If you cant quite put your finger on whats different about me in this shoot, than you're dumb, go home. No jokes, I got new sheets! No well, it was crimbo and they were v festive, but theres still something... IM A WIG LADY NOW. Decades from now, when they talk about how my career took off (lol j.k, kill me) they'll say this moment right here, when she brought her first wig, this is where it all started. So yes, I've introduced wigs in the images and I think it greatly improves the look of them and opens up a lot of interesting options. Whilst I don't want to go too theatrical and do a full Sherman, I think its a soft pull on what I'm looking for. The wig hinders my appearance and makes it less me.
So now you're all willingly caught up with me and my obsessive compulsive vanity of taking pictures of myself with myself, you can go back to what ever you're doing, like learning useful things. I've done a couple more shoots since this last one, but I'm gonna do a separate post for each of those shoots, and get into the habit of being an annoying blogger again. Hey, least I'm not clogging up your Facebook feed with bath pics anymore, so progress. In a month or so, I'll be embarking on my second and final year of my MA so I'll be going ccc-crazy with wigs and mirrors and stuff, if you truly have an interest in this shiz, I'll be posting a lot more on my Insta @paigelizabetholmes. All one word, because my name is that cool. Cya later alligator! (in a while crocodile!)
So a couple of days ago I realised that I haven't used my blog in just under a year, and I was filled with shame and hopelessness. Not that my fans will have missed me much, (sorry mom). But here I am again, a year later wanting to write about silly things on the world wide web for everyone to read, (I say this as if I have hundreds of people reading my blog, again, hey mom!). A lot can happen in a year, I graduated from my BA course at the start of summer last year, which is about when I last posted something. I had to get all grown up and get a job, like an actual adult. I pretty much work as a supervisor in a kids/book store, its super fun and I really like children, if you know me you will know this is the finest sarcasm and I like children as much as I like cheese, (spoiler - I HATE CHEESE).
I spend the other half of my time at uni, because guess what? IM NEVER LEAVING. Currently I'm studying my MA degree in Fine Art at the University of Derby, its pretty much more or less similar to my BA, except my course-mates are no longer with me, and I miss them v much. My MA is actually going swimmingly, I still take pictures of myself. BUT. I'm no longer in the bath, so progress, yay. The work that i'm currently working on is actually making me read and research more than ever into the idea of the 'female gaze'. Which if you're not familiar with the term 'The Male Gaze' it won't make much sense to you. I'll simply and badly describe the terms so it makes some sense. 'The Male Gaze' is a phrase that was coined from British feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey. She claimed that we the viewer are forced into the male perspective when viewing films, i.e we observe the film as if we were cis hetero male. A great example of this is ANY horror movie. The women are usually half naked, blonde and getting murdered. When viewing the films we sexualise the women, because of the way they are portrayed, the films reduce a woman and strips her of her skills, talents and humour. Her worth is weighed in her weight, bum and boobs. The women that exist in the media are specifically designed for male pleasure, they exist for men to enjoy, and as a viewer we are forced into this role.
Now the female gaze is a lot different, you might be thinking, "But Paige, isn't the female gaze just the opposite of the male gaze?" You'd think so, but life isn't as straight forward as that. If we just made the female gaze the opposite of the male gaze then we would just be objectifying men in a way that women have been trying to stop for decades. What is interesting is how the female gaze keeps coming up more and more, and this is because female artists, writers and directors are finally getting their work made and shown. Jill Soloway's master class TIFF on 'The Female Gaze' aired live on YouTube September 2016, she introduces the idea of the female gaze and claims to 'coin it' for herself. She explains that the female gaze can be split into 3 parts, similar to Mulvey's male gaze. Part 1: A feeling of empathy and seeing. Part 2: Being seen, this what is feels like to be seen, the protagonist's journey growing stronger. Part 3: Return of the gaze, 'I see you seeing me, I don't want to be the object any longer - I want to be the subject'. Basically in non less fluffy terms, the female gaze is about an empathetic feeling that can be observed from art or television, the images make a conscious effort to create a storyline. What the female gaze is doing is changing the way the world feels when a woman moves her body.
That might not have been as brief as I thought it'd be but hey! I get carried away when I talk about feminist theories. So basically, I'm really interested in the idea at looking at images and how were observing them, either with a male or female gaze, and if it is possible to view images without the idea of gender. I'll post some new work soon, but if you follow me on Insta you'll have seen a couple of snippets. Exciting times ahead, stay posted, its about to get bloggy.
