The Archive: Alice; Not All There

The Archive: Alice; Not All There

Was it a dream? Was it a hallucination? Whatever it was, Alice wasn’t really there (I’m pretty sure Wonderland isn’t a real place, all the rabbit holes I’ve explored just ended in dirt), so with that main theme in mind, I embarked on a very self indulgent set of prehistoric selfies and amazing in camera double exposures.

24371229382_0289d980ae_b24183951390_d6647f842f_b24453317046_5e95b3e378_b23851329794_e9ff4abd43_b24111763449_71494ea0ca_b24371225342_9ed1028dac_b23852712963_2e4f87d573_b

Somehow this concluded the work for the Alice project. I’m not sure what happened, the sketchbook just ends, but I have a box of prints and negatives including a few undeveloped rolls?!? I know a breakup happened, and as we know, at 17, that’s massive. Though looking back, I was totally the proverbial dick – so to that guy, I’m sorry. There is an evaluation in the sketch book though and the next one is for exam prep (exciting times coming up!) so that’s probably a factor.

Though the project fizzled out, it’s still one of my best bodies of work, maybe not technically, but because of the size of it and the sincere intent to make pieces that have substance. At this point I glanced the idea that photography could be art, that photography is art.

I still have to remind myself that. In this day and age where photography has become such an enormous umbrella, it’s hard to remember that Art is one of it’s segments. Especially when it’s easy to be bombarded by the photography of social media, where the images are mainly scantily clad women, for no other sake than provocative. And for a long time I hitched myself onto that, and the goal became flimsy and self seeking. It wasn’t why I started photography. I lost sight of what I wanted from the medium. That in it’s self was very dramatic.

There’s nothing wrong with shooting nudes, and there’s nothing wrong with the proactive media (as long as it’s all consensual, well managed and all parties are transparent in their motives). I like making beautiful images of women. It can be really empowering in the right context, but for me, it’s not substantial and it’s one dimensional. It’s not really what I want to do, to be known for.

I’m still working on what my “thing” is. I’m not rushing it, and that’s okay. At the moment my heath (which is rats at the moment) needs my focus and more importantly, my daughter. She’s the best.

Okay, so that’s the Alice project done. Coming up next is exam prep and final pieces. It’s more exciting that it sounds! There’s fire!!!

The Archive: Alice; The White Rabbit & Pals

The Archive: Alice; The White Rabbit & Pals

Before I start, I need to thank my Father for making this happen. Without his patience, and importantly, his car, we wouldn’t have been able to get to the location. I think it took about six return trips to get us all there and back again. Thanks Dad.

I also need to thank Sylvia and Bernard Holmes, who allowed me to bring a bunch of hoodlums to their home and run amok in their garden. Thank you.

23199791043_23a9b0decc_b

So, as we all know, The White Rabbit is a key character in Alice’s adventures. Without him running around like a lunatic, she probably wouldn’t have got into such a pickle. Though, is she hadn’t been such a nosy little madam, helping herself to everything and breaking into houses, that too, might have saved her some trouble. But the rabbit was a tardy bunny and Alice was entitled, so the adventure began.

 

Capturing Alice’s insatiable need to get The White Rabbit was a challenge for my 17yo self. In the end I decided, that if I was Alice, and eventually caught up to the Rabbit, I’d be so pissed that he never answered me, I’d smash his face in.

Originally I thought about getting a dead rabbit and having Alice hold it, in a triumphant sort of way, but it was vetoed as I couldn’t expect Kate (Alice), who was only about 10, to happily do so. I was also a bit daunted by the prospect and it just made me think of my long dead pet rabbit, Pebbles. It was too emotional.

23198477624_23fb0ca06b_b

All the actors (my mates and sister’s mates), except the iconic Alice, were loosely styled to represent their character. I decided that I didn’t want it to be too “Disney” and twee. And without a budget to go avant garde, it could have easily ended up as such. So I left it to my expert story telling photo skills to do the talking.

23199705794_eb775d2585_b

The Caterpillar talks…

23800484136_66cc6b14a0_b23199810473_16d918a51c_b23459890449_c4bb04c231_b

Not all there….

23199801813_15e2fe11ed_b23458655039_9d1a71ab5e_b

Dumb Dee Dum

23826596785_0e0b45ab6f_b23458657369_e2d5e6c474_b23744124671_2b9fc1302f_b

23530914040_b71a16a00d_b23199797323_2d3eae8481_b

And finally; Alice’s complete disregard of the “rules” leads her to a life of vandalism and crime…

23719443812_fa70926950_b23827828295_12df9e658e_b

These images are just the ones that made it into my book. There’s countless test prints, unused images and experiments, which I still have, all piled into a box. I hate to think how many trees were cut down to facilitate this.

And this isn’t even the end of the project.

I do drop the heavy Alice stylising and go a bit more conceptual, with a nod to the books, which you’ll see.

That’s it for this year, I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and New Year. When I return I will be bringing a selfie game so strong it makes the Jenners look weak as wafer ham. For reals.

Anyway, in the mean time you can keep up with me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, links to which can be found round the blog.

Jeux Noel!

 

The Archive: Alice; Tea Party

The Archive: Alice; Tea Party

This is still the biggest project that I set out to do, so the next few (more than few) posts will be all from “The Alice in Wonderland Project”.

At the end of our first year we were asked to think about our final year project that would span the whole year, so it had to be good. I knew that this was my time to shine and do something epic, but also something that would appeal to my mates so I could rope them in and just have a blast.

I had come across Annie Leibovitz’s Alice in Wonderland spread for Vogue, and in awe of the colours, surrealness and beauty I decided “I’ll lift that”. Don’t worry, I didn’t just copy, I had a concept; The Adult Issues found in Alice in Wonderland. A concept that was spawned from a book lent to me by my friend Lira; Lewis Carroll, Photographer by Helmut Gernsheim .

