Personal Project: Mandy

Life is so weird. Shortly after completing my essay on a co-authoring project I was contacted by a woman who I’ve met a couple of times to see if I would take a picture for her to celebrate the end of her chemotherapy. She is currently nearly half way through her third course having first become unwell over 15 years ago.

I was immensely flattered and really hope I have sufficiently expressed my desire to do justice to her trust in me.

The image she sent me as a starting point is one from Sam Taylor Wood’s Bram Stoker’s Chair series. I was immediately quite intrigued because the idea of being suspended, or in flight or off the ground in any way has been with me for some time. Mandy followed up with an article here:  which gave her a slightly different view on the idea of weightlessness.

We initially discussed a few ideas via email and in response to the above I suggested reading Barnaby Brocket which is a short children’s book that tells the story of a child who is born without the ability to stay on the ground. It paints weightlessness as something difficult but in Barnaby’s case very special. I also mentioned my fascination with The Birth of Venus – where people beside her hover and even she seems not to be quite grounded. I must admit I have always had this idea of creating a modern hovering Venus who somehow stays afloat, with maybe the others in the frame on the ground. So now we have all these ideas being poured into the pot.

I had to ascertain just how much involvement Mandy was expecting from me and whether or not I would simply be pressing a button or actually thoroughly involved. It made a difference to me to know if and how to charge Mandy, who of course wants to pay me. But I have said if we’re co-authoring, how on earth can I take money? So, she may buy some images for her dissertation from me.

Oh yes, her dissertation…

Get this! Not only did Mandy contact me about an image with a woman suspended in it. Her dissertation is also about gender and voice, and finding an equal female voice. She is also looking at the male gaze, which all ties in so well with my own interests here in UVC. Her Masters is not in art but she is doing the same course my friend Brendan did, and I documented the changes to his pub which he incorporated into his own Masters (we’ll be exhibiting that next month – the plan was December but it just got too busy!) And they are encouraged to bring art into their work, which is about sustainability and community. But how amazing that Mandy and I, without knowing about each other’s interests, should be looking at the possibility of working together. It’s so serendipitous.

I have had very little time to look through all of this recently as have had far too much other stuff to do and will be doing so over the weekend. Here are some more links Mandy sent me of things she has seen that she likes.

We will be meeting up hopefully a few times over the coming weeks, and maybe taking some photographs but also looking at all the influences we can bring to the project and try to dig up something that emerges from our unconscious joint minds that leads to an image at the end of her treatment which expresses some or all of this. These are really hurried and short notes which do not cover all the things we have discussed adequately but I wanted to get something down while I remembered.

As well as the above, Mandy sent me this video. Which I have just heard talks about Transparent! Oh, my goodness, too many coincidences. I watched this recently and thought it was some of the best TV I’ve seen in ages. (As good as the brilliant Australian TV series, Please Like Me