Dan Wood

Dan Wood is a self-taught photographer from South Wales, UK. His video piece Hypnagogia consists of black and white hand printed photographs that predict a post-apocalyptic world, representing his anxieties and insomnia. Throughout Hypnagogia — the transitional period between wakefulness and sleep — Wood preys upon our inherent fears to create an unsettling world of dark dreams and haunting nostalgia.

How did Hypnagogia come about?

The series came about a couple of years ago when I was searching for some negatives in the darkroom. I don’t have any sort of filing system, so when I need to look for a specific negative I have to look through them all, which can take hours; I always find it exhausting but very beneficial. This particular time I started seeing several images that had been overlooked and never printed; so I decided to print them to see what they would look like. Very soon after I realised that a pattern was presenting itself to me and that the pictures were cohesive. I knew that I was trying to say something but couldn’t quite figure out what. It was a serious departure from what I usually do, so it was a case of trial, error and experimentation.

The images often play into common fears: ominous waters, dark open spaces, strange figures etc. Do these directly relate to your own fears and anxieties?

Unconsciously, and now consciously, yes. I’ve always been a fan of horror movies, death metal music and the darker side of life in general. Becoming a parent for the first time and the responsibility that comes with it was massive inspiration for the series, too, and I suppose a lot of my anxieties were brought on by parenthood itself. Open water, especially the sea, scares me, even though I’ve never had a bad experience involving water. It must come from a horror movie called Shock Waves which I saw when I was quite young; I remember that being pretty disturbing. Lone figures in the landscape is something that has always made me feel some unease too, although I have no idea of the origins of this particular fear, even though it’s something that has been there since a young age.

How did you come up with each image and its concept? What is your process?

The pictures themselves date back as far as 2004, so I guess that this whole series is a documentation of my own life over the past 12 years. Each picture had to be relevant and also tell a story, whether it was dream/hypnagogic related and/or anxiety/depression driven. It's all about different periods of my life and how I was feeling during these periods. The main period fuelling this series was 2003-08 when I was going through a decisive transition from old life to new. There is also a supernatural element to some of the pictures as the house I lived in for 16 years was undoubtably haunted.

Sleep is such an integral part of our well-being. Has there been any therapeutic benefits from working on Hypnagogia?

Absolutely. There has been significant therapeutic benefits throughout the whole process. At the start of the project I had no Idea that I was self medicating, but it soon became evident when the pieces started fitting together; when I made the first draft of the video I knew that this was exactly what I had envisioned right at the start of the work. In regards to sleep, the hypnagogic visions are now expected but have in no way become less horrible; they definitely don’t cause the same rate of anxiety as they used to.

I found the video both oddly soothing and anxiety provoking at the same time. What was the reasoning behind presenting the images as a slideshow with sound?

Once the series of photographs were made they just sat in a folder for a while as I didn’t really know what to do with them. Something was missing. I needed to find a way of presenting the work to complete my expression, interpret what I was trying to say and conclude the series; randomly putting the pictures up on my website just didn’t feel right. One evening I had an epiphany to make a slideshow with music and the search for a soundtrack started. I tried many different types of music from light jazz to roaring death metal, but nothing seemed right, until I stumbled upon the work of Simon Wilkinson (via You Tube). The subtle science fiction-esque creepy horror music that he makes fitted perfectly and really brought life to the series; it was the best 79p I ever spent.

What are you working on next?

After that delve into the darkness, I’m now back working on more documentary/topographic based projects. I’ve just come back from shooting a mini series in Wick, in the North East of Scotland. My Father in-law’s family live up there and we try and visit bi-annually. It's such a great, unique and interesting place that’s rich in history and I really felt that I had to make some work there. Another project which I’m currently working on is ‘Bwlch-y-Clawdd’ (Gap in the Hedge) which is a mountain pass that connects Bridgend - my hometown - to the South Wales Valleys. This is going to be a long term project which documents the villages each side of the Pass and also the Pass itself.


Amy Colebrook

Amy Colebrook is a photographic artist who focuses on the concept of the family, using her own family photographs, documents and objects. With mental health having a long-standing effect on her family throughout generations, it is an important theme within her work. A BA Photography graduate from the London College of Communication (UK), Colebrook looks at how her personal family archives can communicate and stimulate discussion about current societal issues through the use of archival images that offer a historical comparison in there own right.

I came across your work at the London College of Communication end of year show. Your project A Staged Equilibrium is a response to your great grandfather's suicide. Can you tell me a little about how this project first began and what it was like to work around the subject of familial suicide?

Granny Gill sat me down in her front room with a wooden writing box on her knee, and I knew what she was about to show me... Her father's suicide letter.

