On a beautiful piece of coastline on the Bristol channel, renowned for it’s wealth of fossils, sits a structure which resembles an ice cube, quite a contrast to the stunning landscape that surrounds it, the structure is a nuclear power station, on my regular walks there I would often be faced with thoughts of man verses nature and the impact we are having on our environment due to our increasing demands for fuel, this issue is much publicised and understood and needs no facts or figures from me, in my work I don’t like to tell the viewer what to think or feel, I like them to be the author themselves. I chose this poignant landscape as the setting for this shoot.
I took my inspiration from images of birds caught in an oil slick and stranded on the beach. I wanted the images to have a dark feel to them but to still have an essence of beauty as is a creature of nature. I had made the mesh skirt for a Harlequin shoot shoot I had done earlier in the year, this was the first piece I had ever made for a shoot, before I enrolled myself on a dressmaking course and invested in a sewing machine, strips of mesh all hand tied onto an elastic waistband, this gave the perfect feather like appearance. I decided to make a neck corset out of lace to give the appearance of a proud creature, head held high despite it’s struggles, I found the pattern online and worked from that, teamed with a black corset top the styling was complete.
Now to work out how to cover the model in oil and not have my own impact on the environment or leave the model stained or worse a nasty rash! I thought about paints and oils and finally came up with the plan of black treacle, cheap, affective and after testing on my hand, removable without stains! 9 cans were purchased and wheeled onto site with the costume, a dressing gown, some wetwipes and towels, I took a flask of soapy hot water and hoped with a mixture of sea water we would be able to clean the model up for her journey home, didn’t quite work out as planned…
I chose marley for the shoot, i had worked with Marley before and knew she would be up to the job, she is a hardcore model and always up for an adventure, it was a cold day and I was going to be covering the poor girl in sticky treacle, she was the only one up to the role! I had my faithful assistant and MUA Jess on board, a dark, sad and teary eyed appearance was called for and Jess did me proud as always. She also had the honour of covering the lovely Marley in treacle, ofcourse I had to handle the expensive camera and couldn’t risk getting any treacle on it As it turned out the wind blew strings of treacle at me and my camera, thank goodness for glasses wet wipes!
The affect was perfect, Marley settled into role with ease and portrayed beautiful emotion, so much planning and thought had gone into the shoot and before my eyes was exactly what I had envisioned, it doesn’t always happen like this, a danger of overthinking and planning a shoot before hand, to often it can end in disappointment, you can walk away from shoots with great pictures but when they weren’t what you imagined you can’t help but feel disheartened.
When Marley could take the cold no more and before hyperthermia had chance to kick in it was clean up time, no amount of wet wipes, hot soapy or sea water would remove the treacle, it mixed with the sand and wipes became sandpaper, at this point I did have a little panic, but Marley the trooper that she is wrapped up in a dressing gown and travelled back to my house a sticky sandy mess, luckily the well earned hot shower cleaned her up!
To date this was one of my favourite shoots, a success in the planning and execution, a crazy fun experience and final images, which I am really proud of, a day I will remember fondly always
Model: Marley Hamilton
MUA/Assistant: Jess Knight
Photography/Styling: Ellie Ellis