(Contemporary Vanitas)…Death in Society

New Webiste… http://www.tanyacharishale.com

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…

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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’.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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‘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.

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Self Portraits

My third and final year of university is going amazingly! My tutors are great (how they can have so much information stored in their heads baffles me)! I am currently finishing off a mini project and then bring on the essay! Awesomely we only have to write 4000 words, while all the academic students have to write 10,000! mwhaha. 

So, for my mini starter project I decided to do three self portraits. Each one representing something about me. I didn’t want to get all emo like a lot of self portrait photographers or artists do. Instead I have designed myself to be a physical representation of three things i like about myself. (we should all like something!!!)

Self Portrait 1 – Limitless

In this one I have become a drawing. A sketch is invincible, ever changeable and limitless! I feel like this, I feel like nothing is out of grasp and if i believe hard enough (and try hard enough), all my dreams can come true!



Self Portrait 2 – Fantasy

This one is a physical representation of my love of fantasy. I spend my life living and breathing fantasy novels, poetry, film, music. The magic of the imagination and possibly of traveling to new places in the mind is a part of me that has never and will never cease.

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Self Portrait 3 – Wayfaring

I have grown up experiencing and hearing about traveling. It’s something I love to do and can’t wait to do again. To see more and understand culture, beauty and society is something I can’t miss out on. The world is a wonderful place and I plan on seeing as much as possible! Wayfaring…Journeying.

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Explorations of the East – China


I have just returned from a life changing trip to China! I spent most of the time in Guangzhou where I studied Mandarin, ate beautiful food and became a celebrity.

Real Chinese food is awesome. I was asked if it’s better than UK takeaway and i realised you can’t even compare them. They are two totally different things! The real deal is all about the flavour of the ingredients and the simple pleasure of flavour. The stuff you get on every street corner here is great to line your tummy before a night out but just doesn’t impress me anymore. Here it’s all about grease, sauces and gloop. My favourite food there includes pigeon, goose, deer, all sorts of fish and endless noodles. 


One main thing that will forever make me laugh is the fact that i now know what it feels like to be an A List celeb! Everywhere we went people took photographs, stared, followed us and generally had looks of shock on their faces. One day we were walking down a street and a group of teenage girls came bounding up to us screaming and wanting to take pictures with us, each taking their turn to pose next to us! They were so sweet and a crowd gathered around to watch this exchange of lols. As we walked away we turned back and saw them squealing and jumping off down the street! HAH


I simply don’t understand how in 2013 my face or anyones in fact could startle someone so much simply for being from another country! I had zero comprehension of how closed off from the rest of the world they are. Especially when they are an enormous part of the world market. I won’t go into politics but experiencing their system was an experience i won’t forget. It was refreshing to be banned from social media! 

Also, the whole time I was there I think I saw two slightly overweight people! Their diet and lifestyle is so much healthier than the West. I feel embarrassed for them to come here and see how different it is! Everybody know obesity is a problem, so why is it still so bad!? 

Food and drink is a tenth of the price! It’s actually so exciting. I had wonderful street food and got really strange things from the supermarkets. And the clothing markets are full of beautiful things. I purchased a stunning silk dressing gown of which I am in love with. 

Two things that amused me… 1 – spelling blunders on signs and 2 – hairy pits (ahhh O.o)

– “watch out for pinching” (on metro) 

Do they mean stealing, door trapping or people sneaking up and hurting you!? who knows!!

Hong Kong was awesome! Very different to main China. I wasn’t stared at, facebook was allowed and it was a lot more multicultural! The prices were higher and it was a lot busier. However I loved it. I had the most amazing lunch at a French restaurant and went up the Victoria Peak thing which overlooks the whole city. It was really foggy which would normally annoy, however it was perfect for photographing… 





I also met some amazing people, both in China and people on the group. You’re all awesome ^_^

Eternal thanks to the University of Bedfordshire for taking me and 24 others on this amazing, wonderful, enlightening and incredible trip! 






Road Trip Up There At The Top


I have just returned from one of the most beautiful and awe inspiring places ever…Scotland. I knew it was beautiful but driving through the mountains for a week has made me truly fall in love with the country!

We started in Inverness and drove up to Tongue, through Durness at the top and down the West Coast, Ullapool and Plockton, The Isle of Skye, Fort William and finally Edinburgh.

While there I saw puffins, galloped across the country side on Holly (a horse), had a sword fight in every ruin we came to and climbed Ben Nevis! (Which I am still suffering from. Severe Nevis leg).

Edinburgh is a great city, I can definitely see my self living there! And the Fringe Festival is insane! So much art, music, comedy and theatre. One show with Pierre Novellie had me in tears, I couldn’t stop laughing! Truly in my element. So gutted I had to leave…this is one production I badly wanted to see but couldn’t…

The Gypsybird Speaks

“Deep in the forest somewhere unknown, a writer, a painter, a director and a witch await the arrival of her – Philena, the girl with the yellow hair; Basil, sometimes Asphodel, and ultimately, the Gypsybird, the force whose legion of gypsy moths has begun to devour the trees…

Entwined in the forest mythology the characters delve deep into one another’s psyche, a magnetism they are powerless to resist.”

These are some photographs I took while living the dream week…








The Day I Became An All In One Package

Well today my friend Cat asked me to model for her project. I was to transform into a powerful witch (immediately thought of Charlize Theron- Snow White and The Huntsman <3)…i don’t know if i could even hint at the power she exudes but hey I gave it a go! 

I can’t show you pics of me modelling because there hers obviously and only just did the shoot! But here is me….



From being seen around the studio I have been asked to become a makeup artist in the morning for some media students!! LOL. So now I am a photographer, artist, model and makeup artist! 

Attempting to Walk and Failing

Well the never ending snow has bought out mixed emotions in me. Walking has never been so hard…falling flat on my arse is not fun! Its like trying to move with marbles strapped to your soles. 

I was however determined to do some photo shoots and make the most of the white world. I headed up the hill and using the only available model (myself – never a good idea, someone couldn’t be less photogenic), whipped out my digital camera. 

I swiftly got back behind the lens and did two test shoots for my project. This time crow and snake. I made the crow head piece which took a painful evening of feather stabs and glue gun burns. I also shot the images on my film camera and i hope to process and develop this week so I shall update as and when 🙂 







Going Back To The 90’s With Acidic Tones

This week I discovered Cross Processing!! No idea why I have not done this before…its awesome!! The colours…they are just so colourful o.O theres no other way to describe them.

(anyone who has no idea what i’m waffling about…you shoot on slide (transparency) film and process it as negative film. So I basically broke all the rules…and WHAM BAM…it’s oh so right.)

These are a little sneaky handful of prints…some for my project and some in london for experimental reasons (or using up the film…but we don’t need to admit that!)



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