A: What is the process behind the creation of your intricate self portraits?
C: Each self portrait is different. Some can take days, whereas others may take weeks of planning and preparation. All of my self portraits start life as a sketch, which will either be in the form of a line drawing or poetry. I often find that my portraits start life as snippets from my written poetry and I use that as the epicentre of the idea. From this point I will devise a colour palette – much like I would have done when I was painting – and I will research props, studio vs location and any other details, like flowers or SFX I might need.
A: You draw a lot on the themes of nature and femininity in your work, portraying these via both soft and more brutal imagery (pastel colours and leaves, faces covered in pins etc.). Why is this so important to you?
C: I have always been drawn to nature and its sometimes delicate beauty, battling against its often brutal and destructive power. I found myself drawn to the juxtaposition of this state with my own physical fragility against such forces and my outward strength. This turned into a wider exploration of femininity within nature.
A: How did the shift from painter to photographer happen, and do you still experiment with more than one medium?
C: The shift from painter to photographer was a change that seemed to naturally evolve over time. I used to plan my paintings through photography. I have always visualised with a cinematic mind and I loved the way I could capture abstract emotions through both paint and film. Over time I found my photography was starting to have a louder voice than my painting and I fell in love with the way I could translate feeling to visual. I still shoot with a painterly eye, and construct my photography the same way I did my paintings. Often my photography becomes sculptural or mixed media using paint and flowers to build my own eco systems.
A: Out of your collaborations and projects with other artists and brands, which has been your favourite project to date?
C: That’s such a hard question! I loved working with McQueens on BOTANICA – the flowers were otherworldly. But I think my favourite project from last year has to be for The Birmingham Royal Ballet; it was such a wonderful experience working with the talented choreographer Ruth Brill and brand director David Watson. Shooting the ballet dancers was a dream and then photographing all the live animals in the studio, including Dora the Wolf, was a challenging but rewarding experience.
A: If you could give some advice to yourself when you were first starting out as an artist, what would it be?
C: I think the biggest piece of advice I would give myself is ‘remember why!’. I know it sounds simple, but I think it’s the key to success and personal growth. We each have a unique voice and a passion for what drives us. I think along the way that can get lost or diluted by everything that’s going on around you. Whilst it’s super important to research and be aware of your peers and other voices, I think you have to work really had not to be distracted from your own path. Remember why you wanted to create in the first place, remember why you set out on this path and don’t listen too closely to all the noise, as you might loose your own voice. You are good enough and don’t need follow the crowd.
A: If you were unrestricted by limitations, what would be your dream project be?
C: I think one of my dream projects would be to art direct and shoot a fantasy Baroque Floral Banquet for Gucci.