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Article in Royal Photographic Society magazine Creative Eye

Creative Eye is the Royal Photographic Society's magazine to showcase photographers who do creative work. I wrote this article explaining how my work has evolved through my relationship with plants.

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Winter, the loss of the outer but the regaining of the sacred inner

Circle return

This is some new work I have created this week for submission number 12 in the @circle.return project organised by @f22aop and @assocphoto. The idea is collaborators respond to a post from the previous woman photographer, creating a chain of images.

I’m following some wonderful work by @felicitycrawshaw depicting ancient venerable trees, aging gracefully, warts and all. Felicity spoke about preserving their natural beauty with careful forest management. This allows the trees to express what Goethe calls their ‘gesture’ in the world, a way in which they express who they are.

I have maintained a light touch on the nearly 350 trees I planted 27 years ago, I believe the woodland is a community and as such its inhabitants will mostly manage themselves. Rewilding gives ecosystems the autonomy they need to restore their own balance. Before we had the desire to manage and control, the word ‘wood’ or ‘wod’ in Old English was used generically for ‘wild’ (as opposed to ‘domesticated’).

From this came ‘out of the woods’ meaning ‘safe’. Society is currently obsessed with staying safe. But I want to be curious, be in the woods and entangled in its complexity.

To be in relationship with these beings alongside whom I grow, I make connection my intention. I need to become porus, I try to listen to the land, let go of expectation and feel my way. If I treat land as sacred it will become so.

As I approach the edges of the woodland I notice the setting sun painting my shadow before me. A field maple beckons my attention. My shadow melts into the trunk and I become tree.

Inspired by experimental images others have done, I felt drawn into monochrome then intuitively reversed the images into negative, making my shadow into a being of light.

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Winter Solstice 2023


Earth

full tilt

hanging

in silky stillness

half cloaked

turned away


inexorably

returns


A glimmer

burning brighter

beckons

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Squash harvest 2023

My harvest from this years attempt at growing squash from seed. I'm not sure what the orange one is as I lost the label, but the blue ones are Crown Prince which has delicious rich orange flesh, especially when roasted. 

I got the seeds from Julian Turner who is in our local Norfolk Organic Group and donates seeds from the ones he has grown. I'm Seed Co-ordinator for the group and look after all the seeds. 

A relationship is formed with the seed saver who co-created the plant that will nourish me. I will save seed from these and share among our community. A small act of resistance to the corporate food industry, strengthening our community.

Contact me if you would like some seed. Read more about my ongoing Seed projects here

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AOP f22 : Online show for International Women's Day

Re-connection through Seed Saving – bringing seeds back into communities

Community and Connection

F22, a group set up by Association of Photographers (AOP) members to champion the work of women photographers launched a curated, online exhibition on Wednesday 8th March to mark International Women’s Day.

The finalists’ gallery includes a total of 52 images and a video by 15 members of the f22 group on the theme of “community and all it encompasses”.

I was very pleased to have an image from my artists residency with the Seed Co-Operative selected.

The prestigious curators include Andy Greenacre, Photography Director of the Telegraph magazine, Jennie Ricketts, former Picture Editor of the Observer Magazine, Fiona Shields, Head of Photography at the Guardian, and Jane Sherwood, News Editor, EMEA at Getty Images.

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Photofusion Salon - January 2023

Originally founded as the Photo Co-op in 1979 in South London, Photofusion is now London’s largest independent photography resource centre. Every year they have a show of selected members work and my interactive piece Innerworld is on display until 27th January at their gallery in Brixton.

Now extended to 17th February.

More about the piece here

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November 2022

Cover image


Pflanzenfreund, a Swiss magazine that often presents plants in provocative ways featured my image on the front cover of an issue asking 'Do plants have rights?'

In this context the image is illustrating the concept of reflection, however the image is the first of three from a series called Decline.

These lotus leaves are bent over, in their final stages of life, gradually returning to the water, as they merge into their reflection.

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October 2022 : Artist-in-Residence

I'm delighted to announce that I'm now Artist-in-Residence at the Seed Co-Operative who are the UK's only community owned seed suppliers. They grow, process and sell organic, open-pollinated seed, aiming to 'shine a spotlight on the vital, but all-too-often forgotten, role of the humble seed in building a resilient food system.'

My aim in this residency is to explore the connection to the plants with whom we are co-creating and strengthening, as we also become stronger, resisting control and reversing separation. An intimacy evolves that can bring a deeply felt relationship with nature and community.

