Tag Archives: art

A path offered


I’ve been a little quiet on this Blog since starting back on my final year doing a BA Creative Practice (Photography).

Over the summer, in fact over the last year a number of changes in my life have resulted in my path taking a slightly different direction than I originally thought. My path over the summer turned to end of life, particularly the practices and rituals around death, dying and bereavement. I’ve also been blessed with meeting some truly wonderful, wonderful people who have signposted this path. Whether it be the balance between heartache and heartwarming or just listening to my ‘bliss’ in each moment.  Suddenly the images I am producing start to make more sense. As a good friend would put it “I am in the flow”.

So let me introduce you a little into my work these last few months and some of the people that have influenced me.

Rocky, I simply must start with Rocky, a true Yorkshire Cowgirl. Rocky lives on her ranch between Barnsley and Holmfirth. When I say ranch, I mean Ranch with a capital R. A wood built log cabin, overlooking hills, moorland and fields, with a nearby Pennine Trail that she rides her four horses along and to a nearby reservoir.

The day I met her, she was on the trail with friend Sue. They climbed off their horses and strode into the cafe where I was sat. I knew immediately I wanted to photograph them. The day of the photographs was terrible weather, but I persevered and they did too, In hindsight it was this patience that led to one of my favourite images, of all the images I have ever taken. Two of these images were produced in the Times along with Rocky’s story as a direct result of that photoshoot.

Then there is Ria, beautiful, beautiful Ria. I came across Ria on a website called Helpful Peeps. She offered to sit for a portrait but I learned much more about her than just these pictures. Ria’s son Gareth died earlier this year. Our conversation turned to grief, plans, not making plans and how life continues despite such heartbreaking tragedy. I asked Ria to recount funny stories of Gareth as we took these images.  At a later shoot we held a memorial with two close friends of Ria’s on Cleethorpes beach. The following week Ria was due to attend an inquest detailing the cause of her son’s death. The sunset was blazen pink that evening in Cleethorpes. A mothers love and deep distress was crystal clear, even through the smiles.



Where is the love?

It is national writing day today, as well as the solstice. A time for welcoming and being grateful for the sun and fine weather.

Go silently was meant to be about finding calm in a chaotic world. a world where we are thrown into a media mix of news, advertising, and social networking. Everywhere is vying for our attention, access to our purse, our support or our opinion. Noise is frequently all around us pulling us ither and tither. Go Silently was meant to be a pause, a period of stillness within the noise, not outside of it. Right now I find myself outside of it and wanting to be a million miles way from it.

Today I sat in the pedestrian area in Sheffield city centre. I watched the world going by. So much diversity, so much poverty and a lot of difference. I saw addiction, I saw homelessness, I saw power being abused and I saw desperation. I did not come away inspired by humanity between all these people. Which brings me to love. I saw no love.

In that hour and a half of pure watching, never once did I witness any love. The opposite of love is not hate… it is selfishness. What I did see was a great deal of selfish behaviour. People so wrapped up in their own world that doors closed on elderly with shopping, mums with babies in arms toppled and fell on the tram unable to find a seat.

Smiling, giving up a seat, saying hello, welcome, how are you? greeting strangers as friends, helping one another, waiting for someone, being patient, being accommodating, being selfless all easy things to do, surely?

Perhaps I was not being loving enough, not projecting all those values that I believe in. I am not sure what made me hold back from being the one to offer love. I have had a very tough time physically lately and today needed my walking stick to get about. Going from occasional mobility problems to virtually constant pain has made me withdraw a little. My hesitation to love feels like more than that though. I feel I have given too much physically, and emotionally recently and it has left my well of humanity rather dry. So dry that it feels like there is nothing left for me to give. How I refill that supply I am not sure. I am around people who are happy to take all that I can offer at no or little cost to them and with but a tiny trickle of love offered in return.

I think it time I found myself a new circle of people to love.

Connecting the Dots

Steve Jobs gave a talk to Stanford University students graduating. In that talk he said that looking back he could now see connections between different events on his life path . At the earlier event he had no idea the particular passions or interests would be useful further down the road, he was just doing what he loved. The example he gave was attending Calligraphy class at college and then using that learning ten years later on building the Mac.He called these events or passions dots.

In response to this, I have drawn out my own path of dots so far. The result is not really what I expected yet it is what I should have expected. Here are all the things I have been passionate about in a rough chronological order.

  • Den building
  • Climbing trees
  • Being outside dawn til dusk – nature
  • Folk song Raggle Taggle Gypsy
  • Stories, poetry, books, reading
  • Campfires
  • Spirituality/healing/alternative medicine
  • Art/creativity/imagination
  • Biographical storytelling
  • Mystical traditions
  • Natural ways of living
  • Empowerment / freedom / change
  • Environmental  issues / recycling / leave no trace
  • Change / Improvement / Communication – telling it as it is
  • Music / festivals
  • Travel, exploring
  • Walking
  • Wild camping
  • Gardening
  • Photography

Seeing these ‘dots’ my Photography starts to make a more sense. I would challenge any one to look at my portfolio and not see these ‘dots’ reflected back. Themes of nature, mysticism, exploration and life stories are everywhere.

Thank you Steve Jobs, for bringing it all together.

Wharncliffe Side

One Last Frame

I never got tired of wandering with camera, I thought it would always be this way. How wrong I was. I spent the best part of yesterday trekking to National Portrait Gallery, London, and back. Then today another gallery in Leeds to look at some important work I would like to get involved in.

