A lovely write-up in this months Amatuer Photographer magazine of my ’Gwen, Did I Want To Be Here?’ portrait, written by Zelda Cheatle.
My 5’6” tall image of Gwen can still be seen at the Royal Photographic Society ‘Squaring The Circles of Confusion’ exhibition in Bristol until November 6th along with great work by Takashi Arai, Susan Derges, David George, Joy Gregory, Tom Hunter, Ian Phillips McLaren, Céline Bodin and Spencer Rowell.
My portrait of Gwen is also about to be used to try to raise some awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research.
ng The Circles of Confusion’ exhibition in Bristol.
The portrait is also about to be used by Alzheimer’s Research to try to raise some awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s & Dementia research.
Giving the exhibition it’s full name Squaring the Circles of Confusion: Neo-Pictorialism in the 21st Century.
The exhibition is curated by Zelda Cheatle, RPS Honorary Fellow, and features work from Takashi Arai, Susan Derges, David George, Joy Gregory, Tom Hunter, Ian Phillips McLaren, Céline Bodin, and Spencer Rowell. The exhibition will be on display at RPS Gallery, Bristol from 9 September to 6 November 2022
Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm, free admission
In the 1800’s serious photographers used cyanotype chemistry to proof print their negatives before making silver prints, Edward S. Curtis made some great cyanotype portraits. It is actually easy to make an image with cyanotype but to make a beautiful print with a long tonal range that can compete with silver prints or platinum prints, then it’s definitely more complex.
With the advances in digital technology we are now able to print complex digital negatives that can be manipulated in Photoshop and printed on to OHP transparency film and then used to make contact prints for any of the alternative printing processes – in the past, you would have to have carried around a heavy, bulky, large format camera and tripod to make a negative the size of the images below.
The cyanotype’s here were printed in the typical blue cyan first, then the images were bleached and toned. A cyanotype can be toned in various things like, tea, coffee, wine tannin, tannic acid and various botanicals.
The first row of images below were shot using an analogue Rolleiflex f2.8 camera with Kodak Tri X 120 film, the negatives were then scanned, interpolated to a larger size and then printed onto OHP transparency film. This then allowed me to make a large contact print with cyanotype chemistry. The second row of images were shot on an iPhone to show that you don’t need expensive camera equipment in order to make a beautiful cyanotype print. The last of the images, the pear and the foggy landscape were shot on a Canon 5d digital camera.
Below are the samples that I made to show the students during the masterclass at The School of Art, Architecture & Design
The Romans were big on hybrid forms of portraiture rooted in Hellenistic art, this period was really significant in the development of portraiture and portrait art.
Picasso and De Chirico looked to Roman and Greek art and classical ideas as a way of understanding the uncertainties of the 1920s. For me it’s a way to understand human psychology and the construction and representation of the ‘Self’ in self portraiture.
Roman sculptors and painters produced only a limited amount of outstanding original fine art, preferring instead to recycle designs from Greek art, which they revered as far superior to their own.
Roman art was mainly derivative and utilitarian. It served a purpose, a higher good: the dissemination of Roman values and respect for Roman power. Classical Roman art has been immensely influential on many subsequent cultures, through revivalist movements – (1900-30) led to a return to figure painting as well as new abstract movements like Cubism.
I’m happy to announce that our new book and art cards for our exhibition ‘Squaring The Circles of Confusion: Neo-Pictorialism in the 21st century’, are now available from the Royal Photographic Society website/shop on this link here.
This book accompanies the exhibition of the same title which will be shown in the RPS Gallery in summer 2022, postponed from 2020. Through the work of eight contemporary photographers: Takashi Arai, Céline Bodin, Susan Derges, David George, Joy Gregory, Tom Hunter, Ian Phillips McLaren and Spencer Rowell it looks at how the craft of photography is being explored by leading artists. Making use of processes from daguerreotype, cyanotype, collodion to photogravure, kallitype and film in their work each uses historical techniques and approaches to make contemporary statements in their work. Introductory essays from Alice Zoo and Michael Pritchard discuss neo-pictorialism and the RPS’s role in pictorial photography and a glossary explains the processes and specialist terms used. The book illustrates all the work to be shown in the exhibition.
A very special thanks to curator Zelda Cheatle.
The book is available to buy here
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, not because of lock-down but mainly because I’ve been really busy with my MA Fine Art which will end in September 2021. As far as my work is concerned it has changed quite dramatically over the last few months, it wasn’t an intentional decision, it just seems to be the direction in which my MA Fine Art has taken me, pushing me out of my comfort zone and stretching my imagination.
Doing my MA has also given me more options for future projects. I’ve been a photographer for over thirty years and as a photographer you get pigeon holed and are expected to shoot in a certain way because clients book you for your style. Now that I’m working on my own projects and on my own terms, I can expand and use all of the things that I’ve enjoyed using in the past. For instance, I’ve shot and directed videos for various clients, I used to enjoy painting and sculpting. I came to the realisation that I could now pull all of these practices together to form my practice as an artist to use which ever discipline that suits the project that I’m working on.
The project that I’m working on at the moment ‘There’s Someone in my Head’ is a self-portrait installation based on Carl Jung’s four main archetypes, The Self, The Shadow, Anima/Animus and Persona.
The work is made up of sculptures, video, performance, and dialogue. After a lot of experimenting with shop bought mannequins, I decided to make my own hand made sculptures / effigies that I can then project moving portraits of myself onto the effigies to bring them to life, each effigy talks about things related to which ever archetype they are, in a kind of Samuel Beckett style monologue.
Below are some photos and videos of my effigies taken for an online private viewing of a work in progress exhibition Unmasked.
