Apart

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Well, the rain has been bucketing down all this week, so I am back working indoors again..

This is a collage of a self portrait taken when I was 18. I went everywhere with my camera then, and vividly remember taking the original picture to this, on black and white film, in a park, on a timer, balanced on something..

I found this image quite interesting to work with, for many reasons.

At first I started with the original black and white photograph, hung it on a wall, and photographed it at night with a yellow electric light, creating a slightly blurred and coloured effect:

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I wasn’t sure if I liked the blur at first, but I warmed to it. I think that it adds to the feeling of age and distance that I was hoping for, and I like that the blur is mainly contained to the back..

To me, this image, alone, the subject staring into nothing, has a totally different impact to the final work. The expression to me seems very lonely, inward, and somehow more bleak..maybe this is just my personal reaction as it is a photograph of myself, so it’s hard to separate enough to view it without my attached memories and emotions.

The stretched ear somehow becomes more apparent to me in this singular image, almost as a central focal point, although I am also drawn to the eyes..

I decided to arrange this image to work as two facing ones, and so blended them together, keeping a hint of the separation in the centre, with a sharp open line.

(Click to enlarge)

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ย I find it really interesting how much the energy in the picture changes when the images are facing each other. Viewed together, I find that the expression becomes somehow defiant, assertive..though there is a sense of kindness too..are these two faces fighting each other or supporting each other? Are they identical? Do they have separate characters? Do they hold onto each other or are they pulling apart? Sometimes I see one as more dominant than the other. I have lots of questions, and my answers keep changing.

Having a point of focus, you can see the expression somehow more as something directed outwards, it more easily seems to reflect the subjects outlook on the world, there is a new tension there, it seems a less inward gaze..although having identical images also isolates..they are wrapped up in themselves. Another image also appears in the centre to me..can you see it too?

As I said, I feel differently about these every time I look at them. Writing now, the two figures represent to me the feeling of two inner worlds and conflicts – ย of somehow separating from yourself and becoming something else, and how different that feels, and yet still being one body..To me there is also a sense of disconnection to the world, of holding on, of self reliance, somehow revealed in these blank expressions..or maybe these are just my emotional and personal responses..?

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15 thoughts on “Apart

    1. Thanks so much Richard – I’m glad you felt the tension, I did too but wondered if it was just my personal response..really appreciate all your comments..

  1. The mirroring is really good, Cath. She looks like a very strong character! Do you find it hard to recognize yourself sometimes, from the vantage point of age? I really notice now how youth makes all young people beautiful – I never noticed it at the time, of course! Youth is, genuinely, wasted on the young.

    1. Thanks Graham – yes I do feel very separate to this person now, although I can remember something of how she feels – there is a lot I would tell her now if I could, with the benefit of experience.. It is sad how we waste so many years sometimes! I do know what you mean about youth and beauty..though I can say in all honesty that in general I much prefer older faces and characters, particularly in terms of artwork and photography…experience and character give something more to a person – you can see the true soul and layers emerge..something that you don’t see in the young as easily somehow..I need a bigger comments box for this discussion..Ha! Thanks for the interesting thoughts! ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thankyou – I too had all sorts of emotional responses, bouncing back and forth, I’m glad that it communicated something to you too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. A very interesting idea. Have you thought of combining them with very slight subtle differences between them which would make people start to question whether they were the same person or two different people?

    1. Hi there, thanks for the comment. A great idea, I did think about it, but somehow even as they are now I found myself looking at them wondering if they were actually identical, so thought maybe it already did that..but it’s definitely worth experimenting with I think..I may try doing some more with different expressions too..interesting to hear your response, thankyou! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I especially enjoyed the commentary that accompanies that portrait. The insight into an artist’s mind makes for a marvellous read. I’m so glad you decided to tel us just how the photo came about. I certainly appreciate it more now than I would have if it was just the photo. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hey, thankyou – I always wonder whether to add my thoughts or if it’s better just to let people come to it fresh..still not quite sure. I’m really glad that you liked it though, thanks for the feedback! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Cath, this is a very striking and beautiful mirroring.
    It feels somewhat like attachment and detachment at the same time.
    The highlighted wisps of hair add a little fragility to a young woman who is full of strength and intensity.

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