Saturday 20 February 2010

Connections and circles

During last week I was looking for an image I could use in a lecture. I came across this photograph by Martin Parr - one of my favourite photographers. He was at Manchester Poly along with my sister where they both studied photography together. Her life followed a very different path to his but I still see her as one of the best photographers I know even though her current career bears no relation to her past studying. I love the simplicity of her photographs and have a series of them on my wall that she gave me. Why am I mentioning this - well she was the first to introduce me to true creativity. I was very young when she was studying but I can still remember the power of her photographs - a simple green apple in a frosted glass to a stripper emblazoned across a curtain. At that point I started to understand what impact images can have, it was the beginning of one of my circles. I often use photographs to inspire my writing or I give students a selection of photographs in order to make the connection between a photo and a narrative because that's the point, every photograph has a story - real or fictional - it is just waiting there to be told.
The simplicity of my sister's photographs belies the richness of the images plus the (often) hours of thought behind them. It is this that I have been trying to achieve with my writing but have found recently instead that there is a fine line between no atmosphere and gag-enducing purple prose! I am looking for that balance.
My search for that balance has included loking back through some of my favourite books in order to try and make the connections between images that are barely there but are powerful enough to fill the reader's imgination and those that are blatant and blunt but just as effective. Several books came to mind including Cosmicomics, Holes, Palace Pier Blues, The Book Thief and The Bloody Chamber, All of which achieve to varying degrees the balance of simplicity and richness in their descriptions.
The Bloody Chamber came to mind as it is a book that I am lecturing on next week. This has lead to further connections as I have been reading about Angela Carter this afternoon and apparently with my PhD looking at the representation of sex entitles me to label myself a 'moral pornographer' (an image I quite like if I am honest). In that it is my aim with my thesis novel to construct a text where the woman's sole purpose is not to just gratify the man, instead it is the demystification of flesh and a reflection of the real world where all are equal and desire is not shame-faced. I felt that sort of connection this afternoon.

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