest Whispers exhibition, run by The Arts Project London, during February, March and April. If they sell then I’ll be able to afford a teleconverter. Fingers crossed. 

I don’t have a bucket list, but I would like to be able to go on a birdwatching holiday during the summer.

Wishing you all a wonderful year ahead.

Encouragement From Jessa Fairbrother

I approached Jessa Fairbrother via email in order to receive feedback/advice about how best to keep the reverse of my embroidered photography tidy.

Although she didn’t give direct guidance, she did say that I was clearly doing things ‘right’ and that we all sew differently, and my development would come with time and exparience.

Part of me feels child-like by asking for direction, as though I can’t stand on my own two feet. However, the reality is that I wish to be an exhibiting photographer, and I will benefit from seeking and accepting the critique of others.

ConstellationsFig. 1. Minor Constellation 1; 2018

Jessa Fairbrother sews on top of photographs to use “the body-as-site to explore communal meanings and is concerned with making explicit the moment when performed gesture and gaze of the viewer collide.” (Fairbrother; 2019). She uses needlework as exploration and reclamation of her body.

Illustration

Figure 1 Fairbrother, J; 2018; Minor Constellation I [Silver Gelatin Print and hand sewn tbread]; AT: https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/print-sales/explore-artworks/minor-constellation-i-2018

References

Fairbrother, J; 2019; About/Contact; Online: AT: http://www.jessafairbrother.com/about.html

Embroidery On Photography, A Sample

My approach to assignment 5 was that I wanted to learn a new skill to carry forward to the degree in Photography. I was prepared to fail, which can be an important part of learning. However, things are going better than imagined. Here are two snap shots of the embroidery. It’s such a wonderful and enjoyable process.

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The top photo is part of a peacock, embroidered on to a self portrait (I’m not posting the completed photo until I post the completed assignment). The second photo is a work in progress of a butterfly.

 

Assignment Five – The Process Of Making The Collages

Progress, I feel like I am getting somewhere. Making the collages has been fun, and once I have finished these I will need to create voice recordings for each, and buy the props that will complete the installations. It’s very exciting that I can now see how this will work. The only perceived difficulty is that the final pieces will not show off their full effect as a photo on my blog.

Step 1, making holes

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Step 2, stitching

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Step 3, taping the reverse side

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Step 4, cutting out objects and positioning

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Step 5, making more holes and more stitching

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Step 6, a finished collage

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Step 7, but matching props and photograph them as a still life in front of the collage

Step 8, make voice recording

Step 9, add voice recordings to each collage

My Emotional States Of Anorexia – Assignment Five Update

Yesterday I got 12 photos off to the picture framers for mounting. He understood where I needed the cut outs and why, and took an interest in my art. After speaking with him I felt really secure in the knowledge that he got what I needed.

I have begun the embroidery today. I’m starting with those I will be using for six collages, in which excerpts from Laura Letinsky’s I’ll Form And Void Full will be embroidered onto my face. I’m excited. I also know how I’m going to make the animal masks for my primary version.

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More Masks And Embroidery

Yesterday I had some free time to have a look around the Wellcome Collection. Most interesting was the one mask/collage which included some sewing over the top of photography. Produced by Heidi Kerrison, her collage related to fears in relation to cloning and genetic modification.

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Her work demonstrates that I could use both collage and embroidery to create the effects that I am looking for. I quite like the stitching around the edge of the face, it’s complex and detailed, but I don’t like the sewing around the eyes.

There were other masks which I found interesting, especially the scolds brindle. I could embroider a mask in this style, and add the tongue piece. It would work well to highlight the element of self punishment and restraint that I experienced as a result of my anorexia.

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Kate Aston – Review

OCA student Kate Aston, very kindly sent me two of her photos, from a previous assignment, in which she embroidered over photography. Both of which are of a climbing wall.

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  • Long stitches
  • Creates a shape which I can anthropomorpise
  • Creates an anchor and relay
  • Alters perspective
  • Reduces appearance of size

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  • Small stitches
  • Single colour
  • Provide definition and detail

Although I’m limiting my focus to the stitching, as this is research for my assignment, I do wish to pass comment upon this second photo.

