The Team Behind Wilki: Liz Jeary, talks us through her unique Fine Art & Experimental approach to photography. Liz Jeary, joined the Wilkinson Cameras team almost two years ago and is a part time sales adviser at Wilki’s city centre store in the heart of Liverpool. We couldn’t wait to catch up with Liz and find out more about her intriguing and experimental photography…
You describe yourself as Fine Art & Experimental – how would you explain that to someone who’s not yet seen your photography?
I like to play with texture and the surface of images, be it digitally or physically. In recent years, this has been in the form of Photobroderie, which is printing photographs and embroidering through the surface. I have also experimented with printing on different surfaces, such as textured wallpaper – which my partner cites as being his initial reason for being attracted to me. Some people may read it as conceptual, which is true for some of the series, but there is also a lot of more organic projects which are the result of spontaneous experiments rather than planned outcomes.
Your work is supremely individual – what are you influences? You mention Kate Bush!
Kate Bush is a major influence! She was the first singer I was aware of as a child and her voice and music has stayed with me since. Six-year-old me didn’t understand the complexity of her lyrics, so my imagination always visualised them in a very literal way. This still translates into my images, such as the Suspended in Gaffa series. My vivid imagination also inspires a creative outlet, sometimes with great humour, sometimes with a sadder outlook, which probably describes me as an individual too. People and shapes are also a big influence – I love unusual faces and seeing them in print inspires me to creatively react, also pulling in references from artists using geometric form, such as Piet Mondrian. During research for one of my degree (in Photography) modules I discovered some of his early work and was amazed to find more traditional, detailed paintings. Seeing his progress from these to the lines and colour blocks he is most widely known for, made me see the impact of being more simplified, which I now apply to my work.
You seem to have stayed true to your own creative dreams despite encouragement to go more mainstream?
There is a stubbornness within me that will not let me deviate from producing work that reflects me as a person. I can be mainstream but there’s a different perspective within and this comes out in my creativity. I also have strong support and encouragement from my partner and mother, they understand that my creativity is a part of me (and also a form of therapy) and reinforce that its OK to do what makes me happy. When I’m not at Wilki, I still work as a self-employed photographer and some jobs are very commercial, but I keep this very separate from my artistic work.
You’ve had several very successful exhibitions – how have the public reacted to your work?
With intrigue, amusement and confusion! I was invigilating a solo exhibition a couple of years ago and overheard a couple of passers-by. From a distance, one stated look at these stunning pictures, the other responded with its just Photoshop, this probably sums up initial reactions quite well. Although response has always been positive, I think my work should be seen up-close to appreciate what is involved. I have sold a lot of work through exhibitions, and also received various commissions, so it seems to go down quite well overall, although some people find the quirkier images (such as Wednesdays Child – a series of collaged self-portraits) a little hard to digest.
Projects in the pipeline? Whats next?
I’m currently working on supersizing some work. I usually start off with small prints (6×4) to experiment with and if these turn out well, I will often leave them alone. With a few exhibition opportunities coming up, I’ve decided to go bigger (A4 & A3) to see how it changes the embroidery and the overall effect. Its mostly working out well but is definitely more challenging, in a physical sense. I’m working up the courage to go even bigger – and wishing I had longer arms! Photographically there are always ideas running around my brain, and I like to keep them there until I’ve worked out the logistics of carrying them out.
If you could have coffee with any one photographer or artist who would it be and why?
Sandy Skoglund, definitely. To me she is the epitome of converting imagination into a creative reality. I love the way in which she uses colour, shape, and form. Her images are very bold and unapologetic and this immediately transports me into her world. I admire her patience too and only wish I had more of this myself. I also enjoy conversing with artists that have unusual methods or concepts – sometimes the attraction is the process and not necessarily the outcome.
What would be your dream commission or project, given an open cheque book?
Well I’ve always been drawn to fashion – as an art form, not necessarily as a way of dressing – and one of my favourite designers is Qui Hao. Creating images using his designs would be a dream commission, and an open cheque book would allow me to shoot in any location, with a view to being inspired by new experiences, culture and most importantly, textures. If a time-machine was also on offer, Id like to go back to 18th century Japan.
What camera kit do you use and whats your one must have accessory?
I currently use a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and various lenses. One of the perks of working at Wilkinsons is getting to try out new gear, which also has a downside of my wish list forever expanding! My one must have accessory is a homemade awl –its a Prosecco bottle cork with a needle in it which I use to make holes in my prints for the embroidery.