southwharf-melbourne-yarrariver-longexposure

The Artist Statement, along with my own

This seemed like a good place to begin and discuss what an artist statement is and how I can write one for my own work.

You often hear people talking about them and just dismissing them, but I think if you are an artist then you need to know what it is you are making work for. First we should look at what they are.

What is an artist statement

I got this from Wikipedia

An artist’s statement (or artist statement) is an artist’s written description of their work. The brief verbal representation is for, and in support of, his or her own work to give the viewer understanding. As such it aims to inform, connect with an art context, and present the basis for the work; it is therefore didactic, descriptive, or reflective in nature.

Now I have to see if I can get this to work in with what my work is about.

I have talked about how I think my images deal with a more personal aspect than what I had been working towards previously. I had always thought that it was more about the world ending, or climate change making it so that we can no longer live in some places on the planet. Then slowly last year I started to wonder if it wasn’t more personal that that.

How would my artist statement go

Over the last number of years we have been battling something as a family. Something happened that should never happen and we have been struggling quite a bit. Thankfully, it didn’t tear us apart, but we have come to understand mental health so much more. I don’t want to go into details about what happened, no one needs to know about that, but the mental health problems have been real. I have started to wonder if my work isn’t more about that. We have been dealing with depression, anxiety, and a few other things. So I have started wondering if my work is about depression and the feelings of isolation. Hence, why there are no people in my images.

So my artist statement might go along the lines of:

Exploring the world through photography and how mental health can impact that. Looking how someone who experiences conditions like depression and anxiety can feel alien in the everyday world. Through personal experiences I would like to try to see if I can convey those through imagery of the every day world and how people like myself can feel in it.

I have written that off the top of my head, but it does cover what I am hoping to do with my art practice from now on. Writing it down has given some clarification, but it will be a work in progress and as time goes in, I do expect that it will be refined. This is my first attempt at writing it down and, it has to be said, I’m not very good at art speak.

My images

My images are dark, and I hope they portray that feeling of isolation, being left in the dark, so to speak. I thought we could have a quick look at an image I put up on Instagram today.

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This is a long exposure taken a couple of months ago in the city down at South Wharf. I like this block of three buildings, there is something about them. Then when I was looking again yesterday I was thinking how boxy they were, like walls that you can’t get through. Maybe like you were being shut out in the cold and dark. So that is the look I went for. I tried to remove all the distractions from everywhere else so you would really only look at those buildings.

Is it successful? I don’t know, I like it as an image, would I include it with my artwork, maybe. It says something to me, which is all it needs to do really.

Enough for today. I will have to get onto tomorrow’s post soon.

 

 

36 Responses

  1. I was very surprised by your artist statement, and never would have thought mental illness would be a part of it. Hope things are going well at home. Mental illness is a part of life but some of us are affected more significantly than others – but there are similar strands of feelings.

    As Ludwig said, I always thought your images bordered on the positive side. The architecture you showcase tends to come across as strong, tall and dominant. At the same time nature’s elements like the waters and clouds also stand out too simultaneously in your photos. But you always seem to make these two contrasts – man-made and nature and really all the different objects in your images – blend so well together. They go so well, seamlessly together.

    Over the last year, I do notice something about your images: as someone who suffers from anxiety so bad that I had to seek help last year, your images evoke a sense of haunting. Not just bold, but there’s a haunting vibe about them and I get the feeling you want your (main) subject(s )to ‘stand on their own’ despite the swirling and moving world around them.

    I feel that if we’ve found our voice and a true sense of purpose with our craft, our artist statement will come naturally to us. I’m not anywhere near that with photography, still experimenting. I managed two weeknights down by the Yarra River over the last week, and on one night the water was quite still. Not clear as a mirror, but still enough for some decent reflection. But wouldn’t have minded the clouded cover like yours in your image in this post 🙂

    • Yes, we have been to hell and back in the last 7 or so years. I hide it well, always have.

      No, my images are devoid of positive stuff, to me all the joy is removed from them, hence no blue skies. Thank you, glad you think they always work. One of things I really enjoy from posts like this is hearing what others hear and see.

