Have you ever wondered what nymphs look like in the modern world?
Brisbane-based art photographer and film-maker Willem Whitfield certainly has, creating this intriguing and conceptual series featuring Whim’s very own Editorial Assistant Cecile!
The photographs are themed around the Ancient Greek deities and were captured near Norman Creek in Brisbane, showcasing the natural wetlands which are only minutes away from the heart of the city.
Willem further explains: “Like our mangroves, the Nymphs are so close and yet so hidden from our world. I used modern cameras and sunglasses to emphasise this motif of what is seen and what is hidden. They trap the viewer with their gaze, hiding the rest of their world just beyond the frame.”
We’re stoked to also bring you an in-depth interview with the talented photographer and who better to ask the questions than Cecile? Keep reading to find out more about Willem’s creative work, his thoughts on Brisbane, and what he’s planning next!
Q: How does your work in theatre and film – both as an actor and a director – translate into staging a photoshoot like this one?
A: It gives me a strong understanding of story. In my work as a photographer I’m less concerned with aesthetics that I think other people are. It is more important to me to create an image which tells a story or creates one. In my opinion, aesthetic quality comes from the objective of the story.
Q: What draws you to a project?
A: I am driven by my gut. If something feels like the right thing to do at the right time, then I will throw myself into it. I don’t really believe that I have a choice when it comes to my projects. I’m more than happy to spend months failing at them so long as that gut feeling doesn’t change; I feel like I still have room to grow in that direction. New ideas pop up every day, but it’s my gut feeling that draws me into them and keeps me there.
Q: What’s one piece of art that changed your life?
A: Mark Rothko’s Four Darks In Red. I saw a documentary about his work late one night on SBS (isn’t late night SBS a brilliant thing?) He’s an abstract expressionist, and I didn’t get any of it until the documentary described this one. You’ll have to imagine it, a four meter squared canvas with gigantic maroon rectangles painted on it. They vary in shade only slightly.
So this art student gets lost on the way to an Andy Warhol exhibit, takes a wrong turn and finds this painting alone, displayed in it’s own room. Looks at it, confused. After a while he breaks down in tears. That’s it! Mark Rothko placed a group of red rectangles on a canvas in just the right place and managed to illicit all the real, human emotion that we all want from our art. I had one of those moments where things just ‘clicked’.
Q: You’re based in Brisbane, Australia – how do you like Brisbane as a home for up-and-coming art makers?
A: That’s a big political question. I’d like to selfishly say that it’s no good here. In Brisbane we have food and running water. No one gets killed. Thanks to the internet, my pictures can be seen by all the trendy wankers on the other side of the planet. We’re not really stunted here, but it’s a small town. I think there’s a lot of hive mind thinking that people get bogged down in. We have a little bit of everything here, but no enough of any of it. Plus the summers are so goddamn sweaty.
Q: Where do you usually get your inspiration from?
A: The answer to that would solve my entire life. Please help me.
Q: What are you working on next?
A: I am broke at the moment, so I’m working on whatever pays. Maybe tomorrow lightning will strike and a good idea will be born. Until then I’m just working on staying healthy, happy and hopefully not homeless.
Please follow Willem’s work via his Facebook and Instagram (@willemwhitfield). Enjoy!
Full credits: Photographer: Willem Whitfield | Models: Cecile Blackmore & Ellen Jenkins
Interview by Cecile Blackmore | Cecile is a writer from Brisbane, Australia. She writes and edits at The Creative Issue and hoards vintage clothing – follow her adventures on Instagram at @saintcecile.