Photography preseves a moment forever – it marks and preserves time as it has been spent. It is, information pills to draw Barthes into the conversation, a memento mori. Amy Gwatkin’s photographs (BA Editorial Photography, Brighton) blur the boundaries between fashion, editorial and fine art. Amy’s frequently updated blog documents shoots, time spent in the studio with models or other-sometimes-coffee-relative-activities, and has an incredible talent for turning personal adventures into moments representing a snapshop of a life.
An exhibition late last year – Interior Politics – and the launch of a new website introduced me to Amy’s exploration into the minuite obsqure moments that life has to offer. More recently Amy has been experimenting with film, and has kindly taken the time to answer questions for Amelia’s Magazines.
Amy! When and why did you first pick up a stills camera?
Because using the film camera involved waiting on unrealiable people! And I instantly loved it. I was supposed to do something more bookish at uni, but the minute I found a camera I was smitten. I had been obsessed with fashion since I could toddle into my grandma’s/mum’s wardrobes; suddenly I had found a way that I could make imagery without having any drawing ability!
Recently you’ve been experimenting with video: debuting with a video of the Cooperative Designs S/S 2010 Collection at London Fashion Week to the recent Light submitted as part of the Shaded View of Fashion, Fashion Film Festival – What inspired the expansion from static to moving?
I always wanted to make films…. Photography offered a way of making images that wasn’t reliant on other people. I’m still a total megalomaniac though! Very often it’s literally just me and a camera.
Showstudio have been attempting to develop the moving fashion photograph since the inception of their website, I love both the static and the moving – What are your favourite fashion videos?
I loved Ruth Hogben’s spanking movie. Sunshowers by Elisha Smith-Leverock. Chris Cunningham’s Flora film for Gucci. Gwendoline by Jez Tozer. And the men’s Dior one in a corridor, was it Dior? It was on Nowness and it was lush. I find at lot of fashion films very hit or miss though – the best were the re-edited Guy Bourdin footage that was on SHOWstudio, that I could, and do, watch over and over and over….
What made you decide to set up your blog? What do you think the advantages are of a blog vs a website?
Originally it was to give me some online presence as my old website was out of date and my new one was being built…then I just really got into it. I like that the blog can have more laidback images, where I have less of a professional front to put up. But I love how clean and tidy the site is.
You appear to be quite involved with the internet from your great twitter feed to your blog – what advantages do you think the system of blogs and twitter has created for photographers and fellow creatives?
Well, I guess it opens up little internet wormholes you wouldn’t have known about before…although I can follow a link and find myself, 2 hours later, marvelling at how many photographers there are doing the same sort of thing.
It’s a good platform for self promotion, though it does blur the line between business and pleasure a little uncomfortably at times
Do you streetcast your models?
I often see people on the street that I’m too nervous to ask! But sometimes I overcome my nerves long enough to street cast. I think I have a few characteristics I like, though its hard to nail them in words. A certain bad-temperedness maybe.
Your photograph reflects both fine art and fashion photographic interests – could you tell Amelia’s readers more about the photographs recently exhibited? (I’m thinking of the Familiarity breeds contempt and Modern Miniture series)
Familiarity Breeds Contempt is an extension of my long term project tentatively titled The Housewife – it’s hopefully the start of a longer project exploring sexuality, fantasy and what goes on behind closed doors. Which is also what Modern Miniatures was about in a way – only without the overt sexuality. I have a interest in the domestic, with other people’s domestic/private space, putting myself in them, and also, if I’m honest, with the risk involved in contacting strange men on the internet, asking them to get naked, and them taking pictures of me standing on them etc…
With fashion how do you make the decision between colour or black and white? Does it Matter?
I’m always trying to make things b/w, without sounding mental/pretentious/partially sighted, I see better in b/w. sometimes there’s someone else’s prerogative to take into account, like a client etc. black and white can sometimes make things instantly nostalgic and a bit too soft or romantic. Depends on the situation, but there are few where b/w doesn’t rock in my opinion!
Favourite photographers/people to work with/Set designers/fashion designers?
I rarely DON’T have a wicked time on shoots.
Sets – Alex Cunningham, David White’s sets for Coop a/w10/11 were mint
Designers – Cooperative Designs, Scott Ramsay Kyle, Corrie Williamson, Fred Butler, Atalanta Weller
Photograhers I admire – Wee Gee, Helmut Newton, Collier Schorr, Les Krims, Duane Michals, David Armstrong among MANY others!
What is it like being a london based photographer?
Fun! Busy. Forces you to work a lot to make ends meet, which can wear you down. Over saturated. Very youth orientated
What accompanies you in the studio?
My crappy selection of music! I always download the weirdest selection of stuff. Some proper howlers on there, but sometimes you have to listen to the Outhere Brothers. Also the lovely Anna Leader and Bella Fenning with whom I share my space.
What do you hope your photographs convey?
Tough…. I find it quite hard to look back, to edit etc, but having to do my website forced me to do that, and there is a certain strength in the characters I hope. I know some of the shots are quite moody, or gentle, but I don’t like it when models look too winsome or fashion-fierce or posed. Hopefully somewhere between the two, though I do seem to shout things like ‘you’re at a bus stop!’ or ‘You’re a sexy eel!’
How do your shoots come together?
Mostly ideas from films, dreams, or pacing the streets of London which is my fave thing to do. Or maybe a drunken overenthusiastic chat with friends
What are your plans for the future?
Hmm….more pics. More films, maybe a move to proper films with dialogue and a plot!