I knew about his suicide growing up as she spoke of it with a sense of distress. She gave me the facts; he was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and often had psychotic episodes where he would experience auditory hallucinations. She was 16 when she found him in there family home. Although we are very open family I knew this was always going to be a sensitive subject.

I was angry, and I got angrier, they don't get it, but they pretend they do! Some days you wake up where you think 'give people the benefit of the doubt', big mistake! And that's when they make comments like you're 'too mature' (2008) 'hysterical' (2009) 'Attention seeking' (2010). 2010/2011, I began to self-harm, and self medicate with a combination of prescribed medication, citalopram (for anxiety) and paracetamol/aspirin, I felt like the screeching pains in my tender stomach and my sore scratches were the only real thing I could feel, and like everything one day it goes to far. Nobody really knows what you've done other than family, yet there was this sickening paranoia that everybody must have thought I wasn't brave enough.

6 months later my mother took an overdose, she suffers with deep depression that can come in bouts of highs and lows, she drinks to deal with the past, she’s done that ever since I can remember (no comment).

Working around the topic of mental health whilst suffering yourself is not easy, particularly when you chose to lay bare your family's personal struggles with mental health. When I allowed myself to be completely open to questions and probing it did become difficult. The biggest problem I had when going through the motions of this project was with the lecturers, they didn't think the subject matter was "appropriate for photography"; they actually had very little support or faith in the project, and I took the risk regardless. I'm proud of myself for that, but I did what was right for me, and battled through.

I wasn’t "brave" enough to take my life, and this project began years ago with the fascination and the bravery of one man that was able to stop the hurting, the judging and self-validation.

I'm curious about the project's impact on family relationships. Did it provide an opportunity to talk about suicide and mental health within your family?

Granny Gill talks about how the project, A Staged Equilibrium has helped her to "reconnect" with John Locker, her father. For my mother it's been harder. Her and her brother were not told about their grandfather's suicide until my mother was age 11, and her brother was 14. It just wasn't talked about, and suicide held a massive stigma, it's not as if my grandmother was ashamed of him, far from it, but her childhood was occupied by his illness and she was desperate to make a life for herself. My mother has admitted she has found my project difficult, and says it must have been easier for my grandmother to speak to me about it. That maybe true, and I think the difference in generations are the reason, my generation seem to be a lot more inclined to talk openly. However I do believe it can be down to the individual, for me it's become my fight and I am interested in knowing everything I possibly can to expand my knowledge of dealing with mental health.

Despite being an open family, I know that Granny Gill, after writing an account about her childhood for the project, felt that she wanted to share the account with her children, and I think the project instigated that. I believe that A Staged Equilibrium has been a catalyst within the family, for talking about why John Locker's suicide wasn’t talked about, which in turn has undoubtedly instigated talk surrounding lots of issues as a family.

Has working on the project been cathartic in any way for yourself, or other family members?

For myself, it has certainly been a release but also a very emotional time, particularly being up against a university that offered no support or encouragement, I felt people would keep there distance from me too, knowing what the project was, you do tend to get treated like a ‘its might be catching’ as my family says, In fact, when installing the exhibition, somebody on the course asked my close friend what it was about and if it was a true story, when she was given the answer, she didn’t know what to say, made her excuses and dashed away. That should have probably upset me, but after years of that sort of reaction, in that moment I felt liberated in a strange way, that I was doing something worthwhile, something that would make people feel uncomfortable or awkward.

I know for my mum its been difficult, although she tries her best to conceal it, she isn’t inclined to fight the world, she has her own personal fight going on, and its more about taking each day for her. But I get that ‘fight the world’ instinct from Granny Gill, always wanting to help people and talk to people about the difficult things they might be facing. If the project has been a cathartic for anyone, it’s been it for my Grandmother and I. We have talked at length about all things related to mental health, her fathers suicide, society’s views on it, and how best to articulate those topics through photography and art, but through going through that process, it instigates an honesty and an understanding about the issues I was dealing with within the project.

What was it that drew you to working with an installation of the project? Tell us a little about how the work was installed.

"You have always loved his photo and that in a way helped me love the man he was before I was born and the illness ruled his life (mine and my mothers too)"

I love that photo in particular, such a handsome man, who scarily resembles my grandmother through the mouth and eyes. I ask a lot about the family history, and the photos fascinate me, hearing stories about people that lay on the table in front of me that don't get to come out of the box very often. However, John's photo lives in the piano room at Granny Gills on display above the portrait of his wife, Olive.

Working on any project with my family photos, there is always one component I have craved to give them but have never had the opportunity until, A Staged Equilibrium, a home, a homely space that I have always envisioned them in, and obviously they all have a different 'home' in my head.

John's portrait had to be relocated from the piano room to the 'home' I had created for him so that I was able to display the relationship between him and his daughter (Granny Gill) through the topic of mental health and more specifically, John's suicide.

