Abstract Photographer - Artist - Lovely Lady Creator
I recently had the pleasure of a mid morning meander out to the very cute and bright hillside studio of Meleah Farrell, who happens to be a bit cute and bright herself. Meleah's studio is located in Torbay, a tiny little pocket of goodness tucked away on the beautiful south coast of Western Australia.
Meleah welcomed me into her sunny gallery, out of the blustery cold wind with a cup of hot green tea and the promise of stories to share.
Meleah is the very first of our lovely Playful Peoples to be profiled on the Playful People blog posts...way too many p's right?
I'm a thinkin' you might find her just a bit lovely yourself.
I snuggled into this gorgeous space to have a lil chat with Meleah and ask her a few questions about how she came to be spending her time making play an integral part of how she likes to roll.
So, can you tell us a little bit about your gallery and what it is you do?
I’m an abstract and creative photographer and we are here today in my little gallery nestled on our 10acres of coastal bushland (in Torbay). I opened up my gallery because it has always been a dream of mine to have a space where I can showcase my work. Where photographers, photo enthusiasts and the general public can come to see what I do and hopefully be inspired. I always dreamed of having a place where I can share with people how I see the world.
How do you play?
Well, honestly my play time is actually my photography, I feel I’m living the dream, in the way that I am living and working in my passion in life.
Can you tell me about where you started out, tell me about your background how did you get into abstract photography?
I was always the kid with the camera. At birthday parties, excursions, anywhere, so I have always been interested and played around in photography. It wasn't until I was living in a little rural fishing village in Malaysia, my husband Brendan was working but I wasn’t able to work (at the time). So I took it as an opportunity to focus on my photography and take it a little bit more seriously. I wanted to still have that aspect of playing but I wanted to learn more too. I started a course via correspondance through the New York Institute of photography in 2002. When I returned to Australia, in 2003, I studied photography (at Perth Central TAFE) at night time, whilst working in a day job as a hotel manager. I then made the decision to quit my day job because I wanted to work in the photography industry.
I got a job working at a profesional photography lab, started networking with other photographers and that lead to me starting work as a photographer.
Not as an abstract and creative photographer, it was weddings and portraiture to start with. Abstract and creative photography has always been the kind of photography I love to do, so I continued to just do it for myself, for fun. When we were thinking about moving down here (to the Great Southern, Western Australia) the dream for me was to be able to do this full time…to play full time!
Can you tell me about when you made the leap from weddings and portraiture to abstract and creative photography professionally?
I don’t think was there was any great epiphany moment, I do think it is any artists’ dream, well isn't it everyones dream to be able to make a living out of doing what they love to do?
I just thought it was an opportunity because our lives were changing, we were making a move to the country and I decided that I just needed to grasp that opportunity - to take it and give myself the chance! We found this property with a shed on it that was perfect to convert into a gallery and it all just fell into place really so I decided to just take the opportunity to see if this is going to really happen.
Who inspires you? Who are your favourite playful people?
Photographically speaking, I am greatly inspired by Man Ray, a photographer who was part of the dada and surrealist movement in photography. He was an experimental photographer, but also a fashion photographer so he did have work that was more expected of that time, but I guess you could say, he also liked to play around in the dark room.
Inspired by the idea of playing around in the darkroom, when I was studying at TAFE we were working in the darkroom and I started playing with a few of his different techniques. One in particular was solarisation and I guess it kind of developed for me from there. Other inspirations…music I am hugely inspired by music. On my blog I like to link up lyrics to my images, I love music. I am just inspired by anyone who experiments with their work.
You spoke a little about the dark room, is this something you are passionate about and do you have a one?
I am definitely passionate about film and the dark room. I don’t have one...yet. The dark room for me when I was studying was just a world that I could escape to. It really felt like - you felt at one with yourself…does that sound a bit funny? But you know, you could hear your own thoughts and had the space to listen and process. In todays society photography has changed so much, it’s so instant now, that I think we forget to go back to traditional methods. Going back to them and realising the benefits (is important). Traditional methods in photography take you back to slowing down and making you think about your work in a different way, working that way, it slows you down.
You mentioned traditional methods in photography and the expectation for everything instant, do you feel that some of the nostalgia in photography is lost?
Yes and No. I think it could easily become a dying art form but like anything, things come around. Like fashion, and there is a bit of a movement at the moment, there are kids experimenting with film, and using toy cameras and lomography cameras. For me, because I learnt using film it’s always going to be part of my photography. It’s good to embrace technology and see what you can do with it though.
As Meleah and I sipped our green tea and chatted away, I was distracted by a spectacular image mounted behind her. Intrigued and curious to know exactly what the image was, I decided to ask her about it. Meleah thought it would be a good idea, or perhaps it was just entertaining or funny for her to ask me to guess...my guess, that it was an image of hair, was way off the mark!
So tell me about the image behind you, can you describe this image and the process behind it? (image below)
So we are looking at an image called ‘roundabout’ and I guess it is an apt image to talk about because the series of work that I did that included that image kind of was the start of me developing my style. It was taken on Australia day.
I was on a boat and wanted to photograph the fireworks. Traditionally if you want to photograph fireworks you would need your camera to be very still, so would need a tripod and have to have the shutter open for a long time so you can capture them and make sure they are nice and sharp. But being on a boat…you don’t have that luxury. I took it as an opportunity to start playing around with some techniques that I knew, and thought it would be fun to try breaking some photography rules really. So I set my camera to a long shutter and I intentionally moved my camera around, and up and down. Fireworks are very difficult to capture anyway because you don’t know where they are going to go off, how long they will be there for, whats going to go off and so it was really a very experimental process. This is a picture of those fireworks.
Now this series is probably as far as I've taken the work in terms of digitally manipulating the work. I generally do work under the ethos that if I couldn’t do it in a dark room, then I’m not going to do it post production, digitally. This image has had the colours inversed what was black was white & vice versa but that’s it. There is no manipulation to make the image how it appears, it’s how it came out of the camera, Iv’e just inversed the colours.
I hear congratulations are in order for an art award you recently won. Congrats...can you tell me about that?
It was the inaugural year of the career development award for the Great Southern Art Award. I won the award in this category which had a monetary award and the opportunity for an exhibition or residency at Vancouver Arts Centre in Albany Western Australia. I have chosen to exhibit my works and this won't take place until 2015, but it's very exciting! It's great that it was photography that won an art award!
Meleah Farrell was our first gorgeous Playful Peoples. I will most definitely return to Meleah's sunny hillside gallery and if you want to do the same you can find her at 45 Forsyth Glade, Torbay Hill in the fresh and crispy Great Southern region of Western Australia.
Her gallery is open Monday - Friday,10am - 4pm.
To suss out Meleah Farrell online check out meleahfarrell.com.au/blog but be warned, you might get stuck there for a while, there is lot's of prettiness to be consumed by your eyeballs!
Have Fun - Get Happy
If you fancy yourself as a Playful People or you know someone who is and might like to share that goodness here on the Playful People blog, be sure to get in touch. We will hook something up...green tea is of course optional!