I was very enthusiastic and had lots of ideas when I started The Shape of Water Collection. Not least because the essence of Skye which I am seeking, must be fundamentally linked to the Island’s geography, notwithstanding the road link to the mainland via the bridge. Furthermore, the Island’s history, climate, economy, people and the social fabric have been fundamentally shaped by the land being enclosed by water. In terms of my photographic plans, I wanted to continue with various reductive strategies to capture the reality of Skye. I intended to take small snapshots of the power, strength, movement and luminosity of the volatile and ever-changing nature of waters around north-west Scotland. In a few minutes the seas can change from gales, crashing waves and chaotic surfaces to a liquid and mirror-like calm. Water is ever-changing, and forever moving, even on a still day, and somehow, I wanted to capture the shapes and patterns that this dynamic element creates, and allow nature to make its own images. I planned to photograph turbulent seas, light and reflections on the water and the different colours and patterns reflected in the water from the skies above.
It is often said that failure is more important than success and I feel as if my efforts to date are a case in point. While I have taken some reasonable images, they fail to come together as a coherent collection, or in many cases capture the shape of water.
Often my images, whilst attractive and capturing the surface of the water, preference what is underneath rather than the water itself.
Some of the early work with stormy seas are more interesting but I do not feel I have managed to bring out my own voice and style – and give a sense of authenticity.
Having said that, I do believe that the work I did on the last day of Week 1 has potential moving forward into the second week.
So, in what ways does this practice period inform next week’s work and what do I learn about me as a photographer and my practice? I have talked before about getting despondent when the creative juices do not flow and when my images do not materialise in line with my intent. Being at one with the landscape I am in, even though I abstract very small aspects, is very important. I need to feel at home, comfortable and almost need to daydream. There is a sense of reverie in generating the flow and the feeling that generates my best work. I plan to read, research and investigate how others create a sense of being and belonging in the landscape. I need to look at the work on reverie – Rousseau – and also those that talk about reverie, art and walking and being in the landscape – Shepherd, Fulton and Solnit for example. I also plan to reflect on the concepts and ideas presented as part of the Philosophies of the Imagination module that I audited this semester.
Generally, I think my images work better when I focus on a small aspect of the landscape. I believe that my work during the PhD to date, moving towards a more abstract aesthetic, has been very productive however I do not think I have yet achieved this balance in The Shape of Water project. In many ways I am surprised that I have not been more successful. I love working at Loch Cill Chriosd, where I have taken many strong images, and spend hours gazing out of the window looking at the tides continuing their relentless rhythm. I need to give myself more time and see if I can crack this.
I need to focus on the title, the shape of water!