Working with an installation project was imperative to this work; I needed to create if only a snippet, a home, with certain objects, sounds and personal documents that allow the viewer to forge almost an emotional attachment. The home I had created was specifically for John, made to fit his ideals of symmetry, as he states in his letter he had always wished to live his life in a symmetrical way. With the identical armchairs that set the scene, upright and ready, almost ready to be pulled out to face each other, expectant of talk.

Suicide is still a particularly difficult and taboo subject for many. What do you hope viewers take away from A Staged Equilibrium?

I was true to myself with everything I did with this project. Within an institutional boundary! I created an installation that got people talking and thinking, there's no doubt about that, I watched people at the exhibition opening, and my emotions were fraught that evening with the ongoing battle I was having with university not agreeing with my choice of subject matter. But people reacted only how I could of dreamed of, they allowed their emotions to overwhelm them, there was lots of talk in the area, and that's all I could have asked for. I just hope it sparked something in people to maybe research a little, and explore mental health and suicide. I can’t ask for anymore than that.

Is mental health something that you’ll continue to explore in your practice?

Yes, definitely, there are so many different characteristics in which mental health can take on within the creative process. It's something that not only I suffer with daily whilst going through the creative motions but also something I am unable to leave out of it, I feel a sense of dishonesty towards myself if I don’t articulate it through my photographic process. It's a part of me therefore a my practice.

What’s next for you?

Right now I'm hoping to do some volunteer work or support work in mental health to gain some practical experience on the ground.However my writing is a very important component to the work I produce so that is also something I want to explore further within the creative and journalistic industry.

However I will continue to explore my practice with the inclusion of mental health as an ongoing study, which will help In working towards my goal, to complete an MA in Art Therapy.

I have researched extensively the 'photographs' place within counselling and therapeutic methods to help with dealing with mental health issues, and although art therapies exist and work, I know myself what family photos bring up, when you open the box of photos you don’t know one emotion from the next and often you find the person explaining the people and images have thousands of stories that instigate mixed emotions. I really think the inclusion of family photos in counselling sessions could be really beneficial. I personally have received art therapy, and I found it patronizing and demoralizing toward art itself, and found the sessions I received were conducted in a disjointed, and awkward manner. That doesn’t mean to say it doesn't have a place because it does, and the art therapy I received actually instigated my own thoughts and ideas about how an alternative form of art therapy could be conducted in the form of photographs.


A Tale of Two Fathers

A Tale of Two Fathers, by Julia Horbaschk & Tim Andrews,is the start of a longer term project exploring the themes of loss & memory. In this short film Julia starts to explore her father's suicide whilst Tim remembers a father he never really knew. Julia Horbaschk is a producer, photographer and self-taught film maker specialising in social documentaries, editorial, portrait and travel. Tim Andrews' Over the Hill photographic project has led him to be photographed by over 420 during the last nine years after his diagnosis of parkinson's.

How did you and Tim meet?

Julia: Tim and I met at his Mini Click presentation on 13th July 2013, the day before my birthday at The Green Door Store in Brighton. I went for his talk really as I had just left behind my teaching career after 10 years due to a severe disk prolapse and I was curious about his project Over the Hill and the merging of photography & health. We had a chat after his talk - Alison Palmer was there too and we all exchanged contacts. Shortly after I received an email from Tim asking me if I'd like to photograph him. I said yes immediately and we met up at the Friends Meeting Place cafe on Hove seafront to get to know each other and pick brains for ideas. It's what I like to do before I photograph anyone - I meet them without my camera. You can read further both of our accounts of how we met here and here.

What was the stimulus for making the film?

Julia: The stimulus was to carry on working together creatively after I took Tim's picture for Over the Hill. We had already collaborated on a few short films and wanted to do something a little more comprehensive and meaningful. During a very funny cafe chat at the Bandstand Cafe we looked at all the things we had in common: being silly, stealing in childhood (don't tell anyone!), liking Monty Python, oh and we both lost our fathers when we were young! This seemed to be a topic I never really addressed and wanted to challenge myself with for a long time. I just didn't know how. Tim said he often interviews family and friends about their life and suggested we both write down questions for each other. This is how it started. We then wanted to bring some more artistic elements into the work rather than it just being documentary - not sure how much we succeeded in this but it's a start I suppose!

Has the making of the documentary been cathartic in any way?

Julia: It wasn't intended but I think yes to some extent it was cathargic. It wasn't easy, I had never talked about the suicide of my father publicly up until then and it felt quite vulnerable. I also never made a film so personal to me.
Tim was so bold and frank with his questions - he encouraged me to talk - hiding was no longer an option and I found a certain level of confidence when talking to him. There are hints of me being emotional - a smile from me may actually show my embarrassment rather then suggests that I am laughing. I was/ still am very aware around the stigma of suicide. However, with Tim it didn't matter. I think knowing him really helped me to open up. Tim was never judgemental towards me and my experience, this really made all the difference.

