We recently returned from France where my disposition was brought to light by a woman who found it peculiar. I have always been some kind of shy. I’ve never wished to be anything else. My world is gentle and quietly wild, a walled and untamed garden. In a lilac scented reverie I realised just how much this translates into my art, particularly my photography. All is dainty, obscured, hidden. The details of a forgotten corner of a room, the light peeking through the leaves, fallen eye contact.
The quintessence of my shy spirit was appeased whilst driving through the wooded roads of Normandy. We chanced upon a brocante place in a little village where cats formed the majority of the population. It was in an old barn dusted with pink blossoms fallen with the storm. Outside sat weathered white iron lace chairs with glass jugs perched atop them slowly filling with rain water. We opened the door to a dark and silent cave. The stirring dust and all manner of treasures glinted in the ribbons of light seething through the cracks of the wood while silhouettes of statues whispered in the corners. The keeper of this magnificent hoard materialised behind us and in (very) broken French we managed a conversation about my vintage hat. After recognising our mutual appreciation for historical fashion she invited me up to the loft where the shelves, floor to ceiling, were brimming with sleeping boxes each filled with Chantilly lace and silks and beadwork. Their guardian spent an hour trifling through old suitcases telling me about the women who had worn this hat and that jabot and where she found these velvet dresses. I left with some fabric and delicate things from the nineteenth century and she gave us a beautiful doily as a late wedding gift. I wish I could have told her how happy she had made me.
p.s. When I expressed my bewilderment at the vastness of the violets outside the woman we were lodging with told me that ants carry the seeds of violets through grasses and the tangled roots of hedgerows. The shy blossoms are jewels in the shadow of their marching chains.
As yet untitled.
The subjects of pre-Raphaelite photographs appear to have evanescent quality. Ghostly, as though they have appeared only to be witnessed in this moment and once the eye moves up from the lens to glimpse them they have vanished. Not tethered to this earth, their outlines blur and blossom. Light scatters through them as though they are made of frosted crystal.
The photographs below are an attempt to capture such a feeling, such a softness. The gaze towards the viewer is piercing; a sharpness that cuts through the fragile web the bird’s-breath softness of this fairy world is swathed in.
The gypsophila crown was made in the haze of the warm days preceding the expedition to the grove beyond the hill to visit the waterfall named “Spite”. The dress had a far longer journey to make however. Using moons and suns to navigate her way through trecherous war torn decades, slumbering briefly in the trunks of kind, mortal custodians, she eventually came to reach us here in a new century.
Digital components of my project: Left Behind.
Capturing The Widow (she who is left behind) in a similar manner to the portraits of the 19th century. The world in which she lives is not set in a specific time, it is an amalgamation of all that has come before her.
The set was created with original antique objects including my grandmothers gossamer wedding dress. The costume is original 19th century found in Haworth which was, in part, the inspiration for the project.
35mm film photography.
A time capsule of haunted moments.
An exploration of the fragments of a life otherwise lost.
The stillness of an empty heart and home.
The past year has been hard. I drove straight though the blinding fog of what could be considered emotional exhaustion and right into the realm of the living dead. Though at present I am in no mind to dwell on what was as the idea of what could be presents something that stirs the embers deep in my stomach which I had long believed to be expired.
The belief that one cannot appreciate light without darkness is one I can attest to. I can especially vouch for the intensified effects of light after such a lengthy journey into the dark. Winter and I are tolerable acquaintances under the best of circumstances but when my inner world is parallel to the tenacious bleakness of the outer I find myself filled with abhorrence for the season. I become saturated in viscous darkness.
A spring-like day comes inevitably though seemingly reluctantly and the clouds conspire to break. Light falls onto my forehead like the flickering gleam of a penny falling into the depths of a wishing well. In my new found sight I recall what it is to experience the soft sparkle of joy, the sensation lapping at my feet and swelling until I feel I could float away in effortless bliss.
Somewhere, simultaneously, a snowdrop unfurls. How gently it does so, the miraculous consequence of it’s existence unbeknownst to it, like a saint born into the placid stillness of a new day. The delicate deities gather in the shadow of old cottage walls and tangled hedgerows, hallowed untrodden ground, where to happen upon their radiance is a blessing.
In this I recognise the magic of stumbling upon something unexpected and enchanting and the delight with which the intimate encounter is beheld. If there is one thing I wish to convey through my art, to offer to another, if only one, it is this experience. But to capture this feeling and relay a reproduction of it is not the same. The stream must be received directly and unbroken. Perhaps such an intangible quality is inherently impossible to mould into something to present to another, such moments are precious and cannot be attained by being sought. In thrusting a creation forth into the eyes of the observer this first, pure instance of wonder is dissolved and so, I believe, whatever creation materialises must be left to be discovered. It must be allowed to unfold, as softly, as vulnerably as a snowdrop.
This last year, maybe two, have been the most intense and beautiful I’ve experienced so far in this little life of mine. It’s been a whirlwind of life and death and everything in between.
Here’s a brief timeline of what happened:
We got engaged on Beltane 2016 and handfasted on Litha 2017. We crafted the wedding and everything in it ourselves and it was truly magical. We went to America, the first time for me, and watched Harri’s sister Jemima get married to a wonderful man called Ben in the Brooklyn botanical gardens. Almost exactly a year before that we were at his brother, Sam, and lovely Charlie’s intimate ceremony in London. Three siblings, three weddings, one year.
I’ve formed friendships, strengthened old ones and grown from shared and surreal experiences.
I started university to do fine art, something I never thought I’d do… and I’m enjoying it. I needed a space and time in which to explore my art and my relationship with it and this is my opportunity to do it.
We went to Paris twice and fell in love. I am now a francophile.
We finally decided to pursue our dream of living and travelling in a converted van, gave it up and moved into our first house. We hated it. Our newfound resilience is our only reward. As I write we have just moved into our second home: a fairytale, or “rom-com” as my friend calls it, cottage… and it’s about as perfect as a place could be for us.
It’s so peaceful and inspiring here. I feel like a cat in a new box. My excitement for creating has returned and I’m rejuvenated, or getting there. I want to bring all my ideas and visions into being and be more open about it. How else can you understand or connect? I need to re-learn that opening your heart means being vulnerable. And I think that the space between open hearts is where that love grows.
So, hopefully I will stick with this and I will bloom.