Mirrors are a subject I keep returning to periodically because if I concentrate hard enough, there is always another permutation I can find in them.
I don’t just look in the obvious places for inspiration but in less considered places also, and one of them is the Crafts section of my local library. It has given me ideas and helped to find solutions to visual problems I had created for myself. There you can find books on how to make lampshades, house painting techniques, quilting, wire jewellery and all sorts of crafts I have little knowledge of.
On this occasion I found a book on how to make decorative frames. I flicked through the images of exotically framed pictures and mirrors and before I got to the end an idea came to me. What if I made a mirror in the shape of a face and had a woman looking into it, what would be the effect? The only trouble was I did not have the prerequisite skills, the tools or the will and was too lazy to actually make one myself. Minutes later it occurred to me I could get around that by merely drawing the outline of a face on a sheet of mirror. Minutes after that it also dawned on me that I could perhaps reflect objects in the mirror to create facial features, but what objects?
It was autumn when I came up with the idea and I thought I might try leaves and so I went off to my local park to collect some. Looking over my shoulder for park keepers and vigilante dog walkers, I pulled some from the bushes and thus my project began. My first image was a red framed mirror on the floor with leaves reflected in it. After that I got a bit more ambitious and decided to try to create a nude as well, For that I had to use twigs of the right size and shape. I placed them on the floor and because I was working on my own, I had to move each element multiple times and return to the camera each and every time to check their position as the pictures only work from the camera viewpoint. One nude was based on a Picasso drawing and the other a painting by Modiglani.
I am generally working on more than one project at any one time and because of that they sometimes bleed into one another. Dali did what he called Paranoiac Critical paintings, depicting groups of figures and fighting men in landscapes, distributed in such a way that they formed faces. I bought a bag of Cowboys and Indians and was trying to group them to form a face but the perspective was all wrong and it was not going to work. I then pulled out a mirror outline I had used before and started messing around with that, and voilà, there was another picture.
I had shot a half clothed woman strangled on a bed before for another series but I was not altogether satisfied and decided to cannibalise it for my last and favourite shot. I thought, “What would a surrealist killer do?” Maybe the murderer is a stranger or perhaps a lover who garrottes her with a phone cord, finds a mirror, empties her handbag on the floor and draws a an outline of her face in lipstick, carefully placing the objects on the floor and then sits on a chair and admires his handiwork from the only place in the room it can be seen. And as I discovered, if you leave your phone off the hook in Britain, after a few minutes you get an annoying tone that progressively gets louder over time and unbearably insistent. It is like a scene from a film that has never been made.