We are both self taught filmmakers, autodidacts and what we produced is quite raw and honest and perhaps not to everyone's taste.

What was cathargic also was the process of making the film, not to worry too much about technicalities or academic approach.
There is value in hearing each other's stories. I come from a culture where "production values" are sometimes dominating the underlying meaning of visual work. I have taken great inspiration from Werner Herzog in this respect and just went with what was there "a straight look". This is not to say I/we don't want to learn more about clever technics or an academic approach but as it stands this is it.

The short film does not tell the full story but it has opened up an avenue for us to explore new ways of working and this is very liberating and exciting!

Tim: Not so much for me but l have seen how much it means to Julia and that has been very gratifying. My feelings about my father are not so painful or unhappy because l never knew him. My life would have been totally different if he had lived but, as it happens, l have had a wonderful life - l have been very happy anyway. l think this is what connects me and Julia, a shared sense of humour and of loss and yet we have survived and enjoyed where we have got to.

I’m curious about what emotions making the film may have brought up. Was it difficult researching into the past?

Julia: Yes and no. As said with Tim it's easy to talk, but then you are always aware of the camera and who might see the film. Will they judge you? What will they think about you? About your opinions, ways to deal with the matter? I started to talk to my sister about it a little but there is still the big crunch point of my mother. She cannot talk about my father at all for various reasons. I hence feel some guilt towards making the film and have not been able to tell her about it. This is very difficult for me. Also there is so little left of my father. Only a few photographs. No one in the family really talks about what happened. There was so much pain, so many other issues: domestic violence, divorce, gambling. Half of the family does not speak to each other any more. Hard to get any truthful facts. I wished I would still have some of the objects he once gave me (a wooden heart) or his passport or see his medical records for example. Just something to work with. That's the hardest the photographs are all I've got. When I found out my uncle had written a book I was half ecstatic, half in agony. The relationship to my uncle broke down at the time my parents divorced. But since the book was available on Amazon I just bought it, every piece of memory to my father is precious. I wished he had written some letters to me!

How do you see the film/project developing?

Julia: I would really like it to continue. There are a few routes we thought about taking this project forward. One is by finding more people who lost their fathers and find out how it impacted on their lives/ what creative ways they may have found to deal with loss/ memory or include them in a continued participatory project. I hope it will encourage people to talk about their stories and although this may be a bit ambitious, I hope it will have a positive impact somewhere somehow helping protect lives from suicide.

The other is personal to me: In 1999/2000, When I was about 23, I produced a large body of work on 35mm slide film following my fathers journey into Europe and travelling mainly by myself. These images were a direct expression of my feelings of loss and seeking stability within myself. They include some long term exposure self-portraits (you can imagine them a bit in the style of Francesca Woodman - just in colour and only I had never heard of her at this time!).

There are over 100 images/ slides taken mainly in Switzerland and Paris. I tried to run through them all once with my lecturer at Brighton Uni but I got so overwhelmed as I could not express why I took these nor find a way to describe/ use/ present them. I was embarrassed about them. I always knew I want come back to them at some point and now 17 years later I may have found the right people to help me look at them again.

I am hoping to find a way to include them perhaps in the Brighton Photo Fringe 2016 or present them in book form. Both Tim and Wendy Pye have offered to help me make sense of the work and I hope their insight and sensitivity to the subject matter will give me confidence and ideas to present a least some of these images to a wider audience.


Corinne Perry

Corinne Perry's photography is a form of therapy, a personal, emotive and sometimes turbulent struggle with the complexity of emotions. Life and art have become intertwined and to bury this mind set deep within her would only allow it to thrive. But through the use of her photography, she is offered a sense of catharsis. Corinne studied photography at Birmingham City University graduating in 2012 and currently resides within the West Midlands (UK). Her work is currently on exhibit at the Beaney Museum, in Prescriptions, an exhibition of artists books on illness, healing and wellbeing.

One thing that stands out as hugely important to you is process. You often work with film and hand colouring. How did this come to be an integral method in your practice?

I have always preferred the look and feel of traditional photography, so this influence is what really started my use of film. The tactile and sensory nature of traditional photographic methods enables me an intimate and hands on connection with my work. The hand colouring was influenced by my interest in Victorian photography, as it was at the height of its popularity during the period. I enjoy hand colouring as it enables me to add further layers of both emotion and pain upon the surface of the print, until the image is born.

Your projects focus on using art to embody emotional experiences. How do you usually go about starting a project?

