Cutting it!

I’ve been over in Ynyshir today at the Workers Gallery delivering a special workshop for just two participants. It’s not often I run workshops about my own personal art practice. This isn’t because I’m secretive about my processes – it’s just that I’m amazed that anyone wants to know. I suppose that’s my own lack of ego that places my own creative musings at the bottom of the heap. My ideas and methods are just how I work and I don’t consider them special in any way. Luckily others see what I do in a different way to me, and that’s how today came about.

So today I delivered Cutting It!, a four hour workshop sharing all the ways I use the scalpel in my art. We considered everything from collage using photography, to creating greetings cards through simple paper cutting and layering. It’s a really liberating experience just letting go and cutting up stuff. Gluing it back together again is the complicated bit but it doesn’t have to be stressful. The best thing about cutting up photographs is that you can always get more printed. Any erroneous cuts are just opportunities waiting to take you in a new direction. Any rogue glue can be rubbed away when dry. There’s no way you can go wrong if you’re expecting strange and random results!

Julie and Dale hadn’t created art in this way before so it was interesting seeing what they could do after just a few hours. I’m considering running more workshops like these in the future. If you’d like me to hold one for you just get in touch below and I’ll see what I can do for you.






Would you employ me?

Today we got to grips with our Camera Confidence by thinking about how we can come across as more confident that we really are. Being confident can be different to displaying confidence and there’s a few tricks you can use to make sure that a first impression is the right impression.

We chatted about body language, sincerity, eye contact, and presentation whilst considering how we come across to others. Having the front to give things a go can be part of the battle in overcoming nerves. Putting ourselves in the frame can be a good way to experiment with how, and who, we want to be.

Each participant was challenged to stand at the front of the group and present their photographs to each other. Talking about photographs you’ve taken of your peers can be very intimidating but it can also be fun. Our focus was always on the positive qualities we each have and how these strengths can benefit each of us in an interview situation. One of our participants had said previously she wouldn’t be able to stand in front of the group and talk, but she managed this on just the third week. I can’t wait to see what she will achieve by the end of the course!

Selling the strengths of other people is often easier than trying to consider our own strengths. Next week our intrepid photographic explorers will be thinking about their own strengths to demonstrate to the group everything they’ve learned. If they can do that they’ll walk all over any job interview situation they might encounter in the future.

Positives and Negatives

Today at Camera Confidence we challenged everyone to find the rubbish and turn it into something wonderful, after all one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. The beautiful autumn sunshine over Eaglesbush Valley in Neath made us feel warm and confident in hunting for our hidden treasure.

We thought about how these items came to be, and considered how this rubbish can be seen in a more positive way. We made up stories about the journeys these things might have been on and where they might be going next. These metaphors for our own well-being and our own personal journey showed us that even when the going gets tough, there’s always something to smile and feel positive about.

Life is beautiful even when it might seem a bit rubbish at times.

Finding Confidence in Neath

Today we started our first workshop of the autumn season at Melin Advice Centre in Neath. We’ve worked here before and it really is a joy to see what the people of Melin find on their doorstep. Camera Confidence aims to give people the confidence to see what is around them and work in a positive way to enhance their own skill set.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be improving our artistic and technical skills through photography but also ensuring everyone has a chance to make new friends and have fun. We’ll also be challenging people to improve the way they present themselves and challenge ideas of what is stressful. Our group will be presenting their photographs to the group, learning how to speak confidently in front of strangers, and gaining the confidence to make the most of new opportunities which might present themselves.

Today we planted the seeds of confidence and paired up participants to work on particular themes. Here you have Transport, The Natural World, Textures & Patterns, and Buildings. For a first week I think you have to agree, these photographs are amazing! I can’t wait to see what awesome photographs our group produce next week !

This Weekend in Richmond

What do Anna Friel, Ian Hislop, Joss Ackland, Katherine Jenkins, Bamber Gascoigne and me have in common? Not a lot usually but this weekend that all changes. It’s the Environment Trust’s Secret Art Sale in RACC, Richmond on Thames and that means my art will be hanging among work by these famous names and a whole load more. There will be contributors from all walks of life sharing their art for a good cause. You can see the full list of contributors by clicking HERE.

The list is brimming with major arts names too such as Gordon Buchanan, Alex Scheffler, and Ian Beck. Last year one of my drawings was placed next to illustrator Quentin Blake which is just amazing! The nature of the sale means that my work is priced the same as everyone else’s which gives all buyers a chance to pick up something new for a bargain. You can buy any of the original pieces on show for just £35 but you won’t know who created it until after you buy it! All the proceeds go to the Environment Trust to assist in community and conservation projects so it’s a cause I’m more than happy to donate to. The show is only running Friday and Saturday so you have to get organised if you want to get your hands on something wonderful. Click here to peruse the catalogue.

So normally I’d put a photograph here of the work I’ve submitted for exhibition but then that would mean it isn’t a secret any more. You can look through the catalogue yourself and see if you can find which one’s mine. So I’m going to have to show you something else instead…. …. …. I’ve paused because I’m fishing through the catalogue myself trying to decide which one I would buy… … hmmmm… … I think I would want this one… I wonder who it’s by!

Skill Sharing

I’ve been busy this last week planning new photography workshops, creating new things, plotting new music videos with Stone Letter Media, and devising a new paper cutting workshop. Devising new ways of working with others to be more creative is a real challenge. Trying to get it to pay the bills is something else.

I’ve been making this style of greetings card for a while and they’ve been really popular at the Workers Gallery in Ynyshir. I’m thinking of ways I can teach people to make their own. It’s always a joy to share knowledge with others. Some artists don’t do it because they’re worried about people stealing their ideas or methods. They see it as a threat. I reckon if people want to try and do the things that I do then they should have the chance to do it. If someone ends up doing what I do better than me then that’s awesome because I’ll have someone to learn from. I don’t fear competition.

So, as I see it, there are a few ways I can make this art pay my bills. I can sell the cards to those people who want to own them, and I can run a workshop for people who want to make their own. Everyone goes home happy with something created by them or created for them.

Once I’ve worked out locations and details of this style of workshop I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in learning how to do this then please get in touch!


We are all a work in progress

I think I shared a picture of this before I can’t remember. It’s been added to since. Embellished. Enhanced. Made more beautiful.

This is the spine detail from a full size ‘corset’ style torso called We are all a work in progress. This has been collaged out of my own photographs and the same size as my own body. These photographs are cyanotypes, lith prints, and various black and white images which were printed by myself in the darkroom back in 2008.

The concept is one of memory and self. We are always recycling our memories in order to make progress in building a new future. The stitching detail represents the scars, physical or mental, we may have as a result of past encounters. How we build ourselves as a result of our past is totally up to us and how we choose to wear those scars is how we heal ourselves. I prefer to take my past memories and rework them into something which I consider beautiful rather than something which may be destructive. The past cannot be altered but we can always change our future by building constructively out of pieces of our past.

I’ve been asked to submit a piece of work for an exhibition in London. I think this might be the one. If  the curator decides it’s not for him then the rejection will not hurt. Instead it will be stitched into the fabric of my own being as an embellishment on the already rich tapestry of my life.

Melanie Ezra [spine detail]