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.

The End Of The Pagan/Celtic Year – My Review Of The Past 12 Months And Goals For The Year Ahead

When I’m in tune spiritually at the end of the pagan year, I like to reflect upon the past year and say thanks for it. I also consider the year ahead.

The start of the new year as winter sets in makes sense. Traditionally winter would be the end of the life cycle for many people. Even now winter is a time of increased death rates for the elderly and vulnerable. The new year was a spiritual occasion in which prayers would be asked for protection over the winter months. It was also believed that the half way points of the spring and autumn (equinox), was when the barrier between the physical world and the underworld was at its weakest. A time when spirits could cross over and would take the weakest. During the middle ages and up to the Victorian era, communities would gather, light bonfires, celebrate and also cross dress . Men would dress as women and vice versa, in order to confuse the spirits and thereby preserve their life for the year ahead.

Today i took the opportunity for prayer and reflection whist I was walking between Redcar and Maske By The Sea. I have a lot to be grateful for this year. I have some wonderful friends, who have been part of my life for many years, I am developing deeper friendships with my peers, and I’m also developing friendships and a supportive community on WordPress.

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I got accepted into university – I’m glad I deferred it because I would have been to Ill to attend anyway. My tutor has given me some ideas which organisations that I can approach with a view to an exhibition of my photographic body of work about eating disorders. She values the personal integrity of my photography, and this was also stated in my interview with the University for the Creative Arts. I’m beginning to get a feel for the kind of photography that I want to make, the photography for relaxation and fun – and events. I really enjoyed the narrative of A Hermits Journey (here). Technically I’m improving as well, especially in Photoshop, although I do need to stop and consider which is the easiest approach to bring the quality that I desire. I need to read more books on photography as well. When reviewing the work of other photographers, finding a balance between books and internet resources is critical.

I’m  also enjoying the creativity of mixed media art, and I’m loving being part of the OCA collaboration group. I don’t make photographs for that. I’m using it as an opportunity to explore written and spoken word.

One of the highlights of my year was the photomontage I created using street art (here). It was wonderful to gain consent to use music by DJ’s from Mars. Approaching established artists with a view to making use of their work is new to me, and feels like a huge leap forward.oznor

It’s also a pleasure to witness the development and progress of my peers. We all have different skills, preferences and unique styles of the photography and it’s been a privilege to view. I’ve been able to try techniques that I wouldn’t have considered if I hadn’t seen their work. We all comment upon each others work, and this has been a vital part of my progression. I still find it hard to critique the work of my peers, although it is getting easier.

One particular photo produced by @andykabi on Instagram – touched that place of shame, persecution, unworthiness and vulnerability within me. It’s the most I’ve been affected by a photograph. Andy was kind enough to send me a signed copy. I get it back from the picture framers tomorrow.

As for my WordPress buddies, I’m touched by your honesty, integrity and support. You are so compassionate and have so much wisdom, which you share on your blogs and in comments.

Cork and london have presented me with opportunities to explore the unfamiliar. I love London, my holiday and time there were incredible. Sadly, I became very ill and had to return home. However, I’m trying to arrange a home-swap so that I can live in London. One of my main motivators is to become involved in a dynamic, vibrant and creative community. I was fortunate enough to meet two of my OCA friends whilst in London, but was too I’ll to meet two others as planned.

Now is the time to move, and to build a face to face community. Am I ready to start meeting up with people? Yes I am. It will be beneficial in so many ways, and one of those is in relation to my mental health.

Anorexia has taken it’s toll on my body and mind. The possibility of dying from anorexia was never going to be a motivating factor to change. However, my illness affected my photography and that was enough for me to seek and utilise supoort so that I can recover. Photography is saving my life for the second time. My passion for photography is intense. The more I make photos, watch the photography of others, and study photography – the more I fall in love with it. The more I have to give and the more I have to receive. Now that I’m in early recovery from anorexia and eating regularly, my ability to go back out with my camera has returned. The process of forming and developing creative ideas is such and pleasure, to be coming up with new idead again is wonderful. This is enough motivator for me to eat and continue with my recovery.

Occasionally I write photo essays, which have all been published in The Sociological Mail. Shaneka kindly publishes my writing, and I’d like to produce more articles over the next 12 months. Shaneka is always on the lookout for contributors, and I believe that she would appreciate the services of someone who can help with site maintenance and communicating with the feature writers.

My hopes and goals for the year ahead are :-

  • Move to London, Guildford or Farnham
  • Complete Foundations in Photography
  • Start a degree in photography with either the OCA or UCA
  • Exhibit my eating disorders body of work
  • Stay in recovery from anorexia
  • Develop the friendships I have
  • Develop new face to face friendships
  • Explore mixed media art
  • Assisted/guided photography/portraits for those who want to add photos in with their writing
  • Get involved with creatives in London
  • Travel to India
  • Write 7 photo essays
  • Write more poetry
  • Deepen my spirituality
  • Come to trust that the universe wants what’s best for me
  • Take a street photography workshop
  • Meet up with fellow students
  • Attend OCATV
  • Find some good birdwatching spots and go birdwatching monthly.
  • Find a photographer to get to know.
  • Eat no more and no less than what’s on my plan
  • Meditate every day
  • Attend yoga classes
  • Finish my model
  • Create a folder for competition stand photos
  • Read part of a photography book each morning

Deferring University – Preperation For Part Four, Still Life – Prep For London

Having been unable to find appropriate accommodation in the locale of Farnham I have deferred university until next year. A lot can happen in a year, so I am open-minded. I’m going to keep looking for a home swap, but I’m also happy to finish Foundations in Photography and then make a decision as to whether to take the photography degree with the Open College of the Arts, which is distant learning, or go to the University for the Creative Arts. There are advantages to both, but with my mental health as it is, then taking the degree with OCA has become my preferred option. Distant learning suits me, I can study part-time, have less pressure with deadlines, and not have the stress of moving. These are all protective factors for my mental health.

cofIs this still life?

I am shortly going to begin part four of Foundations in Photography, which is a section based upon still life. With the new medication that I am on and how it is affecting my energy, I decided not to begin part four until I return from London. However, I have been exploring thoughts, and making photos for my digital sketch book, which I hope to upload before I travel. We’ll wait and see. My aim is to read part four in the FiP manual, so that I can make the most of being in a new, dynamic environment, and begin to make photos, or at least test photos for the coursework whilst I am away.

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London, here I come. I am very excited about visiting London. My initial plan was for it to be for a few days. But I haven’t been too London as an adult. Yeah I have passed through it, and been to two football matches there, but I have never explored. I have activities planned, a few people to meet and an OCA study visit/field trip.

cofIs this still life?

Lots of wonderful opportunities for photography in different environments and with several genres, as well as museum and gallery visits, West End shows, football match, and nature. Lots and lots of nature, animals, birds, flowers, macro. I have Lightroom on my laptop now, so I may upload some photos as I go along, although my lap top is incredibly slow compared to my PC with its huge RAM.

cofIs this still life?

Consequently I am not going to be able to keep up with everyone’s blogs anywhere near as much as I would like to, but normal service will be resumed upon my return.