Last week I got to see Mathew Bourne’s amazing contemporary ballet Swan Lake for the second time. I love watching the ballet both classical and contemporary and this one is particularly powerful. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. Seeing work like this always inspires me and it got me thinking about all the places I find inspiration for my fine art photography.
My inspiration comes from a range of sources, but literature plays a big role. The Ladybird book of Cinderella with its pictures of beautiful flowing dresses, sparkling carriages and prancing horses was where I remember my love of fantasy starting. Then onto Grimms’ fairytales and many others gathering so many ideas from classic stories along the way.
Children get some of the best fantasy literature and books like the Chronicles of Narnia remain much loved although my copies are rather dog eared now. Over the years I discovered new loves and sources of inspiration including other fantasy novels such as the Mists of Avalon, Dune and Wheel of Time. I also love the seemingly unending supply of great inspiring legends like The Mabinogion and other Arthurian tales. Epic tales of gods, goddesses and heroes from Greek and Roman myth and the Celtic and Norse pantheons abound. These of course include those about Ceridwen.
Visually I enjoy the Lord of the Rings movies with their amazing costumes and sets. Recently I have revisited my childhood delving into the the wonderful live action Disney fairy tale movies. On the small screen Game of Thrones brings a wealth of medieval based inspiration. Of course GOT also has those amazing big set pieces and the dragons; if only I had the budget!
I’ve always had a love of history particularly the Tudor and Medieval periods and there are some wonderful stories to draw on from those times. The style of clothing of these periods are a particular favourite of mine but I’ll talk more about costume specifically another time. With them as historical inspiration it’s probably not surprising that I love much of the work of the pre-Raphaelite artists. The recent exhibition of Edward Burne-Jones work at the Tate was fabulous, so much so I went round twice! I discovered some amazing colours and textures within the works that hadn’t been evident when looking at pictures. My visit will be a big source of inspiration for some time I’m sure.
I am an admirer of gothic revival architecture and in particular the work of Augustus Pugin. I enjoy both his overall style and his use of colour and decoration for the interiors though mostly sadly so little of the interior painted decoration remains today. I also enjoy the wonderful flow, colours and fantasy appearance of Antoni Gaudi’s architecture.
Other photographers are a great source of inspiration but that probably merits a blog in itself but for now, suffice to say I enjoy my instagram feed! However, there was a bonus on my Swan Lake trip. I got to see some more of the wonderful pictures Bella Kotak has taken to promote Birmingham Hippodrome’s upcoming Beauty and the Beast.
Inspiration can be found in so many places around us, not just the obvious. My list of photo ideas has been inspired by very varied things – a reflection in a window, an old film and a song included. Sometimes I’ve been seeking out inspiration, sometimes admiring others’ work but often it just pops up in the most random of places. One of the great things about smart phones is that you can always take a quick picture when you see something and even play around with a quick edit too.
I’ve been delighted that I’ve been able to inspire others with my work. It is lovely when someone gets in touch to comment on this or ask to base a work on an image. I wanted to share a work from Mike the Oil Artist along with my image ‘Searching for fairies’ at the top of this page that was the inspiration for it. I think it is really interesting to see the two takes on the same topic together. It is wonderful we all look at things in such different ways. It is great to connect with other creatives and be inspired in turn as well.