I am so excited to show you these beautiful portraits.‘Layers’ is a collaboration between myself, make-up artist Jade Soar and photographer Asiko and will be on display at The Southbank Arts Centre from 8th March 2016. Further exhibition details are found at the end of the blog post.
‘Layers’ is a collection of photographic portraits celebrating the stages of a woman’s life. Women from various backgrounds – aged between 19 and 90 years – were photographed in front of an evolving flower wall during a three-week period. Layers of freshly picked British flowers were added to the wall as the project progressed. The added layers represent the growth and depth of wisdom women gain as life progresses.
Jade and I are old friends, we had shared views on the adulation of female youth within the media and wanted to work on a project that offered a counter story to that. We wanted to create something beautiful that celebrated all women.
Asiko is an art photographer who’s work Jade and I admired, so we were thrilled when he commented on an image that Jade and I had created on Instagram. We immediately contacted him and met up. The concept of ‘Layers’ was created during that meeting. We all felt strongly about a pro women project that explored the passing of time, inner growth and how our connection to nature changes as we grow older.
I love the idea of using garden flowers as an artist medium. To me, flowers are nature’s paintbox – their fleeting beauty, that makes way for new growth, has always captured my imagination. These qualities inspired me to create the flower wall for ‘Layers’. I wanted the backdrop to the portraits to change over time, with some elements fading, allowing new layers to be added. The wall portrays our connection to nature, the passing of time and growth.
I was lucky enough to hand pick every flower used in the wall. The flowers came from two cutting gardens within 10 miles of my studio. Bosley Patch in Henley-on-Thames is a cutting garden run by Tamsin Borlase and Babylon Flowers in Watlington run by Juliet Bennett. Two phenomenal women who grow wonderful flowers for florists. When I told them of the project they immediately invited me to their cutting gardens and allowed me to walk through the borders cutting flowers as I went. Pure joy and a huge thanks to them for all their support with the project.
We selected our models by asking women we admired. We wanted to show real women as they really are, no airbrushing or over styling. We wanted an authenticity to shine through the portraits, we didn’t want a polished look. We wanted faces that could tell a story.
Here’s why empowering women is so important to Jade:
” For me its close to my heart at the moment as I have a daughter that has just turned 13 and I want her to be inspired by the kind of women we have featured in our project, I want her to feel empowered to be herself, I see a lot of really young girls trying to contour their face into a very generic look and as a make-up artist I find this a little bland. We must never stop trying to empower women, there are so many in the world who are not empowered due to cultural, religious or domestic factors and this is a tragedy.” – Jade Soar
Asiko has a different perspective on empowering women:
“Coming from Nigeria, where women are treated like second class citizens I am interested in the dialogue of that situation and have a certain empathy towards women in that plight. The world I live in reflects a diverse set of women across race, age, size, lifestyle, religion and so that is reflected in my work. For me it is quite important to reflect the many beautiful women I see in the world around me. A lot of my work revolves around women and I am interested in exploring the story of womanhood in today’s society.” – Asiko
We asked our subjects, ‘what would you advise your younger self? ‘I’d like the last words to go to Lou Allison, a 51 year old artist:
“Boredom is nothing to fear! It actually takes deliberate actions to get bored and get stuck, you won’t just fall into it by accident and be unable to escape – so chill out, stick with things a bit. But don’t regret any of the pell-mell adventures either.
You will keep learning all your life, and that is a great comfort. ” – Lou Allison
“Layers” will be exhibited at Winter Pride Arts Awards Islington Arts Factory, London 15th – 22nd April