Its been 2 years, 2 months and 16 days since you left me in this abyss, since I received the phone call where I knew exactly what my parents were calling to tell me. Its been 26 months and 16 days that I’ve regretted my decision not to visit you in the hospice where you spent your last hours. 115 weeks and 3 days where all I’ve dreamed of are lemon curd sandwiches and Turkish delight. 808 days of remembering that you’re not here and trying to make sense of a world where my grandmother isn’t alive. 19,392 hours where I think about everything you’ve missed and will continue to miss. A life time ahead of me, with a broken heart.
The heartbreak of losing such a bold, brilliant and brave woman in my life hasn’t faded, and I can’t imagine it ever will. Your fight was so inspired, and if and when I ever receive the news you received countless times I promise to fight just as hard.
In my lonely future without you I strive to achieve excellence, with you in mind. There will never be enough words, sentences or paragraphs to describe this inescapable, human experience. There will never be a single moment, in which I could make up for all the mistakes I made. It’s taken me 808 days to write this letter to you, and it can’t possibly describe the guilt and grief that I still feel. But in these 258 words I’ll have said something worth reading.
Working towards this for three years, we the students of Derby present to you our degree show.
These working studios have been transformed into the most amazing exhibition, showcasing my fellow course mates outstanding work. The work featured includes a large range of mediums, including sculpture, painting, video, installation and photography.
So this is it, the past three years of our lives spent cutting and sticking, journalling to no end and doing probably the most bizarre things ever to get a degree. I couldn't even begin to explain how amazing the opening night of the show was. It felt tremendous to welcome our friends, family and lecturers to view and experience the exhibition that we've all poured our souls into. The prep of this show took an extremely long time, and the build was very particular to the work being installed. After proposing our individual exhibitions, our curator Denis O' Connor put together this impressive build, and we started the painting that never ended. Trying to get these white walls perfectly white was ridiculously hard. We slaved away, or some of us watched our amazing first year helpers slave away, filling, sanding, gum striping, painting and installing our work. I'm sure many of us would agree that gum stripping was the hardest thing about our entire degree.
The show is open to the public from the 28th May until the 11th June at the Fine Art studios 1 and 2, Britannia Buildings, University of Derby, Mackworth Road, Derby, DE22 3BL.
So this is it, I’ve completed my degree at the University of Derby and with it I’ve gained more experiences then I could ever have imagined. As I look back there are certain memories of my experience at university that has been brilliant but also some not so brilliant experiences. I think that when I first started here and I’d moved into halls I was shy, hibernating and so afraid of the situation that I had landed myself in. All my friends from home seemed to be adapting and having so much fun and I can remember thinking that I wasn’t normal because I was terrified to leave my single room incase I bumped into one of my flat mates, which made it even more impossible to go to university and do the work I was expected to do. As a fine art student I was expected to be in studios every day, drawing and making things. I deeply regretted choosing the course I had chosen because I felt so uncreative, the course was so different from anything that I had done at GCSE and A-Level, and my ‘talent’ as a drawer seemed ridiculous and unworthy. I was surrounded by these new fantastically inspired people and I had 0% inspiration and 0% understanding of what Fine Art was. It was at this point I discovered that I had severe Social Anxiety. Instead of going out at fresher’s and getting to know my flat mates, I spent that first month having numerous panic attacks and deeply resenting my decisions in my room.
To explain what happened, or how it happened, that parts of my life slowly started to get better, I found mutual interests with one of my flat mates, which greatly enriched my experience at university, I found myself coming out of my shell a little bit at a time, and I’ll never begin to say how thankful I was to have found that one person which I could relate to, without them I dare say I’d have lived in halls for the rest of my degree or even moved home. The usual things started to happen, I was beginning to feel like I belonged and that I hadn’t made a colossal mistake. My flat mates and I signed a housing contract for second year, and that first term was the best. Now, I’m not saying that nothing bad happened, because believe me the people you will meet at university are complete nutter’s and you will have more awful awkward fights about housing arrangements at 1 in the morning with the flat mates you’ve ‘left out’. There’s no way around it and even that strange loner flat mate that you don’t really speak to (thank god I came out of my room) will get really pissed off when you tell him you’ve gotten a house with your other flat mates. There will be food stealing, annoying loud sex, disgusting toilet and shower arguments and awkward first greetings. As horrible experience halls can be, there are great moments and you’ll find that you could stay up till 4 in the morning talking about absolutely nothing or watching Grey’s Anatomy and eating pizza.
