The Making of “Four Walls”

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I don’t fit in the spaces I used to. The edges rub leaving scrapes and bruises. My limbs ache from being curled in the same position for too long. The walls breathe and with every breath they squeeze a little closer.

About a month ago I was struck by inspiration. A concept for a body of work arrived in my head with 4-5 image ideas almost fully formed. The ideas came entirely from my subconscious, without being influenced by viewing other images, in fact I did no creative research for this series at all. The shooting and editing process has been almost effortless, the images flowing out exactly as they appeared in my head, with layers of meaning and depth in each.

It has been an amazing experience to create this work.

Today I acknowledged a truth that I’ve been resisting. I think the series is done.

It sits currently at just 5 images, less than I would normally create for a series. And yet it feels complete. The idea has passed from me into these photographs and it seems there is nothing more to say. It sounds odd but the idea seems satisfied that it has been expressed, it has been given the representation it wanted and it will not give to me any further.

Writer and speaker Elizabeth Gilbert speaks of a divine inspiration, the concept that a creative idea will choose a creator to bring it to life, present itself and then disappear again just as quickly when it is done. That is exactly what this feels like. I don’t know how I came by this idea, only that it was made up of hundreds of tiny things I had collected in my brain that suddenly fit together in a way that made perfect sense.

I love these images every time I look at them. They are cathartic, raw and stripped back. They feel like some of my greatest work.

For all these reasons I am not ready to let this go. I don’t want it to be finished. I want to keep living in this glorious state that feels like exactly how an artist should live.

Given the difficulty many artists face in knowing when to call a piece of work done, it should really feel like a blessing to have such a clear finishing point. Strangely though while the work feels complete, I don’t feel the satisfaction I normally do at the end of a project. I feel like I imagine a parent would letting their child out into the world, I want to keep it here as my own, to be nurtured and kept safe.

At the end of the day though, that is not what this work is for. I would not be holding up my end of the bargain with the inspiration that chose me if I did not let others share in its story.

So, I will find a way to let it go and I will open my mind, ready for the next idea to find me.


Afterword

After stepping back and taking some time to consider, this particular body of work has become just four images. Strangely, cutting one out made it sit better, made it feel ready to tell its story.

The series is titled Four Walls, the number lending itself both to the concept of the walls we build around ourselves and to the final number of images in the collection.

Each image is named with a single word, alluding to the theme of the image while leaving a deliberate opening for interpretation by the viewer. No image in this series has an exact meaning or concept that I intended to portray so there is no right or wrong. Find what speaks to you and make of it what you will.

Four Walls

I don’t fit in the spaces I used to. The edges rub leaving scrapes and bruises. My limbs ache from being curled in the same position for too long. The walls breathe and with every breath they squeeze a little closer.

A comfort zone is usually defined as a place of security but what happens when we become trapped there?

We are always being told to step outside our comfort zones, to push the boundaries and see what we are capable of. The familiarity and security of a safe space and fear of the unknown often keeps us holding tight to things we know. Unsatisfied with our current situation we feel the emptiness of wanting more.

We search the familiar places, seeking something new, as though somehow things will be different when we look again.

Everything remains the same.

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