The First Leaves of Autumn

We shared the brief but magic sun.  By the first leaves of autumn you were gone… Not until the rain has touched my face. Not until the first leaves fell from space.  Not until that moment did I see.  I never realised what you meant to me…..The Fureys

I’ve had a plan for a while now that I wanted to do the four seasons in a series of images.  I’d already done a spring setting which showed the lovely Kirsty sitting in a bath full of spring flowers with a corrugated iron backdrop called Wash Away the Day.  Where I live in the Blue Mountains, the trees are starting to produce the most magnificent colours with the beginning of Autumn so I was inspired to do the next image in the series which is Autumn.

So on Tuesday, I went out to the beautiful Collit’s Inn with my gorgeous model Rachael and my assistant extraordinaire, Kirsty.  The back of my little car was filled with camera equipment, candles, candle holders, ivy vines which had been painted gold and a myriad of other Autumn foliage.  We stopped at Blackheath on the way and gathered a few garbage bags full of fallen autumn leaves along the side of the road.  As I mentioned, the Blue Mountains is turning the most amazing colours at the moment.  The trees are a kaleidoscope of colour and the paths are carpeted in fallen leaves, so it was easy to pick up huge amounts of leaves without even being able to see where they were taken from.

Arriving at Collit’s Inn, we set about using the beautiful rustic bathtub that sits in their garden as a bench.  With Rachael sitting in the bath, we proceeded to cover her in the leaves and other foliage.  My mystical creative muse must also have been happy with the process as in the midst of a miserable day, the sun came out just as we started to set up which meant my lovely model wasn’t a mass of goosebumps from the cold.

After taking the necessary photos, everyone was still happy to keep going so I handed Rachael a red lace dress that I had put in the car, just in case.  I mean, why just do one theme when you have a model there and ready to go?  The red dress fitted beautifully so we went out in search of the local cemetery.

There was someone there when we arrived, so instead of disturbing someone visiting their loved ones, we moved on to another nearby cemetery.  I have the utmost respect for cemeteries and understand what special places they are, not just to the family and friends of those who had passed but also as a source of history.

We ended up at  Hartley Cemetery which is a lovely peaceful resting place and has many very old graves.  I’ve often called in there and taken a walk around the graves, reading about the people buried there.   We did a few photos there, one of which I posted yesterday, called Earthbound.   Just as we were heading to the car, the skies opened and the rain started.  We were definitely looked after by the weather Gods.

So here is the second in the Seasons in the Bath series, The First Leaves of Autumn.  I was a bit worried about trying to do something that could happily stand next to Wash Away the Day, as that image is one that I am the proudest of.  I have to say, I’m pretty chuffed with the way this has turned out.  It was definitely what I had in mind.  Now to start preparing for Winter..

The First Leaves of Autumn

 

Maelstrom

Survival was more than the preservation of life.  It was tenacity in the face of ruin, an unbroken resolve in the midst of defeat, a glimmer of hope in the maelstrom….. and peace despite the wreckage…..Jocelyn Murray

Well, I’m back.  I’ve finished the shift finally and am (almost) settled in the new place.  I have shifted many times in my life and I felt this harder than I have before.  I guess I must be starting to feel my age.  Everything seems heavier than it has before but regardless, it’s done and I’m finding the new place slowly but surely.

I haven’t started really started shooting yet this year which is not like me at all but soon I’ll be making up for that. I have many, many shoots planned and images dreamed up.  It was important to be settled first though as this year is looking like being huge.  I have travel plans and exhibitions happening so it will be all go.  I am planning my first solo exhibition this year too and there are lots of exciting things happening with that.

I’ve been planning it since last year and have actually shot a few pictures for the images I have in mind. One of the models involved was the lovely Ramana and whilst this is not the image which will be part of the exhibition, it was a favourite that screamed to be edited.  I guess it’s how I’m feeling a little bit too at the moment.. Finally feeling a little bit of peace after the storm.

maelstrom

Home is Where the Heart is

Home is where the heart is… even if you can’t remember which box you packed it in…..

I know I’ve been conspicuously absent of late.  I’ve been shifting house and right on Christmas/New Year to boot.  It’s been a really crazy few weeks, but as soon as my new place resembles a house rather than a cardboard box storage centre, I’ll be back with my camera and my imagination.  2017 is set to be a really special year.. Bring it on I say!

a-new-beginning

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