Saturday, 13 August 2011

Summer Friendship

Image by and copyright of Dave Collier.

I have been fairly quiet lately, I am keeping a low profile for a time, while I focus on other things. However, despite my intention to step back from modelling for now, I have, in fact, kept on shooting (although not as intensively) and I have enjoyed working on some very artistic projects lately. I've done lots of shoots this year, but haven't always received the images back from them (sometimes you do, sometimes you don't - I can't complain either way!). If I do receive more photos from shoots, I will definitely share them here as and when I feel inspired to.

I'm spending a short time in Scotland this weekend, and have just spent the evening walking my dog through the barley and wheat fields whilst enjoying a glorious sunset. It reminded me that I have somehow forgotten to upload this image - one of my favourites from this year - featuring the very beautiful and extremely lovely Fire's Secret. I worked with her and Dave Collier recently, and we were blessed with nice weather and this gorgeous field. Sometimes images evoke an emotion, and for me, this is one of those photos, and probably one of my favourites yet. There is an innocence about it which I just love. There are also many more images from shoots with Dave that I have yet to go through, but I will get around to selecting some favourites and uploading them eventually...

While on the subject of things I have yet to upload, I wrote the following rant some time ago and posted it to my facebook and deviantArt profiles, where it received some interesting responses. You may have already come across it on the blog of the eloquent and beautiful Ella Rose, who featured it there. I did not initially post it here on my blog, because I feared it would be interpreted as a personal attack. (I am often surprised that many people use their blog as a means of publicly sharing their opinions about another individual. Maybe my internet etiquette is outdated, but this is a thing which I, personally, would never do). However, there's really no point in spending the time writing these things if not for the purpose of them being read, so here it is. But please be aware while reading this that it is not about any one person; rather it is a culmination of musings which have occurred to me over time, and which I have mentioned many times before.

Sex and Nudity

If you follow my blog, my journal, or my work in general, you'll probably know that this is a bit of an ongoing theme of mine.

The internet is open to all kinds of human life and their diverse interests. Inevitably, sex is a preoccupation of humankind, and something that everyone obsesses about from time to time. (Some more than others, and Freud would argue that everything we do or say comes down to a fundamental preoccupation with sex). The internet has made access to sexual content incredibly easy. Too easy, in my opinion, since it is virtually impossible to avoid being bombarded with explicit content, whether you choose to seek it or not.

We (the West) live in a society where nudity is only ever portrayed in a sexual context. Think about it. When was the last time you saw a naked person on television or in print? And what were they doing? We only ever see naked people in films or on TV when they are engaging in a sexual act. Going about your every day life, the only naked people you are likely to see in print are in magazines on the top shelf of a newsagent. There's porn all over the internet. Generally speaking, you would have to go out of your way to find a nude person portrayed in a manner that is not sexual.
They do exist, of course, but almost without exception, you won't come across them in your everyday life; you would have to seek them to find them.

It's not surprising then, that some people simply cannot disassociate nudity from sex. It's a shame, but it is an inevitable truth, that many people can't help but view a person without clothing, without judging them in a sexual manner.

But there are certain areas where nudity is not necessarily linked with sex, for those who are able to free their minds from the association. Medicine is one, naturism is another, and then there's art. Nudity has been depicted in art for centuries, and though it can be represented in a sexual manner (erotic art), I personally would argue that the the emphasis is on the nude as a thing of aesthetic beauty, but not, necessarily as an object of desire.

When I create art nude photographs, I do not view my body or my work in a sexual context. I certainly don't view the process of creating my work as sexual, and I get no sexual gratification from sharing nude images of myself. As obvious as this may sound to many of you reading this, I often feel this is something I have to emphasize for those who are simply not able to view nudity as anything other than sexual.

I view the human body as a thing of aesthetic beauty. I am able to view images of nudity and appreciate the beauty of them without being distracted by associations of sex. I am not inhibited or embarrassed by my own body, and as such, I try to capture with my photographers a wide range of expressions. Some of my work is simply aesthetically beautiful (well, trying to be). In other images, I have also attempted to express a range of human emotions, including (amongst others), innocence, sorrow, vulnerability, strength, freedom, passion and, on occasion, sexuality.

