Symmetry Series: nude studies and new work at #NAF19

I’ve been making symmetrical images for many years now. Usually of trees, grass, leaves, ferns and clouds – you can see plenty in my Symmetry in Nature book download. Recently I have been making them much more complex by dissolving nude female figures into the composition. Here’s a good example from this years’s #NAF19. It’s called The Three Graces and is a large piece (76 cms x 67 cms). The blog format doesn’t really do it justice but you can see what I mean.

The Three Graces Vaulted #NAF19: Symmetry Study

The Three Graces Vaulted at #NAF19: Symmetry Study

The backdrop is a picture of the ancient milkweed tree at Platbos Forest in the western Cape near Cape Agulhas. I have mirrored it horizontally and vertically to get a vaulted effect. I wanted you to feel the branches stretch overhead as if under the roof of a cathedral.

Platbos Milkwood Dark: Original Study before mirroring

Platbos Milkwood Dark: before mirroring

Then, of course, I needed to have a figure, or figures, to merge into this ethereal background. I wanted a nude female figure that dissolves into the roots, branches and vines. So I set up a photo shoot (with Natalie who I have worked with before) and she posed in front of a screen with a variety of images projected on to her. I used my own mirrored images of ferns, spider webs and – best of all – lightning for this.

Lightning of Grahamstown - Symmetry Template

Lightning over Grahamstown – Symmetry Template

Here’s a short selection from the shoot. You’ll see that Natalie gave me some beautiful shapes to work with. They’re tricky pictures to take as it’s dark with only the projected image for lighting – so shutter speeds were quite slow and ISO settings high.

My favourite images had the lightning and trees draped over her body. I then spent many hours reducing images carefully down to partial figures. These could then be overlaid on to the forest so they looked as though they were dissolving into, or emerging organically out of, a mystical scene. In the end I had three images of her that I used and that’s why the finished artwork is called The Three Graces. It’s so striking that I have two versions of it. I’ve used it for my poster and publicity.

You can see the final two image at my exhibition Reflections in the Johan Carinus Art Centre, Beaufort Street, Grahamstown. We are open from 9 am to 5 pm daily throughout the 2019 National Arts Festival from 27 June to 7 July. If you are interested in purchasing (or having a private viewing) then please contact me at roddyfox@mac.com.

The Fountain Court, 1820 Settlers National Monument, a Photo Essay

Here’s the large picture that’s drawn the crowds and the comments at my #NAF19 exhibition ‘Symmetry’. I did a photo shoot last year of the Fountain Court at the 1820 Settlers National Monument because it’s my favourite part of the building. The title picture’s taken as if you were lying on your back looking up to the skylight several stories above you. There’s natural light spilling in from both sides and down from the top but artificial light on the other two sides. I used my tiny 9mm fisheye body cap lens to pull in as much of the space as possible. The rectangular shapes of the famous yellowwood scaffolding sculpture, the many long pillars and banner-like Skotnes murals all help make this dramatic shot. The fisheye lens does a great job of curving them round the Millstone Fountain and sunburst roof decoration. Here’s the photo essay of the rest of the shots I took.

You can see the print at my exhibition ‘Symmetry’ which is at the Carinus Art Centre, Beaufort Street for the duration of the 2019 National Arts Festival. It’s printed on Premium Luster archival paper at 67 cms wide x 76 cms high.

 

Fractal Dryad

One of the most frustrating things about curating right through the Arts Festival is that I get a lot of inspiration but there’s no time to act on it until quite a bit later.  This year was no exception.  Many people have commented that a lot of my pictures resemble fractals – and I agree with them because they do – but I’ve never set out to make a fractal picture before.  I’ve chosen the pattern that’s found in trees, flowers, seeds and a whole host of other natural phenomena – a Fibonacci spiral of ever smaller images in a theoretically endless sequence. The key thing is that each image in the spiral is the exact replica of the same image at regularly diminishing or increasing scales.

Fractal Dryad

Producing an aesthetically pleasing picture that more or less follows these ideas has been difficult.  The problem is chosing an image that shows the spiralling nature in a dynamic way.  The sequence I’ve made starts at the large image to the bottom of the picture and then rotates up to the top left, across to the top right and on down in a clockwise direction until it spirals out of sight.  The base picture is from my Dryad series: where a mirrored image of a skeletal tree is projected on to Natalie’s back as she stands in front of a screen.

Here’s a screenshot from Wikipedia showing the mathematics that the spiral sequence is based on.

Fibonacci Spiral

I added further copies of the whole picture into the cut-outs of her head so that she appears to be looking out of her own shadowed outline.

Now I’ve finished working this out of my system it will be time for some more photography.  I’m off to Sweden in a couple of weeks time where I’m sure to find some more inspiration from nature.

 

 

 

 

Faces at the exhibition

Now the Arts Festival is all over and the dust has settled it’s time to share a few of my faces from the exhibition.

My former student, Meagen, was a welcome visitor towards the end of the 11 day run.  The eyes in the frame behind give a fun effect to her picture. The young woman with the tree earring came in one day and kindly agreed to pose in front of the Green Men pictures – Harry Owen pointed out that the Green Man appears to be looking back out at her!  Outside every day was Desmond, , our friendly car guard, ready to greet you, help out and very much part of the scene.  One morning I experimented with some new effects and did an overlay of two festinos studying my pictures as the light angled across them from the window.  Then, in the last picture, I had a chance to photograph one of the Rhodes’ Fine Art students (I’m afraid I don’t know her name), she is the red head who is posing in front of the aloes.

It was opportunistic but I think I’ve got some nice pictures and they bring out the memories of #NAF17.

Catalogue: Symmetry Exhibition, National Arts Festival 2017

Here’s the complete catalogue of the photographic artworks for my Symmetry exhibition. Click on the images for a full-sized view.  If you want to purchase, or would like further information, please use the contact me form and I’ll respond to your request.  Print orders take 24 hours and will then be couriered to your address: the price includes courier charges.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Johan Carinus Art Centre.  The exhibition runs daily throughout the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 9 July: 9am to 5pm.

The Grahamstown Winter Series

I thought it was fitting to have six pictures from my Grahamstown Winter Series in the exhibition. They are all taken looking north, into the low angle winter light, through the mist and smoke so typical of this time of year.

 

Summer Webs: Symmetry Exhibition, National Arts Festival 2017

One of the things I wanted in the exhibition was a small set of pictures that show off my love of harmony and beauty.  The dryad series covers a whole wall and they’re quite dark.  So I set about shooting some much lighter pictures with clean lines that can be simply mirrored.  I’ve combined them into one mosaic image here but in the exhibition they are four separate pictures.

Webs Mosaic

Three of these pictures are of spiders webs. The water droplets from the early morning mist pick out the graceful shapes of the webs in the cosmos and aloes.  I think the lines give nice tension and balance: the backgrounds are very pale because of the mist.  I took the pictures one late summer morning at Tsitsa Falls backpackers.  The fourth picture is of hornbeam trees in the beautiful forest below Tureborg in Uddevalla, Sweden.  In this picture the curved shapes of the tree trunks are balanced by the branches and the shape of the valley sides.  It complements the other three pictures nicely even though the subject is different.