The notion of ‘starting a new project’ doesn’t necessarily sit well with me, of course my work is broken up into several different sections, stories, but as a whole my photographic practice is one massive project. Completely and utterly subjective, I use photography as a means of self-exploration, to dig deep into the reality of my memories, my relationship with my family, previous partners I’ve been with and more than anything, my relationship with myself.
Having only ever photographed people that I knew very well, moving to university drastically changed my approach to photography, all of a sudden the only subject I had to work with was myself. Never before had I photographed myself so extensively – still to this day I am incredibly uncomfortable with other people directing a camera in my direction, which I know can be hard to believe considering I only really ever depict myself stark naked. But I am not an exhibitionist, my lack of clothing symbolizes nothing more my vulnerability, turning my personal life in to something public, sharing my thought processes, my fears, my pain and my coping mechanisms.
‘Plain Talk’ was the first time I had ever combined text and image, this means of communication was completely unintentional but it seemed to come naturally and felt absolutely appropriate. The poetry I used within this body of work was taken from ‘The Man with the Gallow Eyes: Selected Poetry 1980-2005’ by Billy Childish, a book that I had read a couple of times before, Childish spoke in such a way that I felt as if he were telling me my own life story. The raw truthfulness of it all was something I felt automatically connected to, unashamed of what I was showing my viewers, I was more concerned with getting it all out of my system, every thing I had ever kept built up inside.
The series titled ‘A Compulsory Ordeal’ is made up of two different sets of images, both speaking about the reality of growing up in a dysfunctional family, in the midst of drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and violence. My intentions with the first set of images was to portray the uncomfortableness felt within my family home, an underlying sense of lies, secrets, betrayal and a lack of communication surrounding these issues. The second set of images are childhood photographs showing both myself and my little sister, I felt it essential to have these images shown next to the first set as I feel they show a closeness that me and my sister felt while surrounded by complete chaos. Showing a history of sadness and reinforcing the reality of how much ones upbringing affects their perception once they’ve reached adult life.
A very small, but ongoing project titled ‘Don’t Pretend’ depicts moments of my life that were filled with uncertainty. One image is taken when living in temporary accommodation at a time when my whole family was made homeless. I had none of my personal belongings with me (other than my newly purchased plant, Katie) and was having to deal with the stress of final College exams. Another image was taken when I first moved to university, I had finally escaped the stresses of my life in London, but for the first time ever, I was completely alone.
Photography is to me but a means of communication, it allows me to express myself in ways that I couldn’t ever before imagine doing. The idea of creating work for other people seems alien to me, it would ultimately destroy all the passion I have for such a beautiful art form.
To see more of Ellie’s work visit her site eenglish.co.uk