Ahead of Cork Photo Festival 2018 we continue our feature on ELASTIC artist’s with Lynda Laird and her work from Comharradh.
Lynda Laird is a photographic artist working on long term bodies of work; primarily focusing on landscape and the idea that memory is stored in place; that there are trace’s and an imprint of history stored in the buildings, landscapes and spaces where specific events have occurred.
Here she discusses her work that will be on show for ELASTIC and the relevance of the land and water in her process.
These traces, I believe can be sensed through an intuition and feeling of a particular environment; its for this reason I am interested in exploring ways of showing what is invisible to the naked eye. As well as photography, I work with video, sound and archive; collecting objects and testimony from these spaces as well as employing camera-less techniques in an attempt to find a way to collaborate with the subject. I like to work with the materiality of specific landscapes, bringing a trace of its history and memory in to the work.
I am interested in how bringing these elements together can be a trigger for stimulating memory and creating a sense of place.
“It is precisely what is invisible in the land that makes what is merely space to one person a place to another”
These images come from a series I did whilst studying an MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism at the London College of Communication. I have always been a worrier and struggled a bit with anxiety but it was during this period of my life where things got quite out of hand. I started suffering from pretty severe anxiety and I was having regular panic attacks; I was incredibly overwhelmed with the workload and returning to education after having left school when I was 15 with no real qualifications. I was working every weekend to finance myself through the course and having pretty major relationship issues.
The MA was something I had wanted to do for years, it was so incredibly important to me but the pressure I put on myself was too much. I was not functioning properly and being in that constant state of panic was awful.
There were days I could not get out of bed, days I went out of my way to avoid people, as I could not handle conversations and interactions, days I just cried and cried for no reason, and days I even felt like I was hallucinating; It was scary, like I was losing my mind and any control I had over how I felt and what I thought. People would tell me to take a deep breathe when I was having a panic attack, but the deeper I breathed, the worst it got, like I was hyperventilating. They would come from nowhere; heart palpitations, sweating and this overwhelming sense of dizziness, like I had been whisked of my feet and was flying headfirst in to a never ending black tunnel with nothing to hold on to.
It was at this time I had started working on a project about cold-water swimmers. It was March and I had been taking portraits of the swimmers before and after their swim. My tutors had encouraged me to get in the water and explore ways of making imagery from a different perspective.
The temperature of the pool at this time of year was about 6 degrees; I got in and started taking photographs, shooting film and recording audio, I did it every day, it became a ritual but also I noticed it was having an effect on the anxiety I was experiencing, it became like a reset, and in my mind, If I could get to the pool and get in to that freezing cold water every day and be Ok, then I felt like I could manage anything. For the film I ended up making I interviewed a group of swimmers who swam everyday and so many of them said the same thing; that it was so important for their mental health.
So I became a cold water swimming addict and every project I have done since then has been about water. I find an incredible sense of peace being around and in bodies of water and so it makes a lot of sense to me to use this as a starting point when working on a project.
These images comes from a series where the pictures were made by submerging and exposing photographic paper under the water in a number of different lochs, rivers and streams on Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. I worked in the early hours of the morning when it was dark so not to fog the paper, working alone immersed in this incredible landscape. This method of image making was my way of collaborating with the land, bringing it more in to the image, to show what is invisible to the naked eye and to illustrate what the geographer Yi-Fu-Tuan said – “It is precisely what is invisible in the land that makes what is merely space to one person a place to another”
ELASTIC considers the concept that our minds are a malleable but resilient structure continually flexing to accommodate our highs and lows. Many artists (consciously or not) tend to harness and explore this flexibility to create their bodies of work.