Nude female figures can be found represented in art as early as the last Stone Age period. Similar images which represent fertility deities, gods and goddesses in Babylonian and Ancient Egyptian art were precursors to the works of Western antiquity. Other notable traditions of artistic nude representations can be found in India and Japan: in particular, traditional Hindu temple sculptures and cave paintings – some very explicit – indicate the value of sexuality; revealing a culture where partial or complete nudity was acceptable in everyday life.
The nude figure was commonplace in Ancient Greek and Roman art. After a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages, it returned to a central position in Western art during the Renaissance. Athletes, dancers, and warriors statically express human energy and life, while nudes express basic and complex emotions.
Nude photography is a genre of fine-art which depicts the human body with an emphasis on form, composition, emotional content and aesthetic qualities. The nude has been a prominent subject of photography since its invention and played an important role in establishing photography as a fine art medium.
Erotic interest, although often present, is secondary. It distinguishes art photography from both glamour and pornographic photography. The distinction is not always clear and photographers tend to characterise their own work subjectively, while viewers may have different impressions. The nude is a controversial and provocative subject across all artistic mediums, but more so within photography due to the inherent realism. The medium examines issues of representation and identity, sexuality and voyeurism – some nude photography deliberately blurs the boundaries between erotica and art.
In the context of the 21st century, it is difficult to make an artistic statement in the medium of nude photography, given the proliferation of pornographic imagery – which has tainted the artistic subject in the perception of most viewers, limiting the opportunities to exhibit or publish artistic nude images. These photographs portray powerful, vulnerable and independent women.
In one of my visits to the Takapuna Sunday market I was chatting to a woman who was selling life-size wooden bulldogs. I made a smart comment about people who purchase wooden dogs and she said that she owns a real one. A week later she visited my studio together with her daughter. Being so heavy, the dog would not climb and kept drooling so they both made a huge effort to lift him off the floor and onto the armchair. The image sat in my collection until I trespassed into this fire damaged house in Sunnynook!
Faces of Cairo is a collection of photographs that take you on a tour of the land and its people, the streets, the markets, the African desert, and the path of history.
Cairo is chaos at its most magnificent, infuriating,and beautiful. From above, the distorted roar of the muezzins’ call to prayer echoes out from duelling minarets. Below, car horns bellow tuneless symphonies amid avenues of faded 19th-century grandeur, while donkey carts rattle down dusty lanes lined with colossal monuments. This city’s constant buzz is a product of its 20 million inhabitants, simultaneously stretching Cairo’s infrastructure, crushing it under their collective weight. The smog is heavy and car toots are overwhelming, but its energy is stimulating and exhilarating!
In January 2020, I was privileged to visit the ancient city and tell the story of its people. What stood out to me the most was how friendly the people were. I first shook their hands warmly and then asked in Arabic: “Can I take your photo?” I gave people my full attention and most were delighted to have their portrait taken. I showed them the image on the back of my camera which made them feel honoured and respected. I consider it my privilege to be able to share these glimpses into their lives with the wider world.
I wanted to visit Cairo for a long time and was so glad when the opportunity came. I always admired the long and rich history of Egypt and found the experience of modern-day Cairo to be incredible in its own right. The whole city buzzes with all kinds of different people, and despite the economic hardship, they have a wonderful faith in a better future.
Faces of Cairo is a documentary collection. Most of the photos had little or no retouching. I asked people to look straight into my camera, so these are not candid photos. The strength of this series is in giving viewers a rare opportunity to connect with the common Egyptian people in their natural environment. This diverse group of people serves as a timely reminder that, despite our many cultural differences, we can unite as a community through the power of photography. The collection is a celebration of our shared values: hard work, the importance of family and caring for each other as humans. I hope that through this portfolio viewers learn more about the Egyptian people. In sharing this portfolio, I encourage viewers to show empathy: to accept others and to recognise the value of cultural diversity. We would all experience an enhanced sense of community if we took the time to appreciate interactions which allow us to discover the world beyond our familiar boundaries. We are all wonderfully unique, yet, at the same time, we are deeply similar.
I present these photographs in timeless monochrome,to ensure consistency and flow of the series amidst the chaos and clutter of the busy environment. My aim is to create an authentic portfolio of diverse individuals in a foreign land. My goal is to tell their stories using a clear narrative style and enduring quality. The portraits are crisp and sharp, to allow the details to inspire your imagination and to evoke emotions. I hope that viewers will experience some of the atmosphere and connect with the people.