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How to Photograph a Goddess

I hope you’ve all seen the wonderful wintry delight that is the latest issue of the Twist Collective, dear readers. Apart from the usual joy I feel at seeing the latest patterns, this issue had an extra little something that sent my heart racing in excitement. As the page loaded I jumped up and walked around the room for a while… Then I took a little peep. Eee! I ran off again and did something else because I just couldn’t bear the excitement. Then I came back again and looked at the next page. Squee! Here’s the spread with my photos illustrating Paula Berman’s beautiful poem, ‘Clotho Visits the Local Yarn Store’. There are a couple of photos on the Articles page too, but I thought I’d share some of the outtakes with you, and tell you how it all came to be. You can see the full set on Flickr.

Stack

The whole vision took a while to present itself to me, as it always does. After I received the poem, I did some brainstorming on paper, I set up a few shots with my spindle and some roving, but things were grey and still and boring. As is always the case, I had nothing in my stash that would work for the assignment. I was also having trouble with good natural lighting, so I decided to take a trip to Wales. True to the title of the poem, I visited my Local Yarn Store first. I walked in, carrying my weekend bag & backpack, rather out of breath as I was hurrying to catch the train, and asked the girl at the counter whether they had some nice creamy-coloured yarn, something fluffy. She thought about this for a bit, then went and found me a ball of Wendy Chic. I explained that I meant yarn with a nice pile, preferably something natural. She ummed a bit more and found me another ball of acrylic. I gave up, spotted a bag of a silk/merino blend that was on offer, paid and ran out of the shop. I’m sure Clotho never had this trouble…

The Fates

Clotho, in case you don’t know (I’m sure you do) is one of the three Fates (Moirae) from Greek mythology. Clotho (the “spinner”) spun out the life of a person, Lachesis measured it out, and Atropos cut it. The Fates were usually depicted wearing white, and I thought making everything very pale would add to the sense of mystery and dislocation. This meant getting very cold in a white summer dress in the cottage, and seeking out blank walls. I did my best with the spinning shots, as my skills are still rather rudimentary. I dreamt a lot about ordering a custom ebony spindle, but I overran the deadline as it was! Ah well.

The next photo involved emptying all my boyfriend’s books off his shelf. I wanted a lot of ghostly motion in the photos; everything must be ethereal, as the premise of the poem is basically a dream (and I imagined Clotho as rather incorporeal).

Possibilities

I love the end of the poem, the strong voice booming, ‘I am Destiny’. This is mythology, after all, not the place for happy endings. I wanted to presage this; Clotho’s inability to escape her role. Here is Atropos sneaking into the shot, ready to cut the dream short…

Atropos

I hope you enjoy the photos, and thanks once again to the lovely ladies at Twist for giving me this opportunity! :)

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18th November, 2009  // Inspiration, Photographs // tags: , , , .

11 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    What lovely photos!

  2. LittleWit says:

    Your photos are gorgeous. I loved seeing the spread in Twist! :)

  3. misa says:

    How lovely and ethereal your photos are. It must feel so good to have them on Twist.

  4. Gretchen says:

    so beautiful and soft and strong all at the same time. I saw that first image with the fibre wrapped around the hand and had to read the poem. That’s something.

  5. Sarah says:

    Wonderful photos – and love the glimpse behind the scenes

  6. Marianne says:

    wow, I shall go back and have another look. Beautiful photography and words!

  7. skeinqueen says:

    I really enjoyed hearing the story behind the gorgeous, ethereal photos.

  8. Melynda says:

    So beautiful and serene… I love them all!

  9. Linda says:

    I love your photography, just gorgeous!

  10. Kirsten says:

    beautiful and dreamy photos. lovely work.

  11. Sharon says:

    How cool, I read that poem and admired the photos, only to now realize that you did them. How awesome! Nice job, thanks for sharing the outakes and some of the mythology with us :)


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