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Daniel Jenkins

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.

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.

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