The last vestiges of hope

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Thoughts, not in any particular order (bio's are just a load of bollocks) If you would like some Bollocks this site will create some for you: https://www.artybollocks.com/

 

I have had exhibitions of my photographic work fourteen of them in the nineties and my videos are in collections and archives and are shown in various parts of the world.

 

Lots of my images and videos are figurative, I enjoy posing for these I feel a 'oneness' and a touch by something infinite as I do. The history of the area I live in is plainly visible from Roman mines to 300 million year old fossils. That influences me to make the very best of my images and poses in honour of all the life that has passed before me.

 

I feel the history of the area, the exploitation of workers going back to Roman times and probably beyond. I pose for them as much as for myself and feel their artist within struggling to find a voice.

 

Figure in the landscape

 

We are so attuned to searching for faces/figures that it makes it very difficult to create a 'figure in the landscape' image, where the figure becomes part of the picture and not just its subject. Is it possible, I’m so close to my images that I am unable to give a definitive answer.

 

The male figure

 

I find it very odd that some men can put women on photographic pedestals yet at the same time denigrate them for doing it, then claim that they 'love' women and then when they come across a male posing they can't handle that at all for fear of being considered gay.

 

Incidentally I do get 'stick' for doing this from males who think that only "worthless women" should pose whilst they as 'superior males' should be directing the shots from behind the camera and then I get the ageist thing for being old and wearing a skimpy costume, 'you should not be disporting yourself in this shocking manner at your age' The comments are compilations and reductions of what I have had directed at me over the past 8 years as I have taught myself how to make montages.

 

It would be very nice if by doing this I encouraged more men to do something similar.

 

To put myself in some sort of context I've posed for self images since I had enough money to buy my first camera and darkroom stuff. I've been married for 47 years and my wife is my severest critic, she always says let me look now (at my latest image) and make up my mind about it tomorrow.

 

Montage

 

In 1998 I came across the Digital Montage Art of Catherine McIntyre made in Photoshop. I was utterly and completely bowled over by the beauty, harmony, colour and sheer audacity of her images.

 

I got in touch with her later that year and she helped me with some very basic ideas of how to cut out images using Ps. She said then that the techniques are best learned by finding them for yourself. 13 years later in 2011 I got so angry with myself and my failure to create anything I decided that I must push everything else to one side and concentrate on montage.

 

Catherine is quite right with some knowledge of the very basics it is possible to make a start. I knew that I'd 'arrived' one day about 2 years later when she said this in a message, "It's great you're reaching into yourself for something far more expressive and exciting (than straight photography) And what a brilliant thing it is, an artistic development - it's the best thing one can possibly do with one's time, imho! Enjoy!" I treasure these words.

 

Video art

 

After a few years of making digital art montages I began to think that there was lot more to it than the final single image. I found some code that could be used to merge two images so that I could have a before and an after. That satisfied me for awhile but even so I thought something was missing.

 

At the time I'd got Windows Movie Maker 6 (still available for Win10 Google will find it) it's the best of the free programs. I was able to make continual merges using it and found it very good indeed.

 

I wanted to do other things like have layers which WMM6 couldn't do and looked around for another program. I found Cyberlink Power Director 14 after downloading lots of 30 day trials. Even the most inexpensive version has all the tools to make all sorts of effects using layers and masks. Anything I can think of that I want to do can be done in it, it's a bit like Photoshop in that respect.

 

I did wonder if using still images to make a video was actually a video. I was fortunate to have my first screening at a Gallery in Sheffield, the local university across the road has a film and television course. I was able to ask the students who came in to look at my video if indeed they thought my work was a video and got a unanimous yes.

 

To say I was pleased about that is putting it mildly, I'd suddenly become a video artist and mightily glad to be so.

 

Only Black

 

I'd wanted to make images that were impressions but retained their photographic integrity, I'd been very impressed with woodcuts and amazed at the small sizes of the prints 3" x 4" being common. The endgrain box wood is very expensive and the trees are protected in some parts of the world. So no large images anymore all used up in the 19th Century, the trees are very slow growing and unlike others do not show growth rings.

 

I tried the Threshold tool to begin with and got nowhere. Eventually I ended up using Ps7 and Ps13 in tandem. Like a lot of processes what I started out wanting to do was not what I ended up with. I thought this is only going to work with certain images, I was wrong I can make it work with most of the stuff I make even the montages which did surprise me.

 

You might see some grey in the online images, the original files are just Black, nowt else. They will print beautifully on a cheapo laser printer on A4 paper and if you've got the dosh they print superbly on Hahnemühle Photo Rag at 18" x 24".

 

In general

 

Most importantly for me I am one of those fortunate enough to have found what I want to do photographically; it fills my mind like nothing else ever has. I love posing for the figurative bits, I love the countryside that surrounds us here, I like the towns not far away, the scrap yards are wonderful places to find images and I love making montages, above all I like to create images that I think are beautiful.

 

I make photo impressions and I like for instance to emphasise the wildness of the forest. Where quarries once bared all to the sky the weather breaks up the rock for the plants to seed and set and these give way to Brambles and shrubs and as they die they become the nutrients that nurture the trees, if left to itself  the forest will regenerate quite quickly without any human interference. I find little places, clearings that act as perfect 'stages' to pose in, sometime that have trees that are unusual shapes.

 

I work on each image separately and what I do varies according to how I felt at the time I took the photo and how I felt when I posed for the figurative one and how I felt the images should be combined. I make them for myself they are my personal take on whatever I point my camera at. I am a chancer rather than a photographer what the camera sees is not what I saw but is only someway towards it. That's why I like to take full control over the process from inception to presentation

 

Grumble

 

I heartily detest the word 'workflow' intimating that the same technique can be applied to many images on a 'production line basis'. I work on each one of my images as though it is unique gem and demands special treatment. I can spend a whole day on one image and not get it 'right'. I have to leave it with the thought that there is something good there I just haven't found the right way into it yet.

 

And what a glorious moment it is to finally see the image emerge just how I wanted it to be. It's one of the joys in my life.

 

J

 

Ohh! And if you've got this far I believe that art should be freely available, I give my Video and Only Black files away via WeTransfer. All I ask is a nice message by email from collectors, I value personal  contact far more than any money I might make.

 

Leotards, G String/Thongs


I wear these for lots of my images (the Leotard was originally 1890's, a male garment) I make my own and I have done a couple of PDF instruction sheets for people who have not done any sewing before. What machine to buy, how to make your own pattern and how to sew. All without spending lots of money. It has taken some time and effort to author these, please send a nice message if you would like to have them.