Inspiration. Inspiration is an interesting, exciting and the same time very frustrating mistress. It comes and goes whenever she likes. I think for the creative projects it is the most difficult part or you could simply call it the beginning. The beginning is hard for any creative industry unless you’re a creative monster full of brilliant and amazing ideas.
I always struggle with the beginning, I research, I look, I try and always fail. I look for inspiration everywhere and no where, one day I go and browse the whole Internet, go out and look for places but other days I will be so frustrated that I will just forget about it all and stop thinking. Sometimes I must say it works, they always say stop looking and it will come to you. One sunny morning with a cup of coffee in the garden or less inspirational atmosphere like doing the laundry – it will just appear or in the worst case scenario it will appear when you’re out in town and perhaps not carrying a pen and next morning it is a tricky job to remember what exactly you came up with. I wouldn’t say I am the most creative person, definitely not, that’s why I need to work on my ideas to be able to get at least something out of it. But development process is a very different story so I’ll talk about it later.
My inspiration came out of no where, while I was cooking one of my famous dishes. I like cooking, makes me think about deep and interesting subjects. So, it’s just came to me, out of nowhere. Perhaps, I shouldn’t say that because we always see things, learn and experience new things every day. But I definitely knew that I want to focus on social issues and something that is current and I have feelings and strong opinions about. What I had in mind is that I wanted to put a strong message across to people and I started visualising, brainstorming and doing bits of research now and there.
Bellow you can find my scribbles of some mind mapping. First I wanted to focus on Environmental Portraiture, we had the same project
in first year and I truly enjoyed working on it. I wanted to find an interesting object where I would focus on a particular field, however I couldn’t think of anything substitutional not on the Internet nor in my head. Then I received an interesting email with an opportunity to volunteer at the local prison and I thought: ‘BINGO’! Brilliant idea, no one from my peers would do the same and I can create something really good out of it. But after some consideration and talking to my parents and my partner, we all decided against it for the sake of my own safety and emotional state (I must say I am very emotional person), so I had to think of something else.
I always liked Martin Parr’s ‘This is England’ and later discovered for myself Tony-Ray Jones, I like the way they both have portrayed England. Tony-Ray Jones was the first one who produced an exhibition called ‘Only in England’ he documented English customs and identity during 1966 and 1969. National Media Museum described his work as humorous yet melancholy and I think even if I tried really hard I wouldn’t find other words to describe as well as they did. It is certainly humorous and brings the smile to to your face and at the same time brings some kind of nostalgia, unexplainable nostalgia. I shouldn’t have this feelings because England is not my native land, but this unexplainable sadness brings something special to his work. At the time he produced it, there was nothing like that around that’s why his work attracted Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London where they exhibited his work in 1969. Tragically, in 1972 Ray-Jones died from Leukaemia aged just 30. However, his short but prolific career has had a lasting influence on the development of British photography from the 1970’s through to the present.
In 1970 Martin Parr as a photography student was introduced to Tony Ray-Jones, which then influenced his later work ‘This is England’ exhibition. Martin Parr became a Magnum photographer, he is now an internationally renowned photographer, film-maker, collector and curator, best-known for his highly saturated colour photographs critiquing modern life. His wonderful work can be seen here.
“Tony Ray-Jones’ pictures were about England. They had that contrast, that seedy eccentricity, but they showed it in a very subtle way. They have an ambiguity, a visual anarchy. They showed me what was possible.” Martin Parr
I wanted to create something like ‘This is England’ I started my own project. I thought it would be interesting to shoot something similar but from the point of view of the foreigner. I thought it would give the photographs different perspective because foreign people see the little details locals doesn’t. Like a little sign near the park: ‘Public Footpath’ or a little bin for dog poop in the streets. For me it’s like a novelty however for English people it’s just a common thing. That’s why it’s probably never going to work with English audience. However I am not going to scarp the idea completely but rather leave it for further developments in the future. Click here to see a few unedited shots I have taken. I also had ideas to perhaps change the idea slightly and focus on multi cultural Britain but something just didn’t feel right, I leaned more to something serious with a deeper context. However I still wanted to incorporate the documentary style of Martin Parr’s work. Then I thought about the social issues the society is currently suffering or concerned about and while I was thinking about it ‘The Sun and Suspicious Parents’ came on TV. So I thought I could do project about the Anti-Social Behaviour and binge drinking of young adults, as it was recently a heated topic on the TV. But the idea of having 12-20 images of throwing up students on the streets didn’t appeal to me.
So from there I decided to look at other social issues which have been recently discussed on the news and elsewhere. One thing which stood up to me was poverty. Everyday we see a lot of campaigns to help people in Africa because they need the help the most, but then we completely forgetting that we have people in the UK who barely can afford a loaf of bread and the thought of it just breaks my heart. I always avoid looking at homeless people when I don’t have any cash and there were numerous times where I spent hours talking to homeless people and listening to their stories and some of their stories are fascinating and sometimes a bit too heavyhearted. Some of my friends always try to stop me from helping them saying that they’re going to spend money just on alcohol, perhaps it is true. But when you’re in this situation without the way out, what else can you do with some change in your pocket?
I wanted to incorporate many aspects of the poverty into my work to raise awareness, but after some negotiations with my tutors I decided to narrow it down to just homeless people. Finally, I found the idea and I am excited and at the same time intimidated of how it is going to work out. If you still reading, you might want to check the ‘Development of the idea’ section.