Focusing on local artists
A British photographer is hoping her pictures of local artists in their studios will draw attention to their work.
Sophie Foden-Pattinson snapped shots of nine artists this summer as part of an ongoing project aimed at “capturing a narrative of the artists as well as the work they create”.
“Passionate” about art, the idea came after a discussion in which several people expressed an interest in buying local pieces, but didn’t know anything about the artists.
“Admittedly they may not have looked very hard, but I thought how great it would be to give the public an ‘artist digest’ of what was happening on island — artists at home, in their studios,” said the photographer, who began visiting the island five years ago when her parents Nick and Louise Foden-Pattinson moved here for work.
“I hoped to engage an audience who may feel apprehensive about where to purchase local artwork. It’s availability should be enjoyed by all, as is demonstrated by many of the artist displays in Bermudian public spaces.”
She has gifted Kendra Earls, Abi Box, Graham Foster, Carmen Domarco, Eldon Trimingham, Jonathan Northcott, Richard Sutton, Scott King and Val Brown photos to use on their social-media platforms. Now in London, England where she works as a freelance photographer, her plan is to continue shooting when she returns here at Christmas.
She got started with help from Tom Butterfield, the founder and creative director at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.
“I was speaking to him quite a lot about the artists and realised how much I didn’t know. It all kind of brewed an idea of how wonderful it would be to be able to shed light on these artists at home in their studios; what they’ve been doing during lockdown.
“I wanted to give people an insight into where they were, their personality, their space and the materials they use. And that was basically the birth of the project: to share as much information as possible about an artist and hopefully encourage people to think about buying art. What a wonderful way to start collecting people’s work by also knowing them — that was basically the crux of it.”
She’s hoping other artists on the island will want to participate. The high-resolution images she takes are given for free.
“I do understand that it’s quite a personal time and [people might not] want me to come around to their house,” she said. “I totally understood that that’s nerve-racking, especially at this time. I don’t want it to feel like it’s me choosing people, I want to elevate every artist and if they want their photo taken, I’d like to do it.”
She spends about an hour talking with artists while determining the best way to portray them.
“In that time you sort of see people ease up and you see this amazing creative energy. I speak from my photography point of view, but I have a massive love of art and you just kind of see that expression between them and me. We basically create what I feel is a very touching, sort of insider look at an artist. You’re no longer just looking in a gallery at artwork you’re actually opening a book and seeing so much more about the artist.”
Since graduating from Manchester School of Art, Ms Foden-Pattinson has “assisted on shoots around the world for both commercial and editorial clients”.
“This is my first self-directed project. I was working for a photographer in London for two years and then I left him in January and have since gone freelance — not at the best time,” the portrait photographer laughed.
“That’s why I was really interested to push something of my own and I felt very passionate about it. I thought it was just a nice way to give back to the community.”
During the lockdown she created work which she then shared on social media. She searched and found “little from the artists here” although she understood why.
“You make work and you’re sitting at home and you almost feel like there’s a shutter in front of you because you’re quite terrified of projecting yourself,” she said. “I thought by giving them photos of themselves that they’re happy with, it might be a good way of also then engaging them with other people. I thought it would be a way to give the artists on the island a positive sort of push to get people to start buying from them again.
“[The pandemic has] been such a crazy time for everybody, but I think the art industry was really hit. Hopefully by engaging people it might encourage them to support local artists.”
Her thought was that an article in The Royal Gazette would “allow me to move beyond the realm of the people that I know”.
“If people are really interested, I’ll do as many as I can when I’m next here and then come back and do the next bit. To me, I don’t think there’s an end on this. There will always be artists.
“I just think it was fascinating hearing what people’s experiences were — how they kept creating during lockdown, or didn’t. I also wrote a bit of a blurb about each person because I thought the setting was really interesting — where the studios were, what they looked like, how they created. It was just really fascinating seeing exactly where people’s creativity comes from.”
• Artists interested in being photographed by Sophie Foden-Pattinson may contact her on email@example.com
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