      I’m sorry to hear about your anxiety problems, they can be crippling. Yes, that is it exactly, I often imagine them blown up really large so the viewer is confronted with an image that makes them feel alone.

      I feel similar. it is good to write it down, but sometimes trying to work out exactly what it is your trying to achieve, so that others understand it can be a bit harder. That’s great that got down to the river for some photos. I often wonder if we have seen one other another and not known. I love that clouded over effect, well I just love clouds.
      Thanks again Mabel, take care.

    • Very sorry to hear that, Leanne. But hope all of you have come through stronger. Now that you mention it, yeah, no blue skies from you. I also get the impression of ‘searching’ in your photos – with your long exposures there is emphasis on time and movement, coupled with the cool tones.

      Yes. It is hard at times to pinpoint how we feel in words. It’s a journey. I’m inclined to think we have crossed paths so briefly in real life 😀

    • We aren’t quite through it yet, but hopefully on the right path thank you. I like what you have said, there it is always interesting. Searching for the other side, great, I might use that, thanks.

      I am sure we have, but just not known. I always smile at people, some think I’m a little weird and others just smile back.

  2. Hi Leanne. A quick, temporarily rare, meander into WordPress and I fell upon this great post. Artist statement…. wow, that’s still a long way off for me but…. Can I contribute to this conversation and say how I see the mostly modern architectural and contemporary style you create for your Instagram posts as making some kind of commentary about feeling alienated in modern life – or is that my own scenario? Ha! Anyway, I believe I’ve often said much of your work reminds of sci-fi apocalyptic narratives. But, on the bright side, after a huge struggle, humanity always seems to survive those storylines. I love your work. Thank you for sharing.

    • Yes, I think that is happening a lot, a lot of people aren’t here anymore, it is a bit sad, but I’m glad I still get to see you on Instagram. You never know, I like the way an artist statement, or just thinking about one can get you to start thinking a lot more about your work and what direction you want to go in. I think you are the only person so far that has described my work the same way as me. that is exactly what it is for me. Yes, you have, which I’ve loved, and you are right, maybe the light will be there at some point in my images as well. Thank you Maxine.

  3. Thank You for this article. I have such a hard time writing up an artist statement about myself. I feel like i’m talking in the 3rd person when I do so. I would love for my work to speak for itself but sometimes that is not the case.

    • You’re welcome, and I know what you mean, I think a lot of artists really struggle with the artist statement and how to write it. I went with, just write, and then work on it over time. I expect mine will change quite a bit with time. I know what you mean, but it seems what you can intend with your image can be far from what other people think. Thank you.

  4. Hello Leanne,
    A very courageous thing to have talked about publicly, and well done to you for trying to put your thoughts into an order suitable for an artist’s statement. I do think it’s helpful to have this sort of background, to have some sort of idea about out what makes an artist tick, otherwise folk will put their own slant on what’s been created, which whilst entirely valid, might be missing a fundamental point. So thanks for the image and best wishes with how your work develops from here,
    Julian

    • Hi Julian, I think I’m a person who believes that there is no point hiding things away, not things that can help others. I agree, I think it gives you direction, and help you realise what you want to do. There is always the possibility that people will do that anyway, but hopefully you can give some context to the work. Thank you so much Julian, I really hope to do more like this.

  5. A while back I asked fellow photographers to let me know their first reaction to a number of photographs that I had carefully prepared. I wanted to see if my intended message came through loud and clear. It did not. But there was a greater surprise. Others saw what resonated with them.

    Leanne, you wondered about the meaning and message you are sending. Ask visual artists we don’t always have the words or the conscious knowledge of our own messages. Nor can viewers see a photograph without the context of their own feelings.

    Your artist statement surprised me. You said your photographs are dark. Technically that is correct, but to me that too was surprising as I have seen your work as celebrating the light. To me you isolate to bring attention to the clarity, the solidity, of the structures. I see your photographs as reassuring, positive, clear and hopeful. Your work shows a deeper strength. I see joy, not despair, not loneliness. I see strength, sturdiness, not confinement.

    Surely the messages that are received by viewers have to be imbedded in the image. They do not spring from our imagination, but constitute a resonance. When I share one of your photographs with a colleague, it is usually with remarks like “look at this wonderful light”, “see the clear concentration on the beauty of the design”.

