University: Falmouth University
Genre: Fine Art
Artist Statement: My main area of interest lies in macro and landscape photography, influenced by environmental issues across the globe. I am fascinated by consumerism – specifically technological, and the influence that our desire for the latest item has on our environment. In my latest body of work Fragmented Technology, I photographed minerals that we need to make a computer, and the effects it has on our environment. Despite being on a shoestring student budget, and unable to get to places like Indonesia (tin) and Australia (bauxite), I used what I had around me (closed-down mines in Cornwall) to illustrate my concern. I find it amazing when people upgrade their systems so their video games run better on their new equipment, because they’re literally choosing the virtual world over the real one.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? At the beginning of my second year we had a group set build project in one of the studios. We made a jungle like scene, borrowing far too many potted plants from Homebase, and by the end, the studio was transformed. Although, looking back, the set build was not wonderful, I realised something: if you really put your mind to it, anything is possible.
Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into, and what themes do you find yourself exploring? I feel my work takes on a fine art photography approach, exploring themes surrounding environmental issues.
Your website states that you would like continue your personal work whilst in Palma, have you done this? What have you been working on whilst working abroad? I wish I had! I’ve been focusing on my internship and learning Spanish instead. I do have some ideas formulating in my head for later on this year and next year though.
You wrote about Instagram in your latest blog post. What do you like and dislike about the platform? Taking photographs has become so easy for everyone now – we all have cameras on our mobile phones and the option to upload these images somewhere – the world’s photographs are in our pocket every day. I like the accessibility that we have to some really wonderful imagery. Instagram can be fantastic to discover and get discovered. On the other hand, all social media has negative impacts, as we try to portray an idealised lifestyle.
What does using Instagram bring to your own work? I enjoy uploading my current work, and have recently been discovered myself by a couple of different galleries. It’s also nice to scroll back sometimes and see my old stuff too, and see how far I’ve progressed.
What was your thought process behind making Convergent Boundaries? Convergent Boundaries was the predecessor to Fragmented Technology. I juxtaposed the real against the virtual, creating some really quite wacky landscapes – I loved convincing people that these were real. The project was about photographic truth – what is “real” and what is “authentic” (Robins, 2014).
What encouraged you to include your dissertation on your website, are you particularly proud of producing it? I suppose I am quite proud! I enjoy the academic side of photography, and I got a first in my dissertation, so I thought I’d put it up, in case anyone was curious enough to read it.
Can you talk us through the process of digitally creating the landscapes in Convergent Boundaries using cartographic software? I started with a bleak landscape, and I changed the terrain, the colour, added in sea or a lake, added another sun or a planet, and played around with the light and shapes to get the imagery I was after.
Tell us about your internship in Spain. What has this opportunity given your practice? I’m working in a gallery as a Photography and Editing Assistant. The gallery is very ambitious, and we’re creating a new business venture, producing merchandise for tourists with an eye for good photography, illustration and design. It’s great doing so much for the gallery as I don’t feel like an intern, and I know I have a job that really counts. It’s been eye opening for me as for the first time I’m taking and editing photographs that fit a particular style that the gallery wants. It’s very different from my previous work…and I’m doing it, and I’m improving after each shoot, so it’s great.
What are you working on at the moment? Right now I’m focusing on honing in on my style, and working out exactly where I want my photography to take me. Photography is the key to the door; I just need to figure out which door I want to open.
How are you working on finding out where you want your photography to take you? There must be some really difficult decisions to be making? The images I have taken for my internship are very fresh and contemporary – it’s made me reflect on my last body of work a lot, and what I will change when I continue it. I also have to consider my career and make sure I don’t take a turning down the wrong path!
Have you got a favourite photo book? Can you tell us about it? Edward Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes. He creates incredibly beautiful manufactured landscapes in North America and Asia.
Above: "The latest catalogue myself and the design intern created together for an artist called Maria Gil Ulldemolins."
Which body of work did you create in your final year at university? Would you say you've progressed photographically since graduating? Fragmented Technology was the last one. I would say so!
Do you have any major theoretical influences that guide you through when making work? At university my bibliographies were always so big!! I tend to end up reading a lot of different stuff. I did find Joan Fontcuberta’s theoretical essays incredible, however.
How about any stand out photographers that you always turn to for visual inspiration? Oooh that’s hard! There are so many sources of visual inspiration nowadays that it’s difficult to pinpoint who is the most influential and inspiring.
Can you give one piece of advice to new graduates? Don’t compare yourself to others – perhaps your course mates have gotten further than you have 2 months, or 6 months, or even 2 years after graduating, but it doesn’t mean that they’re succeeding and you’re failing! Everyone progresses at different rates.