Helené - Birmingham Documentary Photography (Personal Project)
Chiaroscuro is Italian for 'light-dark' and is described in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. I was introduced to this term when I began photographing this project. It felt as appropriate for the aesthetic of the work as it is for my subject - in theis case, Helené.
This is Helené. She is a potter, a writer, a climber, a vegan and animal rights welfare campaigner. She also happens to be deafblind. She is able to see some vague shadows but uses a cane to navigate her environment and the deaf blind manual to communicate.
I met Helené through the charity Sense, with whom she has been a member of for over 10 years. On this occasion, I was keen to learn more about her natural talent for 'throwing' and also creating detailed, intricate hand shaped pottery pieces.
As you may know, a lot of my work centres around relationships, so I was also excited to find out that Helené attends her weekly pottery session with her father. Its difficult to write a literal representation of their relationship, but I hope the photographs do it some justice in describing the love and friendship between them both.
For me, being invited to this session was such a huge privilege. It was a quiet and peaceful environment as Steve from Sundragon Pottery worked alongside Helené during her creative process. I watched this lady as she confidently threw mounds of clay onto a potters wheel, transforming them into works of art. Her Father told me that it ran in the family, as generations before her producing pots using the same traditional throwing method Helené was using today. As I watched her work, I became fascinated byher talent for spinning a pot into a perfect shape and form, just by feeling her way for the centre gravitational pull of the clay.
Helené is an impressive lady and a true testament to creative living. She makes, she writes, she campaigns. She does what she cares about because she has love in her heart to do so. It was her drive and motivation that reminded me that I too should always create, create despite the hurdles and curve balls in life you have to dodge.
As I edited these photos of Helené I was reminded of those big promises I made to myself. I reminded myself that however far I stray, I will keep coming back to them, so I should just keep my head down and stay disciplined, no complaints. The reward worth it in the end.
I have a lot to thank Helené for but mainly I'd like to say thank you for showing me your determination and perserverance in continuing to make the most of your talents every day.
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