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20 April 2011
hospitalfield house
Topic: hospitalfield

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As planned, on Sunday 17th April, my birthday, I caught a first class train from London Kings Cross Station to Arbroath, arriving at Hospitalfield about 6pm.

I was greeted by Rebecca Westguard, a figurative artist, former Hospitalfield resident, and the Events and Audience Development Manager, who was just finishing up the Life Drawing Masterclass she was conducting in the studios of Hospitalfield.

After seeing off the artists participating in the Masterclass, she showed me to my accommodation and took me to meet Willie Payne, the Director of Hospitalfield, his wife and their two lovely dogs, Luna and Toby.

I made quick work of getting my belongings stored in my room, and snapped off a few photos of the house in the evening light (as shown above and below), then made a long job of locating the harbour, getting distracted with looking around the streets and houses as I wandered, and missing my turn a couple of times and then having to re-orient myself. I finally found my way down to The Old Brewhouse, who were luckily still open and serving dinner (just) and were a friendly bunch.

I managed to traverse a more direct route home, via the Dundee Road, musing at the sight of a territorial army base smack-bang in the centre of a caravan park, and collapsed into bed after the long 48 hours I'd had of birthday celebrations, packing, train travel and anticipation.

Monday my residency officially started. I was up early and spent most of the day wandering around the grounds and the building taking photos; losing myself in the rabbit warren that makes up much of the house, and marveling at the grandness of it all.

Having familiarised myself with the property on Monday, yesterday I went through the photos of the property I'd taken and scrawled about 2-3 A4 pages of photo ideas down before getting out of bed. I then set out for the studio previously used by Patrick Allan-Fraser to do my first self-portrait shoot.

Though I'm not skilled in any fine arts aside from photography (my painting and drawing skills are amateur, at best), I am in awe of the studios here. The massive windows, the high roofs, the beautiful light, the large spaces. They are the sort of studios that, as a photographer, I appreciate as they allow much more room to photograph full length portraits against a staged background (which often studio spaces on offer in other residencies, and in converted warehouses in Melbourne, for example, don't seem to provide), and to naturally light your subjects, even in the mists and fog of a Scottish spring. I'm not sure I will be able to take full advantage of the studios whilst I'm here, given the sort of work I am looking to complete, however, no doubt the access to these spaces will influence my direction at least a little. The images I have taken in the studio so far were greatly influenced by the setting, some of the items found in the studio, and perhaps a little by life drawing.

Today I got straight into shooting within a short time of getting up, and probably had the gardeners raising their eyes quizzically at my prancing around barefoot in colourful dresses near the rear entrance of the cottage I'm accommodated in. I had my camera angle already in mind from a shot I'd taken of the door and the adjacent section of the building the previous day, and a couple of specific images in mind. I then noticed an item near the door which I'd overlooked so many times in passing, which immediately inspired further images.

After warming myself up again over soup, I joined a tour group led by Willie to see the main rooms of the house which I'd only so far glimpsed via the website: the dining room, the drawing room, the ante room, the cedar room and the picture gallery. As impressive and inspiring as the first floor landing area is, with it's blue flocked wallpaper and red carpeting, artworks and antiques, these rooms, particularly the picture gallery, were a significant part of what had inspired me to want to undertake this residency.

Though I wasn't previously aware of the following, my interest in coming here was further validated when Willie translated the Latin on the fireplace mantle in the picture gallery as "Know Yourself"; and told how Patrick Allan-Fraser, himself a skilled painter, had filled the gallery with paintings by his friends (many members of the Royal Scottish Academy) with the condition that they were to be self-portraits or include a self-portrait in some way.

Suffice to say, I'm settling in nicely here and feeling positive about the impact this experience is likely to have on my photography, though it's still early days to know exactly what that will be.

Certainly the freedom to concentrate on my art and where I am going with it, accompanied by a chorus of birdsong, the chiming of the Hospitalfield clock, and the spectre of the bunnies and dogs flitting about the grounds (separately), free from thoughts of day jobs and deadlines, is a welcome relief, if only temporary.

And for those of you who think I've gone soft with all this fresh Scottish country air, rambling about the tranquil surrounds: remember this building has its origins as a leprosy and plague hospice, and I've already had a photographic encounter with an ex-bunny.

I'll post some of my new self-portraits tomorrow, and hopefully some more images of Hospitalfield itself. I'll hold off on the dead bunny pictures for a little while though.

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Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 20:46 BST
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3 April 2011
how i learned to stop worrying and love levitation
Now Playing: elton john - dirty little girl
Topic: workshops

how i learned to stop worrying and love levitation

Model: Bella Grace

Two weeks after arriving in London, I ventured down to Eastbourne with Sarah Ann Wright to attend one of two workshops run by Miss Aniela and Brooke Shaden held that weekend at the Royal Hippodrome Theatre.