I vaguely knew that Carroll took some photographs, but not to the extent and to the subject that is explained in this book. If you don’t want to ruin the Disney version, or even the lovely twee romanticism of the books, don’t read that book and don’t read the rest of this post and subsequent posts. Just look at the pictures.

23343484285_f4178c867b_b23047696520_2fd7f2f6b2_b

Turns out that Mr Carroll had a lot of troubles; Opium, eating disorders, the questionable fascination with little girls, particularly that of Alice Liddell, the real life Alice, and generally a disconnection to reality. All of which I’ll go into more depth as we go.

23343481805_5a403c22cc_b

The Tea Party scene pretty much encapsulates all the issues, and is such an iconic “event” that it would have been daft, if not moronic, to not get my mates over, throw a tea party in my parent’s garden and rope in my sister’s friend’s younger sister because she was cute and blonde and had a dress! It was a beautiful day.

22715116534_766cd24dba_b22975551239_dc00d60d0c_b

In that Tea Party scene, as I’ve said, there’s a lot going on. The social gathering and it’s eccentricity, apparently Carroll would swing his tea pot from side to side to get the perfect brew; The grown men, who are clearly not compos mentis, who have this, flippant attitude to Alice, but ultimately intrigued with her company, she also flips from having fun to being annoyed with them; And the various riddles and questions about reality which arise throughout the story.

22716331483_1384f36aa7_b23343478345_9509540d28_b

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the first time that I really saw that photography might be able to go beyond what you get in a fashion magazine, and really be something that goes over into the realm of conceptual art.

I also don’t think I’ve enjoyed making work as much as this. Everyone was wonderful and worked hard, it was fantastic. So to all my Alice players, wherever you are now, thank you.

23260920161_4935edbee1_b

Next time; there’s a caterpillar, a cat, a white rabbit and some excellent photoshopping.

I’m currently scouring all the reference books I used to find the quotes and information to back all this up, but teenage Jemma didn’t reference well. But when I do, I will include a bibliography. In the mean time, there’s loads of articles and you can view the biography online.

The Archive: Composition & Days Out

Warning: This is a MEGA post.

composistion16a

Any art student worth their salt will know how to make a new project brief fit work already made. This means that time that would be spent making new stuff can actually be used for sleep, replaying A Link to the Past and eating Reeces’ Cups. It was a magical time.

So when we were set with the project of exploring composition and understand it’s uses, I was like “heck yeah, just use them photos from them days out!”.

composistion1composistion2composistion3

Much composition! I know it really doesn’t look like much, but it was literally set for a week’s work to occupy us whilst the new first years were being sorted out by the tutors.

But I took a fair amount of photos that summer, mainly in preparation for our final year project, which will come up later, but also from some days out.

It was a good summer.

I had mainly male friends, I found guys easier to hang out with, but I did have one girlfriend, who was my very best. Sadly we drifted apart and I do miss her. Anyway, most days out revolved around skating and taking photos of said skating. It was great.

composistion6acomposistion5

composistion7

composistion20acomposistion17a

I really miss that time, that age. Life was lived in the now, not worrying about anything. We we’re old enough to enjoy our independence but still young enough that we didn’t have to worry about bills, or work (other than that horny weirdo manager at Pizza Hut), the biggest concern was lack of pocket money, to buy CD’s and stickers and Lucozade.

composistion18acomposistion14bcomposistion9composistion8bcomposistion8acomposistion19composistion13bcomposistion4bcomposistion6bcomposistion11acomposistion15acomposistion17bcomposistion13acomposistion18bcomposistion11bcomposistion14acomposistion12bcomposistion15bcomposistion12a

I went to Havering Sixth Form Collage, so we either went into London town (a lot) or down to Southend (before it got mega shite) for ice cream and visits to Honky Tonks of PMT for new  guitar picks or drum sticks (I like to play).

composistion20b

The college hasn’t changed much, except for added buildings and security gates that make it look like a state federal. But I miss it, and I regret how the last term was spent in fall outs and loosing friends due to shitty teenage relationship politics bollocks.

Kids, when adults tell you that you’ll miss school and that it was the best time of your life; they ain’t lying. Don’t wish it away, and don’t ruin it with petty squabbles. Enjoy the bollocks off it.

composistion10

The Archive: The Graveyard

The Archive: The Graveyard

Any photographer worth their salt should have at least one set of images from the local graveyard. Like getting excessively drunk on your 18th birthday, it’s a right of passage.

graveyard4

This was our first field trip as a class (50meters down the road) and I remember being really anxious about the whole event. I remember thinking “be amazing”, which is ridiculous, but I was 16, and determined to be the next David Bailey. I also felt like a twat; slightly uncomfortable, wandering round a graveyard taking photos and bumping into the occasional mourner.

graveyard

But I’ll never forget the joy and pride of successfully processing my own film.

You’re standing in pitch black, cracking open a canister with your teeth because someone has misplaced the film grabber thing, all the while aware that you have to not touch the film, just the sides and cut it in the right place and get it onto this spool that becomes impossible to navigate when the lights go out, thinking “shit did I mix enough developer? is it the right temperature?! FUCK IT’S DARK IN HERE. Shit, who’s hand is that….” Then once the lights are back on you pray to all the Gods that you shut the developer pod properly. No wonder my anxiety went through the roof.

graveyard2

Oh but the delight when you cracked it all open and the film comes out in this beautiful long grey strip, all processed and ready to be washed, hung and dried. Happy Days.

 graveyard3

I hope you’ve appreciated the cool contact print effects. I clearly thought I was at the height of photographic innovation!