The sowing of the seed to grow the plant from which the seeds will be saved is a cylical process. Images will be shared on my Instagram feed throughout the year.

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Interview in Nikon magazine - October 2022

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Only When I Dream show in London - premiere of multimedia piece

I was delighted to exhibit in "Only When I Dream" a group show at the Coningsby Gallery, London, curated by Andrew Coningsby and Beth Taubner in early September 2022.

This is 'Innerworld' - a multi-media participatory piece premiered in the show. By downloading a free App called Artivive, viewers can point their phone to this image (anywhere it appears - try it here) This will trigger the app to play a video that I have created about my interaction with a tree I planted in 1996.

You can watch the video I created here.

Using sensor pads, I connect the tree to a device that can read the electromagnetic vibrations of a plant and outputs MIDI signals, which put through a synthesiser translates them into music

I sit with the tree and listen for a while. Then I play simple note sequences on the glockenspiel, these vibrations are picked up and if you listen carefully you can hear them echoed by the tree.

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Eco play in the meadow

On a lovely sunny Sunday in June, in the middle of the large wildflower meadow at my house, I hosted an outdoor performance of a play called The Miracle Egg.

Although aimed at children, the environmental message was also enjoyed by adults, as roughly 20 of each sat around the circular stage on rugs and chairs. Written by Norwich playwright Belona Greenwood and directed by Stephen Carne, it was a pilot version with few props or costumes, and we all had to use our imagination but everyone was fully absorbed and went away more thoughtful.

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Nominee in Fine Art Photography Awards 2022

'Enmeshed'  means to be entangled in something.

We are nature. We need to overcome the feeling of being separate. We are inextricably woven into the ecosystem that is Gaia.

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Swiss Plant magazine showcases my ideology alongside my images

Pflanzenfreund January 2022

I was delighted this magazine were keen to talk about my philosophical approach as well as showcasing images. The translation of the title is

Perceive nature as a living being

the main text is:

'In nature there is no beginning or end, everything is a process, writes the British author Carol Sharp in her resume. As a photographer and gardener, she has over the last 25 years been studying the secret life of plants.

She even goes so far as to call herself a vitalist, connecting with the vital life force inherent in all living things.

The more evidence there is that plants communicate with each other, Carol questions our relationship to plants and our understanding of nature. Because we must recognize that we are not separate from nature, but are part of her.'

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2 Honourable mentions in Julia Margaret Cameron awards

This image is about the cosmic significance of a seed, the seed as sacred, the seed that is the beginning and the end, the origin and the completion of the whole.

The seed emerging from its dormant state is a metaphor of hope for the planet.

We are nature. We need to overcome the feeling of being separate. We are inextricably woven into the ecosystem that is Gaia.

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 I talk about co-evolving with plants on art.earth

art.earth celebrates and supports artists who are concerned about the environment or ecological issues.

I was delighted to be invited to talk in May 2021 as part of First Friday. These are informal presentations and discussions about our projects past and in progress. My talk starts at 39.30

My practise encourages us to embrace plants as kin, and aims to heal the disconnection we have from plants. 

I discuss ideas for a project exploring how we can re-embody a long lost role as a co-evolutionary partner, rather than a gene controller, through carrying out mindful seed saving and community sharing.

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Mother's day floral banners

I was delighted to work with the wonderful team at Cowan Design on the Tesco Mother's Day instore and online imagery.
As well as the photography and styling, I created the painted background, which was very theraputic under lockdown... and at least the lovely models didn't have to socially distance!

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Calendar for Garden Organic

A project I did for Garden Organic Heritage Seed Library has been made into a calendar for 2021

The 12 images each depict the seed and the vegetable arranged in a painterly still life.

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Winner - Nature - 2020 Pollux awards

'Barcode or Biophilia'

Winner in Nature Single image category in the International Pollux Awards. Alongside the beauty in the rhythm of the trees is the reference to a barcode, which represents how trees are viewed as a commodity, just as wood that is useful to humans.

Exhibited at the FotoNostrum Gallery in Barcelona March 4th-26th 2020.

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Remembrance

This image was chosen by Photofusion from over 1000 entries for their Salon 2019 and is on display until 23rd Jan 2020 at their gallery

The field poppy Papaver rhoeas has been used to commemorate the fallen since it covered the fields of Flanders with its blooms at the end of the 1st world war, and it has become known as the Remembrance poppy.

Here the blood red flower is a vivid memory, this plant has already reached the end of its life cycle and the colour is drained from it. The stem suggests the barbed wire of the trenches, and the transience of a flower reminds us of how fleeting life is. But in the dying plant's seedhead is the new life within, continuing the perpetual cycle.

