If These Walls Could Speak

If these walls could speak, the screams would echo through the ages….Livonne

I am so far behind the eightball with this website this year and I just realised I hadn’t posted about an exhibition I was involved with earlier this year.  I was chosen as one of the artists to present an exhibition at the historic Woodford Academy in the Blue Mountains.

It was aptly named If These Walls Could Speak, and if you’ve ever been to the Woodford Academy you’d know why.  It is one of the oldest buildings in the mountains and has a long, varied and sometimes tragic past.  Very important in Aboriginal history, the land became the site of a hotel and later in it’s life, a school.

This building is said to be haunted and I have to tell you, when I went there to scope out what I wanted to create for the exhibition, I felt the energy of past inhabitants.  There is an eerie feel about the place.  I ended up creating five images, all based on the spirits that I felt while I was there.  It wasn’t my imagination playing tricks on me, this place has some lingering spirits and they make their presence felt.

I walked upstairs to one of the bedrooms which is said to have been inhabited by Jessica McManamey who was the daughter of the original school master.  I went to the window and had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to jump.  I could then feel a frenetic energy swirling around in the room, from one place to another and to another.  There was a feeling of being trapped.  It was then I knew I had to create what I felt and Longing to Escape was the result.

Walking back down the stairs, I walked into what was the original bar room and on one wall is a beautiful Cartouche painted around the door frame.  I felt an overwhelming sadness surround me and our wonderful guide told us that it was probably painted by an itinerant artist in exchange for board and lodgings. He inspired me to make Creating the Cartouche.

Walking out into the courtyard, we walked into the kitchen.  It felt like a happy place.  Jennie, my friend who was with me started to smile and told me that there was a lovely lady in there with a huge wide smile and her name was Mabel.  While I didn’t see or feel her, I felt the contentment, so decided to create Mabel’s Morning.

Walking right out back into the garden felt a bit creepy to be honest but I put that down to having heard the story of Mary James who is said to haunt the place and is known as the Lady in White.  She was said to have killed herself though her husband was charged with her murder but eventually acquitted.  As she is the most well known of the lingering spirits, I knew she wanted her story to be told and so created Searching for the Truth.

At the front of the building is a plaque which commemorates the Transit of Venus in 1874 when early star gazers came to the property to get the best view of this event.  Out in the courtyard, I imagined their excitement when they saw the planets up close through the telescopes, in a time when they couldn’t look at the surface of a planet by Googling it as we have the privilege of doing so tried to convey this with the Transit of Venus.

I was pleased with what I created in these 5 images though they were very different to the kind of work I usually do.  I also created the Online Catalogue which is worth a look.  There were 9 artists and 4 poets in this exhibition, wonderfully curated by Susan Cochrane with the assistance of Saskia Everingham.  You can have a look at all the work that was included as well as read a few bits of history by clicking here.  If you are ever here in the mountains, try to go for a tour of the Academy or perhaps join one of the ghost tours presented there.

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Try One More Time

When the world says “give up”, hope whispers “try one more time”…… Author Unknown

I had a memory pop up on Facebook this morning.. I hardly ever look at or share these pop up memories as I figure I’ve lived that day…..onward and upward, don’t look back.  You know the drill.    However this morning, I was a bit taken aback to see this particular one.  You see, it was two years ago that I posted an image that I’d just made of a mermaid.

It wasn’t a new photo that I’d worked on.  I had taken this photo of the lovely Hannah much earlier while I was still at TAFE.  I had already edited it and loved the slightly cartoon effect I had put on it.  I had already stepped out of my comfort zone when I edited it first time and it was one of my favourites from my time at TAFE.  Obviously two years ago, I wanted to try something a bit different again.

I had known for a long time that I wanted to make art from photography but really didn’t have the nerve to step out of my comfort zone and try it.  Then late one night, I gave it a go and Hannah turned into Hope, my mermaid.  I have to be honest, when I’d finished it, I was quite overwhelmed.  I felt like I had finally proved to myself that I could create what my mind imagined.

In all honesty, it was a fairly simple fantasy image but it will always be one of my favourites as it was a turning point for me and my belief in myself.  I named her Hope to match the quote which suited me so well.  Hope has become my muse.  She whispers words of encouragement in my ear when I doubt myself and tells me to keep going when I sometimes want to give up.  She is more than an image.  I could probably rework the image with all I’ve since learned but I won’t, as to me she’s perfect as she is.

It amazes me that it’s really only been two  years since I started to  create what I was imagining, but then it was only in 2013 when I started studying photography, having never picked up an SLR or DSLR in my life.  All of my photos up until that point had been taken with point and shoot cameras.  It certainly has been an eventful 4.5 years but they are years that have brought me much joy.

