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These images are from my new work (and final project as part of my studies). They are based on traditional Vanitas works like this one by Harmen Steenwyck…
Vanitas paintings were popular in the 16th and 17th Century, mainly in The Netherlands and France. They studied and expressed the transient nature of life and the unavoidable end we all face. For my work, I have taken this traditional concept and injected my own modern, relevant topics which I am passionate about but also are issues in every area of the world to some extent.
‘The Death that Killed Death’
For this image I decided to photograph a crucifix. This is a symbol of death all around the world. It was a way to end someones life commonly used by the Persians, Macedonians and Romans. Dying on a cross was an extreme, slow and painful execution.
Through this horror however, hope, love and resurrection is brought to our minds. It has become the main symbol for Christianity and Catholicism. It symbolises the ultimate death…the sacrifice made by Gods own son to bridge the gap between Him and his creation.
I have chosen this as a symbol to represent this subject. For each image in my series I want to choose thought provoking items and for this one, a cross is a powerful reminder of ‘The Death that Killed Death’.
‘The Death of The White Dress’
The White Dress is a symbol of purity, innocence and cleanliness. This tradition to wear white came about thanks to Queen Victoria in the 19th Century. In Western culture a traditional wedding is often referred to as a ‘White Wedding’. The colours worn by other nations differ hugely. In China the colour of choice is red!
White is traditionally chosen to symbols purity of the soul. However in todays sexualised world, this purity thing is something of the past. I have chosen a white wedding dress to symbolise the whole topic of the death of purity, innocence, childhood and ‘waiting’. As I have written about before, this is a huge topic which effects all nations and all cultures. The body is becoming more flesh, and less soul.
For my image I have decided to combine two very contrasting elements in order to emphasise the modern view of the body. We have taken something pure, beautiful and clean and turned it into something as raw as meat…flesh.
‘Walking on Egg Shells of Death’
This image is carried on from my research on death of the political world as well as death of the natural. Our world is dying, society is dying. The scale is way off and everything is a balancing act. The egg shells are a symbol of the way we all live, to some extent or the other.
The wars and political issues all over our planet are increasing with each passing year. There are explosions, murders, security threats and fights amongst so many nations. You just have to look on the BBC News website to see new things every day. It no longer shocks us to hear of disasters, whether natural or man made. There is chaos in Ukraine as the governments control is slipping. There are policeman running for their lives, riots daily and thousands of protesters fighting for their independence. In this case it’s the law enforcers stepping on egg shells…”law and order is disappearing fast” (bbc news report).
The balance of power, control and order is so fragile. We are controlled, yet we outnumber the controllers…war seems like something that could erupt at any moment. If just a few act, destruction of any freedom remaining could be a day away. Just look back at the London riots…a nation of people become one huge power, influenced by each other for good and bad. Civilisation, freedom, security…it’s all dying.
‘Death of Living”
In this image I wanted to capture books which for me are a symbol of a free mind, creativity, possibility and imagination. Our modern world lacks these things in day to day life. People shut themselves away in technology and forget to expand their minds.
I chose these three books with a lot of thought. I wanted them to work aesthetically in the photograph but have purpose as well. I chose my favourite book of all time…The Hobbit, The Borrowers…a classic story from the 1950′s which everyone associates with adventure, challenge and possibility. And finally the Bible…a book inspired by the creator of the universe, the creator of us.
We have forgotten how to live with excitement and fantasy, forgotten how to dream of lands unexplored or to want more. We seem to all settle for ‘living to work’. There is so much more to grasp from life.
“There are no uninteresting things, only uninterested people.” ― G.K. Chesterton
Looking at how technology has transformed in my life time alone astonishes me. How on earth did mankind cope without the internet, let alone phone calls. Life was much slower, more thought out. People had to entertain themselves and use their imaginations. Even something like reading is becoming less popular. Out of everyone I know, only a handful enjoy reading, and from those only one or two read regularly. There is a part of life which the world seems to be missing out on. The wonders which can unfold in our own minds and the possibilities for learning, expanding vocabulary and understanding more of life come from something like reading. I feel that if the new generations learn to enjoy this simple pleasure, they would become more intelligent and grow into more well rounded human beings who are capable of using their minds to the fullest.
Reading is an amazing way to escape in our free time. It’s good for the brain, it takes us away and we are able to live thousands more lives than just our own. Why would anybody not want to embrace this beautiful skill. I believe imagination, creativity and knowledge come from reading. Things which should be treasured.