So as I begin this project I want to look into some photographers who are inspiring me to push and shape my project and start to help me build up a visualisation of how I see the photographs becoming.
The first artist I am going to look into is Paula McCartney, and her book Bird Watching. I absolutely love this book. It’s such an innocent, child like book full of fascinating things that I feel I have dreamt of when I was little. The whole idea behind this book is McCartney using artificial birds she has bought from ebay or craft stores and using them to create stunning portraits. She travelled three winters around America to create these beautiful images, and the locations are really stunning, and really add to the fairy tale “cute” appeal. I think the important thing to understand when looking at McCartney’s work is that there is nothing unreal about these images, the birds are completely fake, but it is your mind that tricks you into believing that these are real birds and when you read that they are not then you feel like a little bit of a fool and feel like you have been tricked.
The book is so well put together, the photographs aren’t the main content within this, there is so much more. There are diagrams of the birds, informational grids on them each (just like a professional bird watcher would record), and leaves selo-taped in in an informal manner, and even diary entries from McCartney herself about her experience of the day and her reactions to the birds. This has inspired me already, I want to think about the maps I use and routes I take, wild flowers, nature’s animals, my own experiences documented and even showing my blistered feet that have carried me through this journey. This will form almost a documentary record of my experience.
I also was intrigued by the range of sources she uses throughout her book and in particular her memoir. She mentions certain zoologists and ornithological illustrators that have helped her expand her creative knowledge. I feel like this is important for me to form too, I want to look at certain poets and experienced walkers that will help me strengthen my idea. I really appreciate this book and I urge you to take a look at it because you will definitely see something that catches your eye.
The next artist that I want to explore is Scottish photographer, Sophie Gerrard. Her images in the series “Drawn to the land” are so beautiful; they have a certain bleak and dewy look to them, that’s my idea of perfection. I would love it if my images would show a certain Gerrard way of looking. I haven’t really been interested in landscape photography, but these images have a narrative to them and I feel like if I was to have the same approach I would feel a strong connection and enthusiasm to my own project.
She created this project with the idea of looking at farming and in particular women farmers. Her work forms the exhibition of “Beyond the Border”, and the four photographers that make up this Scottish exhibition all have the same thing in common and I’m not talking about the fact they are all Scottish, it’s the fact that they have all moved or worked abroad and have felt the need to come back to their home and document it. They all show this emotional and physical connection to the land. I feel like I am in a similar situation to these four, I have only travelled just under four hours to attend university, but I feel this loss of home and most importantly there are no fields in which I can think and talk to myself in. I also miss walking the countryside, I use to do this quite often for my Duke of Edinburgh’s, but now I suppose I don’t have the time and never perhaps had a reason to walk long distance.
I also like that Gerrard doesn’t stick to the traditional way of thinking, you presume she will just take photographs of the woman and the farming ways, but she does more than that, she photographs there possessions, their drink that they have left whilst attending to animals and the routes she might go on to take. I need consider this in my own work, as this will help to create a full experience that will bring back this sense of reality for my viewers to understand. I also feel the need to perhaps bring my idea in closer to create this realistic narrative that my viewers will understand and be intrigued by. Gerrard’s work has also made me question the medium that I am going to choose, perhaps out of date colour film to get the same weakness in tones. I want to continue to research Gerrard and how she adapts with the weather as this is a major factor within my work as it is the middle of winter, so that would definitely be helpful.
I am also looking at the work of Justin Partyka. Having no previous interest in landscape photography I was surprised to be so interested with his work. I am not so sure that I am fond of his “field work” but I am finding his exploration into the shapes of the land, and particularly the trees he chooses, actually quite interesting. They some how become there own narratives. I am also appreciating the way he adapts with weather, the images do not share the same look as perhaps Gerrard’s bleak looking way, but he emphasise the sun shining or the bitter winter. And I feel like this something that I want to work with. I don’t want each place that I’ve visited to have the same generic aesthetic feel, I want each place to be recorded having a unique feel or something different about it that stands out, and hopefully this will help to show that this is a moving journey process of different trips and walks that I’m exploring.
His locations for these shoots are mainly based in the north and East Anglia, and he searches for defining agricultural features, which is really nice as I am from some of the places he’s worked in. I think it would be nice to do a shoot back home in the north to see if I can gain that connection that Partyka and Gerrard have with there homes. Partyka also makes me want to explore more into the specific features of the land, the dead fox, the farmers and the plants and trees that all define it.
After look into these initial photographers it has given me even more enthusiasm to get really stuck in with these project and helped me try to visualise what I want to achieve. The weather may not be on my side but these have all showed me how to work with it, as well as showing me you need that narrative and focal point to create a great piece that will attract your viewer.