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.
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.
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.
Fractal Dryad 1
Fractal Dryad 2
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.
This post’s about the Dryad series. They are the seven images that make up almost a quarter of my exhibition – Symmetry – which is at the Carinus Arts Centre for the National Arts Festival from 29 June to 9 July 2017. I wanted to explore what happened when I placed a person into my images – rather than finding a Green Man or a fantastical pattern in them. I did that by projecting some images I’d prepared on to Natalie – she’s the dryad in the shoot – as she stood in front of a screen. When her back’s turned she becomes enigmatic with a big shadow playing across the forest.
Stained Glass Dryad Original
I must say that technically this was really tricky to do. Fortunately the mirrored organic shapes I’d chosen could be draped down her spine and that was really evocative. The next picture’s from the exhibition. It shows the filigree of a tree-like skeleton in/on her dryad body.
Some time later I decided to mirror the dryad images and construct a triptych. The two pictures here have the mirrored dryads on either side of the original.
Stained Glass Dryad
All of the pictures so far have shown a dryad within a scene but I also projected one of my favourite tree images on to her so she became the screen. In Scarab Dryad I love the way the tree branches burst out of her neck whilst a runic scarab perches on her shoulders.
When I made the runic tree image smaller – so that it just fitted in her back – it makes the curved shape of an angel’s wing. You can see there’s a wing on the back of each of the mirrored dryads in the Angel Dryad triptych. The wings reappear as overlays in the original runic tree in the centre. The contrast of the burning wings on the slender body reminds me strongly of William Blake’s etchings.
Lastly I did something quite fantastical. I made Dryad Fantasy by overlaying the runic tree with the Angel Dryads in a multiplicity of mirrored images. So it’s a re-composition of the originals: re-imagined shapes with new patterns and forms.
I wrote about some of these pictures last year when they were still a work in progress. If you are interested there are more pictures and descriptions in these posts.: Triptychs 1: Stained Glass; Triptychs 2: The Figure in the Foreground; Triptychs 3: Angel Wings.