The Albatross Series

Back in 2017, I began struggling with my mental health. A lot of things happened in my personal and professional life in the years before but I chose to push through instead of reach out for help.

Consequently, one day I broke.

A woman sits bent forward on a wooden chair at a 45 degree angle to the camera. A gold hinge is embedded at her waist, allowing her to hang lifelessly forward.

The Albatross project came out of my counselling sessions. My counsellor was amazing and counselling was pivotal for me. The images started as responses to visualisation exercises during these sessions. Once counselling had finished, The Albatross Project became a cathartic process. It journeyed through destruction, rebuilding and rebirth. Until one day, I didn’t feel the need to create those images anymore. I had the desire to create different art, for the first time in almost two years.

There are unfinished images for this series and concepts that never got started. I had so many ideas for the brokenness, each idea being the visualisation of emotion, often pain.  I’m interested in how they would turn out being in a different place mentally.

A woman crouches on the ground, hands protecting her head In front of her is an old hurricane lamp. the lamp provides the only glimmer of light. She is surrounded by darkness.

However you choose to express what’s going on with you, the important thing is to express it. Get it out. Keeping everything in puts tremendous strain in your mind and your body. Eczema, IBS, allergies can be some of the symptoms your mental health is under stress. As well as panic attacks, trouble sleeping, self – medication with substances such as alcohol, trembling, forgetfulness.

The list is long and varied, which is why it can be difficult to realise that your mental health is not in good shape. Withdrawal from friends and family can be a sign. Often when you really don’t want to talk to or see people, it is the very time that you need to be taking to them. Make it either a professional counsellor or those in your very inner circle. Nobody else has earned access to the inner parts of you. I am so lucky to have an amazing immediate family. I’ve shed a lot of unnecessary and toxic people. My inner circle is small, but mighty :).

Woman sits on floor with her back facing. there are two larges holes in her back.

I have shared my own personal experiences and learnings. I didn’t realise I had so much to say! Everybody’s experiences are different, yet equally challenging. What is important is that we share them, in order to dissolve the taboo.

What I’ve learned: You’re not crazy. You’re working through some tough shit. You’ll get through it. You’ll be stronger. You’ll be wiser.

Check out the rest of the series in Collections

Fine Art Photography Awards 2019

Happy to share that both my latest projects have been nominated in the 5th Fine Art Photography Awards.

Part of ‘The Albatross’, titled ‘Journey to Restoration’, was a nominee in the conceptual category.

Time Thighs was nominated in the open theme category. Happy days 🙂

Stuck

It’s a lot easier to be stuck than you’d think. Getting unstuck, that’s hard. Knowing you are stuck, even harder.

I was stuck. Stuck in fear. Stuck in the past. I’m not stuck anymore.

I can feel my mind wandering down a different creative path. The Albatross Project is nearing it’s end. I have a few more images I want to add to the series, but I’m itching to create beyond it.

Waiting

Its easy to fall into the ‘waiting’ trap, Waiting for something to end, waiting for something to start, waiting in line. But here’s the thing: that ‘waiting’ bit, is called life. Live life, through the good and the bad. Don’t press pause, you miss so much.

My original idea didn’t include the bubble, I decided to add during processing. For me the bubbler symbolises my own life, and how it can become quite insular at times when I focussing on the wrong things.

Construction: Nikon D700, 50mm lens, self timer. I took the image of myself run my bedroom using a step ladder. My body is multiple composites, layered in Photoshop. The background is one I love from the house I used to live in, such beautiful light and space. The bubble came from an image @unsplash, a cool website where photographers share free images.


Wounded

Woman sits on floor with her back facing. there are two larges holes in her back.

Even the largest of wounds can heal. In time you will be whole again.

Construction: Nikon D700, 50mm, f, 1/80, ISO 500. The floor was created out of a laminate floor palette arrange on my bedroom carpet. For the hole I used a broken vase and the warp tool in Photoshop to get the shapes I wanted. I used replace colour to change the colour of the vase to match my skin and did some burning on a separate layer to add shadows. I then used curves, levels and selective colour to create the tones I wanted and added a couple of textures.

Loss

Loss

I’ve had two miscarriages this year, and I’m struggling. Both were missed or silent miscarriages, the baby stops growing but stays put. Both required surgery to remove them. It’s a lengthy process with multiple visits to the maternity unit, sat with very pregnant women and babies.

I feel sad. I feel numb. I feel lost. I feel lonely. There’s nothing I can do and it’s not my fault. I feel helpless. I feel like a failure.

Nobody talks about it. Nobody knows what to say when I do. It’s hard to talk about it. Writing it all down is therapeutic. It feels good to get it out. I could leave at this, but I think we need to be able to talk about it. So, I’m being brave.

25% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Currently my stats are 66%. Chances are you know someone. It’s hard to talk about. I almost feel ashamed. Why is it taboo?

I thought of this image after my first miscarriage, but I never finished it. I couldn’t. get to a place where I was happy with itI ‘m happy with it now. SO maybe this will be the start of moving on.

This is for the 25%, 50%, 66% or wherever you are in this process. I’m sending you love, courage and understanding. We’ll get there.

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Black Hole

Black hole2

There were times when I felt like my life was being sucked into a black hole. As if a huge vacuum cleaner was pulling me into this incredible darkness. I was holding onto my life with my finger tips as debris flew past me into the abyss. Some days are dark. Some days feel like this.

 

Construction:

Nikon D700, 50mm, f5.6, 1/80, ISO800. A self portrait using a remote trigger. I shot the image of myself jumping on my bed. It was quite sweaty work and took quite a few takes to get the pose I wanted. My room was dark and I wanted the right balance between bright, sharp image and motion blur. I photographed the drawers and lamp by holding them over my bed. The background is used from a previous shoot, the same one as in most of my images to maintain consistency within the series. I wanted the effect of the whole frame being pulled, so I photographed a bed sheet against my wall and gathered it slightly ,then added as a layer underneath.  Finally, I added textures and colour tweaks. All editing is done in Photoshop.

Kintsugi

 

Kintsugi

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing cracked or broken pottery. Where the broken pieces are joined with gold.

‘Wear you scars with pride and rejoice, for you have healed, and become stronger and more beautiful than before.

Celebrate your unique history, for without it, you cannot be what you are to become.’

This is my final image in the Albatross series. There are a few more I want to create to slot into the middle, but this is the end piece.

Kintsugi is the result of the journey through the albatross project. It is healing and rebirth. Getting this image right was really important and it took a long time in post production.

Construction:

Nikon D700, 50mm, f4.5, 1/80, ISO 500. The gold paint was warped and transformed to create different and connecting shapes. I used a lot of dodge and burn to create highlights and shadows in the correct places and researched Kintsugi objects to see how the paint reacted in the light.