A large portion of Bronwen Hyde’s work centers around self-portraiture, urban landscapes, graveyards and dolls. Hyde also works on photography projects. For example, between the 17th of April 2007 and 16th of April 2008 she completed a 365 Days project - a self-portrait a day for a year. Hyde’s debut solo exhibition took place at Brunswick Street Gallery in Fitzroy, Victoria.
Institutionalized: truth lies beyond by Bronwen Hyde
Brian Sherwin: Bronwen, What can you tell us about your academic background concerning art? Did you study art formally? Tell us about your art studies in general-- any influential instructors?
Bronwen Hyde: I completed a three year Diploma of Illustrative Photography at Photography Studies College in Melbourne in 1997 and have recently been contemplating the possibility of returning to study. Since completing the Diploma most of my education about photography and art in general has come from looking at and reading about the work of artists I admire.
Institutionalized: overlooked by Bronwen Hyde
BS: Tell us about yourself. At what point did you gain an interest in creating visual art?
BH: As a child I spent a lot of time learning and playing piano, clarinet and saxophone, and visual art wasn't something I was really involved in as I don't have any natural talent for drawing or painting. Initially photography was simply a way of recording the places we visited and the sights we saw on family holidays, but became something of an obsession once I was introduced to processing and printing my own black and white photographs in year 11.
From that point onward music took a back seat, and by the time I finished high school I knew I wanted to be a photographer as I realised there was a way for me to express the visual ideas I had without needing to know how to draw or paint.
Facade: Rebecca by Bronwen Hyde
BS: Can you tell us about your art? Give us some insight into the thoughts behind your art.
BH: Essentially I will photograph anything I find aesthetically pleasing and interesting, even if that may be subject matter that others find 'weird' or 'morbid'. Fascination with something or someone usually leads me to want to photograph it or them. So my work ranges across a number of subjects in addition to my self-portraiture: portraiture, urban and natural landscapes, dolls, graveyards, and the minutiae of every day life.
My self-portraiture was initially borne from the convenience of using myself as a model, then it gave me an outlet to express my own emotions and experiences. Over the years the convenience and autobiography of it has remained an aspect of my continuation of that work, but it's also become an area of my art where I can create narratives and take on roles and characters.
Like many self-portrait artists, I value having control over every aspect of the work: from conception, art direction / styling, posing, composition, shooting and editing. Although I enjoy working with other models and other artists, there's something I find quite freeing about the autonomy of being able to do a shoot whenever the mood may take me independent of anyone else's schedule or restrictions.
BS: Can you discuss your process in general? Are there any specific techniques that you utilize?
BH: With my self-portraiture it varies. Sometimes I will have a specific visual idea in my mind which may be inspired by a particular item of clothing, a wig, a prop, the quality of light through a window or from a lamp, or a location, and the shoot may be somewhat pre-planned. Other times I will just have the urge to shoot on a whim and it will all come together quite quickly.
Depending on how pre-planned the shoot is, I may shoot for as little as 10 to 20 minutes until I get the one image I'm after; other times when the shoot is inspired more by a feeling or a compulsion, the shoot may be longer and more intense and I will continue to shoot until I feel I've exhausted all of my inspiration. As I don't have a traditional studio or studio lighting at this stage, my shoots take place in my home or on location using available light.
Although I originally started off shooting film, my work has been predominantly digital since 2005 so I post-process all my images to some degree in Photoshop, aside from anything because I shoot in RAW format. I rarely consider my photographs to be “finished” without some form of editing, whether it be basic colour and contrast adjustments or more detailed manipulation.
Dolls: Untitled #53 by Bronwen Hyde
BS: What about other influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists?
BH: I find inspiration in what I guess are many of the 'standards': film, music, other artists, dreams and books. Some mainstays in my influences are David Lynch, Cindy Sherman and Bill Henson; to list all the artists and films that inspire me would be a lengthy task, as every day I discover more artists, both known and emerging, who amaze me with their work and inspire me to do more. However, some photographers I've recently been drawn to the work of are Aaron Hobson, Jeff Bark and Julia Fullerton-Batten.
To read Part 2 of my interview with Bronwen Hyde click, HERE
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