We travelled by road through Alaska and took a journey from Anchorage through the tunnel to the deep water, ice free port of Whittier. It felt like we had entered another world, the hills rose steeply from the harbour and two large multi storied featureless concrete buildings were nestled into them.
The town was established as a base for the American army during World War 2 and after the war two multi storied blocks were built to house soldiers and become and indoor town. Following a major earthquake in Alaska in 1964 this government building was abandoned.
It was a bitterly cold grey day and there was such a feeling of despondency everywhere. Somehow I felt that we were transported into Eastern Europe with the cold concrete buildings covered in black mould, the windows all broken and the stunted vegetation surrounding it. It was a very depressing place.
I wanted to create an image that conveyed this feeling but also left you wondering where and why.
I used a sepia toned monochrome with a textured overlay to develop this mood.
I still look at this image and get that same deep dark feeling.
Spurring the Horse: Breaking the Boredom
An image sprang to mind which, after a winter dominated by televised olympics, may have some resonance with those of you who took the time to watch any of the events. It was an image of the dressage that popped up.
For any of us in creative endeavours there are times when we stall. Writers block, call it what you will. We strive for perfection and in doing so endeavour to have a high level of control of our technical skill while still being open to new ideas.
We enter the arena at a carefully controlled pace and work our way through what we hope is a perfectly executed performance, having practiced our pace changes, turns and circles ad infinitum, tuning our efforts to elegance and accuracy. Trouble is we get stale. In doing the same thing(s) over and over again to perfect the skills, the creativity, the spark, the fire, flickers and wanes. We know it but go through the motions, hoping that others won’t notice, that our technical skill or other distractions will disguise the boredom we find in our own work.
How to ignite the fire again? There are many ways – many books that will provide exercises to help one break free and open up to new ideas and ways of doing things. What if one of those apparently calm, exceptionally controlled and disciplined riders; going through the perfect motions of passage or half pass, suddenly realising what a perfect rut they were in; lifted elbows, shouted a huge halloo and dug heels into sides. All that pent up energy, held in tight control would explode, as, bit between the teeth, one beautiful shiny equine ballerina leaps up, bucks and gallops out of the arena and probably half way across the cross country course before the dropped jaws and open mouths of the judges, other competitors and spectators shut, and horrified faces turned to each other wondering what on earth just happened.
Probably best not to jolt oneself quite like that at an olympic performance, but sometimes the only way to the next place is to be forced there.
One of the aims of aGathering was to provide a meeting place for a group of us, to see each other’s work and more importantly the work of our “Guests”, to help inspire our own creativity. And it has been happening like that. I am amazed at how often seeing someone else’s work or a particular technique or the ideas behind their capture has given me the spark that I needed to take a step in another direction.
At an actual gathering of aGathering (as opposed to the normal virtual ones) we decided to try an exercise that was a bit different to dealing with our own work. To take an image that was not ours; that we had no knowledge of the thought processes that took place at the point of capture, that prompted the framing and the sense of the place that prompted the shutter click at that particular moment, no connection with at all; and to process it in our own way, relying solely on our interpretation of the actual picture with which we were presented.
I have to say here how much we appreciate the author allowing so many people to take her work and put their own stamp on it. We all feel very strongly about our own images and it can be hard to release them into the world for critique at the best of times. It must be very much harder to give them away for others to nurture and raise with different values and beliefs. Thank you Meg, for sharing your work with the group and being up for the results of this exercise.
Here, then, is a series. Starting with the author’s version and her motivation behind the capture, then our individual interpetations of this image, coming in cold and creating from a very different space than the comfort of our own previsualisations.