University: Blackpool & the Fylde College and Lancaster University
Genre: Fine Art
Artist Statement: The series This is Not a Nude is an exploration of the female form and the politics that surround the nude photograph. I photographed a range of female subjects nude and my interest lay in folding the photographic paper to change the appearance of the body to create complex shapes that conceals and reveals the fragility of the female subject while hinting at the way society and the media place a ‘mold’ on the idea of femininity.
What are some standout moments from your time at university? Having a wonderful mentor, Sarah Eyre in my 3rd year of University. Sarah nurtured my creativity, let me explore and be completely process led. I finally found myself as an artist and I went from finding the course difficult to it becoming second nature. I believe that having a tutor or mentor that connects with you and your work definitely helps in pushing forward.
What themes do you find yourself exploring? Women; I am constantly drawn to the female form, the issues and gender politics that surround the idea of being female.
What are the biggest influences on your photography? I feel I have many different influences from TV, movies, video games, painters, sculptors, collage artists and photographers. I like to think I borrow a little piece from each source that feeds into my work, whether you see it in my work or it has just helped me along in my process led projects.
I imagine it’s difficult to find people willing to be photographed naked. How did you find and approach the subjects for the project This is Not a Nude? I started by asking peers to let me photograph them in jeans and a bra, once I did that and I knew I was going to be folding the work, I had examples to be able to create a casting call. The casting call wasn’t as successful as I had hoped and I realised that finding people willing to be photographed nude was tough. But once I photographed one person, produced work where no identity was being shown, people started to get interested and behind the project. I ended up photographing 13 different people, one to four shoots per person over the course of 4 weeks.
How did you discover your interest in distorting the nudes by folding the paper? As I also create collage work I am always interested in the way folds affect the paper. I wanted the viewer to see the image and not concern themselves with the ideals of the female image, I knew that if I folded the image a certain way that you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between size 16 and size 8, creating an illusion and an attraction before comparisons to the “norm” are made.
Did each image and its aesthetic influence the way you folded the paper? I tried to fold the paper to hold with the shape of the body. It sounds strange but I could see the architectural aspect of the body and I could see the folds I needed to make, though I did sketch ideas and test before making the final folds.
Why do you feel the need to explore the female form and women in general? The ideas and concepts all stem from personal experiences in my life and the fact that I have two daughters. I don't want to change people’s perception but rather ask them to question the idea of the female form, that you don’t have to look like the “standard” or the “norm” in order to be accepted or successful in the world.
I am also intrigued by the female form, how each person is different and what bodies are capable of.
How did you choose the background for this work? I had some influence from viewing other people’s work. I photographed the folded paper on different backgrounds but nothing stood out. Creating a set gave it more depth and an intimate setting. I could see how I wanted to exhibit the work so I tried to photograph it how I would like to see it in an installation.
How would you exhibit this work? This work has been exhibited in a set of three framed images, but if I were to exhibit again I would like to create an installation where the sculptural pieces would be on show rather than placing the images behind glass.
Is the project This is Not a Nude complete? If not, how do you intend to continue? I don’t think this is a complete project; I would love to photograph more women to explore more demographics and possibly create new sets. If you’re in the North West and want to be a part of the project, drop me an email ;)
Do you have any influences that are a constant source of inspiration when starting new work, and if so who/what? Magazines I love are Source, BJP, Dazed and Confused, Hunger, Frieze, AnOther and Hotshoe.
I use Pinterest where I save a variety of work to create mood boards from paintings, sculptures, collage artists and photographers. I keep my favourite artists bookmarked and continue to check their blog and website for new work. Reality TV actually plays a role in my thought/idea process, as well as video games and TV shows like Hannibal, Dare Devil and Dexter, I just love the overall darker aesthetic.
To name a few artists/photographers whose work is an inspiration, in no particular order; Cig Harvey, Nick Knight, Vasilisa Forbes, Tim Walker, Paolo Roversi, David Penny, Mario Testino, Annie Leibovitz, Paul Kooiker, Helmet Newton, Linder Sterling, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Francesca Woodman and Joyce Tenneson.
How have you found being a graduate? It has actually been quite different than I imagined. I don’t think I was quite ready for it even though I had a fair idea of what it would be like. I don’t think anything can prepare you. I miss assignments and having that instant feedback from crit sessions. Life gets in the way and it can be hard to start and fund a new project.
What advice would you give to a current photography student? To explore photography as much as you can, always shoot, never let negative criticism affect your photography but know when to listen, change and adapt. Use your peers to practice on even if you don’t want to photograph people, it will give you skills that you wouldn’t otherwise have. Don’t forget to enjoy it because time flies by before you know it.
Tell us about any new projects you're developing or wish to develop in the near future? I haven’t been very well and I am in therapy receiving treatment for PTSD, depression and anxiety, so it has taken it’s toll on my ability to produce work effectively, but I am using this experience to develop a personal project and an exploration of memories. One of these images was in an Alumni exhibition at The Gallery, Blackpool and the Fylde College School of Creative Arts. Some of the images will be released on my blog very soon.
Another project I am working on is a family project with old photographs. It will be a long process, and it is a very fresh idea.
What are your aspirations for the future? Where do you see your work taking you next? I would love to develop my two current projects, get them exhibited and create a book. If I am honest, I don’t know where I see my work taking me and I like that; it has a sense of freedom. I am not 100% structured, if I am not panicking or under pressure I am not working hard enough.