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The leaf

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Silver in 2019 MIFA awards

This image won Silver in the Science/Environment category in the Moscow International Awards.

The seed is the beginning and the end, the origin and the completion of the whole.  The journey of the seed to its final form is a symbol for the journey of the soul.

The Oak represents mighty power, from its huge botanical structure to the strength of the wood itself. It is often called the king of trees, not just due to its size but its ability to survive environmental change. Now however, human activities are taking a toll on these magnificent trees.

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209 Women in Open Eye Gallery Liverpool & parliament decide to archive collection

209 Women moves to Liverpool for February/March 2019. The Open Eye gallery is a beautiful large gallery on the docks beside Tate Liverpool.

Parliament have confirmed that the full 209 women collection of prints will be now be part of one of the most important public collections in the UK, to be preserved and shown for years to come.

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Art.Earth Artist of the month February 2019

Carol Sharp was asked to be Artist of the Month and discuss her work on the website of Art.Earth - a collective of artists and researchers with an interest in ecology and the environment. 

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Pollux Awards 2019 - Winner of 2 categories

Carol Sharp has won 2 categories in the Pollux awards 2019.

The Systems IV image 'Linear breaking point' won the Digital manipulation single, and the 'Underworld' series images won in Nature series.

The images will be shown in Barcelona as part of the Biennial of Fine Art & Documentary Photography exhibition. 

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Photofusion Salon 2018

'Decline IV - Return to the foetal form' has been selected for the Photofusion Salon 2018.

The Decline series follows the slowing down process in nature as rigidity and strength recedes and colour is lost, often there is shrivelling and shrinking, the life force seems to be leaving. Many similarities to aging humans can be drawn.

"This image is actually comprised of young leaves from the London Plane which had fallen early. But like all leaves as they dried they curled in. As I laid them out and studied them I was reminded of my elderly mother and her friends, who although they had shrunk and were bent over, still retained a resilient and playful character."

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209 Women show to mark 100 years since women got the vote

209 women will be a public exhibition in Parliament to mark 100 years of women achieving the vote: 209 new portraits of all women MPs, by 209 women photographers.

"I was delighted to be asked but told the curator Hilary Wood that it wasn't really my genre. She said they weren't just looking for mugshots but creative interpretations by different sorts of photographers. I said I would do it if I could be paired with the only green MP - Caroline Lucas.

So I came up with an idea for a photomontage around a vision of a green parliament. It entailed getting Caroline in an empty House of Commons and I was extremely fortunate that it was closed for a couple of weeks for repairs and I got permission to use it for the shoot.

Many thanks to my assistant Alice Constance and my friend Jonathan Froud for their help with the shoot."

On 14th December 1918 women voted for the first time, and in the same year the first female MP was elected. Launching 14th December 2018, 100 years on, 209 Women opens in Portculis house in the Palace of Westminster.


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11th Julia Margeret Cameron awards

An honourable mention was received for these 2 images in the 2018 awards. 

They will be shown at the Photobiennial in Barcelona in October 2018.


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Billboard installation at Phytology

The billboard stayed up in Phytology nature reserve for a few weeks until 30th June 2018


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25th & 26th May 2018 : Chelsea Fringe installation

Carol Sharp demonstrates a device that can read the electromagnetic vibration of a plant and translate it into music, during an installation at Phytology, an artist led project at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve.

Hear how patterns and melodies change in relationship to fluctuations in the environment, listen to different plants and interact with them to affect the sounds. Play an instrument and hear the plant respond. Performances with invited musicians during the day and Carol will talk about her exploration into plant intelligence. Explore the nature reserve including medicinal meadows.

The event is open Friday 25th & Saturday 26th May from 11-6pm, and visits can also be made by appointment from 21st-24th May.

Performances

Saturday 25th May : Musicians perform an improvised set on site with the plants. Be there to experience this unique event!

Sound artist Simone Salvatici  will be using using his amazing gongs which produce a powerful vibrational resonance.

Guitarist Alex Lewis will be playing various pieces and improvising when the plant chimes in.

2.30pm Alex

3pm Simone

3.30pm Alex

4pm Simone

4.30pm Both playing together



Chelsea Fringe is a garden festival in London which is run in parallel with the Chelsea Flower Show. It consists of a variety of eclectic events at locations across London.


April 2018 : Outdoor photography article

I was invited to write an article about capturing the essence of plants using photography, not only technical and creatively but also the philosophical side of communing with nature in this way. Click here to read complete article

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