Every prop, costume, animal or person that appears in my images plays a significant role in the visual narratives I construct using photography and digital technologies. In this, my process of production is pivotal; each element is selected or designed and made then placed, photographed and sometimes composited using digital technologies so that the sum – the final image – is greater than its parts, each work being a personal exploration or expression of the concerns I have about contemporary human existence.
The Chimera of Control series is also set in or against a variety of strange and mysterious natural settings that I either shoot on-location or edit in during post-production: limestone and rock caves; the undulating dunes of a sandy desert; an ice-covered lake in front of a spectacular cliff-face; the cracked and blackened-earth shores of a dried up lake, and so forth. While adding dramatic visual impact, they also function as signifiers of the beauty and/or degradation and destruction our natural environment suffers through human intervention and natural disaster.
As population growth increases exponentially so does our demand for material goods that seems to accompany a growing concern with wealth, status, power and a desire for perfection. As our rate of production and consumption increases, so does the rate we exploit our natural resources, and our production of waste. At the same time I believe we are increasingly in denial of what is happening to the environment; the greater the occurrence and impact of natural disaster, the more we seem to distance ourselves from these signs.
Many of my images deal with the impact of material desire and the pursuit of perfection; a young girl dressed in a pearl-covered straightjacket stands in a pool of white water and stares at her own reflection, not just bound by but immersed in a narcissism resulting from her attempts to attain some kind of purity through material perfection; inside a dark cave another is thrown by a horse in her attempts to control its wild impulse for freedom, just as humans continue being surprised by the uncontrollable forces of nature; a ballerina pirouettes atop a stack of burning rubber tyres in a post-apocalyptic landscape, highlighting the contrast between the pursuit of precision and perfection on the one hand as we pollute the natural world on the other, a doom-laden sky perhaps indicating the demise of the environment and ourselves if we continue in this direction.
In my attempts to create drama using these out-of-the-ordinary settings, and in the layering of signs and symbols presented in my use of props, costumes, people and animals, I try to seduce viewers to look more deeply in to my work, to ‘enter’ the imagery and create their own narrative(s) and response(s) – which may pertain to the inner feelings or thoughts about the issues my work triggers or be drawn from life experience or arise out of some myth, folk-lore or fairy tale – as well as stimulating them to look more deeply at human existence and ask: what are we doing to ourselves and to the environment, and where are we heading…