I am a frustrated actress at heart, and I feel the 'need' for a creative outlet. I have often described modelling as 'a static form of acting,' in which I attempt to capture an emotion in a freeze frame. Whether I am successful in this mission or not, I don't know. It's very difficult to be objective about your own work, and I'm not so arrogant that I believe I hit the mark every time. I do, however, see this in the work of others, and it is something I aspire to.

In my mission to be creative, I find it liberating to be nude, because this involves the whole body - from fingertips to facial expression. The beauty of the human body (and by 'beauty,' I do not mean conventional 'beauty,' but rather the beauty that is intrinsic to all living, breathing human beings) is so much more expressive - in my eyes - when it is unconstrained by clothing. I've seen some wonderfully powerful and emotive art nude images, which seem all the more so to me, because every inch of the body is used to convey an emotion, or perhaps simply to compliment the beauty of the natural environment. The body in itself is an art work, and I enjoy working within this genre, attempting to capture the beauty of the body and all that the body is capable of.

I grew up with a fairly conservative family who certainly weren't particularly liberal. Yet I do not believe that nudity should necessarily be associated with sex. I don't think that society's portrayal of nudity is a very healthy one, since the association with sex is unavoidable. I'm not sure why it is that I have never exclusively viewed nudity in a sexual context, but even as a child I was never afflicted with the giggles over pictures or jokes about bums, boobs and willies. After all, we all have them. For this reason, I am able to model nude, and I am able to share those images with others without associations of guilt or smuttiness, because I simply don't see my work in that way.

The age of the internet has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that it has provided me with a platform to exhibit my art nude work, and share with others. But simultaneously a curse, in that the very word 'internet' carries so many negative associations - often, I believe, because the internet makes sex all too readily available and therefore is subconsciously associated with the stigma of something 'dirty.' When I share my work via the web, I can't choose who gets to view it, or how it is perceived. I am confident in my own mind of the motivation behind creating my work, and I hope that my intentions are evident to many viewers, who appreciate my work in the way I intended it to be appreciated - as works of aesthetic beauty, not as titillation.

I am not under any illusions. For some people, nude is nude, and a girl with no clothes on is a sexual object. I can't stop those people viewing my work. But I am not creating my work for those people; they are not my motivation. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm not an exhibitionist. It would be foolish of me to say that I don't want to be viewed in a sexual manner, because I know all too well that many of those who view my work will see it that way, no matter what I write, and I can't change that. But I do not create art nude images for my own sexual gratification, and I don't enjoy viewing images (or text, for that matter) that are created solely for that purpose.

I resent nothing more than comments such as 'sexy girl' or 'nice tits' on images where my intention was clearly to evoke a response other than a sexual one, and the viewer is not capable of interpreting that. I understand that there are those who can't see past the 'nice tits' and never will. Society has imposed on us the implication that anyone who takes their clothes off, is doing so for sexual reasons, so they probably assume I'm flattered. I'll never completely stop comments like that, or rid myself of sexual connotations as long as I keep taking my clothes off. Fortunately, I like to think that the vast majority of people who view my work, are capable of understanding my intentions, and the 'nice tits' comments are few and far between. I share my work for the enjoyment of like-minded individuals, and luckily, the vast majority of people who follow my work are 'like-minded.'

But I know I have followers who I would class as exhibitionists. Their motivation for creating and sharing images is all too transparent, and their motivation is certainly not to create art. We have in common an interest in creating material that features nudity, and they make the assumption that we do so for the same reasons. But if a quick glance at their work reveals an entire gallery of images featuring their own genitals, or perhaps a body of literature that contains the word 'fuck' or 'fucking' 36 times on the first page, then it is immediately obvious to me that our motivations for creating our work are not the same. With such individuals, I will never overcome their mentality that nudity and sex are one and the same, and it is pointless trying to explain to them that I don't think we have anything in common at all.

I am not prudish, I don't think sex is dirty. I know people do it, and I'm capable of having a conversation about sex without embarrassment. But as far as sex goes, that's something I prefer to keep to myself, and something I choose not to be exposed to if I can help it. I am open-minded in the sense that I don't judge people who choose to get their sexual kicks on the internet. It's just that I have no wish to be associated with those people, and that truly isn't why I am here.

I've spoken before about this subject here, and here.

Nobody is obliged to agree with me.