As always when I am out with camera I was buzzing once there. I loved every moment of taking these, of simply being and so much interest and beauty to capture. I enjoyed seeing the portraits as part of the  Taylor Wessing Portrait prize exhibition and the added bonus of some Anthony Gormley’s watercolours.

But then the London trip involved being sat on a coach for three and a half hours each way, the rush of the underground with steps (I’m currently disabled), and the sheer effort of getting from a-b complete with heavy gear. I was completely worn out.

Achy and in a lot of pain in Leeds today I was late for the talk I was attending.The people traffic at the station was immense and I got stuck at a ticket gate.

I pushed on anyway and was lucky enough to still meet the curators of the ‘Dying Matters’ exhibition.  I still had an interesting conversation, but it was rushed, i was in pain and flustered by this point. They could probably tell. The pictures I got are dark and foreboding, even they show how I was experiencing the world when I took them.

A friends shared a link to  a documentary video called ‘one last frame’ by  Norwegian artist Niels Windfeldt.

Essentially the conversation is about the magic, specialness or consciousness of photography becoming lost in the ‘obsession’ of just taking pictures. Although beautiful and thought provoking it triggered a heavy doubt in my mind about my own work.

This is where I get demotivated and wonder what it is all for and about. If my passion is photography or image making and it becomes or is just an obsession does that mean that I lose the focus, the raison d etre for having my camera with me and going to these places? Do I make these images for myself, and only myself, obsession and all, or do I make them to share with the world, take them or leave them?

The smallest of adventures these days is such a physical challenge. Is there any point?

A day on, a sleep later and a chat with the friend that shared One Last Frame and I am sitting easier with this doubt a little bit.

My images are my search for personal truth and meaning. I see the world in my own unique way and sometimes I take pleasure in sharing it even if it goes nowhere or does not get appreciated by others. This is why I love photography.

Photography has brought me closer to people, closer to places and closer to understanding myself and my personal values. If that is all it ever does then it has been worthwhile. No matter how much of a challenge the process becomes.

My one last frame will be the one right in front of me when I leave this world silently. And that is ok.

Photography Portfolio

Please go take a look at my full WordPress portfolio. It contains an eclectic selection of my photography.

It is safe to say that I do not yet have a particular subject matter. I would love to know what you think, which are your favourite or least favourite images?


Please go take a look and let me know.




Ways of Creating

An amazing soul passed away recently.

John Berger changed the direction of my photography career. This is why I now refer to myself as a Artist rather than a photographer.

I  first came across John Berger in an  online interview with Susan Sontag, another brilliant mind. I was doing research for a essay titled ‘Gender through the Lens’. Sontag had much to say. However Berger’s fascinating questions and approach were so interesting I had to find out more.To tell a Story

What I took from the research that followed was this.  Berger’s view was that more needs to be considered other than the art itself when making and viewing art. He refers to the placing of it, the environment of it, the mindset of the person viewing it, surrounding images, context of it (if in an article etc). He also summarised the idea that art can and does have a life of its own and it can go on to have many different meanings. The creator is it’s humble servant, giving birth to it and then  releasing it into the world . ‘Ways of seeing’ was broadcast in 1972 but it is still relevant today.

Another great mind John Ruskin, argued in his essay ‘on art and life’; that art which is created following rules is actually manufacture. Artists creating work to rules were but tools of the production process not true artists per se. He uses the example of a sculpture working to a plan or a map working in stone. If we take one of the largest European buildings to have stone sculptures – the Sacra familia in Barcelona, we can see this point  is proven. Each and every sculpted element on this great cathedral is created by a craftsman, not an artist. The artist is Antonio Gaudi the architect. Artists manifest an internal thought, dialogue or idea regardless of rules,  conformity.

Agree or not, both these ways of thinking could apply equally well to photography. On Ruskin’s point a painter still needs to know how to apply paint, (s)he still needs to know about posture, light/dark, and (s)he still needs to be able to make the image appear on the canvas – how is this not different than with a photographer? We need to understand the tools that get us to the image in our minds and do this free from as many rules as possible – in this case the tool is the camera, but using it is not the end goal, the image is. Understanding  the technical equipment alone does not make the result any more artistic than giving an elephant a paint brush.

And so with Berger’s views. To create an image is to give birth to something, to evolve it from within your own imagination first and then use the tool of the camera to assist in bringing it to life. After this it will have a life of it’s own. It will be interpreted and read in many ways, the same as a painting. Where it is shown, how it is shown, with what it is shown will all bring different meaning to it. This can be a wonderful thing? Like Mark Rothko though as the artist you may want to think carefully about the environment work gets shown in, where and how it is shown to minimise mis interpretation.

In Tenebrous (Darkness within)

Artist’s Statement

In Tenebrous (Latin for ‘darkness within’) is a conceptual portfolio containing eight images.

  • Wall
  • Tidal
  • Shadow
  • Weather
  • Eclipse
  • Woods
  • Release
  • Lost

Each image represents a different inner quality or frustration. They are not passing judgement nor a sympathy card, but simply a reflection of what is going on internally.

So often what concerns us is outward appearance. This is particularly true in photography where even modest beautifying adjustments are standard. However, I really wanted to reflect on the private inner face, a portrait of the spirit if you like. Sometimes it is visible sometimes it is not.

The images are framed almost entirely in black with illumination in the form of LED lights placed around the edges, as though casting light. The intention is that the images should be viewed in a dark space. I want the viewer to feel as though they are seeing something normally hidden or out of sight. This is a private exploration therefore each image calls for dignity and privacy.

I would hope that through photography I can start to show more things as they really are, no one is without their In Tenebrous.

January 2017