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scrawl
8 November 2012
are you trying to seduce me...?
Topic: photography

national gallery, london


I saw a billboard for the Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present exhibition at the National Gallery in London in the Tube the other day and thought, 'Ooh, that would be good!' and mentally earmarked it for suggestion to a friend to catch up to see this weekend, as I've had to rain-check twice on catching up with him.

I went to look up details just now, and though I will still probably check it out, it irked me no end that:

a) it is the National Gallery's first major exhibition of photography. Camera photography is not a new art. The process has existed for almost 200 years in some form. Why has it taken this long for the National Gallery to recognise it as such?

b) by 'recognise' I use the term loosely. The description of the exhibition states: It takes a provocative look at how photographers use fine art traditions, including Old Master painting, to explore and justify the possibilities of their art. Le sigh. Photographers still have to 'justify' the 'possibilities' of their art? I'm surprised the word 'art' in this context isn't within quotation marks to clearly indicate the National Gallery's view that photography's claim to being art is a spurious one, at best.

c) the National Gallery's first major exhibition of photography is actually not an exhibition of photography. It is an exhibition of photography and painting. Drawing attention to one particular and rich strand of photography’s history – that of the influence and inspiration of historical painting. From that description, I would assume the exhibition indicates photography is only valid as an art form in its relation to painting, and will be viewed as such, not as a stand-alone art form in its own right.

d) the opening gambit for the exhibition is View Old Master painting through a new lens with the National Gallery's first major exhibition of photography. Even in the blurb photography takes a poor second place.

I haven't even been to the exhibition and I'm already riled up about it. I hope it isn't as patronising and insulting to photographic artists as it sounds. Arguably the contemporary photographers it mentions including are not my preference, but to indicate showing their work is only valid in the context of showing how they have been influenced by painters from times past (and not even contemporary painters) feels like a complete negation of their work to me.

I'm not arguing that art from one time or one medium doesn't influence art that follows or art in a newer medium. I would be naive to disregard that aspect. But surely if you are going to stage the first major exhibition of an art form, you would concentrate on that art form, not on how it references / is derivative of another form of art / art medium?

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 22:09 GMT
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16 June 2012
i see a darkness
Now Playing: bonnie 'prince' billy - i see a darkness
Topic: self-portraiture

i see a darkness

Well, you're my friend and can you see,
Many times we've been out drinkin',
Many times we've shared our thoughts,
But did you ever, ever notice, the kind of thoughts I got?

Well, you know I have a love, a love for everyone I know.
And you know I have a drive to live, I won't let go.
But can you see this opposition comes rising up sometimes?
That its dreadful imposition, comes blacking in my mind.

And that I see a darkness.
And that I see a darkness.
And that I see a darkness.
Did you know how much I love you?
Is a hope that somehow you,
Can save me from this darkness.


- Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 23:38 BST
Updated: 17 June 2012 07:51 BST
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4 June 2012
end of a century [almost]
Now Playing: aimee mann - one
Topic: portraits

agnes hyde


Sometimes the information superhighway isn't so super, even in this day and age. Firstly, because some people still don't use it, so information doesn't always pass across the world instantaneously; and secondly, because sometimes the information crossing that superhighway is not what you want to hear.

I found out yesterday (Sunday) that my Grandma passed away last Tuesday. Her funeral took place at 2:30pm today AEST.

My parents were just arriving into Bucharest on Sunday, and finally had access to internet after not having reasonably priced access to phone or internet since they heard the news from my Uncle, and my Uncle is a Luddite (this is not a criticism, just a statement of fact), thus the delay. My Uncle had tried to call me a number of times, but he doesn't have to make international calls often, and it turns out he was only pressing '0' once before the UK country code 44, so his calls must have been going to someone else's Australian mobile number.

Either way, despite the fact I knew this was coming, it still felt horrible reading those words in the Gmail email preview as I clicked through to read the full message from my parents. It was like a kick in the guts, and after a relatively positive couple of days previous, was even harder to take.

When I left Australia I told my Grandma to look after herself, and that I'd be back for her 100th birthday. That last day I saw her, I knew I'd be emotional, but was totally unprepared for her crying as I hugged her and kissed her on the cheek and said my goodbyes. I was trying not to cry before I left, but as soon as she started I couldn't hold it in any longer.

I remarked to my parents about it, somewhat in shock, because my Dad's family have never been big on emotion. My Grandma, like all of her immediate family including my Dad, generally held her cards close to her chest. I mentioned it to my Uncle last night when we spoke on the phone finally, and he said that she told him about it when he visited the next day, and even she seemed surprised by her own behaviour.

We both knew that day that there was a pretty strong chance this would be the last time we would see each other. Neither of us said that, but our tears were pretty clear indication that we knew, though I'm sure we both hoped otherwise.

