...a Belper girl, that's a good starting point. So I took my camera for a walk concentrating in the area in which she grew up, but I had very little success. What was I hoping to achieve?
I referred back to my little pink book and for one reason or another, three things seemed to be continually jumping out at me.
I have a list of places all of which are important to her, but these have no real meaning to me. What if we were to select one from that list and visit together?
While it may raise questions for others in similar circumstances, my friend has drawn comfort and support through her strong religious beliefs, although she does admit her prayers have usually been for others rather than herself. In what way can my work reflect this?
As a form of personal therapy, my friend had been writing some wonderful poetry during her treatment. I was surprised, I didn't know. How do I decide on the text now?
Where do I go from here?
As you know, my original idea was to combine text with photographs of the Derbyshire landscape. I had always wanted this project to have a real positive feel to it, but the more I listened to my friend, the more my thoughts about this changed. I was confused but gradually everything started to become very much clearer to me.
The work should be as true a reflection of her feelings, not mine. This was important, the illness is real, it's happening to her...
I have never stopped learning since I graduated, and when I knew I had been accepted for this programme I saw it as an opportunity not only to work on my project, but also to experiment. I decided I wanted to get my hands dirty and try out some alternative printmaking for the first time.
This was a good decision, as although time was limited, it was well spent both in the print room at Brit Mill getting a taste for Intaglio, as well as the more familiar darkroom environment at Markeaton Street.
Photograms, collographs, embossing, drypoint and solarplate printing. Exciting, beautiful, creative...I can and will apply most of these newly acquired skills to future work, with practice of course.
Anyway, in between work, experimentation, and with the prospect of an exhibition looming, I had a very important date.
When I started this project I knew it would be very challenging for me as it is so very different to anything I have done before. Usually I go out with my camera and make work purely from my own response to something I might see in passing, and so it begins. This time my friend is my work.
You think you know someone, and yet I have seen a very different side to her over these last two years. As we have spent time together, particularly for this project, I have listened, and tried to understand, but how could I possibly express through my photographs what she is thinking and feeling?
I did spend a lot of time in the library, as it was important for me to research other artists. (Do I mention names here I wonder? I am not sure, but if you are interested please do get in touch, I am happy to help).
Having made countless notes, I had to begin narrowing it all down in some way. What was helping my friend get through this? Was there anything she kept returning to in our conversations? Glad I have my little pink book, I will need to refer back...