Letters To You - Don't Shout

Dear You

You shouted “Green Day'“ at me, first I want to congratulate you, my hair is green. I’ll use this information to guess that you did quite well at Primary school and can identify colours. I realise that sometimes the light can trick our eyes, but you did a stellar job there. What you may not have realised, though, is that green is not actually a natural hair colour, which means I’m very aware that my hair is green. I did it all by myself, because (forgive me, but I’m guessing you might not know this) they sell green hair dye. I know! These modern times we live in, so bizarre.

I vaguely recognised you, you know? In that moment when we made eye contact as I was staring at the stall you were working on as I walked past. That means very little though, it’s Hastings and St Leonards, there is a possibility I’ve been at many events you have too. What you might not realise though, is that my lack of coming over meant I didn’t care if I recognised you. I had no desire to walk over and say “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”.

You are just another male face in the crowd.

And now I want to give you a lesson in respect. You may be able to identify colours correctly (well done), but you don’t shout after anyone in the street.

You definitely do not shout after a lone woman in the street.

I’m not sure what possessed you to shout after me. Maybe you were compelled to inform me of all your skills in identifying colours. You’ve had enough praise from me in that department, you won’t get any more. Maybe, just maybe you thought the green hair was a symptom of something, but then shouting ‘green day’ after me doesn’t really help if thats the case. Was the comment a mocking of me? Because just in case you weren’t aware, you’re looking a little bit like an arsehole now.

Part of me wishes I had turned round, come up to you and asked you to elaborate. Where you offering me tickets to see Green Day?! Sorry, but I’m not interested, Green Day stopped being good MANY years a go.

Shouting anything after a woman in the street is rude, and it is disrespectful. But beyond that, there is no need. This starts to be less about you and more about any man that shouts after any woman in the street. I have never known a woman to run to and then fawn over a man who randomly shouts at her in the street. I’ve never heard of any of my friends meeting their romantic partners this way either.

Are you, and men like you, do desperate to be noticed by women that you’ll shout anything after them? Because even a negative reaction is still a reaction, right? She might turn round to you and tell you where to go, but she realised you were there! She engaged with you! Oh look, everyones a winner! (That’s sarcasm by the way, I’m unsure of your level of education so I’ll leave handy tips).

Speaking for myself, I never care what strangers on the street think of me, and I’m pretty sure none of my female (or male) friends give two shits either. We should all be allowed to exist in public places without unwanted attention - and if you think me having green hair is anything other than for my own self-esteem then I’m gonna say that I definitely never want to see you again.

It’s not just you though, many men are forever giving me their unwanted opinion in the street, I’d like to think that the other men you were with might have asked you why you felt the need to shout at me, or what you were playing at? I think, really, that they might have made some joke about the green hair and then gone about their day.

How many other women did you shout at that day? Part of me hopes I’m the only one because I hate to think of a woman being made to feel insecure or anxious because of your rude tongue.

May I make a suggestion? If you, or any other man, feels the need to shout at woman in the street for some bizarre recognition, can you just where a giant sign above your head flashing ‘VALIDATE ME’, it’ll make you all much easier to avoid in future.

Sunday Faith

Yesterday I was in London for the Greatest of Britain photo meet, it was a a lovely day with unseasonal beautiful weather in a stunning location. The Hill and Pergola Gardens is a London gem, and I couldn’t help but love the shadows and shapes. I will most definitely be looking to shoot there again, if you’re a London local or not and fancy getting funky with shapes and colours and shadows drop me a line, lets plan something and shoot some pretty pictures.

I don’t really have much more to say, I am currently casting for a few personal projects, which I’ll mention in a bit. This week though has been mainly focused around working and trying to sort through the back-log of photos I need to edit. I’ve shot some absolute diamonds recently and I am so excited to share what we’ve achieved together. And this is all rare for me I know, to have some faith in myself, and to have some faith in what I’ve put out.

September has been a good month for me, a busy month and I am thankful to everyone that has requested and shot with me. I’m booking now til the end of the year and working out what I want to do and where I want to go, slowly, that is.

I’m still keeping an eye on ebay for a new camera, I thought that I’d found an excellent deal the other day on a D750, but alas, it wasn’t to be. Not yet anyway.