Born in Peterborough but escaped to London after a 3 year stint studying in the wild terrain of Wales. Currently, medications I’m the Buying Assistant for Jewellery and Accessories at Liberty. I like mint tea, vintage playsuits, F. Scott Fitzgerald novels, and hunting for treasure in charity shops. One day I plan to write my memoirs in Barcelona, but until then I will continue to build up a collection of vintage clothing, worthy of a wing in the V&A.
It’s the evening of Thursday 8th December, stomach a rainy night, and I’m peering through the windows of the Lesley Craze gallery with anticipation. The windows are currently decorated with a glittering Christmas tree, jewels nestled in its branches, but it’s those it holds inside I am interested in. I have visited the gallery quite a few times in the last year, originally drawn in by the work of a personal favourite, Wendy Ramshaw. Earlier in the week, I had received an invitation for a special Christmas late night opening, and as always, intrigued to see what they have in, I’ve come along for a look, and a welcoming glass of wine.
I’m always surprised when I mention the gallery in conversation, to find out that many people are unaware of it’s presence. I credit the gallery with being well curated, well presented and the staff as always smiling and helpful. The glass cabinets are always gleaming with wares, and as I wander down to the lower room, my attention is grabbed by a huge cabinet that contains the work of John Moore.
Moore, now based in Brighton, is without a doubt, the embodiment of the label ‘jewellery artist’. With a degree in 3D design, his work is wearable art. The gallery was showing work from two of his collections, but it was the 5 pairs of earrings that enchanted me. These are part of his ‘Elytra‘ collection – an eyecatching range of brightly coloured anodised aluminium designs.
Moore worked on this collection whilst in his final year at university, and is inspired by nature and natural forms. I found some great images of birds feathers on his website; the vibrant colours of the exotic plumes now reflected in his Elytra collection. Apparently the shape was initally inspired by a beetles wing, an influence that you can also identify in the gleaming colour of the treated aluminium. His statement earrings are wondrous. They also hide a secret feature. They can be reversed by passing the top hoop through the opposite end of the drop, to invert the metal petals, or feathers. Combined with their emphasis on colour, they fit perfectly into the S/S 2012 trend for large, statement earrings.
I spotted a familiar collection of work that I had seen at New Designers earlier this year, a bangle set from Sheffield Hallam graduate Tom Wilson, who works under the brand name Thomas David. His designs are dark and moody – blackened copper bangles, which have been made to look like corrugated card – industrial and hard wearing. I also really like the intricate patterns in the bangle collection made from stainless steel and birch plywood. Inspired by now retro spirograph kits, they remind me of when I was a child and plastering pieces of paper with concentric circles. Tom’s designs are a converse combination, tough and uniform, but detailed and delicate.
Ebony Revolution rings, photo courtesy of Simone Brewster
British designer Simone Brewster’s Ebony Revolution rings are the perfect example of her influences from African woodwork and geometric forms. She graduated from the RCA, and I first came across her work when she designed a copper necklace for the store DARKROOM, as part of a charity event in June this year called Love from Darkroom. The rings are made from materials such as ebony, tulipwood, copper, bronze and leather. I also like her large necklaces, which are like Art Deco murals.
On one of my previous visits to the gallery, I was wowed by Maud Traon’s rings for obvious reasons. Her designs conjure up thoughts of My Little Pony on a strong acid trip. The rings demand attention – pops of neon colours, sprayed with glitter, and sometimes mixed with star shapes, or kitsch toy objects. Maud likes to explore the relationship between the idea of value and wearability.
The rings are made from combinations of materials such as clay and copper. I’m not exactly sure just how wearable these are for most, bulky, and often extended height, but they certainly will please those who like their jewellery to be noticed, and would be a great addition to any collection.
Dorothy Erickson brunhilde collar by Karolina Burdon
The work of Western Australian born and trained jeweller Dorothy Erickson is always a pleasure to see. She is known for her ‘kinetic’ jewellery, or body pieces as they are alternatively called. She makes jewellery for the body that includes the wearer as part of the principal design – the jewellery reacts to the wearer’s every move.
I really love the articulated metal choker and bracelet, which reminds me of jewels to be found in collections at the British Museum, or vintage YSL pieces. Chunky, bold and well crafted – I’d wear this necklace and feel empowered. The gold clasp, paired with the silver metal, makes it even more special, a combination that I’m not always a fan of, but works so well here.
Dorothy Erickson bracelet by Fay Newman
One of Erickson’s main inspirations is the unique flora of her native Australia, which has helped to produce the beautiful designs of her precious stone rings. She is also influenced by the work of Viennese painter Gustav Klimt. Big solid rocks hold a firm place in these rings, but they are elegant and refined.
Last but certainly not least, Wendy Ramshaw’s selection of works continues to wow me. Wendy is one of Britain’s best known jewellers, and looked up to by many other well-known designers such as Dorothy Erickson. She was born in Sunderland, studied illustration and fabric design in Newcastle, and then undertook postgraduate studied at Central Saint Martins.
Wendy’s signature designs are her divine ring sets, made up from abstract designs in precious metals and finished with gemstones. The stands they are frequently displayed on have also become ornamental designs in their own right.
Her designs are heavily influenced by geometry, and as a fan of this, I always find myself lusting after her geometric gold drop earrings. Made with gemstones such as amethyst, pink tourmaline, blue topaz, and fire opal, they are a gorgeous combination of colour. A design that I had not seen before, the Lucciole necklace, a blown glass ball run through with gold thread was fantastic.
So from one champion of contemporary jewellery, back to another, I urge you all to take a visit to the Lesley Craze Gallery, and enjoy the great selection of work from British, and global, designers.
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