Whilst at University and going through an emotionally difficult time, I felt a compelling need to express my emotional state and began producing my project Misery. Since this my projects have started naturally and upon instinct, each project flowing on from the last. Often the first stage of a project is to begin by distressing/constructing the interior, as to enable it to become a metaphor of my pain. The photographs and concepts usually flow on from that.

How important is catharsis in your work? Do you feel you can move on from an experience once a project reaches an ending?

Catharsis is deeply entwined with my work, with it being the reasoning behind its production. The end of a project is always incredibly therapeutic, and I have been able to move on from some experiences. I feel the continued production of my work is enabling my mental state to transform into that of a more positive nature.

What is the importance of producing work in the same location (your bedroom) and putting yourself within the frame?

My bedroom is the keeper of my trapped and repressed emotions. There is a sense of safety within this interior that enables me to feel safe to explore my emotions in front of the camera. It feels very natural and instinctive to place my body within the frame, as without this physical act I would not experience the same sense of catharsis.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

My work both conceptually and aesthetically is deeply inspired by Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s Victorian novella The Yellow Wallpaper. A gothic novella, that tells the story of a women’s descent into madness after she is confined to a bedroom. Emotionally I feel a connection with the novella and would say it has influenced my work more so than any other photographer.

How do you see your work developing?

At the moment I am continuing work on my ongoing projects Wallflower and Melancholia until I feel these projects naturally come to an end. I then hope to produce work that builds upon the exploration of my childhood, focusing on how I feel my emotional state is entwined with this period of my life.


Laura Hospes

Laura Hospes is a photographer from The Netherlands using self-portraiture to connect with the world around her. In her project UCP-UMCG Hospes documents her stay in a psychiatric hospital, using photography to illustrate her emotional experiences.

What initially drew you to photography?

When I was 15, my cousin took some photographs of our family with a Sony Alpha 230. The pictures that came out where so beautiful! I asked if I could try making some photos, too, and it was a magical thing to do. For my 16th birthday I asked money to buy my first camera, the exact same Sony Alpha 230.

Is the process of photography (in particular self-portraits) therapeutic to you? If so, is there a process behind this?

It is quite a discussion what is ment by therapeutic. If it means that it heals you, then no, it wasn’t. Making self-portraits is not healing me. As a matter of fact, with the diagnose I got, a personality disorder, it is not possible to heal completely. But it did really help me "surviving" the day and especially the night. The decision to make new work feels like it is not a decision. It just happens, because I feel a need to make photos. Healthy people talk to each other when they feel bad, but that is a hard thing to do for me. So I pick up my camera, watch the light, background and check my settings. Then I just sit and wait till the conversation with my camera starts. I don’t even know I’m clicking my remote anymore after a couple of photos. It is just such a natural thing to do. When I feel lighter, like the big weight is off my shoulders, I put the photos on my laptop and convert them to black and white. I immediately start selecting, because that is part of the proces. It is also the reason I can’t shoot analogue. I have to see the photos after I shot them, so I can close that day.

What was it like making work whilst within the hospital setting? Were you open about your photography with doctors and other patients?

In the beginning I was all a insecure about making the photos in hospital. The doctors knew obviously that I studied photography and also asked sometimes what kind of photographs I made, but I didn’t share them at first. I also was too depressed to do anything with the photos. I just made them and that was it. After a while I realized that the photos could be pretty good, so I carefully shared the first picture on Facebook. People liked it indeed, so I started to share more photos. It helped me to share it. I felt I could do something I was good at and I could share my situation where I felt so alone.

What has it been like to share such personal images with the world?

It is very scary to share such a personal story with the whole world, but I keep telling myself that I don’t have to feel ashamed for this period in my life. There are so many people who go through such times. Sometimes, somebody tells me that a photo is exactly saying what he or she feels. It means so much for me to hear that. It means that I am not alone, but also that I can show that they are not alone. I can do something for the people around me. And that at the time I asked myself if I was useful to the world. It gave me answers I needed at that moment.

How does it feel to look back at these images, taken in a dark time of your life, and see the positive recognition that they have gained?

I have seen my pictures so often, I don’t see them like “that photo of that hard time anymore”. But sometimes it’s like they talk back. For example, I’m making a book of the whole period. It’s called UCP and will come out September 23, 2016. While making prints for the limited editions it somehow got me so hard. The picture was staring at me and suddenly I felt all the hard feelings again, but also the relieve that the hardest part is over. I cried. And I hope that it will have that same effect on others.

What do you hope your viewers will take away from you images?

As I said before, I hope they recognize themselves in it. That they can see they are not alone. And for the people who haven’t suffered from something like this, I hope they see how bad it is. How hard life is for people with depression, caused by whatsoever. That the people suffering are not crazy, but are working só hard to overcome the situation. That everybody can get a depression or other mental disease. It don’t have to be a taboo, just ask about it. Many depressed people want to talk about it, but feel uncomfortable because nobody asks them.

