Prior the Easter show I used my studio space to experiment with the layout of my images. I chose to print images on fine art paper and display them as a grid. I tried displaying in two rows of three images, but it felt slightly boring and not as interesting to look at. Traditional grid, perhaps, doesn’t fit my work and the images felt repetitive.
For the next few weeks I chose a different type of grid. I printed the images on the same paper and used uneven number of images - five. Four of the images include a person and the middle one just an empty space near the tree. I noticed that people were looking for a body or fragments of it within the image, which encouraged me to experiment with the display. I placed an empty space in the middle and body performances around it. Right away, the work was perceived better and I got more positive feedback about it.
For the Easter show, I decided to try out my pink darkroom images for a display. I wanted to see what other people think of the work and how it is perceived. At this point, my project title is “Stand Still; Fig Leaves” and the work should reflect the title. The colour pink relates to my childhood memories as well as the fig fruit and I wanted to display an actual fig fruit as part of my display, to suggest that the colour pink is the same shade as the fig fruit. General feedback was good, but at this point I am slightly concerned about displaying an actual fruit, because of its longevity. I am considering to coat the fig fruit with resin which would make it durable.
“Pink has a strong symbolic association with femininity that is frequently exploited in the arts and marketing. This femininity marker is thought to be related to sweetness, and as suggested in many languages and illustrated by the popular song La Vie en Rose (Piaf, 1947), pink also seems to be linked to hope, optimism, happiness and affiliation. Although it is not well documented, there are some findings to back these associations up. For instance, after being exposed to violent and tragic stories, participants tend to be less upset when they fill out a questionnaire on pink paper than when they fill one out on blue or white paper. Along the same lines, pink is seen as referring to desire, happiness and wellbeing.”
- Gil, S. and Le Bigot, L. (2014). Seeing Life through Positive-Tinted Glasses: Color–Meaning Associations. [ebook] Available at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0104291 [Accessed 18 May 2019].
The colour pink resembles sweet and innocent memories from the childhood as well as represent the inner child. It is the colour that symbolises uncomplicated emotions, inexperience and naivety. For my project, the colour pink ties in my childhood memories from Lithuania to London. It resembles the inner colour of a fig fruit, which was found in my chosen location in London. Artists such as Juno Calypso, Maisie Cousins constantly use colour pink in their work. This way they challenge the way women are seen. Dominating colours in Cousins work are pink, purple and blue – exploring femininity. In water, the colour pink attracts tropical fish of a female kind by 80 percent more than male, according to the biological response. (Birren, 1978 p.19). Perhaps Cousins unconsciously uses female body, pink colour and various kind of fish in her work as a natural instinct. “Researchers have also found that human memory of true complexion is substantially on the pinkish side.”(Birren, 1978 p.36).
Last week I decided to print some of the images in the darkroom and make it part of my working process. I think the process of the image making is part of why I enjoy producing such work. I took some colour paper and started working on it. Soon I realised that my paper has been fogged or it was kept in a warm place for too long. The colours seem to be incorrect (pink). I made few prints and tried to get out more colour for the leaves, hair etc. and made more tests. The prints were still pink. I know that the prints technically are not correct, but I liked how different they looked and how they made me think of memories from my childhood. I printed a box of prints to show to my tutors for some feedback. I know that I like them and they look different, but I need validation at this point because technically they are “wrong”. My tutor Ania seem to like the idea a lot. I got some positive feedback to reflect on. She suggested looking into different ways of framing and experiment with that. Those darkroom accidental prints may become part of my final show. They are unique and I can’t be sure to produce two exact prints, for example. I have more pink paper left and I will keep it safe for now. At the moment I have to test out framing options and layouts, see how it shifts the work and what it does.
When I was around 8 years old I remember at school we had a lesson about spirituality and about our connection to the nature. It was very exciting to learn something new, especially about a topic I didn’t know much about - trees. Each one of us had a talk with the specialist and she told us that every individual has its own spiritual tree assigned at birth and it is important to know what tree we belong to. I remember everyone getting simple trees such as apple, birch etc. When my turn came, she said that my tree is a Fig tree. None of us knew what a fig tree was because, in Lithuania, we don’t have them. As an 8 year old, I felt uncomfortable because I wanted to fit in with the rest of my classmates and be able to talk about this new thing that we learned that day. Once again, I felt like the odd one out in the class - I always felt different and the new fig tree discovery made me feel like a weirdo. Prior to that day, I was told that my name in Greek meant “the nut” and the whole class laughed. Nevertheless, I got over that fairly quickly, although the “nut” nickname lingered for a while. On the other hand, I never got over the fig tree theory. To this day I think of this tree and I get happy every time I see it. To my discovery, there is a Fig tree in my secret location where the whole project is based. I knew the tree was there all along, but never thought to make it part of my experience/ project until now. I realised why I kept coming back there - because of the Fig tree. I am now looking into the botanical studies and looking for the meaning of the tree, which is mostly religious. I want the tree to be part of the project and I will photograph it every other week to examine the changes as the season get warmer. I took some seeds from the location and a twig that I cut off the tree, I am trying to grow it and experiment with that.
Finally long awaited sunny day has arrived and this time I was prepared. I have chosen a long flowy black dress to wear with black tights and black converse shoes. Wearing jeans seemed too casual, now when I look back at it. I do not wear dresses or skirts often, but when I do - I feel different, in a good way. Dressing up should be part of the project, it is like going out, but to my chosen secret location that i adore. It makes it so much better if the weather is warm as I tend to take off my coat for the camera. This time I felt self - conscious a bit more than before, because I felt like a performer. There were much more people enjoying the sun and looking at me take strange pictures of myself. But that didn’t stop me, it took few moments to get used to it, but eventually I said to myself it doesn’t matter - this place is mine.
To warm up I took some still lives of fragile leaves covered in sunlight and shadows. Than some bricks and the details, with and without the nature part. I also took couple of shots of the place itself, without me. I thought I might want to have some of the shots of the place. I developed the film and … it was empty. I am slightly upset about that and can still recall the images I took, but they are not here. I will choose a different day and try to reshoot it.
The rest of the images came out well. I am happy with the results. The dress that I am wearing makes images look a bit more special when I look at them. There is something about long flowy dresses, that give that dreamy look. I posed at same location, but chose different camera angles thinking of the sunlight and how it may affect the images. Generally, I tried to maintain same or similar distance between me and the camera throughout. Ideally, I would like to be further back, but the cable doesn’t allow me to go far enough.
I also expanded the field a bit and went to the actual riverside, which is part of my visual map of the secret location. I am not sure I like the outcome yet, but I will update on that later on. I need some time to think about it. Overall, the shoot was a success. As said before, I changed the clothes and it worked out really well. Got some sun and shadows. Next I am thinking to sacrifice myself and go in the rain, than step in to the river with no shoes. Don’t know how that will work, but will think about it.