Myopia is a project going against the ‘normal’ in photography. The series is in response to Harold Gilman’s painting Portrait of Sylvia Gosse (1912), which was part of the archival collection at the Southampton City Art Gallery. His work immediately stood out to me, as the technique he used was different to what I had seen in many of the other paintings in the gallery. He hadn’t tried to get everything perfectly detailed, and had painted with larger brush strokes creating a patchy and abstract affect, so you had to stand back to really appreciate the painting.
This was a common theme in Gilman’s work, and after looking at his technique more I went on to create some initial portraits that were purposely taken out of focus, inspired by the loose brush strokes of the original painting. Simply put, a portrait is an image that identifies the subject in some way (Fuqua and Biver 2010, p.23), and by removing this identification by creating images that are purposely distorted, the viewer perceives the image differently to one that is not. The technique I used was also an insight into how I see. I am short sighted and wanted to show people who do not suffer from short sightedness as to how I see. This is also where the name of the series derived from.
I experimented with different lighting techniques, different locations and subjects, as I didn’t want to settle photographing portraits just as that was the focus in the original painting. However the landscape and still life images I created didn’t have the same impact as my initial images, and so I continued producing portraits that were out of focus, until I was happy that I had found the right level of distortion for each image. The four images here were exhibited in the Southampton City Art Gallery’s exhibition Photography and the Collection, and I had the privilege of the first image being selected for publicity for the exhibition.