Chasing demons …………
Today I forced myself to take a self-portrait, and I can’t believe what a sad and difficult task it has been. I felt I had to write a little something about it because for many people they’ll never understand the emotions behind it and why I have made certain choices about not correcting my skin with retouching.
Two years ago almost to the day I took my last self-portrait. It was 7 months after my mother had died and I was exhausted. The picture was called ‘What Remains’, I took it wearing a necklace of dead flowers, no make-up, and wet hair. I had been crying, and poured water over my face and hair to wipe away all that was left on my skin. It was to symbolise all I had left … which at the time felt like nothing.
Self-portraiture was my only way to express myself throughout mum’s treatment and eventual death. In the months that followed I began dressing up, covering myself in flowers, digging a deeper and deeper hole to a better, more colourful world than the one I lived in. People often misunderstood me, and in the end I stopped taking the pictures altogether.
Soon after, my body began wearing its grief on the outside, and I developed stress acne. I can’t even explain what I felt like., I cried constantly on buses, trains; wherever I caught my reflection… it was hopeless. I avoided people, made excuses, and couldn’t look anyone in the eyes. I felt like a monster, and nothing could make it stop. Slowly my chin became more and more marked and scarred, and none of the creams or tablets made any difference. My self-confidence was shattered, and I spent my weekends hiding deep in the woods with Elbie my new friend creating the beginning of Wonderland – far away from the life I used to have.
Wonderland kept me sane for so many reasons, and this other world became more real than the one I dragged myself through everyday. After a year my skin slowly began to heal, but some the marks remained, and I know now 2 years on this will always be a part of me, and a reminder of that time in my life.
I decided to finally try and take my picture again this week after I found myself walking past the same place I took the those dead flowers from all that time ago. The new skeletons of the dying flowers were there just as they always had been, and it felt like a little sign. So I set myself the challenge to try again, and this picture is the result. I chose a damaged rose that was dying in my garden and cut it open so you could see its heart. Its pretty much how I still feel, all I see is damage now when I look at myself, so the flower felt like a kindred spirit. I took a lot of photos, and most of them were with my eyes closed. In the end I forced myself to look directly into the lens, in strong daylight and just see this as a record of myself for when I’m older and wont care about the insecurities I have now.
It was a hard reality to face after only taking photographs of models for two years, and the shock of seeing myself again was pretty strange. I have obviously edited the picture, but in this case I chose not to go through the usual process of retouching the skin. I have left the small scars by my mouth, I haven’t used any airbrushing, everything is untouched apart from brightening and fading the colour.
So I guess I wanted it to be a record for myself – a first little step back from where I’ve been. I’m uncomfortable with it, I think there are so many things I could have done better, Its hard to thrust your face straight into the camera when I usually can’t bear the thought of it, but my opinion of myself has become increasing low over the months and I know its time I tried to face my demons instead of constantly hiding from them. …
So that is what I needed to say.
I’ll be writing a new entry on here soon about the progress of Wonderland and some press pieces that have been really exciting, but for tonight I just wanted to leave this entry as it is and keep it here for what it is ……