I have lots of thoughts, but nothing I really want to put into sentences. I’m quite happy to sit here with myself, to be honest. That’s what happens when you’re still shattered from being awake for 28 hours, oh well.

I’m still casting for my Vladimir Tretchikoff series, and I’m also looking for models for a body-positive set going on. I’ll update with more details when I can articulate them.

Enjoy your Sundays, darlings.

Letters To You: I'm Still Alive

Dear You,

I’m still alive, did you know that?

I’m still breathing and I’m still keeping on keeping on. I might be full of honey and lemon but that doesn’t mean I’m just as sweet. Today you’re playing on my brain and I don’t know why and part of me doesn’t want to know why.

The last time I saw you your head was on a spike, still screaming my name.

Are you still toxic?

I rarely look at my analytics these days, I don’t care who sees my instagram stories and I can’t be bothered to isolate an IP to see if you’ve ever read my blog or looked at my website. If you wanted to know what I’m up to you can look, you can judge me, you can hate me from afar. You can blame me for everything, despite that it wasn’t all my fault.

We were both to blame, at times, and we should never have been in a relationship, we should never have bothered to try. I have never been with someone who lied to me as much as you did, since.

For all my faults at least I never laid in bed next to you texting another man, for all my issues I never met up with another man while you were laying in a hospital bed. I have never emotionally invested in someone else while already being in a relationship, that shit hurts, and that shit hurts so much. Part of me used to wonder if I was just not good enough for you, that I wasn’t pretty enough or clever enough, sexy enough. But no, your want, need (?) to find another that was attracted to you outside of our relationship was pathological. Why didn’t you just leave me? Did you think me so weak that you couldn’t?

But it’s wrong to just blame you for the trainwreck that was that relationship. I didn’t trust you, I never did, and I think from day one I was looking for evidence of you lying to me, of cheating on me. It’s no surprise I found it, is it? I see now that maybe it was paradoxical, I looked for it so it happened.

I remember you crying because I’d discovered you’d lied to me, and I was so angry. In the end I felt guilty and comforted you. That’s not healthy, and maybe I should have walked away then but I didn’t and I have since lost count of the amount of times you lied to me, and I caught you out. When I left you the first time I should never of come back, but I did because, because I could? I know now that I didn’t take you back out of love or anything like that, I took you back because I knew I could and I knew that that was the easiest of ways to hurt her.

I said earlier that we were both to blame, didn’t I? I’d never liked her, you knew that, and I knew she didn’t like me. She told you she had feelings for you because “you deserved to know”, despite knowing full well that we were living together. A disgusting passive-aggressive move if ever I’ve known one. Except you didn’t tell her to move on, you told her if you were single you’d be with her. You arsehole. That still hurts, and I’m still afraid of any man I’m with saying that to another woman.

But when I left you, you went straight to her. And I knew I could capture you back and so I did and I felt vindicated. Not the wisest of my actions, I know, and although I am shamed by my behaviour I’m not ashamed enough to not divulge. I’m trying not to present you as the ‘bad’ one in the relationship, I’m trying to present both sides fairly.

God knows why when I know you describe me as one of the worst decisions in your life, and thats fine, I’ll be the bad person in your version of the story, you are not part of my life anymore, not physically at all, and rarely mentally. Of course I carry the scars of our relationship, I can’t not. I have never felt as impotent as a girlfriend as I did with you.

I do credit you though, I learnt some cold hard truths being with you, or, living without you and looking back at my pre-diagnosis self. Of course my behaviours can be explained away now as not having the right support or medication for my mental health problems. Maybe with talking therapies I could have been a better girlfriend, maybe with talking therapies you could have been a better boyfriend.

Maybe, if you hadn’t of been in a failing relationship when I met you then I wouldn’t of had such trust issues. Maybe if they’d been a gap between S and I things would have been smother. I still fell bad towards S though, you left her and you left her for me, at least you’re honest about that. I wish I could of opened the channels of communication and apologised to S. I never got the chance to apologise to S, but I’m out here telling the world, now, that for a week, I was, emotionally at least, the other woman and I am so very sorry.

I can only leave you with the hope that you’ve grown, got better, that you can have a healthy relationship.