So now, it’s onward and upward again.  I am already working on a new mermaid shoot which I’d planned before I realised this was two years ago.  Now it’s time to create lots more art as my mind imagines new worlds and scenarios.  Time to take my work up a notch again as the learning process never really ends.  But right now, I’m having a glass of wine and drinking a toast to my muse, Hope….

Hope Whispers

 

When the Artist becomes the Art

Youth is a gift of nature… Age a work of art….Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

A few months back, my wonderful friend Pennie had a big birthday.   It’s not up to me to tell you what the number was as it’s a woman’s prerogative to be ageless.  But I have to tell you, for this lady, age is completely irrelevant anyway.  She is a bundle of energy and radiates incredible grace.

Pennie is an artist who creates amazing work.  Her passion inspires me to continue trying to be the best creative I can be.  Both Pennie and her husband Brian are soon to expand their gallery space but until they do, you can view their work by clicking here.  Trust me, it’s worth having a look.

One of the most important things I concentrate on when making images of people is to make sure there is a connection with the image and that it represents who they truly are.  So with this talented lady,  I wanted to make the artist into the art so asked her if she’d pose for me.  She said yes and we had a lovely morning getting the shots I needed to create the images I was thinking of.  My plan was to take a photo of her and make it into a painterly style image to represent her artisan soul.  I got the shot I wanted and then as luck would have it, the plant on the side of the brick wall was covered in the most amazing, vibrant red autumn leaves, meaning I got more than I bargained for.

We also got a few laughs when we went for a burger for lunch afterwards and realised halfway through that we’d left the tiara in her hair.  Ah well.  Every queen deserves to wear a crown don’t they?   And make no mistake, this lady is a queen who I am privileged to call my friend.

Queen of Lurline

Queen of Lurline

DSC_8279

A gift of Nature

A Colourful Life

Mere colour can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways……Oscar Wilde

I love colours.  I love vibrant colours.  I love pastel colours.  I love neon colours.  I love dark,  moody colours.  I just love all colours.   While you won’t find a lot of blue or grey in my house as they aren’t my favourites, I can’t deny the beauty of a  spring sky or the soft strands of a grandma’s hair.

Pink is my signature colour while emerald green is my favourite.  When my kids were very young, they all chose a colour from a very early time and they stuck with it.  Aimee’s was blue, Lachlan’s was red and Stuart’s was yellow.  They really never veered away from those colours.

A lot of photography these days has returned to black and white which is stunning but I still prefer to shoot and edit in colour.  While I can admire the contemporary decor of today with it’s beige and grey palettes, I couldn’t live with it.  I need colour around me.  It feeds my soul.

So with that in mind, I asked a good friend of mine if I could paint her for a photo shoot.  Trish is always up for a challenge (how lucky am I to have friends who allow me to do this sort of stuff?) so I set to work with a paintbrush and her naked torso.  Now, to be fair, I’m not a painter but I was happy with it.  And here is the result.  My very colourful friend with her very colourful aura, soul and skin.

A Colourful Life

 

 

Graceful – Weekly Photo Challenge

It is only our belief that we are trapped that keeps us bound where we are….Livonne

As some of you will know I’ve spent the weeks over Christmas and the New Year moving into a new home.  After shifting comes the mammoth task of setting a new home up.  I gave myself all of January off so I could concentrate on getting it just as I wanted it and then come February, I was to hit the ground running with works for exhibition as well as a few new series I have planned. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Take a month off I said.  It’ll be good I said.. Wrong!

Yesterday,  I couldn’t take the lack of creativity another minute.  Yes, I should have been unpacking and setting up things how I want them.  Yes, I should have been doing some gardening.  Yes, I should have been working on other stuff but my brain was screaming at me to create something… anything.

Luckily I have some lovely friends who are happy to pose for me whenever I want to shoot something in particular.  I got in touch with Janet and she happily agreed to be my model.  I had planned to shoot outside, however the beautiful mountains mists came in which, while beautiful and inspiring,  played havoc with my plans.  So instead, I set up an area inside, cut heaps of ivy off my fence and set about quickly planning something different.

I was inspired by the restless, trapped feeling I had when I had this self imposed break from creating.  Even though it was me that set the rules, I felt bound by them.  I could have stuck to my plan of not shooting over January but sometimes we have to listen to that creative voice that says “just do it”.  So I cast off those shackles and lost myself in what I love doing.  Yes my lounge room was a mess but it was so worth it.

I still have some more images to be edited but these three are the first of them.  Oh it felt so good to be creating again.

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..

 

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