Top Left: The Self ( with a real Xray of my chest for it’s body)
Bottom Left: Anima/Animus (2 heads)
Bottom Middle: Persona
I’m still in the middle of making The Shadow which I have found to be the hardest of them all to make and have been putting it off for months. I wasn’t sure if it should be a piece made with similar materials and aesthetic or whither it should be something totally different or whither it should just be part of the written theory. I decided that The Shadow should be of a similar aesthetic other wise it wouldn’t fit in with the other effigies as a whole installation. The Shadow apart from being the part of you that you don’t want to show to the world is also the control room, the store house of your creativity as well as your sex drive and passion. I have loads of new creative ideas for The Shadow and will look forward to sharing them in the near future.
I’ve been working on my ‘Self-i’ project for the last few of months. last September I embarked on an MA Fine art degree `( I know – oldest student in town ) to try to push my art and to give me the next two years of just experimenting with my ideas. If I’m being honest, I would have hated the self-i images only a year ago as they didn’t fit in with my purist / classical ( with an edge ) style of photography, I would have thought that they were too contrived but I’ve been pushing myself out of my comfort zone for this project and really trying to experiment, I’m actually enjoying it and looking forward to experimenting with other projects in the future. Because selfie’s are mainly the domain of social media and live online and this module is about curating a site specific exhibition, I thought it fitting that the exhibition should be a virtual exhibition in an online gallery and promoted via social media. One of the many good things that have come out of this project is that I have taught myself some new creative tools; building Virtual Reality worlds / spaces which I’m looking forward to using in future projects. To view the Virtual Gallery here’s the link https://ianphillipsmclaren.com/vg/ and to view the images from the project here’s that link https://ianphillipsmclaren.com/self-i/ see below for the project text.
My previous project Gwen – ‘Did I Want To Be Here ? examined dementia as a state of being and attempted to reflect that state using ideas about layering and identity. This current work has led me deeper into themes related to memory, identity and specifically the construction of self in our visual culture.
The question, Who are you and how do you know? Sits central to my virtual gallery.
Framing personal identity in the context of the pursuit of perfection and an idea that there is a normal from which we fear to deviate, I want to explore the concept such as:
- Is ‘who I am only validated by approval from my peers and contemporaries?
- Do I need to distort and manipulate my image in order to gain approval?
- Does the individual start to lose their true identity by constantly presenting a curated self?
The selfie is a millennial social phenomenon. Once the sole domain of teenagers, it has now permeated our culture on a grand scale arguably distorting how we perceive ourselves and how we want to be perceived, as we turn the camera in on ourselves. Selfie’s may provide people with a sense of validation and connectedness when they see their friends pop up on their social media accounts. And then there is the great rush, the boost of dopamine we receive when someone ‘likes’ our photo.
may be a darker side to this romance with our own constructed and
selected image, a Swansea University study (www.bbcwales.com, 2018)
states that selfies fuel narcissism, a sense of entitlement and the need
for admiration. The selfie has been described as a desperate form of
exhibitionism (Storr,W. 2017). It seemed interesting therefore to put
these self-selected portraits in an exhibition that existed in a virtual
realm. If they are our constructed selves, then may be putting them in
a space that is constructed is a way of turning up the gain. Asking
the audience to reflect deeply as they leave (come out of the construct)
rather than during the experience on the reality of self.
essence selfies, it could be argued are a form of self-portrait and the
West has a rich history in this respect. It starts with Albrecht Dürer
signing his famous self-portrait age 28 in the early 1500’s.
Unwittingly, (or was it? We will never know) he started an enduring
cultural phenomenon that has found form in all artistic media across the
globe, that of depicting your face as the place that you reside (your
self). In the creation of a selfie artist and subject are fused
(literally and metaphorically). We take a form that has traditions and
accepted boundaries and then create many copies of our self. I wonder
if these copies are a way of saying I am here. Here is my self.
Van Gogh and Kahlo painted self-portraits, it was to interpret their
emotional landscape. Van Gogh even depicted his self as a chair.
However, more commonly now self-portraits captured on Digital Media
serves the purpose of capturing “our best life” – perfect, the ideal, no
matter how far removed that image may be from reality.
whatever reason, there seems to be an impulse for humans to make images
of themselves. There is a common connection between painted
self-portraits, photographic self-portraits and the humble selfie,
arguably they all refer to the ‘human condition’ of self, the “who are
By using the mechanism of self-portraits, I want to capture the subject’s exploration of themselves. Their face and body language – capturing what is happening, their sense of self at that specific moment in time. How do they manifest the ‘ego’ part of identity, seen as the ‘ideal self’, the image that they want to be put out into the world? The part that is putting on a show for other people. Do they acknowledge they are putting on an act or do they actually believe their own act?
With the proliferation of Smart Phones with high definition cameras and the abundance and easy to use software, the norm today is to retouch and put photos through filters and textures to make us look different or better in our own eyes. My intention was to experiment with a variety of processes and techniques to explore my interpretation of filters and textures in this respect.
Photography Tuition Mentor : I’m looking forward to start new photography workshops and photography tuition. I will be organising group courses and one to one bespoke tuition for amatuer and professional photographers alike. My 30 years experience in this business will allow me to offer a wide variety of courses and workshops that will cover digital photography, film / analogue photography, developing and darkroom, Lighting techniques that range from studio lighting, outdoor, daylight photography, shooting in natural light in doors and outdoor, studio lighting, location lighting with continuous lighting using Arri Fresnels and soft lights.
Categories / genres of photography will include fashion photography, portrait photography, food photography and corporate photography.
If anyone is interested in ancient / alternative photography techniques, I’ll be happy to cover that too 🙂
Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in any of the above.