It started with a Text.. or a Tweet.. I cannot really recall, either way it ended with an enthusiastic "yes" in return. My friend Cole was wanting to go to the Sound Mirrors in Denge but strugging to get there without a car (which fortunatly I have) and did I want to join to go see them and then head on into Dungeness?
The Sound Mirrors of Denge is something I knew nothing about, but after a quick Google found that they were these massive concrete structures that functioned as an early warning system for incoming planes during the war. They only open them up once a year now to vistors and as it's not exactly the easiest to get to, I was somewhat hoping it wouldnt be rammed with people and photographers.... it was (despite what it suggests in the selected photos here ha)
Dungeness on the other hand was a place I had heard of. A somewhat 'odd' place, with a beach beside a nuclear power plant, a smattering of architecturally designed holiday homes inbetween unmodernised holiday homes and shacks. An area of 'abandoned' but apparently also still working fishing area with paraphernalia littered all over the place. It has severeral lighthouses and an odd little 'model train' thing that runs and toots through it, all while the power plant looms in the distance. It is somewhat bleak... but bizarrely fascinating. It also reminded me of the Salton Sea which we visited in California (click here for that blog article). With some wonderful flat light and our tummies full from fish rolls and fried Potatoes from a nearby container turned sea food cafe we set off shooting as much as we could.....
For years now I have been trying and failing to come up with a visual project about mental health/illness. In fact I've also written several blog posts about this topic after seeing a slew of creatives all discussing how they struggle with mental health online, but I have always deleted them. Depression still feels a bit of a taboo subject or something people still see as an over exaggeration, something you will 'snap out of', or even a call for attention-I think that's why I have always deleted my scribbling.
For the record I was diagnosed with depression around my 20s, I remember my doctor saying it was surprising it hadn't appeared earlier considering my medical history up to that point. While mine was only a mild case and I was off medication soon afterwards over the years its always been there, lurking in the background. Around my 30s I found myself in a job I hated for 5 years and in a volatile relationship that I could not seem to get out of that had me dipping back into past troubles-I was almost always angry, felt insanely alone and trapped. I had figured out tricks or ways to balance myself-music in my headphones was one of these (later on the use of Twitter was another way of release). I used to have headphones in or close to me pretty much all the time just in case I needed to drown out/calm my thoughts quickly. In fact I still have music in or around me when needed, but while these tricks helped, they didnt get me out of the situations/feeling better.
Without going into too many details, in the back half of 2016 I felt a change happening again. In my 20s there had been a breaking point (literally) that got me to the doctors and when I was in that bad job/relationship years later there was a chance breaking point there that got me into a better place then too. In January 2017 mind racing almost hourly, countless near sleepless nights, feeling physically sick almost daily and added amounts of anxiousness every time I had to deal with certain matters or people a breaking point would happen again.
It would be on a beach in West Sussex close to my family home where I had been so many times in the past to walk and clear my mind. This time I had my pinhole camera and a bunch of Polaroid film. The fresh air, the rain, the empty winter beach always does wonders for me-Photographically and mentally something clicked. In that moment I knew what had to be done to balance the troubles that was making me unhappy in my day to day and I knew exactly how to make a series of photos representing the levels of depression, anxiety and stress that has fluctuated in and out of my life.
What follows is the start of a series of images shot entirely on old Polaroid 4x5 Film stock with a pinhole camera-The process itself to get these photos is often serene and relfection filled. The images are of isolated objects with a circle that represents me and how I have been feeling either in that week or memories of the past. The grey circle represents the anxiety/stress/depression, the larger the circle the more intense the moment was. It has been an incredibly cathartic process.
There are many out there that suffer and don't/cant reach out or aren't fortunate to have the support and loved ones I am glad to have in my life. As I have found in the past few weeks after slowing releasing this series, you (we) are not alone, my hope is that by sharing this personal experience and series that it touches someone somewhere, maybe even help.
*Update: the follwing photos have been changed since inital post. Due to the nature of a long project, one gets better with equipment, materials and gets a better vision (in theory). There is now also a Instagram Page where you can view the full set as they happen: mindstateproject
Apologies for the slow blogging of late, its been a pretty full on last few months after The Other Art Fair with little time to sit down and update.
This morning I woke up to the BBC website informing me that I had been selected in the final 15 of the 'Art of the Building 2016' competiton run by the Chartered Institute of Building with my triple exposure 4x5 interpreation of the Foster + Partners "The Gherkin".
A fantastic way to end the year and an honour to be selected amongst the thousands of entries. It now goes to a public vote: So, here I am asking if you like this photo to please click the link below and vote for it. It would be very very muchly appreciated, and of course a Happy Christmas to you all :)
Limited Edition Prints of 'The Gherkin" are also available for sale via Saatchi Art on the link below:
If you follow me on twitter, or you have been reading any of my blog posts over the last few months you might be aware that my girlfriend and I are off to America for three months travelling, Initially I was going to take my day to day carbon fibre Manfrotto tripod as it is light enough and has that handy bag however after seeing a few photographers schlepping around with foldable tripods in China last year I decided on looking for a decent travel tripod. It is fair to say that there are a lot on the market and often, out of price range if that is you have quit your job and every penny starts to count…….. and thats where the Manfrotto BeFree fits in nicely.
£149 (or there abouts) gets you this super small, neatly collapsible aluminium tripod thats sits perfectly on any bag. When I first saw it in the shop I was massively hesitant that it would hold a Canon 5dmk2 with a 70-200 lens and filters on it, let alone anything! The ball head doesn't look the strongest and the legs aren't obviously as stable as a "normal" tripod, however a quick tweet or two to Manfrotto and a look at their dedicated BeFree website convinced me otherwise and I placed an order.
Over the last few weeks prior to my travelling I have purposely chosen to take the Befree out with me where ever I go to get used to it and I can honestly say it is, for its money an outstanding piece of equipment. I have loaded it with a 70-200 with Lee Filter cradle and two filters while on a windy(ish) beach and it has stood up well, I have also been in pitch darkness trying to set it up with no light to photograph the stars and its coped admirably. The only two things I would say are: the "locks" at the top of the leg take a little getting used to and the ball head release is a little different to my usual, but these are minor quibbles and are soon overcome with a little practice and the ball head can be replaced with another although this then would limit how it folds down.
I would heartedly recommend this to anyone looking for a reasonably priced and compact tripod to travel with that has the Manfrotto guarantee of not falling a part within seconds of taking it out of the box. I love it.
Been a few months now of travelling with the tripod, putting it through serious tests in America, it's been used for Interior shots, standing in Big Sur waves, on Death Valley sand dunes and on salt lake beds, it has been chucked in luggage, on the back seat of cars, on the floors of cars, thrown onto the ground, balanced on rocks over cliff edges and its yet to fail in any capacity...... money I do not want back!