Ole, Ole, Ole

One of the oldest and most generous tricks that the universe plays on human beings is to bury strange jewels within us all and then stand back to see if we can ever find them….Elizabeth Gilbert

I watched one of my favourite ever Ted talks again yesterday.  If you’ve never watched a Ted talk, they are short snippets of inspiration from people from all walks of life and are easy to find on Google.  If you only ever watch one in your whole life…..make it the talk by Elizabeth Gilbert on the creative process.  It’s brilliant! If you watch it, you’ll also understand the title of this particular blog.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love amongst other books.  This book was snapped up by the film industry and made into a movie with Julia Roberts which I absolutely loved.  This particular talk references her success with this book but also her battle to come to terms with trying to equal that success.  But the talk is so much more than that.

The talk goes on to reference that inner something that creatives have that doesn’t feel quite human. That something special that helps you create a piece of work that you feel was inspired or guided by something greater than yourself.  Over the years it has been called a Muse or a Genius.  Whatever we call it, I’m sure you have all created something in your life that you feel you were merely a channel for.

I certainly feel that a lot with my creations.  Some I plod away and work until it comes together.. Other times, my ego and my conscious being seems to step aside and allow something much greater to take control of the process. Those tend to be the really special pieces.  Of course it’s me there.. and of course I took the photo with a plan in mind but suddenly that plan seems to be touched by a stroke of “genius” and the image then takes a shape that I couldn’t have possibly done while my ego was in charge.

I’m sure some people think this is a crazy notion but I know there are times that images or ideas have come from a place other than my logical brain.  The last few weeks, my dreams have been full of ideas, some weird, some fantastic.  I haven’t rejected any of them.  One I had is so weird that I woke up thinking, No Way.. that’s just stupid.. and dozed off again to be told again that I had to make it.  I woke up again and rejected it yet again only to doze off again and repeat the process another 3 or 4 times.  I finally gave in and said, yes, I will make it.  I told a friend about it and she felt that my Muse has a very warped sense of humour but that’s okay.  If I only ever created work that was safe, I’d never step out of my comfort zone, so against my logical mind, I will create the work and let you know when it’s done.

But it’s also been full of ideas whether they come in the form of a vision of the finished work or just a title and I’m absolutely loving the ideas (or most of them) that I’m being given. I think it’s happening because I’ve finally stop trying to be in charge of the creative process and I’m just going with the flow and allowing it to happen.  I’ve also been trying my hand at different types of art too, away from the computer.  These have been costumes and props for photo shoots but have become works of art on their own merit.  I honestly believe this has opened up my mind more fully to hear and accept the snippets that my Muse throws my way.

2017 is going to be my busiest year ever I think.  I have some work in an exhibition at the moment and have another 5 pieces I’m creating for another one in April/May.  I am currently planning my first solo exhibition which will consist of 30 – 40 pieces and have another series of photos on the go at the same time. Of course, the greatest and most exciting creation of all is happening in June when I become a grandmother for the first time. I’m so excited by that particular event that I can barely breathe when I think about it.

So in preparation, I am making myself a home studio at the  moment.  I don’t have a lot of room here but I do have a wall that is perfect to set up a backdrop. I’ll probably be quiet over the next week or so while that area is prepared and I start to plan for Christmas.  I’m hoping I’ll at least get a Christmas image done amongst the other chaos.  These are a few of the props I’ve been creating lately..

 

What’s Your Story?

That’s what storytellers do.  We restore order with imagination.  We instil hope again and again….Walt Disney in Saving Mr Banks

I watched Saving Mr Banks again the other night.  I just love the movie.  Yes I’m sure it’s not a completely factual representation of how Walt Disney got PL Travers to sign over the Mary Poppins books to him, but I do know it’s based heavily on fact as the tapes made on her insistence during production meetings are still available and are a big part of what the movie was based on. And it means the world to me as Mary Poppins was the first book I ever read, albeit the read along with the record version.

As most of you will know, I am definitely a Disney tragic.  I love all things Disney.  I guess I instilled that same love into my children.  Before she died, my daughter Aimee’s dream was to become an animator with the Disney corporation.  Both my sons are as obsessed by Disney movies as I am and we often watch the classics over and over again.  Most of my favourite quotes are straight from Disney’s mouth.  And of course, like most kids born in the 50’s and 60’s, I longed to be adopted by Walt himself.  Not that I didn’t love my own parents but he was Walt Disney and his whole persona screamed gentle to me.

I suppose it’s not a great surprise that I like to consider myself a storyteller, as was my Grandmother before me.  Gargie would tell us stories of the old country and those stories made me feel that when I finally went to Ireland, I was coming home.  There is something special about a storyteller.  We all have it in us to tell the stories but some do more than tell the story, they add the romance and mystery that pulls us into it and makes us want to stay there.

