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Happy New Year: Inspirations and Invitations

The start of a new year is a time for reflection on the one just past and a looking forward to the one ahead. This process can stir up a lot of emotions for me, including regrets, but it can also remind me of the delights that I experienced. Yesterday, I spent some time creating a photobook compilation of the blogs that I wrote in 2023 - and suddenly appreciated what a joyful journey I had been on and how much I had learned along the way! I realised that by being proactive in seeking out new opportunities throughout the year I had enjoyed several new ways of photographing and produced an interesting and creative body of work.

My photographic learning has taken place in many different situations over the year, but has been most powerful when joining up with other photographers. Yes, those days when I have taken my camera for a walk on my own and set myself a challenge, such as looking for lines or a particular colour, have given me new ways of seeing. But the street photography days and the coastal walks with the RPS Talk, Walk, Talk, where a small group of us went to the same location, was much more fun. Fascinating to see what we all aimed our camera at and the techniques we used to capture what for us individually was the essence of a place, and the resulting diversity of images. One of my coastal images was even chosen to represent the group nationally! (p10 in this zine)

The taught workshops that I have attended have all provided powerful learning experiences. From the mindful approach of Paul Sanders, to the Art of Blur with Rose Atkinson, the woodland masterclass with Paul Mitchell and the opening up of the Pandora's box of Multiple Exposure with Valda Bailey, new ideas and techniques have boosted my creativity in such unexpected ways. I am truly thankful for their generosity in sharing their expertise.

The main project throughout the year, mentored online by the amazing Charlotte Bellamy, was the start of my RPS Distinction journey. Following a mind-blowing visit to the exhibition Action, Gesture, Paint : Women Artists and Global Abstraction at the Whitechapel Gallery in March, which presented amazing artwork that has been largely ignored because they were produced by women, I decided to research the Female Gaze in Abstract Expressionist Photography through the work of four female photographers. I experimented with their techniques to produce my own interpretations (see my blogs on Florence Henri, Uta Barth, Frances Seward and Olga Karlovac), which made me consider new techniques and learn new skills. I am really proud to say that this project is currently in an online exhibition! With Charlie's guidance we have all pulled together a small selection from the body of work we have each produced during 2023 and you can see it here: My Journey: My Project. This was an unexpected bonus of engaging in this stimulating and satisfying year-long workshop.

And now I need to look forward to the coming year. I have decided against 'Intentions', as they rarely work for me. Instead, I am going to look for 'Inspirations' and 'Invitations'.

The first of these inspirations is a workshop in Scotland in April with Ania Rolinska and Charlotte Bellamy :"This retreat will combine photography and creative approaches in a way which will encourage experimentation, exploration and letting go of perceived notions of where the making of a photo stops and creating a piece of art begins."

I am so excited to have this in my new 2024 diary! I haven't been to Scotland since I was a teen and am longing to explore.

There are other places on my list for 2024. I am determined to go to Paris this year as I think the new Inventing Impressionism exhibition at the Musee D'Orsay from March to July will be inspirational. I am also keen to visit the Riksmuseum in Amsterdam for its mix of art and photography exhibitions, including one that explores gender. And there are several other shows coming up in London that appeal, such as the "Now you see us: Women artists in Britain 1520-1920" at the Tate Britain in May; Burtynsky at the Saatchi Gallery; and Francesca Woodman and Julia Margaret Cameron at the National Portrait Gallery. I have a sense that the year ahead could be an eclectic roller-coaster!

As for invitations? Well, I have had an invitation to write an article on Florence Henri for the RPS Women in Photography magazine WE ARE, so that is a great start to the New Year! I am embarking on another year with the project group mentored by Charlotte Bellamy. It gave me such joy I eagerly accepted the invitation to continue. And she has already given us two invitations for photo tasks for this month!

And the third invitation is to join an online 6 week course which began this week called 'Letting Go' led by the photographer Laura Hynd. I am starting to write about what I am letting go of at this stage of my life, whether by choice or not, and am hoping that will will inspire me to invite in the new, in whatever shape of form that may be.

I have also extended an invitation to my eldest daughter to join me on a photography workshop in July on Skomer with Rachel from Pembrokeshire Moments. Puffins and pufflings await! A new experience for both of us which will lead to other possibilities.

So, here's to a fulfilling 2024, with unexpected twists and unanticipated pleasures for each and every one of us.

And, lastly, thank you to Margaret for this:

NB. I can recommend Pixxi Books for the blog photobook. They also do books of Instagram sites.

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1 Comment

Angie R
Angie R
Jan 11

It was a pleasure to get to know you last year Valerie, I have really enjoyed your blogs last year too. I am excited for what we, as a group, do next year. All the best for 2024 Angie

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