The Sunday Context

I’ve been contemplating the context of my Vladimir Tretchikoff shoots, and I delved deeply into his biography and his paintings. Tretchikoff was one of, if not the first, artist to have lithographic reproductions of his paintings, stating that he wanted his art to be accessible to the ordinary person, that the fine arts were not just limited for the rich to enjoy. It’s important to me to acknowledge this, because I’ve often felt frustrated that the arts appear, (much of the time) to have gate keeps, controlled by those with money.

Art materials are expensive, photographic equipment is expensive. Prints and exhibitions and entry into galleries can all be extortionately priced too. It’s sad and concerning that there are at times, limits to everyone enjoying art because of financial burdens. It’s all well and good saying to follow your dreams, but if those dreams have a price tag, maybe we need to look at the accessibility of those dreams. This is all conjecture though, as concerned as I am about the financial restrictions of pursuing a career in the arts my creation of images reminiscent of Trechikoff’s paintings is less about bringing art work to the masses and more about creating conversations, I suppose.

I am not the first artist (if I can call myself that) to create works derivative of Tretchikoff’s paintings. In 2010 there was an exhibition in Cape Town, Tretchikoff and Me, a salon-style show of both Tretchikoff’s paintings and artworks inspired by his paintings. And I am acutely aware of slotting myself among these contemporaries. I do not claim to be original, or new.

Tretchikoff painted because he had to, because that was his dream and he did it. He sold prints for a £1 each in places like Boots, Woolies, Hitchens. People collected his work and felt a part of something. There’s much to be said about manifesting dreams and doing what you love. There’s much to be said about following the dream through, with the difficulties and celebrants that come with it. I look to my dreams, my ideas of where I could potentially go. I see how I could create and continue to create, to share and enthuse and inspire.

Tretchikoff wanted to allow anyone to appreciate fine art in their home, and I now see that my ideas around my work are exactly that, except I’m using the modern day medium of photography, of instagram, of social media and picture sharing. Of getting my work to where people are. In many of my concepts I have yet to realise, the idea is to take old masters, old works that have a place in history and to change them, to give them a new place in the year 2018.

We can discuss how my work is intrinsically feminist. I continually look to male painters, the male gaze, the men that created famous images of women and think, how can I change this with my female gaze and my camera? Does my use of a camera add or detract from the final image? How do we feel about the use of photoshop, and even more important (in my eyes) is how has our idea of beauty changed? Will my work be relegated to the outer edges until I upgrade my equipment? Can I edit to give a more painterly effect, and if I can, should I?

These are all questions that I have around my work, not just my Tretchikoff project. These are questions that I think about in my quiet moments, sometimes when I should be sleeping or working. I fall into old patterns reminiscent of university, where I feel like I have to justify myself with historical, contemporary and analytical reasons. It’s not enough to say that I did it because I wanted to or because I thought it might be a good idea.

The development of images is a process, and I enjoy it. I can’t not. I enjoy meeting friends and, currently, painting them colours and tell them to look over my left shoulder, that’s it, chin down slightly, look up, perfect. My heart does a little beat of happiness when people share the image and people I’ve never met, like it, when people I respect say they think it’s good, and can they please take part? When after, we laugh, we joke, we have a drink and feel accomplished. Eventually I will come up with the answers to my own questions, and maybe I’ll be able to discuss this project with an eloquence that will ensure that I can share the work as part of an exhibition somewhere. I have my sights set high, and I’m feeling like I might get there.

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Sunday Highs

I started college in the September of 2005. I hadn’t been in ‘full time’ education for a a few years, owing to my shocking mental illness at the time. I’d half-arsed secondary school and the few lessons that I deigned to attend. I’d sat my GCSE’s with an ambivalence that it didn’t matter and I didn’t care. My home tutor, provided by the county, had the patience of a saint with me. I don’t remember her name, but I am so grateful to her for getting me through that period of time when all I really cared about was destroying myself, be it through self harm or drinking or drugs.

Starting Hastings College of Arts and Technology (HCAT) in the September offered a reprieve of sorts. That’s not to say that my problems evaporated into the air, they didn’t, and they still haven’t, but I had something else to concentrate on rather than my own self-destruction. Within the first two weeks I was offered a place on the National Diploma in Art and Design, but declined, through ignorance of what ‘Fine Art’ really was. I thought Fine Art was renaissance paintings and old dudes in fine clothes. I cared more (and do still care more) about feelings and ideas. I cared about fish in tanks, photographs of feelings, words, the things that tied us all together.

