FEATURE SHOOT 'OTHERS DREAM'

Feature Shoot ‘Others Dream’ 2018
by Miss Rosen

“At dusk and dawn, the edge of slumber and first light, these figures awaken out of the darkness and live in the hours when others dream,” Lilli Waters writes in the artist statement for her disquieting series, Others Dream, which features women amid an otherworldly landscape that is equal parts foreboding and curious.

Photographed across Western Australia, the images from Others Dream offer a mystical, mythical portrait of the primordial essence of life that begins in utero before being launched upon the earth. They offer themselves as wordless poems, silent revealing secrets to us, offering a moment of meditation where we can escape the artifice that civilization demands and return to something infinitely simpler albeit impossible to fully comprehend.

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Here Waters shares her journey, revealing the path that brought her to the creation of this body of work, offering insight on the effortless synergy of life and art.

How did your mother and grandmother instill a passion for social activism and a love for nature in their work?

“My late grandmother Elaine Moir was a feminist and activist throughout her life. She was a photojournalist during the Vietnam War, and later became a part of a small team of people who saved hundreds orphans from the bombings in Saigon.

“She was a serious lover of the environment, writing letters and starting campaigns to stop McDonalds from taking over her local community, teaching me the names of all of the birds and animal species and the importance of planting trees and helping on creek clean up days.

“We would ride our bikes to the wetlands and I would watch her as she took water samples and attempted to protect the baby herons from the neighbors pet cats. She was my hero and biggest inspiration. My mother spent many years living off the grid in the bush as a younger woman and is a botanical artist, drawing her inspiration from nature.”

Can you describe life on a commune in New South Wales, and how this connection with nature has informed your sense of self?

“I was born on a rural counterculture community in Wytaliba, about 100 kilometers out of Canberra, where everyone grew their own produce on the land and washed and swam in the river. Nature had a vivid presence in our daily life that is often absent in the city, where I now live.

“Often, I wake and find myself yearning to be in the bush and close to flowing water. I was young when I lived on the commune, so I don’t have any memories from my life there. However, people from the community describe my photographs as looking as though they were taken there, so these early childhood experiences must have been very aesthetically formative for me.”

When did you begin to realize your path as an artist, and what was it about photography that revealed itself as the medium for your work?

“There was no specific point of realization that I was on the artist’s path. I’ve always needed a creative outlet. When I was a girl, I was obsessed with so many things: playing music, dancing, singing, sports, theatre and making films, although I could never paint like my mother.

“I remember this overwhelming feeling of anxiety when I used to see something beautiful in nature and no one around me seemed to be as excited as I was, so I guess photography for me is a way of capturing the fleeting beauty I see around me and being able to hold on to it and share it with others. That brings me much joy.”

Can you describe the relationship between nature and the feminine, and the way that informs the subjects of the series Others Dream?

Others Dream questions our relationship with nature and ourselves, as well as ideas about female identity through unsettling, otherworldly scenes. The photographs encompass ideas about vulnerability and power, and aim to contradict stereotypes of feminine frailty. I hope viewers can have an emotive response and go on their own imaginative journey.”

What is your process for creating these shoots — do you have a specific vision based on casting and location scouting, or is it something that reveals itself in the moment?

Others Dream was photographed across Western Australia. At the time it was winter and I was asked to make new work for an upcoming exhibition in Florence. Victoria being too cold, I put forward an idea to take a life model and spend four days shooting in WA.

“I planned a route from Perth to Kalbarri, stopping at dunes and National parks, heading towards the pink lakes I had become slightly obsessed over. I took a dear friend of mine, who’d I’d also worked with before, and we photographed at dusk and dawn every day, driving and sleeping in between.

“I’d picked up some props from an op shop, a bag of expired black and white film I’d found on eBay and just hoped that the lake was in fact pink. There was a broad vision for the work, but the reality is, you’re improvising and working with small windows of the right light.”

Can you speak about the female gaze and the ways in which it informs your portrayals of the protagonist?

“I think it is important to provide a perspective of the female form through a female gaze. Photography is so prominent in our daily lives, I want to use this medium to gently examine the depiction of the female form as we live through the challenging Me Too era, while women everywhere grapple with the conundrum of how to represent the beauty in oneself, without being constantly sexualized.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about climate change as the literal analogy of the disrespect/abuse of the feminine aspect of existence (like the earth is saying Me Too). When I saw your photos, I was struck by the powerful ambiguity — there’s both a sense of assault and a refusal to succumb. Could you speak about the way that you deal with the duality that is present in your work?

“These images for me speak to a significant part of my own identity as a woman. My images are often seen as ambiguous. I am searching for a rawness and expression that I can’t really put into words, so it makes sense that people might view them in different ways.

“Some see darkness and pain, and with this series, maybe a sense of being trapped, though for me there is a sense of freedom in creating works that can be all of these things, and also empowering and a more full expression of the feminine than that which society has fed us.