As my living situation improved I still felt horrendously awful at university, the work that I was producing was terrible and I hated it. All workshops and ‘school trips’ were long and exhausting and irritated me to no end, I felt as if I was surrounded by the most pretentious people and wasting my life away. I spent nearly all of my time in Derby and hardly visited home, which I felt awful about but when you get that taste of freedom it’s hard not to get completely absorbed by it. For my 19th birthday I went to Berlin as part of my degree, I couldn’t even explain how terrified I was, I’d have to spend a week with people I didn’t know well, in a place that was completely foreign to me and I’d also have to be on an airplane for the first time in my life, described as a flying metal tin to me, an uncontrollable fear of heights and a ticket for a window seat I dreaded everything. The culture was amazing there, and I found some friendship in this trip. I didn’t tell anyone it was my birthday when it came around, I visited the Bauhaus Archive and ate pizza, yet my course mates surprised me with a card anyways, showing the kindness of strangers and I felt acceptance.
In June 2014 I got a job as a festival bar worker, number one tip, gross men will try and grope you. These men will be both customers and your managers. Festival bar work is the sleaziest work that I’ve ever done, and it was sometimes fun and sometimes really shit. The fun parts included working the bar in front of the main stage at Download, ensuring I saw all the best people. It also means you can choose your own shifts and work them around what you want to see. You will do 13 hour shifts with one 15-minute break, and you can’t complain because angry drunk metal heads are actually quite demanding with their ale. Over the course of my festival bar work I managed to see Fall Out Boy, Linken Park, The Offspring, The Pretty Reckless, Areosmith, Kasabian, Pearl Jam, Avicii and Calvin Harris, (Areosmith, TPR and The Offspring were the best.) Stand your ground and know when to say NO.
Moving into your first shared house has a lot of emotions. Stress. More stress than you can imagine because I’m a total worrier and I was 100% convinced that it wouldn’t go well. Paying your own bills, saving part of your student loan for 3 months to pay that first quarter of rent, it’s a lot of responsibility and when it happens there will be a part of you that just wants to hide and die. Those first 4 months in that house were amazing, living with 4 other people was great and I was embracing the life of a student and also kind of an adult. Now I cannot stress this enough, when choosing who you’re going to live with in first year it’s important to really be sure of the people because there’s no telling what will happen when you choose to live with someone, because being someone’s friend is a much different relationship then living with them. The year of living with my supposed friends went terribly and there was soon an incident that meant that we no longer spoke for the rest of the academic year, and plotted against each other.
Never try and balance working night shifts at Sainsbury’s whilst going to university in the day time. It is the most tiring thing you’ll ever do, and stocking biscuits at 3 in the morning whilst contemplating where your life went wrong will destroy you emotionally. Don’t do it.
January 2015 was a great month, many things happened.
1. I was gifted my camera, which obviously has changed my life and goals for the better, I started taking pictures everyday and started to improve my skills.
2. I was also bought my first record player which sprouted a 60+ collection of records so far. The first record that I purchased was Queens of the Stone Age - ‘Like Clockwork’ and it was the best thing I’d ever heard. I’m trying not to sound pretentious but that moment when I first heard the needle fall down into place and play those first eerie notes of ‘Keep Your Eyes Peeled’ it was an ecstasy moment that was freeing and perfect. There, pretentious moment over. Second year also progressed my photography further, I started taking pictures of a young woman conveying feelings of being watched, like a peeping tom, and that’s who I was. When these images were exhibited at my second year show, they were hung in a cupboard with the doors slightly ajar, so that the viewer then became the peeping tom. Looking back, it was probably around this time that I started to fully understand the course that I was on and how Fine Art worked and that I could probably do anything I wanted, as long as I journal it religiously.
The amount of TV shows I’ve watched in my three years here at university is appalling or inspiring, whichever way you want to look it. Netflix is my home. Following is a brief list of all the show I’ve watched and re-watched whilst I’ve been procrastinating my degree:
Gossip Girl x 3
Vampire Diaries x 4
Grey’s Anatomy x 3
90210 x 2
American Horror Story x 2
Buffy the vampire slayer x 3
Charmed x 2
One Tree Hill x 2
Dr. Who x 2
Dexter x 2
Teen Wolf x 2
Friday Night lights
The walking dead
Fear the walking dead
Game of Thrones
Its always sunny in Philadelphia
Orange is the new black x 2
Grace and Frankie
Jane the Virgin
Once upon a Time
How I met your mother
Sons of Anarchy
Community x 2
Parks and Rec
That 70’s Show
Pretty Little Liars
How to get away with murder
True Blood x 3
Sex and the City
Glee x 2
Malcom in the Middle
The Mindy Project
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
American Crime Story
There is probably a lot more but I’ve watched a lot of TV and I’ve probably melted my brain by watching such awful teen dramas. If I put as much attention and ambition into watching and re-watching television shows into my degree, I wouldn’t have to worry about my oncoming results day.