As with my Mum's mother, I only really got to know Dad's mum better as I got older, over the past few years. With living in different states most of my life, my interactions with Grandma were intermittent and brief. Probably the longest amount of time I spent with her was staying with her and my Uncle in 2002 because I was then living with my parents but they'd gone away for a couple of weeks. Not being able to drive, their then home in the Gold Coast hinterland wasn't as accessible as needed for getting to work, buying groceries, etc., so I stayed with Grandma and Uncle John.

Visiting Grandma about every second week during the time I lived in Brisbane (September 2009 to January 2011), we built up something of a bond, though generally not through conversation or shared interests. It just happened, maybe because there are so many things I have inherited from her - good and bad: stubborn Aries traits, small (especially facial) features, worrying and over-thinking things, a love of crosswords (shared with both Grandmothers).

I also keenly understood her frustration and rebellion against being placed in a home. It was a necessity - she was no longer able to look after herself, and it was too much for my family to take on, due to a very bad fall - but to go from being fairly independent and active to being in a hospital and then not being able to go back to your own home was something I understood would be very hard. My Uncle did take her to visit, but it must have been so hard for her.

She did end up enjoying the home, despite her initial feelings. The staff there were absolutely wonderful with her, and she quite clearly touched a nerve with them. Despite being of a generation preceding political correctness (I would often cringe at things she said, but knew it was just a generational thing, that she did not hold prejudices), staff at the home of varying ancestry loved her and joked with her. She often displayed a cheekiness with the staff that we as family rarely saw, and I finally got to see more of that over the past few years.

Also generational, I know many of the things I do (nude self-portraiture), the way I live my life (living with a partner before wedlock, piercing my nose), were concepts she would not have understood / did not understand (she did stop staring at my nose-ring when talking to me after about a week), because her life was so utterly different to mine, but she rarely judged, to my knowledge. Her comments, when she did make them, seemed more concerned than judgmental.

I do regret never asking her about Grandpa and her relationship with him. I would have liked to hear her talk about him, but I suspect she wouldn't have opened up much about that. Unfortunately she burnt a lot of papers and photos at one point, but letters my Uncle passed to my Dad give an impression of their love for each other, and their affectionate joking, with Grandpa referring to Grandma by her sisters' pet name for her, Scraggie Aggie.

I know that my wanting her to reach her 100th birthday was utterly selfish, and even though she didn't reach that milestone I am still proud of her. Since soon after I left Brisbane she was on oxygen, so was pretty much bedridden, and her quality of life dropped quite substantially. She would make comments to my parents about "how much longer", quite clearly tired of life, so it was really just time; I would not have wanted her to hang on for the sake of a number, or for me.

For all that I know that, it was still hard to receive that email yesterday, and still very hard today.

The portrait above was taken on my Dad's birthday in 2007, about a year before she had her fall and was put into the home.

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 19:49 BST
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28 April 2012
bodysnatchers
Now Playing: radiohead - bishop's robes
Topic: hospitalfield

bodysnatchers

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 22:34 BST
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22 April 2012
wishin' and hopin'
Now Playing: radiohead - supercollider
Topic: hospitalfield

wishin'...

...and a'hopin'

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 19:28 BST
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in pursuit of perpetual motion
Now Playing: radiohead - little by little
Topic: hospitalfield

in pursuit of perpetual motion


From Wikipedia: Perpetual motion describes hypothetical machines that operate or produce useful work indefinitely and, more generally, hypothetical machines that produce more work or energy than they consume, whether they might operate indefinitely or not.

[Sister image to like spinning plates]

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 16:28 BST
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looking backward, moving forward
Now Playing: david bowie - looking for water
Topic: hospitalfield

looking backward, moving forward


This past Tuesday I sneakily turned 35.

Well, really, it wasn't very sneaky. Celebrations leading up to the day were actually quite messy. But the day itself was quite low-key: leave from work for the day; relaxing and chatting on Skype with Kyle in the morning. The afternoon spent with Miss Ada wandering from Victoria Station via Belgravia to South Kensington only to find the Saatchi Gallery was closed to the public for a private function; then wandering a little further to peruse the photography and Asian sections of the permanent collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum; followed by a pub dinner in Earl's Court before Jane headed to her evening's entertainment and I headed home to a long and enjoyable chat on Skype with my mum.

The original plan had been to spend the day with Jane wandering through Brompton Cemetery with our cameras, but the inclement and unpredictable weather [literally] put a dampener on that, and both of us chose to leave our cameras at home.

We did end up wandering through a graveyard at one point though, stumbling across the Royal Hospital Chelsea burial ground during our travels.

Tuesday also marked one year from the day I arrived at Hospitalfield for my one-month residency, during which the image above was taken.