“In the photographs I wanted to communicate a sense in that the figures belong and are even nourished by these potentially hostile surroundings. Moonscape rock formations are merged with the female form, seamlessly blurring the lines between the female body and landscape. I wanted this imagery to move viewers to consider how we respond to the female body and to the natural environment.

“In the Romantic era, nature was frequently feminized in literature. Woman and the earth have been characterized as fertile and bountiful, and as providing nourishment — enabling life itself. It is interesting to revisit these ideas in the wake of the Me Too movement and impending environmental disaster. What role might women have in re-visioning not only how we understand gender but our ideas about nature?”



Link to full article here 

CAPTURE MAGAZINE - LILLI WATERS

Capture Magazine - Sep/Oct 2018 issue

 

Waters finds some element of failure in all her images. There's things that haven't resulted in her initial vision, but she sees this as a natural component of her creative process. "I often look back at old work and think, 'Wow' so average', but it's all a learning experience, and you can't grow and improve if you don't experiment and take big risks in your work," she says. She resists having a 'go to' that she knows will work as it wouldn't bring challenges, and she'd get bored and not grow creatively. Despite her ability to look and grow from her failures, Waters has days when she feels as if she should quit and that everything she makes is 'shit'. Still, she pushes on and takes opportunities to create new images. There's an incessant drive to create inside Waters. This allows her to reach above and beyond failure.

   

HUNTER & FOLK - LILLI WATERS

Art Talk // Hunter & Folk

Lilli Waters is passionate about making a change in the way we see marine life and coral, whilst also encouraging more people to help make a difference in the impact humans have on the ocean. The Award-winning Australian photographic artist has unveiled her latest exhibition entitled Coral Lands, which is on at Saint Cloche Gallery in Sydney, following on from her previous successful exhibition of works, Plastic Fish. Water’s latest body of work showcases coral, marine animals and other plants to create familiar yet surreal landscapes. Bright colours and sunset backgrounds contrasting with the lively coral and fish create a mystical, ethereal feel. The exhibition is on until the 1st of July, so be sure to pop in.

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VOGUE LIVING - Lilli Waters

VOGUE LIVING // Meet the female artist who will make you think twice about your impact on the ocean

by Francesca Wallis

Lilli Waters’ ethereal photographs bridge the gap between what we see and what we do. 
As her name suggests, artist Lilli Waters has an affinity with the ocean. Creating a series of otherworldly, surreal photographs for her body of work, titled Coral Lands, Waters has managed to artfully combine the fragility of the ocean with the colour and vibrancy of its inhabitants. Asking her audience to reassess their impact on coral, Waters’s work goes beyond the traditional and transcends into something wonderfully sublime and futuristic — all the while using natural, tactile pieces to craft her sets. We spoke with Waters ahead of the opening of Coral Lands at Saint Cloche in Sydney, to discuss all things practice, art and yes, Fifty Shades.

On her exhibition at Saint Cloche?
Coral Lands is an underwater photography series, a collection of nine works that were all photographed using large water tanks. They feature coral alongside florals, bright colours and night sky backdrops, creating familiar yet dream like vignettes. My intention with this body of work was to try to create otherworldly landscapes visualising strange underwater fantasy worlds. It involved months of planning and was basically one big experiment.

On her practice and inspiration
My practice is in fine art photography, and my work has largely focused on portraits – mostly of women – and more recently still life. Mother nature, art and music have always been my main muses for creating. I was a musician for fourteen years, but I don't play anymore.  

On how she hopes her audience see her work
I hope that the works resonate with people in a way that they can immerse themselves for a moment in these intriguing underwater worlds. It is also my hope that this series draws the viewer into the strange beauty and acute fragility of coral and that it highlights the devastating impact of climate change on our oceans and the precious life within it.

On the most unexpected places her work has been shown
Two of my photographs are featured in Christian Grey’s apartment in Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed: one in his bedroom and another in his dining room. It was pretty surreal seeing my work in such huge films. The limited edition prints almost sold out after their release, and the author of the books ordered a huge print for her mansion in LA, which is still something I pinch myself over!

On the artists she's inspired by
I’m actually inspired more by painters rather than other photographers. Three contemporary female artists whose work I love and really resonate with are Heidi Yardley, Elizabeth Barnett, and my absolute favourite artist at the moment, Del Kathryn Barton. There’s something dark and sexy about Yardley’s work — the way she depicts fractured female forms which are mesmerising, melancholy, familiar and strange all at the same time. Barnett’s colourful still lifes are comforting and so full of nostalgic joy; they make you want to live in her paintings, like a coming home to a familiar armchair and a pot of tea. Barton’s work is unashamedly feminine. Her figurative imagery is so vibrant and colourful. She has this extraordinary ability to create dream-like kaleidoscopic worlds in a really raw and honest way.

Coral Lands is open until July 1, 2018 at Saint Cloche in Sydney.

