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Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

spitalfields-market-job-ad

Not quite sure what was going on here with these dolls hanging in a window advertising for both male hair models and a Saturday assistant in Spitalfields Market, East London, but I for one found the whole ensemble more than a little creepy 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol – Take II

My mum had been an art teacher before getting married, and many of my early childhood memories revolve around the comforting but pervasive smell of oil paint and turpentine – there was usually at least one someone or something being painted somewhere in the house, usually done in the kitchen with it’s linoleum flooring, presumably in case of errant paint splashes.

This portrait of me was painted in oils when I was seven years old, and I remember sitting for it, putting on my best yellow party dress for each session, sitting quietly on the kitchen stool, being thoughtful and still while mum daubed and dabbed, concentrating on me, then on the painting, then on me, then back to the painting, until she was happy with its progress for that day, when she would wipe her brushes on a crusty old rag and clear her painting stuff away until the next time.

portrait-painted

People often wonder why I look so sad in it, but I don’t remember feeling particularly sad or happy – this is simply my natural expression. I may be looking a bit moody or sulky but I wasn’t feeling anything much at all at the time other than just being internally ‘me’…

It was (and still is) normal to smile for everyday photographs – simple memories snapped in an instant. We’re all so used to seeing past pictorial representations of ourselves capturing a momentary smile pasted on for posterity (say cheese!) as if that fleeting smile encapsulates the whole reality of our existence.

But I feel that a portrait painted over several live sittings in real time can in many ways capture far more of the hidden essence of the real underlying you. Sitting for a portrait makes it so much harder to wear a fixed mask, to keep up a make-believe illusory representation of yourself, day after day and time after time.

So when I look at this painting of a seven-year-old girl done so many years ago, I see a glimpse of the real me of my childhood memory – quiet, introspective, deep – rather than the surface-smiley-faced girl of so many family snapshots. I see behind my blue eyes the silent potential for the ongoing depression that has dogged me for so many years. Faded and dated it may now be, but this portrait remains for me a poignant symbol both of the young girl that I once was, and the grown woman I have since become…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol