Sunday, 1 August 2010

Plinth Figures - the end of a project ?? - maybe

"I know what I need for a portrait session - a plinth" I thought, and this kick started a body of work that has lasted a couple of years, and gained a qualification along the way.
'Plinth Figures' as its become known was my have a go at creating a statue figure for a fine art portrait, nothing new or groundbreaking but I believe that we should all try everything at least once so this was me giving it my own style. So, digging out some suitable timber from the workshop, an hours cutting and bashing then out with the paint produced my own plinth - a posh work for a square painted wooden box.

Early sessions were with various models and life sitters, and despite a few personal portraits the shoots were looking to create either anonymous of non personalised images, figures rather than people, shapes, life drawing poses, human sculptures, anything that would work in isolation to the studio environment. Lighting kept simple to create a believable natural image rather than once crafted with lighting, a style that received some criticism from a couple of respected fellow photographers, but hey, we all have our own styles.This images was one of the few that were actually planned in any detail as much of my work follows the inspiration on the day with the subject. I remember arranging my studio for this shoot with Jocelyn who I had never met before but was excited at the prospect of working with her after seeing her work. Now, my studio is not exactly huge, big enough but lets say it relies on a creative use of the space. I remember when Joc walked in for the first time and seeing how tall she is my reaction was "think we are going to need a bigger studio", but thankfully with her patience we achieved what looked to be the impossible.
The first phase of work was used in early 2009 for a rather unsuccessful submission for an Associate Qualification with the BIPP, it was thought to be a bit off base for this organization and that risk proved to be bigger than expected, a gamble that fell flat on its face but we have to push boundaries whenever possible, playing safe is the thin end of the wedge in killing creativity.
However, after the work was seen by a Fellow from the RPS and with some gentle persuasion it was suggested that the RPS would be see the images as Fine Art. So, this time a reduced panel of 15 with a couple of new images to balance things up and bingo, the award of an Associate Distinction in Visual Art with the Royal Photographic Society followed last October. The theme for the panel was a study of form and space taking the discipline from life drawing studies.
With this renewed interest phase 2 used slightly stronger lighting setups for the finals to be finished as colour rather than monochrome, and new subjects including couples. I did consider developing the project into a fellowship distinction but at this time it is not considered to offer the required diversity for what is accepted as the highest level of photographic qualification.So, what now ?
I feel that I have gone as far as I can with the project in terms of creating images for portfolio, competition, sales or qualification. I did start to use outdoor locations and the plinth did share a recent 2 day trip to the Isle of Arran with photographer Tim Pile and Model Karen with the idea of working on a beach, but we settled for a hillside shoot. Apart from further use for portraits or non figure work the plinth is now a useful prop or tool in the studio, but I am sure if I get inspiration then who knows, never say never !
My thanks to Hannah, Holly, Justin, Joc, Graham, Eenia & Tony, Malcolm & Fiona, Joline, Karen, Chrissie and the last addition to the project young Binks.
Link to a comprehensive set of images -