Part One – Levitation, Ice and the Limits of Reality.
As a child, I loved to read books that were full of magic. While playing in the wild woods where I grew up, images from these miraculous stories would transcend the limits of my thoughts and become almost real. Memories of these moments have stayed with me into adulthood. But as an adult, I have found it difficult to find the space to experience esoteric events, given the western culture I’ve grown up in, which says these things do not exist. I thought I had lost the ability to manifest imaginings to my childhood.
It wasn’t until I read books such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and The Magus by John Fowles that I realised I still had the capacity to do this. The words in these books triggered tangible feelings in me, and vivid images, that I had not experienced since I had stood in that Sussex forest as a child.
This project is a work-in-progress. I photographed Part One, in Rio, in Brazil, and was inspired by One Hundred Years of Solitude. I found inspiration in the natural world García Márquez describes in the novel – a real world setting combined with supernatural elements, enchantment and mystery. It is a reality where a woman levitates and disappears into the sky, but the event is described in a way that makes it seem as commonplace as the falling of rain.
In a similar vein, the author portrays something as mundane as ice with such wonder and awe, that it too becomes magical.
My intention was not to re-stage events from the novel, but to use it as a springboard to provoke a playful, and perhaps naïve way of looking.
While I was in Rio searching for locations to shoot the project, I never felt alone. Creeping alongside me were the aerial roots of orchids, clinging onto every tree, and string-like tendrils brushed the top of my head as I passed beneath them. At times I thought I could hear the plants growing. This ancient, green place was full of stories. It was as though the plants were weaving through my camera’s lens into my photographs to form part of another ‘real’ world.
In Sight of My Skin is an ongoing series of arresting nude portraits of women. The process of making this work so far has taken me on a highly personal journey. I chose to make a series of portraits of women without clothes as this was a situation I felt challenged by. My intention was to create a space where the sitter felt in control and allowed me to capture a little of their spirited character; the element of their personality which drew me to them.
My main focus when I set out to produce the work was to share an experience with another women and to claim little authority for myself. However during the process of taking the photographs I couldn’t help but wonder what was going through the minds of the women as they sat in front of me naked. How would I feel if the camera was pointed at me? Whether I liked it or not this project had forced me to explore notions about my body and myself which in turn became the overriding drive to make more pictures.
I spent a lot of time with each subject before I took the photographs to establish a special personal relationship. Allowing time for discussion and self-investigation, this open exchange created an honest atmosphere. All the portraits were taken in the sitter’s homes, conjuring an intimate atmosphere in which they could feel at ease. Within the frame of each portrait there is a whisper of the domestic interior providing an insight into how I perceived their world.
Whilst creating these images I discovered a new curiosity. I was drawn only to bold women who did not, in my view appear to be self-conscious. I identified this was the quality I was most interested in and became the main requirement when choosing each person. Seeking out only women who possessed this quality I had to ask myself was this something I coveted? And this question has now become one of the driving influences of this work.
My dad is one of the most important men in my life. He suffered from acute depression when I was growing up. These images are of the objects that he made during his time in occupational therapy, and feathers that he collected on daily walks to still his mind. They remain on display in his home, albeit a bit dusty - a reminder of a different and for now distant time.
“I benefitted from 3 months of occupational therapy (a god send to me). Pottery was one of the first things I tried. It’s a good feeling to make something when you feel you can do nothing.” Edward Pattison
Who Is That Then?
“I do recognise the odd bit of me. This was quite a challenge. I had to photograph myself in the mirror first--no mean feat.” Edward Pattison
Birds of Many a Feather I
“I collected them all on the South Downs at an area called Bo Peep. My love of walking and nature took me there.” Edward Pattison
Birds of Many a Feather II
Birds of Many a Feather III
Birds of Many a Feather III
“That pot happens to be my favourite hand built pot which I made many moons ago”. Edward Pattison
"Children and adults sucked with delight on the delicious green roosters of insomnia, the exquisite pink fish of insomnia, and the tender yellow ponies of insomnia, so that dawn on Monday, found the whole town awake"
Extract from One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Published in Spanish in 1967
A figure sits in the gloaming. Simon Costin as Pan is motionless, wearing his weighty tapestry coat adorned with shiny horn buttons. His shoe gapes across his shrunken left hoof, his horns have withered away. The air is warm and full of dust. Pan contemplates his youthful former self, remembering roaming barefoot in the hot wilderness, frightening sheep and spreading panic across the mountains. Thousands of years have passed as he waits patiently for his portrait to be taken.
This series of images is the result of a collaboration between myself, Simon Costin, (Artistic Director and Director of The Museum of British Folklore), Christopher Kelly, Natalie Sharp. Simon Costin commissioned Christopher Kelly to design a costume, inspired by the god Pan from Greek Mythology for him to wear whilst taking part in the annual spring festival Jack in the Green, Hastings.
Pan was re-imagined as an eternal recluse about to turn to stone. Photographed against the museum like interior of his home, a rare occasion for Simon Costin to feature as part of the creation rather than a force behind it. One of the portraits from this series has been shortlisted for the Royal Photographic Society International Print Competition 157.