The depth of field is incredible, and this draws me right into the photo. The DoF is so narrow that I imagine that an extension tube was used on a 200mm- 300mm lens to create a macro lens. I’m also going to assume that the shot is made on the ground, shooting high up into a join between wall and ceiling, and that the plans have been shifted by rotating and cropping during the development process. I’m probably wrong. But this photo is so intriguing. It’s also very easing aesthetically.

Having seen this work I have decided to use the embroidery from Kate’s first photo to provide the relay between my face and the subject in Laura Letinsky’s photo. I hadn’t considered creating an installation prior to viewing Kate’s assignment. This is the advantage of connecting with fellow artists and photographers.

To see Kate Aston’s Context and Narrative studies click here, to view her on Instagram it’s kate513940

Crystalising Ideas For Assignment Five

  • Installation
  • Photo of my face, over-sewn to represent emotional/mental states of anorexia
  • Positioned 90 degrees to photo from Laura Letinsky
  • Stitch on Laura Letinsky’s photos to pick out detail
  • 1 inch in front of Letinsky’s photo will be plain card of same size
  • Cut out shapes so aspects of Lentinsky’s work can be revealed and others remain hidden
  • Revealed areas will be related to food or eating
  • An object from Lentinsky’s art will be placed between the two photos i.e. Cup, plate, squashed water melon
  • Long stitches to go from my face over to the revealed areas in Letinsky’s photo (in the style of Kate Aston (review to be written up shortly). This will further emphasise emotional state.
  • Sound recording which emulates specific thought patter relating to each of my mental/emotional states
  • There will be six states represented so I will use six self portraits and six of Laura Lentinsky’s.

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Assignment Five – Refining My Idea

I’ll be making my own portrait with 6 different emotional expressions relating to my eating disorder. Justaposing them with 6 different photos from Ill Form and Void Full (Laura Letinsky).

Both photos will be placed side by side on a white surface, with a white backdrop. The surface will become a space in which I will place a piece of fruit, or other food which will match that from Letinsky’s art. The photos will then be squashed, twisted, torn or altered in some way. I’ll then photograph the still life I’ve made and then stitch onto the final photo.

 

The stitching will be done in a manner that uses shape and colour to emphasise the emotional expression.

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Review – Maurizio Anzeri

Maurizio Anzeri (1969)

Wow.

714x480x2Fig. 1. Bernard (left) and Georgio (right)

Some of the most complex embroidery on photography that I’ve seen, I can’t help but admire the attention to detail and complexity.

  • Colour can be used to highlight character, as can shape
  • Bernard has some smooth, peaceful joy to counter elements of mania, business and disjointed thought
  • Georgio is serious, effeminate, passionate and positive

434x576x2Fig. 2. Louise B

  • Louise is complex
  • Ritualistic
  • Likes order
  • Dark
  • Deep
  • Sees everything
  • An active intelligent mind
  • Outwardly feminine but internally rigid

415x576x2Fig. 3. Nadia

I find this to be a deeply emotional and sad photo. There is pain etched upon her face through the burgundy’s that permeate the gentleness and light of the pinks and whites. Those downward looking eyes with the black embroidery which follows her gaze, suggests a deep sense of sadness and loss.

412x576x2Fig. 4. Peter

Perhaps a person with no sense of identity who lives in a complex state of psychotic delusion. He has a brain which is set to combust and explode, with an overload of neural connections. But also an introvert and unable to express his ideas.

Reflections

Embroidering on top of a portrait can add a depth of characterisation. This can be done by using colour and shape, and with the right level of technical expertise, an artist can bring out different aspects of an individuals personality.

Anzeri’s art is phenomenal and he is a technical expert. I’m going to have to rewatch the following you tube tutorial to gain some tips.

Illustrations

Figure 1 Anzeri, M; Bernard and Georgio [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)

Figure 2 Anzeri, M; Louise B [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)

Figure 3 Anzeri, M; Nadia [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)

Figure 4 Anzeri, M; Peter [thread on photograph]; AT: https://www.lomography.com/magazine/91702-maurizio-anzeris-embroidered-photography (accessed on 30/12/2018)