Felicity Hammond is a fine artist working with mixed mediums – primarily, photography and sculpture/installation. I had the privilege of meeting her at Photo London earlier this year (in conjunction with The Photographers Gallery). Her series on show was, You Will Enter an Oasis, 2015. This was a photo-sculptural project dealing with the computer generated visions of opulent living and the discarded material that it conceals. Some, if not all of the (concrete) slabs were ‘found objects’ taken from construction sites, the natural elements (leaves, wood etc) were then fused onto it and the final product photographed. The finished product was printed on a surface of Perspex where distortion and warping gave the piece dynamic impact. Her work has won numerous awards/nominations from the following institutions: British Journal of Photography, Catlin Art Prize, Saatchi New Sensations and Magnum/Photo London.
Felicity comes from a very heavy fine art background. Her undergraduate degree was in Fine Art Photography, her MA was in Photography at the Royal College of Art and she is currently working on a PhD in contemporary art research. A lot of the work on her website combines at least two which give her work a conceptual approach. Following which there is a clear process, of making things, (photographing them – if that is what the end result is), and then considering installation.
This photograph appeals to me for 2 reasons. She is a contemporary photographer and her work combines visual art with something tactile (sculpting and installation). An issue which is very dear to my heart has been expressed in a completely different way than I would have thought. It is in colour, Hammond has used sculpture, found objects and no more than 3 types of objects in each image (wood, plant and blocks). Her work has not isolated anyone from the art or photography world which is a sign of this series’clarity and success.
When I entered the room and saw her work I was able to use the items in the picture to hazard a guess at what the work was about. This visual language and visual clarity is something I am striving for in my own practice. Given that Hammond has devoted a lot of her life to visual arts she is able to work ‘quicker’ on great projects than someone who is just entering the professional world of visual arts (like myself).
THE FOLLOWING 3 IMAGES WILL BE USED FOR DETAILED VISUAL ANALYSIS
IMAGE 1: THE TOWEL
- Lighting makes the shadow where the wood is hanging on the rack appear soft but defined. The blocks do not have reflections on them and this image mimics a ‘bath showroom’ image.
- This is a successful image, the lines, repeated pattern, muted colour scheme and simplicity work well. The brick in the top right hand side giving the image a sense of something beyond what I am seeing is particularly clever too.
- The main focal point of this image is the wood/towel. The use of pattern in lines and object texture cries out to be analysed but not in a competing way – the use of a large depth of field helps here.
- The image has been composed in a way which is unusual – the towel/wood is off centre and there is a good amount of foreground/background space.
- The lighting setup is most likely even lighting (see diagram below, paired with a white reflector – see the drastic differences)
- Hammond’s intention is to address the spatial inconsistencies of simulated architectural propositions and how they materialise in the post-industrial landscape. She has done this by breaking down the heart of what buildings are made of and what they must remove in order to exists.
- Looking at Hammond’s galleries of other projects, her stamp is there, in composition, colour palette, way of working and the mediums she employs.
IMAGE 2: THE BATHROOM
- The lighting in this image is identical to its predecessor – even, soft and with minimal shadows
- This is a successful image, it looks like a Hammond picture and does not visually stray from the theme of the series or its styling. This image screams nathroom tiles to me becuase of its pattern on the cube. In addition, the material behind the cube combined wiith the cube is what many opulent bathrooms consist of whilst the material on top of the cube has to be removed (clearing the land) in order for this construction work to begin.
- The focal point of this image is the grass sprouting from the cube sitting on a wooden surface
- This image has been composed using a play on the rule of thirds. There is a shadow behind the focal point of this image as well as a hole on the left hand side of the image whilst the right side of the image has none. The cube is given less monotony with the 4 main lines on its surface.
- The lighting diagram mentioned in image 1 was most likely employed here too as well as the intention of this image and series.
- Looking at Hammond’s galleries of other projects, her stamp is there, in composition, colour palette and way of working.
IMAGE 3: BERMUDA GRASS
- This images lighting is most likely the same as its predecessors.
- This is a successful image, well executed, looks like part of the overall series and the 2 elements behind the focal point do not detract from it.
- The main focal point is the rectangular slap with the grass on top of it
- This image has been composed using the rule of thirds for the horizontal arrangement. The distance between the table top and the bottom of the picture was considered in the vertical placing of this object in the image.
- The use of (what appears to be art or picture frames) on both corners of this picture make me think of an affluent persons living room – I could be wrong and this may not have been the photographers intentions.
Artist material and processes
Hammond’s end results are printed onto perspex and she works with sculpture, installation, role play and photography. I am inclined to believe that she used a digital camera for photographing these pieces however the colour palette is quite muted so medium/large format colour film could be equally as probable.
On Hammond’s website there are no behind the scene videos or written insight into her materials and processes. From the variety of projects she has up, I can see that she is a very tactile artist and is not afraid to incorporate a variety of mediums from the visual arts world into her work.
WHAT HAVE I LEARNED FROM HAMMOND AND HOW WILL I APPLY IT?
- Don’t be afraid to incorporate other mediums into my work. I’ve never sculpted but I have had a hand at drawing and painting, see how this changes my work and the end result and possibly photograph that? Maybe even moving image/sound – just experiment and see what happens!
- Visual language, a recurring theme, nevertheless a very important one. Think about the material/signs present in my photography and what they will communicate to my intended audience.
- Have a very specific way of working and subject. The ‘boring topic to photograph’ is the easiest to experiment with, because of its simplicity.
Johnson, M. (2014) ‘A beautiful mess’, 23 December. Available at: http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2014/12/tips-for-using-natural-light-in-still-life-photography.html (Accessed: 31 October 2016).
Liberation®, P. (2016a) Architectural photographer Frederik Vercruysse captures serene and haunting spaces. Available at: http://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/frederik-vercruysse-architectural-photography-261016 (Accessed: 31 October 2016).