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Haarala Hamilton - Photographer of the Month


Having met at Camberwell College over ten years ago, Liz and Max combine their talents to produce great images. Definitely an interesting concept, as most would assume that photography is a practice of the individual; of whoever presses the button. We caught up with them briefly to find out more about their work.

Tell us a little more about the images that Milim Gallery selected for the Wallflower collection. What inspired you to shoot such a unique project and did you have to get permission in doing so?

This particular series developed out of a long-standing fascination for the creation of immortality. We dabbled with this idea before in our Flowers series where we made studies of dead plants. For the Skeleton series, we were quite interested in the idea that previously living objects were preserved for future display, and that the particular way in which these objects were eventually displayed, created a certain atmosphere that brought them back to life. Isolated in a delicately lit room, the viewer is left to ponder a sense of the life force that once mobilized these bones. 

Was it an easy job to shoot? It looks as though you had them held up using stands.

Actually, it did turned out to be a relatively easy shoot. The skeletons hung from the ceiling and whilst the lack of light and space were our the biggest challenge, these conditions turned out to work in our favour. The light in particular is a large part of what makes the images a success for us.

You chose a very particular way of shooting the bones. Were there specific reasons for this?

We wanted the skeletons to come alive in the photographs, which we feel we achieved. We photographed some as whole skeletons, but others were shot in parts. The reason for this was that in some cases, the natural detail of the skeleton produced an unrecognizable pattern, as if something new was being created out of the old. We liked the idea of the skeletons looking like they were floating in space and jumping out of a dark background.

I was quite fascinated by your project Thames Town, China. It's hard to believe that kind of infrastructure exists in China and in a place that looks so deserted. Could you tell us a bit more about it?

Thames Town was a very odd place that we visited. It’s situated among a much larger development of country-themed gated communities. Thames Town was almost completely empty when we visited - void of any residents we could see. The shops were just fronts with faded posters and the ‘chippy’ was being used as the guard's bike shed. The only people we encountered were security guards, their children and a number of wedding photographers and their subjects. It was like a ghost town waiting to be filled with people that were never going to arrive.

We were told that people could not afford to live in this particular town, and that only a handful of the properties had sold. Yet on the way to Thames Town we had walked past Italian, Dutch and French towns that all looked inhabited, at least by some residents. Still, we were left with an uncanny feeling about those places because unlike Thames Town, we were not just allowed to walk in and have a look around them.

Any new projects on the way?

We are currently starting a few new projects including one based around taking portraits of Librarians and another that we will be shooting in Canada. We are also continuing to expand our Flowers series.

Any exhibitions?

We have an exhibition in Helsinki in 2012. It also incorporates a talk, which will be based around the theme of the body, so we will be doing some new work for this as well as showing some existing work.

 

To see more of their work, click here.


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