I had only just managed to get a place on the Sunday, but had been keen to meet Natalie and Brooke: to see how they work, learn about their processes and inspiration, and also have the chance to shoot in a venue that is at once lavish and rundown.

And the workshop ticked all those boxes: It was a great chance to see the similarities and differences between how each of the artists work, and relative to my own creative processes. Both Natalie and Brooke were enthusiastic and generous with their time, instruction and encouragement, as was Matt, Natalie's partner, who assisted them and the attendees where needed. The models were professional, patient (especially given the cold environs and their flimsy summer-weight outfits) and intuitive. The theatre itself was a character in its own right.

The set-up of the workshop allowed plenty of time for each photographer to create an image of their own as well as observe Natalie and Brooke create an image each, and the theatre allowed enough space and inspiration to ensure only a minimal amount of shooting over each others' shoulders. Though many attendees no doubt left the workshop with photos evidently from the workshop (same models, same outfits, same background), I would venture to guess that every attendee has some shots of their own that no one else managed to get.

For myself, though I love the surreal, dream-like worlds Natalie and Brooke create in their photography, both self-portraiture and portraiture, I have to admit I am a bit of a levitation-skeptic. I do enjoy a good trick shot when done well - whether levitation or clone, or simply a heavily processed image - but I am wary of the prevalence of these images, and also the prevalence of badly executed images using these techniques simply for the sake of it.

So initially I was reluctant to get involved in creating a levitation image, but later in the day I actually felt inspired to direct Bella in order to shoot the requisite images to make up this one. And I'm glad I did, if only to demonstrate to myself that I have the ability and skills with Photoshop to do so.

I guess my other hesitation in creating this image was that I do not have any wish to churn out works too closely akin to those whose work I admire. Though I can see my own style in the processing, composition, etc., of this image, as soon as the levitation element was added to the image, it felt like I was creating a counterfeit Miss Aniela™ [which in itself is interesting, as this was actually shot during the half of the day I was in a group led by Brooke].

Which I guess leads this post to my thoughts of the past few months: although I most certainly intend to create further images to complete my current series of self-portraiture, interior / exterior during my upcoming residency at Hospitalfield, I am looking forward to what other inspirations may await me there. Though I suspect it is unlikely I will move away from self-portraiture entirely, I am keen to find the next direction for my work, and am not sure what that may be.

Though I am often told my work is instantly recognisable, that I have a definitive style, I believe style is also something that constantly shifts and moves and develops. Otherwise artists and our work stagnate. Even after all these years, I strongly feel I am still seeking my style, my niche, in what I do. Not that I want to be pigeon-holed into a particular style, genre or subject matter, but I feel like a writer who is still looking for the right words to tell you how I feel.

A month of being immersed in creation, research, inspiration, new environs, a studio of my own? Yes, that sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

N.B. For those who helped fund my project, a quick update that prints and postcards will be in the mail to you tomorrow! Thank you again!

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 19:41 BST
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2 April 2011
Now Playing: pink floyd - comfortably numb
Topic: divine diptychs


This week I jumped back into the fray of the Divine Diptych Project with recent recruit, the Tiger Moth.

Things have been hectic for me lately, with a move halfway across the world, but I was keen to get back into things with the project.

Bee Brady gave tTM and myself the theme 'Reflect', which you would think would be a dead easy theme to work with, but both tTM and myself found ourselves at a bit of a loose end. There were some ideas thrown around, but various constraints worked against those.

In the end, with the forest at her disposal, tTM took a mirror out and produced her wonderful self-portrait above. I love the tones, composition, feel of the image.

I wanted to work more with the 'contemplate' side of the word reflect, whilst still including an image of a reflection. Initially I was concerned that none of the images I was thinking of using would fit with tTM's detailed image, but when I tried this one, taken at the Redland Bay Cemetery in Brisbane, the tones and composition actually seemed to work with her image, for me. I'm still not sure I can explain why!

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 19:27 BST
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27 March 2011
the date temptation
Now Playing: isaac hayes - walk on by
Topic: commissions

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On my return to London, I caught up with a former housemate, Stuart, from Catherine Palace*, my home in Reading when I last lived in the UK.

We went out for a drink in Ealing on a Saturday afternoon, where he is completing a film course at the famous Ealing Studios. Afternoon turned into evening, one of his film school colleagues joined us, followed by Stuart's wife, Shelley. Evening turned into night.

At the time, Stuart was casting for the short film he is working on for his course, and told me about a scene in the film for which he would need some still shots that would be hung on a wall in one of the scenes, and asked if I might be willing to shoot them for him.

As you may have guessed, I said yes, and spent a pleasant Sunday at Stuart and Shelley's apartment in Putney, meeting and photographing the lovely Jess and Chris [make-up and styling by Shelley], being force-fed delicious food and cider, and generally enjoying myself.