What’s next for you?

I am still making photographs almost on a daily basis. But I’m not in hospital anymore. This summer I will start with a treatment that lasts 12 months. I think it will be a hard time, but I hope it will help me in the future. After the treatment I want to work on my first solo exhibition, that would be really cool.

@laurahospes on Instagram.
Laura Hospes Photography on Facebook.

Paloma Tendero

Paloma Tendero is a Spanish photographer now living in London. After completing a BA (Hons) in Fine Arts at University Complutense, Madrid, she went to on to graduate from the MA Photography at the London College of Communication.

Paloma is also taking part in our free artist talk with Celine Marchbank, Antonia Attwood & Rhone Eve Clews on June 16th. Book a free ticket here.

Your work blends photography with sculpture — how did this way of working come about for you? How would you describe your work?

I come from a Fine Arts background, and as an artist, I have worked with many mediums. However, my artwork is not based on any specific technique, but in materials that can provide me with an outcome I wish to express.

My work often begins with photographs of my body, contorted through performance into a sculptural form and combined with sculpture and other mixed media like knitting and embroidery. I look for a representation of the internal genetic flaw. I am interested in the analysis of the internal body, exploring beyond the physical structure of the human being. Through photography and sculpture I look for an interpretation of this co-existence of the healthy and the sick.

In Inside Out the photographs explore the relationship between psychological difficulties and their physical manifestation. Can you explain how this work was conceived?

Inside Out started with the exploration of somatisation; how psychological conflicts are sublimated into organic symptoms that are manifested physically. This idea then evolved with my interest in the influence of genetic disorders that are passed along family lines.

My work explores physical and psychological relationships that spring from this inherited determinism. In the Inside Out series, I look at the influence of genetic disease, passed along family lines, which renders the body vulnerable to an unrequested destiny.

What does the importance of placing yourself in the frame hold in your work?
I experience life through my body, a body that holds my emotions and houses my anatomy, my energy and memories. My body has been compromised by its own genetic history and the genetic flaw I have inherited from my mother.

By using my own body as both model and sculpture and placing objects upon it, I am creating images from performance. I am able to investigate the struggle between biological determinism and self-will.

What are you working on now?
My next project is call Célula. By focusing on genetics and organic processes that are linked to us, my artwork weaves in issues arising out of the emotional struggle between good and bad, body and mind, inside and outside, dualities that are the union between two divided worlds.

I am seeking to explore these ideas through the artistic side of science, looking at microscopic views of blood cells and body scans that are able to look beyond our physical characteristics.


Kimberley Beach

Kimberley Beach works primarily with autobiographical experiences as subject matter for work across mediums to explore the vulnerability of the female body. Informed equally by life experience and feminist narrative, she works to take political ownership of the female form, highlighting the implications and considerations of her body when re-imagined or re-contextualized in the public space. With her practice, she aims to contribute to an ever-evolving realm of discourse concerned with female authority and experience.

Beach studied her BA at the University of Westminster and is currently studying for her MA at the Slade School of Fine Art, starting in September 2016.

Note: If you would like to view the full film (above is a clip) please e-mail Kimberley at kimberley.beach@hotmail.co.uk.

How did the idea for The Whole is less than the Sum of her Parts come about?

I had just finished my project He's got a Pole, You've got a Hole, get the Fuck Home which was a sound piece focusing on the things women do subconsciously to remain safe in a public space and previous to that I had made Progressive Pain Which used vaginal imagery and moving image to explore the damage inflicted by sexual trauma, whether that be physical or emotional. From using direct imagery of the female form in Progressive Pain to absolutely no imagery at all in the sound piece, it moved me in the direction of telling this story using all three mediums, a middle ground between the two. I work from autobiographical experiences as subject matter as a means to explore the perceived vulnerability of the female form. With that in mind, I decided to focus on the effects of childhood trauma and how inner strength and external kindness can guide you through emotional pain. In The Whole is less than the Sum of Her Parts the narrative for me was an integral part of the project. The story was so important, by using sound it allowed me to expose the emotion of the words spoken. This was something I wanted to keep sincere and by incorporating the use of text and moving image I managed to create fragmentation, a breathing space away from the truth.

What are the significance of the locations filmed?
I filmed in my hometown, Middlesbrough. The place worked really well as I wanted something personal to me but something that would remain universal which is why the location isn’t mentioned in the film, I wanted it to resonate with the audience, I wanted them to feel like this place could have been their home. The location also worked due to its declining industrial industry which the town was built on, from this I was able to capture cinematic views of pollution and decay but then, amazingly, it has a beautiful coast and the town sits on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors so you have these areas of outstanding natural beauty. It communicates the juxtaposition that is consistent throughout the film narrative.

