One of my favourite things ever is making up stories, packaging little moments in time and filling them with characters, happenings and elements of playfulness. I think that's one of things I try to get across in my paintings. They are each snapshots of worlds that maybe existed for real, or maybe just in my head, or maybe a bit of both. When I took Layla to Stoke to model for me as Mrs Brown, the moment she stepped into the dressing room set, a story was taking place before my eyes.
For me it was a lovely moment to behold, like seeing the sun rise at just the right angle through the pillars of Stone Henge or finally getting the shot of a bird you'd been waiting hours to catch a glimpse of. When Layla, in full 1950's regalia, sat in front of the dressing table in the set I had spent months putting together with the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, I felt very, what's the word?... satisfied. Not to mention excited. Here at last was Mrs Brown in her dressing room, interacting with her belongings, acting out her story, making it just that little bit more real!
The whole point of the shoot which took place last Monday, was to continue the theme of telling stories through belongings and objects. Mrs Brown's story has been entirely inspired by the objects I selected from the decorative arts collection during my collaborative project with the museum. Each object has been displayed as part of Mrs Brown's dressing room as an illustration of her life, a snapshot, a moment in time packaged and ready for consumption.
I wanted to photograph the objects with the woman who supposedly owns them to give them even more meaning, and even though my model was very important, it was still the objects themselves which dictated the shots and led the images to tell the story.
It was a small space and very dark in order to preserve the items displayed, so it took some getting used to before both I and Layla managed to ease into the shoot, but I was really happy with the images we got. By keeping Mrs Brown's identity quite anonymous her belongings take over in letting the viewer decide what's happening. The photos will be displayed over the coming months on; www.mrs-browns-diary.blogspot.com and I'll continue announcing when each new installment is posted, head over there now for installments 3, 4 and 5!