This is from a poem called The Impalpabilities by Charles Tomlinson. It's significant for me in a number of ways. I came at creativity through writing - reading it and later writing it myself. Books were where I escaped to as a child, they showed me that the world was more than just sensory perception and quotidian reality and could include imaginative leaps of fancy, anything was possible - magic realism where things are not as they seem. As I got older and studied literature, I realised why I felt that some poets and writers were writing just for me - by writing about deep personal truths and how things appeared to them, they managed to tap into universal truths or at least how things seem to some people. This is, for me, the basis of art. There has to be a connection.It is the sense
of things that we must include
because we do not understand them…
and so the wood
advances before the evening takes it -
tense in a light like water,
as if (on extended fingers)
supporting the cool immensity…
I believe this just as passionately with the visual arts. When I read something or look at something I am carrying all of my personal history with me, everything external will be tinged by my baggage. I see the world through the filter of my mind, as does everyone through their own. I tend to connect with things which are imaginative, ambiguous, unreal, internalised and oneiric. I don't have to, or indeed want to, understand everything. As Tomlinson says "the sense of things...we must include because we do not understand them."
During these three years of taking photos, my way of working and my way of seeing have both changed hugely. I started out fairly conventionally but soon realised that I was disatisfied with what I was producing. I am not interested in things being cut and dried, not interested in a world where there is only one right answer, or indeed one where there are only answers. The surface of things isn't enough. I want and need to get behind the supposed reality, beneath the superficial and try to make unseen things visible. I can respond like anyone to a beautiful view or a gorgeous sunset but I have no interest in photographing that response. I think it's in Sontag's On Photography where she makes the point that a beautiful photograph isn't the same as a photograph of a beautiful thing.
Developing my own vision has required a certain amount of determination and thick skin however. There was no one in my immediate circle who 'got' what I was about and so I became used to laughing along at people's descriptions of my "weird blurry photos." I went through a long period of self-doubt where I worried that I produced what I did because I didn't have the technical knowledge to do anything else, painfully aware of my photographic ignorance. Having now met, both in reality and virtually, other photographers who get where I'm coming from, though, has helped my confidence enormously and I now see all of this as part of my aesthetic journey. I have to work through things in my own way at my own pace and make the images I have in my mind's eye so as to make room for more.