Hello third year! Picture this, newly paranoid and in a crappy world of anxiety about feelings, weight and living arrangements. I started producing photo essays, taking photos of myself and writing very publicly about how I felt on my ever so wonderful blog. This really helped in terms of feeling more comfortable about myself, controlling my fears and working on a creative outlet. After excessively writing about my really interesting life, (not so much), I figured out I could take selfies and call it fine art, yay me. This just so happened to start a 50-day photo journal, in which I took a photo of myself every day for about 2 months. The project worked really well, it helped me become more comfortable with what I was doing, and I was getting great feedback from my friends and course-mates. One of the things that seemed to work out really well was, well you guessed it, TAKING PHOTOS OF MYSELF IN THE BATH.
The bath photo is probably what I’ll be known for for the rest of my life. ‘Hey aren’t you that weird girl who took pictures of herself in a bath of milk?’ *sighs* ‘Yeah that’s me’
Creating these portraits wasn’t easy, I know it may seem like I just got in and took a couple of snaps, but I would literally spend hours in that blasted bath taking photos over and over again, with lights blaring down, the bath getting cold, the paint or milk sticking to me and I would smell bad. Oh so bad. Off milk does not smell good but when you bathe in it, in your clothes it stinks. I had surrounded myself with amazing people at university, I was finally doing well and producing work that meant something to me and my life felt balanced and happy.
December 31st 2015, New Years Eve, big party? NO. NEVER. OF COURSE NOT. Reading the last 3 books of my 50 book challenge. In 2015 I had set myself a challenge of reading 50 books, I balanced It pretty well, except for the last couple of books. I’ve always loved books, Harry Potter brought me into a world of binge reading, crying over books and re reading like my life depended on it. I’d finish the seventh book and restart from Philosopher’s Stone immediately. Why wasn’t I out partying away the night and celebrating the new year? Well, as I was home in Wolverhampton I wasn’t with my University friends. When you leave home for uni, all your friends do as well, you make new friends, talk less and realise that you don’t have a lot in common anymore. It hurts more than anything and can make you feel incredibly alone and like you don’t matter at all. But, it happens and its kind of normal.
2016, 2016, 2016. What happened in 2016? I turned 21, which was brilliant, I got to go to the Kitty Café in Nottingham which was probably the cutest moment of my life, so far. Coming to terms that this is the last semester I’d attend university was scary as hell, and even as I’m writing this, a graduate, I’m terrified of life outside of education. Finalising all my work for this term has been tremendously hard. ‘Antithesis’ has been the most amount of work I’ve ever put into taking these images, and to be frank I’m glad that I wont have to get back into that bath and take any more photos, because man I hate it in there now.
University is probably the biggest and scariest part of my life so far, I can’t imagine having to do it all over again and if I could, I’d probably change some parts of what I’d done. If I look back now, I can probably see myself in the same situation I was in those first few weeks of University, being trapped and scared in my halls room. Living alone for a year has been very lonely and difficult. Its been hard and I haven’t felt my worth sometimes. Other times its been amazing, and I kind of love being alone most of the time. Although university was the scariest part of my life so far, I’m about to embark on an even more fearful part. Uncertainty is probably one of the most distressing emotions I could feel, and as I look into the future I feel hope, joy and happiness.
"Its my anxiety seducing me to do its bidding, and theres this ultimate feeling of being taken over by it that is ultimately a seduction"
So recently I have discovered that I can book out Canon lenses out of the equipment centre that fit my darling Canon 70D, which is brilliant! After about a moments search I booked out the Canon 8-15mm Fish-Eye lens, which is more beautiful than I could have ever hoped. What I find simply amazing about using this lens is that it distorts my images ever further. Whilst my images already look pretty bizarre and creepy, using a Fish-Eye lens creates this more intense interaction between the viewer and work. What I really admire about the lens is that I think it pushes the original images further, rather than just taking photos of the same situation. Whilst editing these images I've thought more about how they are viewed. I know that it might be seen as a mistake to not edit the glares from the spotlights, but to me these portraits are a moment that is frozen in time, and I like to think of that moment as the girls being discovered in this surreal situation. This is why there is always a Paige looking directing into the camera lens, confronting the viewer. So you could say that the glare of the light is torchlight, the girls being found in the dying domestic space.
