Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Tin Girls Residency

Had a very exciting week long residency at Dartington with Jessica Beck, Helena Enright, Chloe Whipple and Rose Race.
During the residency myself and Viva Voce worked on Tin Girls, a mixed-media project featuring photography and testimonies from the brave Nepali women whom I met. Together we were working to create a moving multi-disciplinary piece of theatre to raise awareness about the social injustices that these women have experienced and also to celebrate their bravery.
The residency gave us the essential time and space to work on the project. We poured through transcripts hours and hours of sound recordings and thousands of images and put our heads together in preparation for the show at the bike shed Exeter.
Here is the link:

Thank you to Dartington for supporting this project!

And a bit about the brilliant Viva Voce:
Viva Voce is a new company created by Jessica Beck and Helena Enright, which aims to create artistic experiences through the words and memories of real people. Their first collaboration, Less Than a Year by Helena Enright, a documentary piece about a couple who lost their teenage daughter to cancer, raised money for the UK Bone Cancer Research Trust. Reviews for Less Than a Year:

“Helena Enright's enthralling Theatre of Testimony piece…is not a sob-fest, it is not even a depressing piece, somehow, out of this terrible situation the sheer normality and simplicity of these people's emotions makes it a fascinating and compelling story to watch.”
*****UK Theatre Web

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Alternative homes

This project stemmed from another project that I was working on about the river Dart. I was walking along the riverside looking for people to photograph and stumbled upon a community of people living in caravans hidden in the woods. I started to look around and became aware of just how many people from one small area of the South west live in ‘alternative housing.’ By alternative I mean non-conventional homes such as yurts, benders, caravans, vans and even tree houses. Growing up in this area and my parents living in a straw bale timber frame house, it’s something I had taken for granted and sometimes its only when you step away and take a look back that you notice how alternative this area of Devon really is.
I also wanted to comment on the need for housing in this area, rising house prices and unemployment and concerns for the environment mean that many people do not just choose to live this way on a romantic whim. For some it’s not a lifestyle choice as such but the only affordable and sustainable option.

Some of the people that I photographed were reluctant at first because many of the dwellings or their locations are not legal so the location is undisclosed. I would approach people and introduce myself and the project but would usually need a couple of visits and some tea and biscuits to convince the home owners to be photographed. I think the fact that I use a very old fashioned film camera helps as it’s big and box shaped and has an honest quality to it that says I’m here to make your portrait. There is no hiding. The format of the photograph being square also reflects the traditional frame shape of what we associate with a home much like a child’s drawing of a house is usually a square with a roof and chimney.

Many dwellings I discovered by word of mouth. I would be photographing someone and they would say “Oh you should speak to so and so”. One portrait would always lead on to another. It is definitely an ongoing project as it is amazing just how many hidden homes I have discovered. Some you wouldn’t know were there at all even if you lived close by, such as the tree house only accessible from walking along a track then up to the top of a very steep sheep field, it is hidden by branches and has little impact on the surrounding environment. It is beautiful inside and although cosily small, has two floors a small kitchen and a bedroom with a hand crafted log burning stove and even an outdoor shower. As you wash you have to balance on a branch but you’re compensated with a stunning vista of the south Devon countryside. I asked its creator what it was like to sleep so high up during bad weather and he pointed to a small shed below that is used as a storm bolt hole for when the weather gets really bad as the whole house moves with the swaying of the tree. You’re certainly more in contact with your surroundings when you’re not living in a conventional house. I spent the night in a caravan in the woods and became aware of just how alive the forest is at night. We sat around the log-burning stove and listened to tawny owls calling to each other right above our heads and the disconcertingly murderous wail of the foxes mating call from the nearby copse.

Having had the privilege to visit many different types of home, I came to realise that they had a lot in common at a fundamental level, in that humans love their homes, and as such cherish them and enjoy stamping their own identity on each one. For example, with ornament and decoration. I know it’s a real cliché, but home is where the heart is, and for this project and for myself it was south west Devon.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Hinterlands photofilm workshop 2011

fantastic photofilm about Hinterlands 2011 the duckrabbit photofilm workshop i attended in the spring. Although 'm not quite sure what I was on about, serious lack of sleep?

The Hinterlands 2011 from mike lusmore on Vimeo.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Last Rose of Summer

Dawn light fashion shoot at Luscombe Farm, hair and makeup by Willow Roche.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Autumn fashion shoot at Dartington

I collaborated with fashion designer Eloise Sentito who makes fabulous costumes and dresses from recycled fabrics:, for this Autumn fasion shoot in Dartington gardens.
I was Inspired by the amazing autumnal colour display the trees are putting on at this time of year, and of course the clothes and model herself. The poses are also reminiscent of the photographs I have seen of the  the dancer Isadora Duncan  who had close connections with the Dartington hall estate in the 1920s.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

New School Opera

I was asked to photograph The students on the Advanced Opera Course at Dartington International Summer School who were performing an amazing version of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, conducted by Steven Devine and Directed by Tim Hopkins with an early 90's costume theme by designer Giulia Scrimieri. 

It was a fully staged performance of Purcell’s first and only all-sung opera. The love story of Dido, Queen of Carthage and the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair at his abandonment of her.

The costumes reminded me of growing up in the late 80's early 90's and the terrible clothes I was wearing in my old school photographs from that period. Photographer Kate Mount and I were already using a mottled backdrop for another project which I will show shortly (still editing). This backdrop reminded us of those school photos so we decided to place the opera students in their costume in front of the backdrop to recreate that old school look. I asked the Opera stars to act a scene with pretty dramatic effect!