See full article here

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The Design Files - Lilli Waters

TDF - Lilli Waters' underwater Coral Lands

by Sally Tabart

An exhibition of ethereal works from Melbourne-based photographer Lilli Waters exploring underwater lands.

Underwater landscapes and their inhabiting creatures have long been a source of mysticism and wonderment. Disney’s The Little Mermaid invited us to explore the treasures of a mermaid’s world, David Attenborough’s Blue Planet is one of the most widely-loved documentary series of all time, and the idea of the mythical underwater city, Atlantis, has fascinated human’s since Plato’s Socratic dialogues.

Lilli Waters’ latest exhibition, Coral Lands, explores the strange beauty in deep ocean realms and the fragility of marine life. Coral, live rock and flowers combined with bright colours and night sky backgrounds have been used to create Lilli’s own underwater wonderlands. Elements of lunar influence are also felt through the presence of stars and moons in Lilli’s works, in part symbolising the cyclic, debilitating mood disorder she experiences as a sufferer of Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.

Combining these elements with bright colours and night sky backdrops, Lilli has created extraordinary, otherworldly landscapes. The themes in Coral Lands are an extension of her 2017 exhibition, Plastic Fishand continues to draw attention to the devastating impact humans have on ocean life.

Coral Lands
Lilli Waters
June 20th-July 1st

Saint Cloche
37 Macdonald Street
Paddington, New South Wales

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Irisi Magazine - LILLI WATERS

Irisi Magazine

An interview with
Melbourne-based photographic artist and filmmaker Lilli Waters
by Mairead Warren

One dark wintry day in Sydney, whilst aimlessly browsing on my instagram feed, I discovered Lilli’s work. Her provocative and inspiring image series ‘Plastic Fish’ instantly cut through to me, even amidst the flurry of images on my visually overloaded device.

Juxtaposing the world of selfies and filtered life porn, the images were arresting. They made me consider the tough and complicated discourse surrounding contemporary representations of beauty.

As a millennial I am greatly exposed to the rise of digital media and the control it allows us in styling and creating a personal image, which involves packaging the stories of our life into neat little parcels edited perfectly to please. It has become a fierce engine of self love, that can venture into toxic self loathing, and ultimately leads so many people to the conclusion – what or who am I doing this for?

The depths and shallows in Lilli’s work can stimulate this discussion, or they can bedazzle you with illusion and allure. Lilli says of the works ‘At first glance these images may appear to be reminiscent of still-life paintings – colourful and vibrant – but hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) are manmade materials like plastic. Plastic has found its way into every corner of our planet, it's even in our water. The plastic in these works itself has a beauty, but inherent in its presence is a darker, more destructive side.’

The work also makes comment on the state of our environment, Lilli shared with me that ‘The themes are somewhat subtle but I feel like most people sensed that the works were making a comment on the state of our current environment when they looked a bit closer.’

 

On the core message of the work and what the artist wanted it to reflect about society in 2017, Lilli shared ‘We live in a time where things aren’t made to last, and consumerism is the driving force behind our society. Objects we buy need to break regularly and be replaced for the system to keep functioning.’

Further to exploring the interesting and contemporary topics in the work, they are technical masterpieces and I decided to delve into understanding the process and inspiration behind the series. I asked Lilli the questions below:

How did you choose the subject matter for your photographic series Plastic Fish?
I'm a big lover of water and am fascinated with the beauty and complexity of plants, so it seemed like the next step for me was to attempt making a body of work exploring and combining these elements.

Where did the inspiration for your imagery come from?
This series came from a thought of “could I photograph flowers underwater?" This idea then merged with my fascination with the beauty and fragility of underwater creatures. There were many visits to markets and aquariums to find inspiration.

How did you use light and dark to tell a story in the series? 
I have always used a lot of darkness in my images, though this series embraces a more vivid colour, which often sits amongst dark shadows. The colours are sometimes almost fluorescent and not quite natural, vibrant and fantastical yet somehow not at ease.  

Was your commercial work an influence on how you approached Plastic Fish?
Yes. Usually I utilise natural light and focus on female subjects for my work, but I have found a new fascination with working in the studio using controlled lighting & being able to slow down the photo making process. Plastic Fish was photographed in this way and required quite an elaborate setup.

Plastic Fish is now out in the public domain. Has this altered the way you think or feel about the work?
When these works emerged, they were not at all what I had pictured in my mind throughout the preparation. Now that they are hanging in people's homes and on gallery walls, I'm glad that I took the plunge and delved into such colourful & vibrant works. Experimenting for me is almost always going to lead to mixed feelings about the work.

Is the series complete?
Yes, it was exhibited in a two week solo show at Junior Space Gallery in September. There were four works printed quite large, the largest I have printed for a show.

What are the main things that you’ve learnt about your craft through the process of Plastic Fish?
Shooting underwater involves a lot of challenges and several trips to Bunnings. I learnt that it is in fact possible to eventually get the shot with fish that swim really fast!

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Plastic Fish is currently on show at The Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery in exhibition STILL: National Still Life Award 2017.

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