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The wonderful life of Nic Chapman

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

Nic Chapman and I have been on some adventures together, before covid 19 hit, we were on a roll working together and then suddenly, like everyone, our creative lives stopped. What I really love about Nic is her imagination and insight, she is able to one, understand me, but also she makes things possible and that is a good thing to be able to do. She isn't scared and even if she was, she would do it anyway. This is why I love working with Nic, she listens and responds creatively.

Nic is a beautiful photographer, she captures and translates in such a remarkable way. She loves collections and this is a theme in her work that continues to shine through. Some of Nic's recent work can be seen in the Golden Lion in Todmorden, where she has photographed many a famous face. As part of my curated season at Artsmill, Nic Exhibited her collections of Artists profiles and her own Portfolio of work, she is also working on more collections in the future. Fiona Love (Founder of Inter-Arts Festival)

Read Nic's interview below and follow her links, she is joining us in creating something for Invisible Made Visible (we will show when it is safe to do so)

Describe your creative journey?

I think what has made me create the work I do now has come from gaining confidence over years of figuring out what I enjoy and what I am good at. It has taken years to learn about light, spaces and people and how to interact with all of them.

I always knew that I wanted to be a portrait photographer, I am interested in people and what they like, enjoy, how they feel and their stories. There is always an element of pressure to capture a person as themselves, over the years I have learned how to chat to people during shoots and not be scared of my subjects.

I feel lucky to be working in the area I live, surrounded by endless creative subjects and influential interesting people.

What was the first art piece you made?

I have no idea, I'm not even sure if and when I made it I would have considered it art, it's just something I did. Maybe the first time I made art was when I felt it meant something? Or when I thought, yeah I would have that on my wall, or when someone else liked it. I remember feeling a sense of accomplishment when my university refused to show one of my pieces due to its ‘controversial’ content, perhaps this was my first piece of art? I don't know.

Image: Birds and Beasts.

What do you love about photography?

I have always loved photography as long as I can remember, my grandad was a photographer and I used to spend hours going through his photos and slides as a child.

I like the honesty in photographs, but also the manipulation. I guess depending on what type of photography you are creating, you always decide what to show and what not to, what to add, or take away. Technology has made this easy, which in some ways I hate I suppose, but that depends on the use of the work. I don't mess about with my work's content, unless it is blatantly obvious. I often barely crop or over edit my images, I like to show what I saw at the time of taking the image. Of course, I don't always follow my own rules, who does, it's about freedom to create and what you are trying to portray. I guess this is what I love about Photography, pretty much everything and the endless options, the versatility to capture art, or be it.

It used to be said that the camera never lies, this may be true, but the editing definitely does!

Image: Heavy Salad

What has been your favourite project so far?

I don't think I have one!

What female artist made you go wow, sit up and think ?

Cindy Sherman, Photographer. I remember seeing Cindy Sherman's work in the late 90s, as a photographer she predominantly takes self portraits as different characters. Everything in that photograph is created by her and it is beautiful, funny, disturbing or creepy. Her work tells stories and makes a point.

Image: Jane Weaver

Who do you admire and what image do you wish you had taken?

I admire so many artists, Martin Parr, Diane Arbus, Vivien Maier, The Chapman Brothers, David Lynch, Jane Bown, Dorothy Mdoe, most of my friends! But one piece that recently floored me was the film The Painted Bird, the cinematographer,Vladimir Smutny created the most beautiful film I have seen in a long time, every single angle, every frame is a piece of art, you could pause the film at any point and see a wonderful photograph.

Do you think women are treated the same as men? what would you change?

Hard question. As a photographer with a unisex name, I have turned up to shoots where there has been some element of surprise that I am female, due to my name, some people have automatically expected a man. I doubt this ever happens the other way around. It's something I could get really angry about, but it's unfortunately still a sign of the times. I believe it will change. For now I just get on with the job, laugh it off but never apologise.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on a series of portraits called Cheap Thrills. It's a portrait series inspired by halloween, costume, masks and empty streets. I am photographing people dressed up as shit/homemade ghosts, it's interesting to see peoples reaction and interpretations, anything goes, it's fun and is keeping me happy during these dark times.

How have you coped in Lockdown?

Cheap Thrills

During the first lockdown, I didn't cope. Worry and stress sadly took over my personal life. Creatively I felt paralysed. I use a lot of people in my work and they were all cut off. I found it very hard to come up with other ideas which didn’t involve people and so I guess I just stopped. A few months in when restrictions were lifted I began to photograph a series of portraits of artists, the beginning was hard as I had partially forgotten how to use my camera! An object that used to be so familiar I could use with my eyes closed (ha ha) was now an alien! Apart from being able to photograph people again and see amazing art, I also realised how much having a creative outlet meant to me, when it was taken away I felt I had less of a purpose, I was like half me.

So… soon as one project finished, I started another, I thought even if this is crap, I am happy.

Every stage of the different, numerous lockdowns has been easier, I have found it easier to deal with the uncertainty and lack of security, busied myself with decorating my home, watching great cinema and trying to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Find out more about Nic Chapman's work here



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