Storytelling is as old as man himself.  The cavemen drew their stories in picture form on the walls of caves.  Each culture has passed it’s stories on to generation after generation to ensure it’s history is never forgotten.  Fairytales are part of our psyche.  Not every storyteller writes.  They may tell their story with words or in song or dance.  They may paint it or create it in some other form.  They may even act it out.  Storytelling is not just about writing a book.  I love writing.  I love creating.  I love photographing. I love singing.  I love acting.  These are all part of my love of storytelling.

I like to think that my gift in life… that thing that makes me unique, is the way I tell stories both in words and in pictures.  Others tell stories too. Wonderful inspiring stories,  but they are different to mine.  Not necessarily worse, not necessarily better, just different.  Their experiences are different so of course their stories and the way they tell them will be different.

2017 is going to be very much a year of storytelling.  New stories, old stories, real stories, imaginative stories.   I have so many exciting things happening and I intend documenting all the new and exciting things as well as continuing to tell the stories of old.  Bring it on I say.

To celebrate the new year, I’ve put together a bit of a presentation on what I believe storytelling to be and why it’s so important to us as a society.  We all have a story to tell.  What’s yours?

 

 

 

In This Life, I Dance

In my last life, I had wings and could soar above the earth… In this life I have no wings, so I   dance…..Livonne

Last night I had the great pleasure of doing some event photography for  Blue Mountains Cancer Help who hosted a Celebration of Dance.  The beautiful and talented Kirsty from KLB Images happily volunteered as well and joined me for the night to ensure we captured as much as possible.  The dancers were swept up amid a swirl of music and colour and the audience were mesmerised.  Some amazing lighting & effects were provided on the night by Purple Sky Productions. There was line dancing, belly dancing, tap, highland, zumba and so many other styles of movement all being undertaken by people of all ages. It was fantastic.

At one stage, I went behind the stage to capture the beautiful Porcelain Rose and company in an absolutely breathtaking Vintage Fan Dance.  Fate was smiling on me as unbeknownst to me, Kirsty had the same idea on the other side of the stage. As it was dark, we couldn’t see each other but we must have been working in sync (as we often do) as we took a picture at exactly the same time.  Imagine my delight when I looked at the screen and realise her flash had flooded my photo with amazing backlight,  resulting in a beautiful, ethereal image.

I was so excited by it, that I couldn’t resist playing with it a bit more.  I love that sometimes, things work in such synchronicity and the results are always amazing.  So while I should have continued editing the other photos of the night (which you can find on my Facebook page ), I got carried away and waved my Photoshop wand, and voila… suddenly I’m in my safe place, amongst feathers, fairy dust and angel rays.  Life is wonderful!

in-this-life-i-dance

In Dreams of Lilac

O were my love yon lilac fair, wi’ purple blossoms to the spring.  And I a bird to shelter there, when wearied on my little wing……Robert Burns

As most of you regular readers will know, I shop a lot at Op shops (goodwill).  I find some of the best stuff there in the way of props and costumes for photo shoots.  I went a few weeks ago to my favourite one here in Katoomba and found this glorious lilac coloured dress.  Long, with beautiful lace around the waist and sleeves and a magnificent sunray pleated skirt, I fell in love with it immediately.  Imagine my surprise when I asked the price and got told $4.00.  I paid for it and ran away before they changed their mind or realised that I was committing highway robbery.

I came straight home and put my lilac beauty on a mannequin to admire and imagine what I was going to do with  her (yes I had given her a name & personality already).  I had been to an awards dinner with my son a few weeks previously and met a lovely young lady called Alexis,  who I knew would be great for an image, so showed her my work and she jumped at the opportunity to be a model for me.  Suddenly, looking at the dress, I knew that she would look gorgeous in it, and when I imagined my dress on my model, the theme came easily to mind.

All tee’d up for the photoshoot, I asked my trusty Kirsty from KLB Images to be my assistant and of course she said yes.  I knew of an old shed right near my place and it all lined up perfectly.  I had a spare dress on hand in case my lilac beauty didn’t fit but I needn’t have worried about it.  Not only did it fit, but the model and dress were made for each other.  At the location, we took lots of different photos but as per usual, the shoot took on a life of it’s own.  Both Kirsty and Alexis had ideas as well which I loved and the position of the sun added an extra dimension that I hadn’t really considered.

Thankfully, I always tell my models that what I plan and the finished product are not necessarily going to be one and the same because what I had planned just didn’t work for me. I always have a basic concept but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is set in stone.  My work isn’t planned to an inch of it’s life.  It’s not how my brain works.  Instead, I allow it to take shape organically and I just follow along.   One of the photos I took, the flash didn’t fire and it was all dark except for a rim of light around her face when she looked out of the window.  It turns out that was one of the best shots of the day.  Not that the others were bad…. not at all.  But that one had a mystery and screamed to come to life so I let it.  I named it Until Forever Ends. I have another photo from this shoot that is being used for an exhibition next year which I’m completely in love with but I won’t show it until it is on the wall of the exhibition.