I've subsequently met up with Jess for dinner and drinks [which was also supposed to include a visit to the National Portrait Gallery, but we got distracted enjoying the Vietnamese meal and easy conversation with two concierges we ended up sharing a table with]; and also met up with other members of the cast and crew for post-shoot drinks in Hammersmith which ended with myself, Chris, Stuart and Shelley catching night buses to our respective homes, with me nursing a monster hangover the next day from the "nightcap" tequila shots Shelley foisted upon us at the end of the night!

As with the photographs of Paige from my previous post, there are more images from this shoot that I hope to edit soon, but these are some of the images selected by Stuart for the scene in his film, 'The Date Temptation'.

*No, we didn't live in a palace, it was just one in a row of terraced houses on Catherine Street, parallel to the Oxford Road, near West Reading station. We had a thing for naming houses we lived in when I was here last: the apartment we rented above an off-license on Ferndale Road in Clapham North became known as Ferndale Academy, due to its proximity to Brixton Academy, and Justin's turntables set up in the corner of our lounge. My last place in Brisbane had the name Casa del Cacto, so named by Nikki for the massive cactus in the front yard. I am yet to come up with anything suitable for my place here. I'm sure it will come with time.

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Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 21:08 BST
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Now Playing: barry white - you're so good you're bad
Topic: commissions

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Amidst the frantic post-Christmas, pre-departure period of January, Paige Wilcox commissioned me to shoot portraits of her, which made for a pleasant day of wandering around the Brisbane Botanical Gardens and the Lady Lamington building of the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

Paige was a great model: up for climbing trees, playing dead amongst the tree's roots, and wandering around derelict buildings in her lovely selection of outfits.

These are some of the images she selected from the shoot, and I hope to edit more soon.

My only disappointment that came with the shoot was knowing that we wouldn't have time to do more before I left, as I'm sure we could have collaborated again. But, of course, we intend to anyway, as hopefully she will visit London or nearby Europe in the next year or so, and I'm sure we'll arrange some sort of venture then.

Paige is one of a number of fantastic people I had the chance to meet during my brief sojourn in Brisbane that I miss these days.

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Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 10:45 BST
Updated: 27 March 2011 11:01 BST
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16 March 2011
somewhere in between
Now Playing: hüsker dü - ice cold ice
Topic: self-portraiture

somewhere in between

That's where I've been hiding these past few months - somewhere in between.

Things got a little crazy before I left Brisbane: the beginnings of a romance that snuck up on me played out to an incessant (though pleasant) soundtrack of summer rain; sad farewells; and packing my life into boxes whilst Brisbane flooded.

My trip to London was, by comparison, quite easy and uneventful. I made a couple of new friends on the plane - Greg from Manchester and Laura from Italy - and spent much of my time listening to my iPod and playing Solitaire.

On arrival I was met by my cousin's husband, Simon, and spent the first month staying with Julie, Simon & their three kids and their cat, Tabitha (shown above, whom I randomly found myself calling Kitterson), and reacquainting myself with Uxbridge, London, and getting on with the everyday endeavours of finding a job, opening a new bank account, and finding a place of my own to live.

On Friday I will have been here two months, and I have to admit I've somewhat landed on my feet. I've had a temporary day job since week three which now appears will take me through until my residency in April; I have a bank account which is gradually growing healthier; and as of the 5th of March, I have moved into a loft conversion in the northern suburbs of London.

Suffice to say sorting all those things out has not always given me as much time as I'd like to spend on editing photos, though I have been taking plenty, and hope to get onto editing in a big way over the coming weeks.

Since arriving I've been enjoying many of the sights and sounds and smells of London, including visiting the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery with Kerry Pringle after an afternoon wandering through the West End, Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden; wandering Portobello Road Market and savouring good food and cider with Scott; wandering Brick Lane with Phil to check out the area and the Brick Lane Gallery; taking in the Imperial War Museum with Ian and Zoe; and wandering alone through the Old Spitalfields Markets, and the City of London Cemetery in East London. In most instances my camera was kept handy, especially, as you'd imagine, at the cemetery.

In photographic-related adventures, I attended a one-day workshop that took place in a semi-derelict theatre in Eastbourne run by Miss Aniela and Brooke Shaden, where I had the chance to finally meet Sarah and Sevgi. I met again with the ladies, Matt and Amy and various other punters at a pub in Ealing as Brooke's final event whilst in the UK. And once more caught up with Natalie and Matt at the launch of her book, Self-Portrait Photography, at JaguarShoes in Shoreditch, also meeting Juliet Greig and stylist Rachel Holland.

I spent a day shooting still images of Jess and Chris to be included in my friend Stuart's short film, 'The Date Temptation', being thoroughly spoilt for food and drink by Stuart's wife, Shelley, who was also taking care of make-up.

