I completed this whilst studying Photography in the Arts at Swansea University. Yes, it is a painting. To say I ‘fell into Photography’ would be true but it wouldn’t be the whole truth. I was deeply attracted to Photography. It was edgy, it was direct, it had structure, it was bold and it was cool. I never wanted to become a photographer, I am not technically minded enough but as I fell into Photography, I got further and further away from painting, my true love.
Yet the art world didn’t suit me. There were no boundaries, concepts could be created out of seemingly nothing and I was too practical or too dreamy for that. So I was in my second year of my Higher National Diploma in Photography, wanting to paint.
I took to the streets and asked strangers what they would dress up as and what they would be if they could be anything before photographing them. I got some fun answers and some serious ones. One old man told me he would become a walking stick so he could be useful. I was prompting people to take the steps in their lives to go in the direction they really wanted to go in. Fight Club had come out recently and life was all about pushing the dream, going against the flow. I was pushing myself to take the leap and paint again.
I chose two faces and superimposed the negatives, projecting the two images onto a large canvas. I drew in the outlines and painted.
During this time I had been searching for what it meant to be a woman. Devoid of any ritual, I found the transition from girl to woman perplexing. I did a sound workshop at a festival where we danced and chanted nonsense for hours. I fell into a trance and sat down, chanting with my eyes closed. My grandmother (dead since I was 8) sat next to me and told me gently that the reason I was struggling to become a woman was because it would bring me closer to my death, my true fear.
As I finished this painting I realised my transformation was complete. The ‘boy’ I was in my dreams, the Tom-boy me of my youth was the blue boy in the painting. And from behind, the red woman was coming through, strong, bold and ready to face life.#