Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meet Your Maker: Deborah Parker

S: Tell us a little bit about your background. What path has led you to what you do now?
DP: Ok... my background... well, I grew up on a farm in NSW and although not fully appreciating it at the time I now realise how special that was and how it has had such an impact on who I am. 
I got the camera bug in school... my art teacher had a dark room set up and I was totally captivated by the magic. After finishing school I studied graphic design for a year but decided it was not really for me... so took an entry-level job with a regional TV station. Here I saw that people got paid to go places and shoot pictures, all the news of the day... I thought that looked pretty good so wormed my way into a news camera position and that was the start of my visual media career... I shot and edited news for years, changing to still photography along the way shooting for newspapers. 
Still, photography won out because I love the fact that the whole story has to be captured in one frame... a split second in time... 
I eventually made the move from country to city (Wagga Wagga to Melbourne), to study photography whilst honing my skills in a portrait studio.
Since then I continue to combine work in both TV (just editing these days) and still photography... but when your "art" is your work its sometimes hard to re-find the passion and just do it for pure enjoyment, and that's how this exhibition came along really... I was getting sick of photography because it came with clients’ expectations and monetary pressure... so I thought ‘bugger this’ and just went for a walk one day in the beautiful countryside of Malmsbury and took my camera ‘just for fun’ and it was... I loved it... that's when art happens...
S: Wallflowers is a collection of photographic works that clearly have a lot of process in them. Could you talk a bit about the processes you go through to get to a finished work?
DP: Well it starts with a photograph... composition and good light essential... then I take that image and overlay it onto another... I used textured images like rust predominately... there are some great old tanks near my house oozing rustic decay... I then play around with the colour, contrast, opacity, brightness, levels... I tweak everything basically... there is no set plan... its very organic I guess... a case of ‘does that work?’ what happens if I do this"...nine times out of ten it didn't work but then I'd hit on something that made me go yes!
S: Your work has a wonderful sense of whimsy and nostalgia to it. Can you talk a bit about the ideas behind these images?
DP: Well, it started out as just pictures of weeds mostly, glittering in the sun, back lit, really beautiful en mass in a paddock... I didn't see them as weeds I thought they looked quite magical... I didn't even set out to just photograph weeds, I was drawn to them and before long I realised I had quite a collection of this type of image... So I started playing around with them on my computer (my dark room) in an attempt to remove the photographic element... I wanted them to be more of an interpretation not just a representation... So I started the overlay technique and experimented with different textures and kept coming back to the rust as I liked the sense of decay it gave the images. Someone described them as looking like paintings that had been left in an attic which had faded and rusted over time so now we see only glimpses of their past beauty. I like that... it relates to this whole idea of beauty... what IS beautiful? What do we expect to be beautiful... can a decaying photograph of a weed be beautiful?? I think it can :)
S: When starting a new body of work, where do you turn for inspiration and ideas?
DP: I am constantly inspired and always have a million ideas in my head... making those ideas come to fruition... welllll that's called procrastination...
I see the world in a fragmented way...  through a lens... you can take something ordinary and by zooming in cropping out tilting... whatever... change it into something else entirely... I love that.... changing the perception of the expected... a common central theme that I keep coming back to in various ways.
S: Having done the treechange from Melbourne to Malmsbury only a few years ago, have you found that your practice has changed or developed in anyway?
DP: Well not in any obvious way... but I guess it's fair to say that when I first moved to Melbourne I spent my weekends walking the city and taking photographs of the urban landscape. It inspired me with its architecture and structure... all man made and busy busy... similarly since moving back to the country I am now drawn to nature's peace and quiet and stillness... I think for any artist in any medium you are always going to be influenced by your immediate surrounds... I moved to Malmsbury because I want those things in my life... peace stillness... so I think it's only natural that that's what I end up creating??
S: What does a typical studio workday involve for you? How do you separate time between your editorial work, field work (spending time photographing etc) and then altering and enhancing images in the studio?

DP: Well I'm afraid I spend more time on work related photography than I do on creative pursuits... It's a case of finding the time amongst trying to make a living and everything else life throws at you... I find I  work best on my own personal stuff only when I feel like everything else is "in order" ie, the lawn's mowed, the house is clean and therefore my mind is less cluttered and I'm able to just relax and  let the creativity come (and this is not a fool proof plan by any means). I am easily distracted and there is always a cup of tea to have! My favourite part of the photographic process, be it work or art, is coming back to my computer and downloading my images to see what I've shot... from there I know what I have to work with... and I start to see the possibilities...
S: What would be your dream creative project?
DP: Hmmmmm... lets seeeeee... ok... well someone could buy me a completely new state of the art camera kit and then give me a ticket to Paris (or insert any amazing location) and say "be inspired."
Yeah that would be nice :)  
S: What are you looking forward to? 
Winning a million dollars and dinner tonight!!! (not necessarily in that order!!!)
S: And lastly, why did you decide to exhibit at Stockroom?

First and foremost it's local and I'm all for supporting local business, local art and local community. I think it's fantastic that we have so many amazing art spaces in our area giving opportunity to all artists (from the very well known to those like myself starting to find their way) to exhibit their work. The Stockroom is such an ecletic space ... it's full of beautiful art made by very talented people... yet it didn't feel overwhelming or imposing. It felt like there was room for  what I could offer and I'm so happy Jason and Magali have shown faith in my work... yayyyy :) 
Thanks Deb! We're looking forward to seeing your work in the flesh. Wallflowers opens on 12 November from 4.30 - 7.30 pm. The show is on until 4 December. Hope to see you there for a drink!