So, as you can imagine, it's been a bit of a hectic two months, but things are now on track, so I can finally try to catch up on some of my backlog of editing, and get excited about my forthcoming residency at Hospitalfield, for which I am travelling by train in first class on my birthday. Hoorah!

I'm also finally having a chance to get rewards out to those wonderful folk who have made my residency possible, so thank you for your patience during my relocation!

I'm looking forward to meeting many more old and new friends over here, but for now I should probably call it a night! Will be back to regular posting from now on, I promise.

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 02:06 BST
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11 December 2010
mood indigo
Now Playing: everything but the girl - protection
Topic: self-portraiture

mood indigo

Despite the title of this post and the somewhat brooding nature of the image above, I am anything but "blue" at the moment.

On Wednesday this week, my Fundbreak project, interior / exterior, reached it's deadline after exceeding my intended goal, so thank you once again to those who showed their support:

Desmond Wong, Adam Meyer, Adrian Clark, Tracey Wallace, Renae Jones, Lisa Dempster, Mia Alexiname, Sarah Hoey, Holly Ringland, Ryan Laxton, Angus Gordon, Vanessa Toholka, Richard Hryckiewicz, Sarah Fallon, Susan Knight, Elle Moss, Mary Elise Tomczak, Kyle Warren, Monica Barrett, Michelle McRae, Sarah Mercer and Chris Zissiadis.

Thank you also to those who promoted the project on my behalf through Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media or personal interactions.

The same day I collected my passport from the post office and opened it in excitement to see my 5 year UK Ancestry Entry Visa smoothly inserted into page 4 of my passport!

So London, I'll be seeing you sometime around the 18th of January!

For now though, I'm off down to the Gold Coast for an evening of 80s music, Mexican food, margaritas and a girlie sleepover with Tracey and Rachael!

Hope you're all having a fantastic weekend! x

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 04:16 GMT
Updated: 12 December 2010 07:04 GMT
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28 November 2010
wilson's blues
Now Playing: nina simone - good bait
Topic: road trip 2010

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Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 03:12 GMT
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26 November 2010
one hundred percent
Now Playing: the smiths - accept yourself
Topic: self-portraiture

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Apologies for the lateness of this post. Believe me, it's not for lack of being ecstatic, just manic busy-ness and more recently mild sickness.

But I am most certainly overwhelmingly appreciative.

On Tuesday this week, I reached 100% of the goal of my project interior / exterior (in fact, 102%) and since then have exceeded that again!

The most recent contributors to my cause were two Divine Sisters, Michelle McRae and Sarah Mercer, and both Kyle Warren and Adam Meyer showed further support!

I am unbelievably thankful to everyone who has shown their support for my residency at Hospitalfield in Arbroath, Scotland, in April next year, and once the deadline has passed will be in contact with those who have shown their support to follow up about addresses and such for rewards where relevant.

If you haven't had a chance yet and would still like to be involved, any additional funds raised over the goal of AU$1,550 will go toward my flight to the UK, and all rewards are still valid until midday on the 8th of December, Australian Daylight Savings Time.

I am so excited about this residency and, internet permitting, will be blogging about my experiences there as it happens. I hope to bring you some wonderful photographs and carry those over into a self-published collection of images and an exhibition to complete my interior / exterior series.

I'm also excited about two upcoming collaborations. One with Simon Groth, a Brisbane author, to take the form of a published collection of short stories / prose and images; the other, a second collaboration with Nick Kind, ex-pat Brit based in Melbourne, a potential "letters from home" blog in the form of images exchanged between us of each other's place of origin.

The residency will go ahead irrespective of the UK Home Office, but my move to the UK is still dependent on my application for a UK Ancestry Visa, which I posted off last Wednesday after having my biometric data taken. I can't see any reason why it would be declined, but don't want to assume anything.

Should all go to plan though, I will be in London for the long haul by the 18th of January next year, and I am unbelievably excited at that prospect. And daunted. But mostly excited.

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 14:10 GMT
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8 November 2010
the smell of outdoor cooking
Now Playing: arab strap - the smell of outdoor cooking
Topic: self-portraiture

the smell of outdoor cooking

It's that time again! Thanks to Mary Elise Tomczak, Kyle Warren and Monica Barrett, not to mention all those lovely folk I've already thanked in previous posts, I'm almost halfway to reaching the goal for my project, interior / exterior!

You guys are beyond awesome. Seriously.

If you've not yet had a chance to show your support, feel free to take a look at my interior / exterior series thus far, and visit the Hospitalfield website, and you'll no doubt be able to realise what an excellent opportunity this is for me, and how much it would assist me in completing this series with the intention of self-publishing a collection of the images, staging an exhibition of works from the series, and finding new directions in which to take my work.

I'd love you to come along with me on this exciting journey!

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 14:05 GMT
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