Kirsty and I loved working with Alexis so much that we have some more shoots planned now with her.  Some for me and some for Kirsty.  Yes, I love it when a plan doesn’t come together but takes on a spirit and life all of it’s own. Here are some of the photos of the day, as well as the lousy quality iPhone photo of lilac beauty on the mannequin when I first brought her home.  I’m sure you too can see how the dress and model were made for each other.  I hope you love these as much as I do.

Blue Fringe Arts Prize 2016

The work of art is a scream of freedom…..Unknown

 

I’m feeling extremely excited and humbled today after winning both the Blue Fringe Arts 2016 Highly Commended Photography prize and the Blue Mountains City Council‘s Visual Arts Prize. I have to be honest, whilst I hoped to win something, I didn’t expect to take out those prizes with the amazing work that was exhibited. I was in awe of so many of the pieces. I’d like to share the comments from the judge of the Visual Arts Prize, Paul Brinkman who is Director of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre.
“This work stands out for it’s careful composition and use of colour to highlight the different elements of the scene. The juxtaposition of the worn, old and weathered taps and backdrop with the fresh flowers and figure in the centre of the composition makes the image engaging and intriguing, as if the work holds an intriguing story. Both the thought that has gone into the composition and the clever use of the photographic medium make this the selected artwork for overall winner.”
To say I’m thrilled would be the understatement of the century. Thank you so much to the Blue Fringe Arts committee and volunteers who run such an important show every year and to everyone involved, from sponsors for their support, dignitaries for their involvement and honesty and of course, the other incredible artists who exhibited. And of course to Ron from Talisman Gallery- Hartley for being so supportive in allowing me to use his beautiful location for my image. Thanks to my sons and daughter in law who support and encourage me every step of the way. And last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to Kirsty Louise, my model, for being beautiful, inside and out and always being prepared to be my right hand woman on whatever project I think up.
Blue Fringe Arts present this exhibition each year to celebrate the creativity of people with a lived experience of mental illness. For those who don’t realise, I have complex PTSD and struggle quite severely some days with memory loss, anxiety and depression. When I went back to TAFE college to learn photography at the ripe old age of 51, I couldn’t have dreamed of completing a diploma let alone how creating conceptual and fantasy photography would allow me to escape the non stop conversation that goes on in my brain 24/7. When I’m creating, I am calm and peaceful. I never thought I could find this much peace and happiness but art has helped me to feel complete. What I do isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and sometimes not even mine but I create out of what is happening in my mind at the time. To have people say they love what I do is simply the icing on the cake for me. Thank you!

Celebrating Life

It cannot shut out memories.  It cannot silence courage.  It cannot reduce eternal life.  It cannot quench the Spirit…….. Dr. Robert L. Lynn

I hate cancer.  I know I’m not alone but I hate it anyway.  It has taken too many beautiful souls away from this earth well before their time.  It is a bastard.

Yesterday was my friend Jennie’s 9th cancerversary.  Nine years cancer free.  She is living proof that the bastard can’t destroy a spirit, regardless of how it can ravage a body.  We did a photo shoot to celebrate another year of her living life to the fullest.  She has scars but didn’t want me to cover them up.  They are part of who she is.  They don’t define her.  Her positivity and humour does that.

When I was editing the photos, I found a poem that spoke volumes by Dr Robert L Lynn.  (excuse the lower case, I refuse to give cancer a capital letter… it doesn’t deserve it)

cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit

My favourite lines are that it cannot silence courage nor conquer the spirit.  I truly believe that the spirit lives on.  No matter what you’re facing right now, please remember those lines.

A huge shout out to Dean Barford who is an incredibly talented air brush artist. I gave him a vague idea of what I wanted and as usual, he created miracles.

It is Limited

It is Limited

Fluid Movement

Belief in yourself is like water.  It ebbs and flows.  It moves and changes.  It shifts it’s course with time.  It is, however,  essential for life……Livonne

I’ve been trying a few new techniques again lately.  I’ve found that the way to stay in love with what I do, is to constantly change things around a little bit.  I guess self belief is the same isn’t it?  You have to keep finding new and unique ways to keep it fresh.

Anyway, you may remember that a while ago, Kirsty from KLB Images and I took some photos of up and coming soccer star, Bailey, for a joint effort we were doing.  I saw this water technique and wanted to give it a go, but I just couldn’t seem to make it work the way I wanted it to, so today when Kirsty was here, we went through the steps again to see what we could do.

Kirsty is one of those people that can sit and just stare at something and you can almost see the cogs turning in her brain, trying to work out how it works.  Of course, she hit the nail on the head and got the steps that I was doing wrong.  So continuing on with the combined effort, we took another of the photos of Bailey to turn him into fluid movement.

bailey