Strange year.
Father seems stuck in an ICU revolving door.
The middle of winter is behind us.
Horizon is clear, just not entirely visible.

Graduated my Training and Assessment course while still embroiled in the last project I had been working on, making no money, spending what measly savings I had; supporting someone else’s career, running myself into the ground. When I do put-in I really put-in, no one around me was going to say, “move on,” because I was providing good work for nothing. I had to decide to move on myself; had to reach that unfortunate conclusion on my own (if not yourself, whom else?) after giving so much, receiving so … nothing, it was long past time. I find it sad when a process does not work out. I try not to be completely absorbed in one thing at any one time and I enjoy engaging with the world around me.

I have been involved in the Armature program with Access 2 Arts since towards the end of 2013. When possible I met with a group of other artists whom all live with a disability and we participated in a series of forums and workshops. One of the things we explored was the self-portrait also known widely at the moment as the selfie.

One of the things we did was create a series of self portraits and for my own art practise it led me to take more portraits in the same way as I had when getting the Fit In Room exhibition organised.

When I was in Melbourne I set myself the task of photographing at least one stranger every few days. I had to ask them if they would mind, explaining I was developing ideas for some future as yet unformed work. I wanted to capture faces, portraits. I did not want to seem like a stalker so I decided it was best to ask male people only, and to provide my contact details. I had a one hundred percent take up on my request, so I ended up with a few really nice generic pictures of faces I don’t really know.

A2JournalDPJ22In my intuitive process I was making connections between ideas of identity and capturing the essence of a person. All of that boils down to a sense of story in an image. We discussed the contents of a portrait and elements in an image during Armature, which refreshed my thinking a little. When it came to taking our selfies, we had been set to take one a day for a week as a type of homework, I wanted to really extend my abilities with the phone camera and involve as many elements of story and character as I could in the selfie images. Being set homework was not exactly the motivating force behind my pursuit of the activity, in fact I was the only member of the group who bothered to do it.

Each day for the week I took my selfie, and I really enjoyed the exercise. One of them in particular gave me everything I wanted in a self portrait. The same image also provided me with a process that I enjoyed playing with. I held the camera outside a window and pressed myself up against the window, meaning the view was of me pressing myself up against glass. I motioned the phone camera around until I captured some of the reflections in the window and avoided getting the phone or my arm in the frame.

I doubt I am the first person to ever do this, but I suggest I am the first to do it through this particular window. When I looked at this self portrait I could see elements of my character that had really been drawn out, it is not a particularly pretty image. People often flinch when they see it which was not my intention; fascinating reaction. I think it shows a very primal level of who I am, the cave man in me, which I also find ironic given I captured the image with non-cave-man-like technology.

This particular selfie image resonated so much with me I made it the screensaver on my phone. Then, one day when I was tweeting on line; broadcasting is the way I look at it. I used to produce community radio, now I tweet. I was reading my stream of tweets on Twitter when I discovered a competition for selfies. It felt right to enter my primal selfie because the material they were featuring so far was not like mine; viva la difference!

This competition was run by a major sponsor of the Archibald Prize Exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales so I was really pleased when my entry was accepted. On the one hand it is a marketing tool for the sponsor to engage their followers and anyone on social media to join in on the fun of sharing a selfie, on the other hand this was a very curious journey for my selfie to take because by winning, my selfie was now to be transformed by a professional artist into an actual painting that would be digitally exhibited in the Art Gallery of New South Wales next to the Archibald Prize exhibition (during some sponsors’ event no doubt) while the actual real painting is sent on to the prize winner, me.

The self portrait process has been very rich and rewarding in the most unexpected ways which is good because Armature left a great deal to be desired by the time it was all done. Nice to meet a few other disabled artists but it is not a program I ultimately found any value in. 

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