Photographic artist Mary Woolf has been commissioned by FrancisKnight on behalf of Craven District Council to design boundary signage for the Great Places Lakes and Dales public art project. We asked Mary to tell us what motivates her practice and why research is such an important part of this process.
A photographic artist currently living and working in Settle, North Yorkshire, Mary moved to Horton-in-Ribblesdale in 2016 after achieving a first class honours degree in photographic arts from the University of Westminster. Mary's work explores ideas surrounding perception and experience, in addition to pushing the boundaries of photography as a medium. She says, "My aim is to inspire people to look a little bit closer at their surroundings - to take more notice of the experience of being in a place."
Her creative process always starts with research. "My art comes from an informed background, and my research encompasses a wide range of sources of inspiration and information, from academic essays to popular culture. Part of what motivates me as an artist is my desire to learn, and to share my experience of the world. This inspired my 2016 Yorkshire Dales series. It took me a year to only fractionally share my experience of living in Horton-in-Ribblesdale for seven months, and the research resulted in other projects inspired by the shifting light and colours of the unique landscape, shaping my current creative processes."
Mary continues, "I started questioning my relationship to photography and to this landscape. I began questioning the nature of photography itself: what a photograph actually is. Light and colour are one and the same: light cannot exist without colour and colour cannot exist without light. What we see as colour is the process of light interacting with everything around it. A photograph, by definition, is light captured and recorded by a photo-sensitive (light-sensitive) surface. In my case the photo-sensitive surface was the sensor in my digital camera. So if you were to isolate the colours out of the information from a digital camera’s sensor, you are still making photographs, but not in the way we have come to expect. Using these ideas, I worked digitally to create what became the series The Yorkshire Dales. I built up these images that portrayed my experience of this landscape by drawing out the colours that I noticed. It was almost like digital screen printing on top of a photograph, building up these layers of colour."
This has become Mary's philosophy for creating her photographic art. "It is why I say my art is rooted in the photographic, even if it doesn’t look like it on the surface, and why I insist on being called a photographic artist, not a photographer. Since moving to the Dales, I have continued working on representing the place using this philosophy of image making, including the Craven District Council signage project, which will be installed in September 2019."
The first public showing of some of this new work will be part of Mary's first solo exhibition at Gallery on the Green, in Settle, from July to September 2019.
You can find out more about Mary here https://www.marymwoolf.com
To read the extended version of this article, please go to https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/photographic-artist-mary-woolf-shares-her-creative-process-ltd/