I have become immune to how creepy my work actually is. When I'm editing an image, I just think 'oh yeah this is really cool!' The creep factor has become normal to me in the portraits that I produce now. However with the image above, I can sense how dark it actually is. From the happy seductress gaze to the drowning screaming Paige theres a sense of a narrative, and a deeper self destruction that I feel is very apparent in the work. The idea of hiding limbs and hands is a trope that has featured in my work for a while now. I like how the hand is in the water, and theres this mystery of what could be happening, that I do find hypnotising.
This last image (below) that I've edited from this set is probably my favourite. There is a perfect balance between the relationship of the Paige's. The direct eye contact is captivating, she's vulnerable and pleading in a way. Her Doppelgänger partner assumes a dominant role in the image, followed with danger and uncertainty, as if there is a moment where she's about to leap. She appears expectant of the first Paige, and its that moment that I think is so terrifying in the image. Its that moment of perpetual fear that keeps you on edge, the moment when you miss a step and your heart skips a beat. The images for me take place only in that moment of pure fear. What I haven't addressed before is the sexual tension that might be perceived in the images, I draw on voyeuristic elements to create these situation therefore I think there is a seduction in the work that hopefully draws viewers in. The thing about anxiety is that it lures you into this feeling that you can't do things, or that you don't want to do things. Cancelling plans is such as relief, its a rush, and its my anxiety seducing me to do its bidding, and theres this ultimate feeling of being taken over by it that is ultimately a seduction, its subtle and it makes you feel safe, but realistically its just trying to get you to a place that you shouldn't be in, mentally.
In this set of images that I've shot and produced there are certain things that are different from the work that I have previously produced. Whilst I feel quite confident in the images that I produced last term, I found myself bored of creating the same images over and over. So whilst keeping the same pattern of The Doppelgänger in the bath, I've challenged myself to produce more aesthetically interesting images for myself. After considering how to go about getting a high aerial angle, I successfully managed to attach my camera to the shower pole above the bath. What I admire about these new angles is that more information is viewable in the shot. There is a stronger domestic atmosphere to them, now that we can see a carpet, sink and rug. Using an aerial angle is impressive for me, I find the images more aesthetically pleasing and they engage me creatively, inspiring me to create more!
There are certain things in these images which I have not tried out before, but I feel they open up the images a little more than the previous term. First of all, the red water is so much more realistic in terms of blood. Recently I've been studying the cinematography of American Horror Story. In season 4 there is an aerial shot over a bath with a man bathing in blood, the blood in the shot looks so realistic and surreal, I wanted to recreate the effect in my own work to test out how it would change or add to my images. To create this liquid, I added Red Food Colouring, Red Acrylic Paint, Chocolate Sauce and Flour to create this intense thick visual. Secondly the 'Jar' has been introduced into the girls possession, they have props! (I would prefer a classic white jug in future shoots, but its all I had lying around). There is this essence of ritualism in the images, the girls are interacting in a sensual way that reminds me of Old Testament and New Testament stories.
There is a sense of judgment in the work between the girls, their relationship is very important in the self portraits as they are the sole focus. The portraits take place in the bath, which is where I find a sense of limbo, between comfort and discomfort, all in all I’m trying to convey a sense of surreal domesticity. I've also put together a short time-lapse video of how the shoot is set up, I feel that this works well with the work because of the idea of ritual, as the whole process of setting up these shoots is similar to ritual.
More to come soon! Stay tuned!
Another round of tester images before the real milky fun happens. These images test out gels directly onto the camera lens, new angles and a brand new location! (Don't be too excited, its my shitty hallway).
What I have tried to go about in these images is the technical ability to set up angles that I think will challenge my capability to take these images. As I have progressed my practice last term I became bored as I become more successful with producing the self-portraits. So what I'm going to aim to do now is to be more risky with my angles, I'd like to take a lot of images from an aerial point of view as the imagery is so aesthetic and unusual.
These images below I've again experimented with the birds eye view and played around with the perspective of how the image is perceived. When viewed from this rotated landscape the image appears as if the person connected to the leg has taken this image. To me there is this essence of dominance and submission that is apparent in how the 'Paige's' interact with each other. To contextualize the work in this scenario, the dominate is similar to anxiety and the submission is the effect of the condition.
So this is the new 'location', which just so happens to be about 3 foot away from the bathroom, so Its not to much change, don't freak out loyal readers. I want the idea of depression and anxiety to be quite profound in the work. A sense of entrapment and confinement, this idea that my social anxiety and depression can be shown or visually implicated as the Paige coming up the stairs, the dominant and femme fatale of the image. The other Paige is representative of how my anxiety can effect me. Stay tuned for more images, the next set I produce will be actual bath images with the bath filled up! Excited? Yes.
