So the Summer holidays are officially in full swing, and many of our lovely clients have been jetting off to exotic places… Are Eye Like jealous? Erm, not in the slightest! (We say wiping away our tears...) Excitingly however, a couple of weeks ago I packed my bags for a mini afternoon adventure, and zoomed up the A40 to catch up with the wonderful Gina Soden in her new studio!
When Eye Like began back in 2014, Gina was one of the very first artists to join our 'family' and believe us when we say that we've never looked back. From the moment we set eyes upon her fine art photographs, depicting beauty within scenes of dereliction, we were absolutely hooked. Fast forward three years, not only has she proved mighty popular with so many of our clients, but her work has gone from strength to strength. Impressively, Gina has gained awards such as Emerging Artist of the Year in 2013 and The Naylor Award for the Finest Photograph in 2014 (both awarded by the National Open Art Competition), and she's even exhibited at Photo London. And did we mention that her photographs are on display in London's newest members club haunt The Ned?! These are just the tip of the iceberg too - let's just say that Gina is definitely still an artist to watch!
With all of her amazing accolades under her belt, it will come as no surprise that this talented artist has started to embark on a discovery into a brand new form of artwork. Over the past couple of weeks she's posted a few sneaky peeks of her experimentations, prompting our trip to her studio for an exclusive preview… My pulse has truly been quickening on social media recently watching Gina's progress, so if you're not already following Gina over on Instagram (@ginasodenartist), I highly suggest you do!
Upon arriving at her studio, I was greeted by an array of artworks that are very much different to the fine art photographs of Gina's that I'm used to admiring. These newest developments see the artist hand-printing her photography onto a variety of materials - from vintage mirrors and glass, to aluminium and copper sheets. Sounds simple? You couldn't be more wrong! The printing that takes place is a mission in itself - and I should know! I was lucky enough to watch Gina create a test piece in front of me, and I was left amazed by the many steps involved in order to leave the photograph printed on the material. Once the image has dried (which can take days) Gina then brushes various substances onto the edges before sometimes being left in a chamber to decay. Now, I won't be revealing Gina's processes above in any more detail - being top secret and all ;) - but let's just say that visiting her studio felt like being back in the Chemistry lab at school!
So after all the chemical reactions taking place, what do the final pieces actually look like? As Gina uncovered all of the hidden gems in her studio, I was faced with a multitude of awe-inspiring scenes displaying varying levels of corrosion - all of which were uniquely different. As Gina quite rightly explained whilst describing the processes to me, "once you've started the decaying, you can't undo the process", cleverly mirroring the process of dereliction taking place within the featured scenes. (However, she can stop the process and fix it in place with a varnish so the piece does not decay any further.) Although each piece is completely distinct from another, it has to be said that the final artworks Gina showed me were all breath-taking. The corrosion created on each artwork is a match made in heaven for the photographs that Gina have taken - the scenes are quite literally, and ironically, brought to life!
What's important to remember is that this organic process, like the derelict scenes she depicts, is quite simply uncontrollable. Gina has no idea what the final artwork will look like before she begins, or indeed, if the piece will even reach the final stages. This was proved when we took out a sheet of printed copper from it's fume chamber (armed in our protective masks I may add!) only to find that the decay across the piece had transformed into a vivid blue across the whole piece and covered the image. For me however, the factor of the unknown only adds to the mysterious and enthralling nature of each piece, whilst highlighting the scenes' fascinating narrative.
All in all, my arty afternoon with Gina was downright intriguing and completely astonishing - not to mention tons of fun. But even she admits how the processes can be "frustrating"... For Gina, the appeal in producing this new form of artwork lies in her hard work and the fact that she "physically makes these artworks [her]self". (A factor that can sometimes be overlooked by people observing her fine art photographs). So what does the future hold for Gina and this new stage in her career? Well, although at this stage there are no solid plans to release these amazing pieces, I think it's clear to say that this departure denotes a new and exciting chapter for the artist. Watch this space!
- Mollie Philpot, Eye Like Gallery
Eye Like Gallery.