I wasn't sure what to expect last night, when I finally entered the Rhyl Arts Centre gallery to attend the Private View of "Before and After" a collaborative show between me and sculptor Wanda Zyborska.
I've seen her work, I of course did all the nude studies of her amongst her sculptures, I have already done masses of work and printing for the first show in Vienna, but Wanda has handled almost all the organisation and hanging of this second showing.
Beyond that, this is the first time in many years that a lab has printed and mounted my art work, as I have not been able to source a local framer who could handle the job. I therefore gave the commission to Genesis in London who took my pre-worked digital files and printed, mounted and acrylic bonded six large A0 images for me. They did this just before Christmas and they were delivered directly to the gallery in the New Year ! Talking about cutting it fine, especially if any did need re-printing :-)
So to walk into the room, and see these gorgeous acrylic faced prints adorning the gallery wall, all beautifully lit by intense warm halogen lights, glistening in the minimal ambient room light, was truly uplifting. I'd had to shoot these images at 1600 ASA in order to get the depth of field I needed, even with an Arri 2K and 2 x 800W redheads, so I had been a little anxious about taking the files up to that size. I needn't have worried, you can see every tiny detail and the tones are still so smooth and pixel-less. The transition between dark shadows over black rubber through to the most delicate of scar tissue on Wanda's pal nude body were so real, so 'touchable' - helped by the half life size scale of the prints.
The large tractor inner-tube sculptures, carved and bolted together to form intriguing and sensual installations, really did make the connection with the images on the wall, where they were seen utilised by the naked artist. even the fact you could see the reflections of the actual sculptures in the acrylic of the printed versions echoed and reiterated the organic like nature of all the work.
There was a performance by Wanda at 7.00pm, where she is completely enveloped by one of her pieces, and it moves and writhes, squirms and falls before re-erecting itself and twisting in front of the audience, before the finale, of a huge cancerous looking tumour of rubber is ejected from the mouth of the rubber creature, which I saw as both healing but also birth like, the endless squirming cycle of life and death. The performance was set to haunting and surreal music and voice, sung/chanted by musician and singer Ann Matthews.
These photographs were all taken before the performance but by 7.00 the room was actually almost packed, partly helped by the number of supportive and engaged students and fellow tutors from Bangor University. However I was also delighted that several of my own clients, friends and family also attended and I was bust chatting with people till the very end. The response to my photo art works was truly fantastic, as so many people these days only know me for my landscapes and were quite taken aback to realise I could shoot other subjects with equal passion :-) I had felt slight trepidation about how my nudes of Wanda would be regarded by the audience, especially my own, but it has given me more confidence than ever to expand on my current nudes project, and perhaps explore new ways of presenting them too at the end of the year, apart from the book of course.
I came away extremely positive and thankful for the opportunity to have worked with Wanda.
The show runs until February 4th at the Rhyl Library Arts Centre - 01745 882523
Rhyl Arts Centre