Whilst I still want to create the big double Paige portraits that I have been producing throughout last term, I'd also like to draw some attention to illusions in the images. Whilst it is plausibly believable that I could have a twin sister whom I am taking portraits with, these illusions that I create are clearly very unnatural. I tried out these little illusions in my previous work '2AM', where the two Paige's arms were conjoined and it was hard for the viewer to actually spot it.
These 'tester' images that I'm going to be producing are just elements of the portraits that I want to be included in the series that I do produce. Whilst these tester images do seem quite abrupt and shocking, when used in a larger image where the full body is used the illusions might even go unnoticed. When the illusions are more subtle I believe that they are more effective in the images. I've also experimented with the idea of using a Dutch angle to create an eerie effect that makes my legs look dope and even creepier than usual.
Successfully attaching my camera to the shower curtain pole in my flat, securely with a belt, (it seemed to hold for around 10 mins before I took it down, so I'm calling that a win.) I tried out a new angle that I've been meaning to attempt for a while but I hadn't gotten around to figuring out how to do it without injuring my child (Canon 70D, i.e. BAE). Whilst attaching the camera I tried to make it also a Dutch angle to carry on experimenting with it, but to be honest this wasn't hard, I feel it would be harder to actually get a straight angle due to the mechanism used to secure it. What's great about this angle in the image is that there is more to see, I have expanded my wonderful bathroom for all to bare witness. When viewing the angle there is an unsteady and uncomfortable feeling that is expressed, I think that this is caused by how unsteady the actual camera is, or just how unusual the camera angle is. The poses that I'm so brilliantly displaying aren't anything to be taken serious, I was being Paige le glamour model in these shots, just to see how well the image would look at this height. When I start adding in the theatrics that really make my images unique, this shot will be spectacular, (feeling big headed to the max, but what could go wrong?) ...
1. Camera commits camera suicide and falls into bath of milk
2. Camera falls and hits me on the head rendering me unconscious and Paige drowns
3. Lights that will have to be placed surrounding the bottom of the bath fall into the bath and then electrocute Paige, also ensuring Paige's death.
Really there is many things that could go wrong, but just think of the amazing images that I'll produce if I survive such a challenging shoot! Adding lighting, coloured gels, bath dyes and obviously the two Paige's interacting in some mischievous way will hopefully enhance this angle and shot. These shots just give me an idea of how the next shoot will look, I can then think about placement of the Paige's, clothing and makeup. Whilst addressing the appearance of the Paige's in the images, I have been a tiny weeny bit nervous about how dyeing my hair gingery would effect the images, although it doesn't seem to be such a difference, my hair might look a great deal different wet or styled in a certain way when I take these portraits.
That's all for now folks, stay tuned for more,
As I look back over this terms work, I'd like to talk about a few images that have meant a great deal to me. When I first started taking self-portraits it was purely to articulate a way I felt about myself and my social anxieties. I recognise that my work has developed and changed since I started the Day-By-Day Visual Journal, but underlying elements of my always present demon still exists in the work. 'Day One' was probably a big moment for myself, I'd found what I wanted to focus on, finally found that missing link from my art work that everyone else around me strived on. It was also my first confession, 'this is me' it's never easy to describe the way my anxieties feel, and this felt deeply personal to me. To be this intimate and open about myself to my peers and family was terrifying and freeing.
'Day Five' and 'Day Seventeen' were really important images to me at the time. They felt very real to me, showing aspects of my life that I only share with one person, with everyone that I know. The images incorporated something very reminiscent of my previous work and excited me with the prospect of new ideas. These are the only two images in the whole of this terms work where there is someone other than me in the image. Although I decided not to explore the idea of these intimate images further, I would like to come back to this framework and concept at a later date.
"Intimacy is the capacity to be rather weird with someone - and finding that that’s okay with them."— Alain de Botton
"It's not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me." - Stephen Fry -
'Day Six' and 'Day Eleven' were monumental images in the series. Here was born the iconic bath image that I frequently use in my practice now, the images gave me a sense of what I'd like to focus on in the future. Not only were these images very much about the creative and aesthetic aspects, but it was a very serious concept that I had thought about a lot. I wanted to create this overwhelming feeling, and I wanted to do it correctly. Social Anxiety, for me, can very much feel like getting into a bath fully clothed. It's uncomfortable, exhausting and makes your entire body feel heavy. When I thought about this image, the idea of suicide was a not a thought I was putting into the work, it was very much about how it feels, not what it is. Although I'm sure viewers are able to take what they want from the images, and I encourage people who feel similar to me to know that you're not alone. With these two sets of images I also became more confident with how I was capturing these images, using a remote which will be visible in most of these images, I decided that I didn't give a shit if people could see it, - at least I was taking them myself.