    You have a wonderful way of seeing the world and sharing the “bright side”. Any feeling of depression or loneliness must be your subconscious master artist squeezing you to reach higher and do better. Keep it up!

    • It is interesting to ask the question and see the response, and perhaps our intention of doing the work doesn’t have to relate back to how people view it, or their reaction to it.
      What do you mean about the message I’m sending. I think knowing what I want to do with my work helps me to make sense of what I’m trying to do and gives me purpose. It is something I have always felt strongly about.

      It seems what I see is not what others see, but that doesn’t matter and perhaps it is because the viewer doesn’t have the same level of understanding as I do, or they are coming at it from a different angle. YOu aren’t the first person to mention that about light, which I find fascinating, really spurs me on.

      Oh thank you so much Ludwig, I really appreciate that, it is wonderful to read.

  6. Perhaps enlarge the statement to include the joyful side of life, which in your work will contrast with the misery that is so prevalent in our imperfect world. A very interesting start, Leanne!

    • There hasn’t been a lot of joy Peter, so I wouldn’t include that and I don’t the statement needs it. I think Mental Health is an issue we should be sharing, and the fact that it can be dark and not very nice. That’s what I think, I appreciate you thoughts and comments, so thank you.

  7. I have written and rewritten my statement many times. It is not an easy task. Thanks for sharing.

    • It really isn’t, it can be so hard, mine is just a first draft, I’m sure there will be many others. You’re welcome and thank you as well.

  8. It will be interesting to see how this develops. So much the opposite of what my creativity is about. Good Luck with the journey.

  9. Hi Leanne. Art, being subjective, leaves itself to be interpreted by the viewer. I see light penetrating the darkness (the light thrown on the buildings). Why do I see that? I think my interpretation came because I need something to bring us out of the dark and into the light. The world is going through a difficult time right now, and aging isn’t easy. You may create with your soul and it will help you. Your art will then help others.

    • That is so true Anne, it really does. I love what you have said Anne, and it has been so interesting to read all the other interpretations, I like yours too which is similar to mine. Thank you so much Anne.

  10. this is very inspiring. it is important to bring into words what the soul of artist is trying to do with light and form. in my photography, the camera is also a tool to explore the inner world. you are a courageous person to come out of the closet. thank you 🙂

    • Thank you Bert, that is wonderful to hear, and I agree it is a good thing to do. I think it is important to document the journey, so that is what I thought I would do, I don’t know if it is brave or stupid, time will tell.

  11. I have always seen my photo work as therapeutic –

  12. Thank you so much for your post on the “Artist Statement” Leanne, for years I have known that they are important, being an artist myself, and writing the blog about the artistic things I do. Though I have to admit, I fall into the category myself of those that need one, yet it seems to be the most difficult thing for me to do, is sitting down and writing one. I enjoyed reading your post as i do enjoy reading all of your posts. Thank You! 🙂

    • You’re welcome.I think they are really important and good to do.Maybe you just need to really make yourself sit and try it. Just write it in point form to start with and work from there. Thank you.

  13. I think this direction in your blogging and photography will be fascinating and so unique – much more interesting than the typical ‘stuff’ we see out there. Looking forward to exploring with you.

  14. Leanne, you know best the message your work conveys. But the interesting fact about good art is that the message intended by the artist is not necessarily that which is received by the viewer.

    When I look at your work, I get a message that proclaims stability, confidence and calm in a hostile world. The world outside is dark and oppressive, but within these walls I am safe and secure. Outside it may be foreboding but within it is warm and familiar. On the outside I’m just another stranger, but inside I’m at peace with friends.

    • That is true, it can help the viewer to understand what the artist was trying to do though. I think.
      That is another interesting observation, it is amazing how we can all look at the same thing and see something different, thank you Don.

  15. Looking at the patterns on the three buildings I see them less as blocks, or blocking things out, but more as sieves! The statement seems to me to be going in the right direction and it’s good to hear some of your reasoning behind your dark images.

  16. Artist statement is very nice.Really liked this blog post ..
    John Pellow Brisbane

Talk to me, it is too quiet.