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i want to break free

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, instead of greeting visitors to our Derbyshire Open Arts event, I've been sitting at home typing newsletters and now a new post here. A cancelled open studios event seems a small price to pay given where we find ourselves, so you won't find me complaining.

It’s only after a little time and space, and after setting off down another road that I remarked upon the obvious in ever more blue. It feels a little sterile, in comparison with the energy upon which much of my images are built. I’ve taken the gridded square from ‘The Art of Water’ and ‘Aquae Arnemetiae’, and rendered something more bleak using sampled colour.

It suits the times; it is a representation of us, locked down and constrained within our own individual boxes, kept apart from friends and family.

Over the past month, I’ve started an online series of sessions in abstract art. Abstract is very much my taste, in terms of both what and how I photograph, and the images and art that I enjoy. My first thoughts were that the sessions on texture and finishing would complement some experiments in printing images from ‘A Memory of Water’ but I signed up for the full series, and it’s reconnected me with my early love of drawing and painting. Reality dawned after a third session on free expression. Something that initially took me away from my comfort zone became instead a release. I was still working with subdivisions that gave me a grid of squares, however I wasn’t keeping within the boxes but instead deliberately breaking free of them. I was colouring over the lines, and sometimes the random assortment of colours and marks left in between the squares were my favourite bits.

It made me not only want to do more, but draw parallels with the way that making images of moving water re-energised my photography eight years ago. And it also made me wonder about the boundaries that we set for ourselves, lives lived carefully... colouring within the lines, getting the right answer, getting a result... the pressure that we place upon ourselves to produce. Perhaps the combination of lockdown, grid and reflection will ultimately permit a new personal freedom.

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