Before this image, nearly all but 2 were confined to the indoors, and the 2 that were outside were less than 10ft away from my front door. 'Day Eighteen' was a whole different situation, I had ventured far away from the comforts of my home and decided today was the day that you are brave. Taking this image was indeed a trial, I was completely shitting myself to expose myself like this, where people would see me being so odd or vain. I was terrified that someone may run off with my tripod and camera as I lay on a wall. But it felt almost powerful to produce this image and post it on Instagram. I'd opened up a whole set of endless locations with this image, and I was happy for it.
You know that feeling when its like a lightbulb has exploded in your head? Well that's what 'Day Twenty' was for me. I'd had this idea of using milk in a bath and I wondered how it would look, what sort of images I'd be able to take and what would they mean to me. Whilst I explored the aesthetics of all my images throughout this series I felt that the milky bath image really stood out. Although this first example only focuses on the headshot and I didn't think to edit out the lumps of milk powder at the time, this is where my work first took shape, and I go on to use the milk continuously in the series, contributing to my final images. At first I wanted to recreate 'Day Eleven' with high angled body shots, but I wasn't comfortable with what I had chosen to wear, (the clothing for me was to tight and see through) and also I couldn't get the right angle again. But the headshots in my opinion were successful, the translucent and opaqueness of the liquid combined made me extremely happy and excited for future shoots!
Two breakthroughs were made here on 'Day Twenty-Seven', 1. I learnt how to create different coloured baths, by mixing dyes and paints.
2. I first started to explore the ideas of 'The Doppelganger'
I have to admit taking photos in a bath full of blue paint and milk fully clothed is not comfortable at all, it feels absolutely horrible and soggy. But the fact that this process was uncomfortable for me, meant that these images had greater depth for me as an artist.
I began using 'Layout', an add on from Instagram, that allows you to mirror and combine images together. I started to mirror images that made my body look surreal and eerie, it made people say 'ewww Paige' and I found the reaction interesting and a little disheartening, however i strived onwards as master creeper.
These were the first shoots i'd set up where the 'doppelganger' aesthetic was thought about. Again i'd embraced the outdoor world. If it wasn't weird enough taking images of yourself looking wistfully into the distance, scowling at thin air was even worse. These shoots probably didn't last longer than half an hour, so I could escape back to the confines of my cave in the studios. The way the two Paige's interact with each other in the top image was crucial in my project, I'd found a niche that was interesting to work with.
I was interested in the idea of dual personalities. Parts of ourselves can have disturbing thoughts that other parts of us would think horrifying, and I wanted to explore these ideas in a visual concept.
"She's just two personas struggling in one dominance"
"Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it’s going to kill us." ~ Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch -
'Day Thirty-One' and 'Day Thirty-Two'.
The big ones. The 'WE'VE MADE IT PAIGE.'
The moment I had edited these images, I knew this is what I wanted to create more of. The biggest issue with these images were that PRETENDING TO DROWN IS ACTUALLY LIKE DROWNING. Water in my nose, Paige could not breath and was unable to stay under the water for a long time to take better images, also it's hard to hear if the camera has taken the image when you're underwater, but hey ho, it was a start. What was really entrancing about these images was the fact that how different the states of the Paige's were in. One completely dressed and dry and the other wet, half naked and appearing to be drowning and perhaps dead in the day after.
At this point in the series I had decided that because I wanted to focus on the bath image completely and refine it I would take a number of images of in one sitting, and edit them throughout the week. The Red bath was interesting to me because i was able to incorporate my new found technique of photoshopping multiple Paige's into one image.
'Day Thirty-Eight' is my favourite image from this set, it totally summed up exactly where I wanted the work to go, there was a distinct relationship of eye contact between the camera and the other Paige.
These images are probably my favourite in the 50 days of photos. There was a precise amount of domesticity, that I felt was important to the progression in the work that led me to be able to distinguish two separate series of images. As I got closer to perfecting an aesthetic I began to feel disconnected from how I had started out the project. In doing this project, taking and producing images every single day I had kept myself busy and focussed on something that wasn't my anxieties. I had surrounded myself with friends and allowed myself to be vulnerable with them. Perhaps by actually expressing my anxiety in images I had healed parts of myself, I had been completely honest and not hidden behind my Social Anxiety, yet embraced the darkest parts of me.