What has it been like to share such personal and often taboo personal moments?

It can be quite difficult. This story in particular was something I wanted to do for close to five years but didn’t feel ready enough to commit to it, I wanted to do it justice and I wouldn’t have been able to do that had I rushed into it. I still found it very difficult while making the film, half way through I shut down and I didn’t feel ready to deal with the sound aspect of the film, which is a narrative of childhood trauma, mainly that of sexual assault and I instead decided to focus on the editing of the film before the film was even finished! I went into complete denial. Luckily I had an amazing university tutor who told me straight, she made me accept that I was afraid and I managed to get it finished. I think feeling afraid or apprehensive is quite normal. It’s hard, once you start something you don’t know what wounds are going to be reopened but I think it’s best not to rush it. Take a breath.

How important was it for you to mix both your difficult experiences with those of love throughout the video?

That was the most difficult part of creating the piece. I wanted a balance between the positive and negative, to give the full picture. I didn’t want the work to be a monologue of negative experiences, life isn’t like that; everyone has small acts of kindness gifted upon them, no matter how small. By juxtaposing the damage inflicted against the dialogue of a stable relationship, I aimed to communicate the act of reparation, whether that be self-achieved or with the help of someone else, the light at the end of the tunnel almost. I overlaid moving image, text imagery and sound narrative to create a sense of disorder and confusion, to show that it isn’t a simple, smooth one way journey out of despair. You have sound, a voice invading your ears with a traumatic story while you are trying to read affirmative words flashing in front of you. Are the two intimate? Are they the same person? Is the cinematic imagery of landscapes the location of these events? The audience is trying to piece all these areas together like a jigsaw. To get the full picture you first have to dissect it, to see how they all interlink, to show a path from start to finish. Without love interrupting pain, no one would know how I got to where I am now.

How do you see your work developing and what's next for you?

I will be undertaking my MA at The Slade School of Fine Art in September 2016 where I will be researching the narrative of feminist movements, examining the issues raised in each movement and examining how this influenced the work being made during that time. I’m interested to see if the issues of working class women have been communicated in art and if so how much attention has this work been given in relation to women from a higher social standing? I will also be looking at work from lesbian artists or those dealing with queer subject matter, in order to examine whether lesbian visibility in art correlates with the intersectionality in the feminist movement.
By concentrating on class and queer visibility within art, especially that in the medium of film and sound, I will be able to link my personal to my practice through theoretical research. Therefore allowing myself to develop as an artist, intellectually or creatively.


Marianna Cardenio

Italian Photographer Marianna Cardenio, now based in Madrid, presents her work A Personal Truth as an allegorical journey through the process of depression.

"This project was realised with the aim of sharing in a subtle and implicit way a personal experience that lasted for about two years.

The bedroom was my refuge during that time, the private space where I could finally take off my strong and happy person mask and look deeply - through the reflection of my image in the mirror - into my feelings, my state of soul, my inner struggles, to face the many questions and no-answers and the uncontrollable urge to get out of the tunnel, contrasted by the lack of strength and energy to do it.

People usually tend not to arise too many questions about what there might be behind the appearance of others. I have always been very good at hiding my torments at the time, not to disappoint my loved ones and especially because I have always firmly believed that no one could ever help me or understand me, considering that sometimes I could not understand myself either.

The idea for this project was to create a sort of panoramic image in which the bedroom - shot from a certain distance in the first and last photograph - represented the way in which such place can generally be perceived from an outsider and the close-up on the subject happening in the middle, depicts the what is actually going on inside the bedroom.

The viewer's reaction has always been silence, but a silence which told many words. I think the journey through depression is something that almost anyone, if not personally, through relatives, experiences in a more or less direct way. My project attempts to tell one of the aspects of such a journey, aiming at leaving the viewer with unanswered questions.

Many photographers inspire my work, both stylistically and conceptually, although I must say that I really like the idea of producing images which somehow recall paintings. I always try to create a series of photographs that can stand either alone or combined with others. Therefore I guess that maybe art in general inspires me a lot more than other photographers' work when I think of how to organise a project."


Amy Romer

Amy Romer is a documentary photographer based in Cornwall, UK. In her multimedia project In A Sense she shares the story of Alfred, a 12 year old boy affected by aspergers. Initially beginning as a series of images, she found that Alfred's response to the photographs was one of disempowerment. Romer decided to collaborate with Alfred using video to help share his story of living with aspergers.

How did you and Alfred first meet?

Alfred's Mum, Kate, is a close friend of my Mum's. They used to work together in a theatre in Devon and so our families have always kept in touch. I can't really remember the first time I would have met Alfred, but it has only really been since photographing him that I've really got to know him well.

What drew you to photographing Alfred and the way that he interacts with the world?

