Saturday, 8 December 2018

How I felt that day.


I created the original photograph for this photogram during the period where I'd quit art school and applying for my next degree course.

I felt like a failure. I mean, who drops out of art school? It's like frenchie in Grease when she sings her song about being a beauty school drop out. I felt so ashamed, even though I knew it was completely what I needed to do, I couldn't tell anyone. My mood sunk, I shut myself away. I had no back up plan. I couldn't even process how I was feeling, what I was thinking.

One morning my kids went off to school, I went back up to my dark bedroom. I sat on the edge of my bed, slumped, my eye line caught my old cosmetic draws. You know, where you keep any old make up and cosmetic junk that you keep just in case. I pulled one of the draws open.

All these products designed to make us look pretty, make the best of ourselves. I've never really been one to do my hair and make up. I went in the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I hated what I saw. I despised myself. When I was younger I would self harm or take laxatives to try and manage my feelings / punish myself. It had been years since I done anything like that. I had that feeling bubbling away inside me.

I went back to my room and pulled a draw right out and took it and dropped it on the bathroom floor. I took my clothes off. I grabbed a tube of mud musk, using the whole of my hand, I watched in the mirror, as I smeared it from my breast, to my shoulder, up me neck and across my face. I was full of self loathing and self hatred. I felt worthless. I wanted to look in the mirror and see how ugly and rotten I was on the inside. I squeezed more into my hand and dragged it through my hair.

I smeared myself with product after product, I sprayed coloured hair spray over my face. I was punishing myself for quitting art school. I was full of rage. Each time I looked in the mirror I saw how I was really feeling. I wanted the world to see how I saw myself.

I didn't have the words to describe how I felt, but what I saw was exactly how I felt. I grabbed my camera and laid myself in the empty bath. I wanted to capture an image of the moment. I didn't have any intention of ever showing it to anyone. I just wanted a photograph for myself. To never forget how I felt.

After I took several photos I put the plug in the bath and turned the taps on. The bath slowly filled up with luke warm water, slowly covering my skin. Slowly starting to dissolve to products caked to my skin. I grabbed a flannel and begun wiping everything away. I had a mirror at the foot of the tapes.

I felt like I was cleansing myself of my feelings. As my skin begun showing through the grey mud, I felt like I was washing my rage away, it was dissolving, the intense feelings of hatred were diluting with the water.

Afterwards I felt refreshed and calm. I felt a strange inner peace that I hadn't felt for a long time.

While I was doing my foundation degree, the course I enrolled in at a different campus after I quit art school, I revisited the image and developed a body of work that explored my depression. It was my first brave and honest work. And possibly the most powerful images I've ever created.

I took my original digital image and produced it in the darkroom as a photogram.


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