For a year I cut my teeth studying paintings, sculpture, photography - finding solace in the darkroom and my face obscured by the camera. My final major project of that year featured photography and that was the strongest element. Photography regularly cropped up throughout my studying for the following six years, but I never dedicated all my focus to it. My Foundation year final project culminated in a display of over 100 photographs.

This is all rather negligible though, it’s just something I was thinking about the other morning, when my eyes were still heavy from sleep. I was thinking about the translation of ideas, I was thinking about how these days everything feels far more natural. This is all tied into the idea of self-growth, I know, and I know I enjoy learning and experimenting. I enjoy growing, and this phase, where I feel myself stretch and re-align isn’t the most unwelcome state I have ever existed in.

I took myself to The National Gallery on Wednesday, after photographing Alwyn. I looked at the 18th, 19, 20th Century paintings, and thought to myself I can take photographs like that. I started thinking about the male depiction of the female nude. I thought about colours and flowers and my Vladimir Tretchikoff project (which is coming along brilliantly, thank you for asking).

My work might not of sold at the Coastal Currents Art Fair, but thats ok, I now have an A2 print of Lily sitting in my living room, if you want to buy it, let me know.

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The Sunday Hustle

I'm up at 6.00am again, because of course I am. It's not like my body needs any sleep. Apparently.

I had something written for today, but that's been deleted and thrown because I can and I'm making the rules and it was miserable so I though "fuck that, lets write something else", also, I won't lie, the response I had from my last Sunday post was so good I figured I'd continue on the same theme.

Today I am back on the hustle, after spending all of yesterday between flaking out on the sofa or flaking out in my bed. Today I am scheduling tweets, replying to enquiries, I'm plotting and planning, and thinking and pinterest-ing. Today I am enjoying it, or at least, the vast majority of it. Yesterday the hills I had to climb seemed insurmountable. Yesterday it felt like no matter how hard I tried I wasn't going to get anywhere, or at least not without significant financial backing, because it does feel like that, so often. I know I mentioned it last week, but I feel it's worth touching on again.

I figured out a tagline, if you like "I'm just over here making the best out of my D3000". It's slightly tongue in cheek, I'm poking fun at myself on being unable to afford the latest full-frame mirrorless camera. Mostly though, it's true and something I feel need reiterating to myself, especially, time and time again. There is so much pressure to have the latest gear, and the only way I can achieve that is putting myself into a massive pile of debt. I'm already some £30,000 in debt to student loans, but I can't, no matter how much I want to, justify an extra £3k in debt. (That's buying a new camera body, and a new Macbook btw). Even then there will be people with better gear, more money to sink into their photography business.

It's something I ponder, do I buy the new equipment while working full time and shooting around my ridiculous schedule, or do I wait, and hope that eventually I can take my photography full time and then sink £3k into upgrading everything? And then there's everything else that I think about when thinking how to take my photography full time. Do I need to move to Brighton, or London, or another city to expand my client base? Do I need to learn to drive and buy a car, so I can shoot out in my favourite locations? Do I need to pay to promote posts on social media or can I hope and rely on the kindness of strangers sharing for me?

I can't help but wish I'd started all this business seven years ago, when I graduated university. (How time flies!) I like to believe that I wouldn't be in the position I am now, on the cusp of 30 trying to work out the intricacies of working for myself. Even at uni I was exploring my self and others through photography, and before then, at college, I always felt comfortable with the weight of the camera in my hands. It's hard to not beat myself up for not doing what, looking back, is glaringly obvious now. It's hard to not cringe at all the money wasted when I could have been doing so much more.

I have to remind myself that maybe the universe had a plan for me, that maybe I had to go through everything else before I got here. I remember writing artist statements for creating installations, gardens of paper flowers, that I wanted to create spaces for people to explore and spend some time in, it's only now that I'm kicking myself for not taking ~*aRTy*~ photos in these installations.

But that's all in the past and I am excited, today, to move forward, today I'm comfortable with the hustle as it means I'm working towards something, and that something feels good.

If you're local to Hastings, my artwork is now up at the Coastal Currents Arts Fair, it's for sale, and if you buy it I can promise you that that money won't be pissed up the wall, (although I can't say I won't buy a celebratory pint), it'll be going towards a new camera, or some other way of feeding back into making my wishes come true.

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