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 14:29 BST
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21 April 2012
100 people - #26: Paige
Now Playing: melanie c - never be the same again
Topic: 100 people

paige


I met Paige for the first time at the Home of the Viking; at one of Erik & Francesca's Sunday afternoon backyard barbeques.

I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes I'm a bit judgmental. Specifically, when I meet a really pretty girl, I sometimes assume they will know exactly how pretty they are, and be full of themselves and arrogant, and vacuous and have no sense of humour.

Within minutes Paige made me ashamed for thinking that, as she is a perfect example of why that mode of thinking is stupid.

Paige sometimes seems completely oblivious of how attractive she may be to those around her, and is the first to make fun of herself. A perfect example of this I saw a mere few days after meeting her, where she was filmed eating noodles in a very ridiculous manner. Where many of us would be worried about looking silly and / or unattractive, she really didn't mind and was just enjoying herself with friends.

This may have something to do with the fact she is an actor, but for the most part, to me, this is just because she is Paige.

We became quite good friends during my brief sojourn in Brisbane, and caught up on many occasions for drinks and shennanigans; and I was lucky enough to be commissioned to take some portraits of her (of which this was one, as we hid behind the verandah wall in fear of being told to leave, as we were trespassing).

Our day spent together wandering around an abandoned hospital building in Brisbane, around the botanical gardens and such, was very enjoyable; and I have to admit I felt more than a little disappointed I would be leaving the country so soon after and would not have the chance to photograph her again for quite a while.

Far from the delicate flower she may often seem, Paige was more than happy to shimmy up the nearest tree, barefoot, for a photo. Which, for a photographer like me, is excellent (even if I hate heights so much I'd not do the same!)

Heartbreakingly, her flat in Auchenflower was about 3/4 submerged by the floods in Brisbane a little over a week after our shoot. Her life was turned upside down and inside out for a while, and even now I can't really comprehend how this would have felt for her.

But no matter what she goes through, Paige seems to just keep coming back stronger. Learning from her experiences, learning from her friends, and moving forward all the time.

Amongst other wonderful people I met in Brisbane during my time there, I am looking forward to catching up with Paige when I next visit.

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 21:00 BST
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9 April 2012
green / red
Topic: divine diptychs

green/red


Left: Me
Right: the melody censor

For the latest round of Divine Diptychs, I set the theme of complimentary colours, with myself and Susan selecting green and red.

Though I did trawl my archives looking for something, due to feeling a little uninspired in terms of shooting something new, I decided that I didn't want to submit an image that was the easy "go-to" of plants, and the most "diverse" predominantly green image I had was of a cactus.

With the green dress seen above in mind, I originally thought about shooting self-portraits in it with my matching green tights, but then had the idea of a bouquet of green "flower alternatives", which ended up being some tenderstem broccoli and asparagus.

As I've recently found some nail polish that dries in 40 seconds, so have actually started wearing nail polish again regularly and buying colours that match to my outfits (purple being my favourite so far), I figured I'd track down some green nail polish to complete the image in my head. The nearest I found was aquamarine, so I tweaked the overall image a little to get a more pure green colour (I also gave myself a Photoshop manicure, reapplying the nail polish to my chipped fingernails, as I polished my nails last Sunday night).

I love that Susan expanded upon her original idea by including a "pepper purse" in her image after seeing my image! I love her vibrant colours, and that we both look like we're getting ready for a prom or something, and those shoes!

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 12:47 BST
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7 April 2012
animals & self-images & other things
Topic: self-portraiture

untitled #20


I'm just catching up on a few publications I think I've been a bit lax in telling folk about, though two are very recent:

One of my images was included in the very first issue of 5x5 Magazine, with the theme of 'Self-images'. I highly recommend picking up a copy of the magazine in print, as the quality is beautiful. It took a bit longer to get into my sweaty palms than expected, but was well worth the wait! Not to mention that the cover story is about the stunning work of Sarah R. Bloom, and Susan J. Knight's work features in a piece entitled 'Inspired by Art', along with her interview about The Hive Hub & Arts Incubation Site in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada.

In addition to those two lovely artists, the magazine includes work by Elle Moss, Brooke Shaden, Marico Fayre, Megan Horsburgh, Michelle McRae, Sarah Ann Wright, Sarah Mercer, Emma Newson, Jennifer Leigh Evans, Jill Evans, Libby Livermore, Elle Hanley (and that's just the artists I was previously acquainted with the work of!)

The ladies behind the magazine, Nicole Harlow and Jet Clark, are also awesome!

I also have one image in issue #52 of F-Stop Magazine. As usual there is such a feast for the eyes in the latest issue, and I still need to peruse the collection properly, but work from Julie Kozerski's series 'Half' immediately drew me in.

And I have an image in the latest Lenscratch online exhibition, Animals. Sort of relieved I wasn't the only one who submitted an image of an ex-animal...

Posted by Bronwen Hyde at 23:36 BST
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