"Most people think that shadows follow, precede or surround beings or objects. The truth is that they also surround words, ideas, desires, deeds, impulses and memories."- Elie Wiesel
The Body image project was really where I found out I could take images that I really liked. Using a model I focussed on the idea of how women’s bodies are photographed in the media and magazines. Sophie, my wonderful model was very gracious in her poses and trooped through two shoots where I played Mary Lamberts ‘Body Love’ song over and over again to create an atmosphere of self-love yet self awareness in the space we were in.
The Roseate Respective improved on the Body Image project. Introducing lighting and gels I was able to create a seedy atmosphere where viewers peered into a cupboard to these very intimate images. Printed on aluminium, these images were wonderful and beautiful. I really appreciated the atmosphere that they produced. I learnt how to crop my images to a 16x9 preface that I now use religiously in my work.
2AM creates a narrative that is important between the images. I made the difficult transfer from being behind the camera to being in front of it, yet still being in control of the camera. Learning how to still capture a perfect image whilst being the model was an adjustment and I refined how I captured them with an infrared remote. Bringing in lighting and gels to create and control the situations that differ from each other in an atmosphere and lighting. This work is more thought through than any other project that I’ve worked on.
Next term I’d like to concentrate on my images more. Making them more surreal and creating most unbelievable situations that may or may not be noticed in the image. For instance the arms in ‘2AM’ aren’t exactly noticed. I’ve asked numerous people if they can spot anything interesting or strange about the image, in both large prints and smaller, and they still don’t seem to notice anything different in the image, which is an essence that I’d like to draw on more next term. Similar to Angela Buron and Alva Bernadines work they alter women’s bodies to create surreal forms and scary looking creatures.
The bath seems to be an important feature in my work at the moment. I plan to still use it next term, but maybe the work will venture out of the bath. Wider shots of the bathroom, with taller angles. I’d quite like the idea of using a steel bath tub. Maybe using different bathtubs would be interesting. I’d also like to experiment with the Dutch Tilt in my angles.
Id like to create a series of images with Paige's interacting with each other. So instead of just two there might be a series of like 5 or 6 Images, similar to a storyboard, that might follow around a room.
In today's pictures that I have produced, I have worked more on the idea of setting up specific shoots to explore the ideas of the Doppelganger that I have had. I feel that for a first attempt at this sort of imagery it has gone better than expected. I had some difficulty with matching up the lighting so that the image looked realistic and less photoshopped. Taking inspiration from Kelli Connell, I have been interested in the notion that a person has split personalities. The idea that we ourselves can have dual ambitions, desires and beliefs. I find it so intriguing and painful that we ourselves can have a number of possibilities running through our mind, all conflicting with each other and indefinitely tearing ourselves apart to please and pursue these ambitions. Parts of ourselves can have disturbing thoughts that other parts of us would think horrifying, and I want to explore these ideas in a visual concept. I'm glad to see my work developing in an aesthetic and technical way, I feel that I'm still ever diving deeper into my relationship with anxiety and intimacy, and this concept of the Doppelganger, I think will help explore these feelings more.
As I continue taking photos for my online Visual Journal, I have been revisiting and developing the idea and concept of the bath photo. Continuously experimenting with different liquids and dyes to create a visually pleasing aesthetic is what I am focusing on when producing these images. Today I played around with dying milk a different colour to attempt to gain an opaque liquid that looks unnatural. As with all these images, the work focuses on my relationships with anxiety and intimacy, and I hope by developing this concept that the visual impact will grow stronger with every shoot. More recently I have been exploring the notion of the Doppelganger or ones double self. The idea that a person has dual personalities, ambitions and desires is really interesting to me. Mirroring images is so far how i've experimented with this idea, but I intend to further this infatuation with more skilled sets and shoots, designed specifically for dual bodies. I continue to produce more bath concepts, exploring different coloured dyes, researching liquids that will separate in water to create a more visual aesthetic impact. In my previous work I have experimented with lighting and gels to create seedy imagery to give a 'Peeping Tom' impression, I played on this concept a lot in The Roseate Respective. I've ordered some lighting gels and do intend to book out some lights and explore how they will affect my imagery and final outcomes. Although mostly I have used natural lighting throughout the series so far, I think that using artificial lighting will add an allure to the work that might be missing. In these images I am mostly looking into the camera, confronting the audience, I do this because I hope to entice the viewers, and to discomfort them at the same time. When looking away from the camera the viewers are still intrigued but they are on the outside viewing the discomfort that I might feel with my anxieties. This is why the idea of the Doppelganger is important to me, to find a way to explore both qualities, to comfort and discomfort the viewer at the same time.