ARTISTS IN ISOLATION | 2020
Still-life in threes
Metung, April 2020
Since the onset of this ISO period, I thought this would be a good time to explore some thoughts niggling in the back of my head. To be honest, this lockdown isn't really affording me anything more or different than I have here every day… I work mostly in isolation and rarely go out except to get bread, sausage and vodka. But still, instead of doing the things I should be doing, like mowing the garden, this is officially deemed playtime.
I set myself a challenge, other than my mental compositions of several conspiracy theories. Still-life is my brief, pretty much as has been for the last twenty years... But this time without picture frames and the figure as subject matter. I looked at what was randomly in eye-sight in the house. And I seemed to fall into compositions involving three objects or three of a kind in some way. But three of. And I am making one still life each day.
Onion, lemon, pear
Jug, hook, umbrellas
I have a large studio for my figure based work... lights, backdrops, props... But for this I set up a corner with an easterly light that bounces back at the end of the day off the galvanised iron shed outside and so I have interesting light pretty much all day and even into the dusk. It is a bench next to a window providing Caravaggio lighting, a set of shelves for props, lots of blu tack and dried fruit. The camera on a tripod with only a prime lens and I move the tripod to suit the composition. I make three exposures for saturation, then I take the image to Photoshop to apply one filter only, which I made years ago - a picture of a dirty window facing the setting sun in the other studio. That's it. No other manipulation. Total control and no reliance on the digital revolution to create a false reality. Pretty much exactly what we would have done in the days of natural light, film cameras, darkrooms and hand retouching.
I’m not sure there is a legacy in this collection nor even an exhibition in future. But I treat each image as such, as art and as valid time for trialling ideas and evaluating the whole process of creating freely without trying to invent a new structure. There may be one in here I would hang on the wall. Others may see this differently. So maybe, like I am doing, archiving all my work of the last forty years, I may make a desktop book to mark this time and this chapter. I am putting others up on my facebook page and a couple of other groups marking this time spent in isolation.