A hard question. I think I love learning about complex people, and making a photographic story about someone, allows me to learn about them far more intimately than I could in any another circumstance. With Alfred, I was interested in this invisible disability - Asperger's syndrome, and how a 12-year-old boy would cope with that. So gradually, I started to learn why he did certain things, reacted in certain ways, his physical and mental behaviours. I find Alfred's behaviours totally fascinating to interact with, as a friend and as a photographer.

How did Alfred respond to the photographs and how did this affect the way that you continued to work together?

A good question. I started making pictures of Alfred in October 2014 and when I reached a point that I felt I had some interesting pictures, I sent them to Alfred and his family to look at, as I don't live particularly near them. Alfred and his Mum visited me a few weeks later and told me that Alfred had found the pictures very difficult to look at. One of the photograph's showed Alfred having a distressing melt down. He is looking at his Mother with an angry expression. Alfred found this very upsetting as he has never had an opportunity to see himself in this situation. He didn't recognise himself and the idea of upsetting his Mum was very disturbing for him.

But Alfred did seem to learn about himself from the photographs, as did I and possibly even his Mum, so I knew there was potential for our work together to be really positive. Alfred then told me when he grows up, he wants to teach people about Asperger's, so that was my hook. I wanted to help Alfred achieve this through our pictures and act as a kind of facilitator, and that's how we continued.

What barriers did you face (if any) in working with Alfred?

To be honest, Alfred was fantastic and I never felt any real barrier. I tried to always make it clear that if he or Kate wanted me to stop, then no problem. And I think this open and honest attitude and approach made us all feel very natural with each other. I suppose there were times where I wondered if it was as a result of me being there that I was receiving certain behaviours and is that ok? Should I be documenting it if I don't feel it's authentic? But with Alfred being the 12-year-old boy that he is, that's really part of the story and I think I have a good enough initiative to know when to, and when not to photograph what's in front of me. The only real barrier was probably the distance I live from them all. I'm about a 2 hour drive away, so I always had that to consider and I would have liked to have spent more time with them; but this is always the way with personal projects!!

The idea of collaboration with a subject is also one of empowerment for them. What do you think it is that you can both offer to Alfred's story that the other maybe can't?

It is, but empowerment is complicated. Although I gave Alfred an opportunity to speak for himself, I still controlled his story as the photographer and editor. But I think what this offers is a better level of objectivity. How Alfred observes his behaviour is undoubtedly different to how I observe his behaviour, so I hope that through our collaboration, we are able to offer a more balanced representation of Alfred's world. Alfred's input was crucial and his videos were a beautiful insight for me and Kate. I gave him a GoPro and he made some incredibly thoughtful diary entries on his own, in his own time, which was important because I wanted him to be able to express himself without any pressures from me or my camera. Even the footage I didn't use was hugely beneficial for my research.

How do you see the work developing?

We plan to continue the work as Alfred grows up. At the moment I'm heavily involved in my current project but in a few months, I'll be able to spend some time visiting and I hope to pick up from where I left. Every time I see Alfred now, I'm shocked as to how much he has grown, and I very much want to be part of that journey.

Where are you currently finding inspiration?

Oddly and for the first time, I find myself immersed in landscape photography at the moment. I'm currently making a project about modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK, called The Dark Figure*. Landscapes have allowed me to think creatively about the subject, as I've tried to look at the bigger picture rather than focusing on one person's experience. It's a huge subject that spans across so many industries affecting the most vulnerable in society, and because of it's hidden nature, its a subject we still know little about, and as a result is barely spoken about. So my inspiration is coming from all sorts of directions, across all sorts of disciplines. I was recently introduced to Sam Ivin's "Lingering Ghosts", which is a photography project that looks at the treatment of asylum seekers in Britain through scratched portraits. It made me think about my own work and how to represent people that have no identity in society. It's definitely worth checking out.

What’s next for you?

Right now, my main focus is on The Dark Figure* but I have a commission that will take me back into the world of autism and Asperger's, which I'm hugely looking forward to, and am looking to start a collaborative project with a charity that works with young Mums. Of course, I hope my work with Alfred will continue throughout.


Ella Macnish

Ella Macnish is a photographer affected by mood instability and impulse control difficulties. Her mental health conditions and dyslexia provide challenges in studying, working and maintaining relationships, but her passion for photographing her support network is hugely beneficial for her.

"These photos are deeply important to me because of the way they capture the expressions on the faces of my two favourite people in Melbourne. I recently moved back interstate and having to leave the beautiful support network of people I found in Melbourne has been the hardest part of moving. These are friends who really got me, and who make me proud everyday for the way they are working through there own mental health issues. I hope the people viewing these photos will do so with the knowledge that not only are my subjects struggling they are also fighting and not giving up. I think the traits of resilience and kindness are evident in my subjects faces."