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.

   

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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