Welcome to Carolyn Cowan Online; Designer, photographer, teacher, mother, counsellor and bodypainter.
Archive for February, 2012
It would be easy and snappy for you to judge this as me being menopausal and in doing so the lid of the box would be closed and I would be disposed of by that sweeping statement. In a flash all my individual relevance, experience, history, wit, sexuality and strength would be dismissed and I could be quietly relegated to a shelf in an endless storage facility in a long dark basement… I can see it, like a scene from a Terry Gilliam movie…. With either a really dumpy, ugly, sweaty man having the authority to put me away or a young woman, a perfect size ten, texting whilst nonchalantly chewing gum, whilst listening to headphones, whilst pushing the trolly with my box on it, along a dimly lit corridor……
Insane thinking? Surely not….. It is rife, it’s rampant, sexism and ageism, everywhere. Even the “oh, so PC” Guardian does it….. It is everywhere and we are inured to it…
Sadly not me. I am not in any way menopausal. Regular as clockwork, to the day, I still could go on to procreate again. Trust me, it is on the end of a long list of experiences I have had enough of. I love my children, I do, but to look back at the pit of hell that is early motherhood combined with a lonely marriage, and no thank you.
Women over 45 are completely invisible in the media. How did that happen? Why did it happen? I use my own image to sell my clothes. I get a really good response, and armies of women then go on to talk to me about how invisible they are in the media. The most fascinating,witty, elegant, intelligent women lost in the maze of corridors that we started with: inch your way past 45 and bang, box closed….. None of us see ourselves reflected back to us. We just get to look at miserable anorexic models portraying some bizarre image of femininity that owes it’s roots to the swaths of vampire movies and shows that we are all drowning under. Why? I don’t want to look or dress like a vampire…. I want to be me with the smile lines, the grey hair, the body that bore children… All my experience written all over me.
I am now 52 and have changed more in the past two years than I managed to change in the last 20. I tore a staggering sweep through dogma, assumption, expectations and pointless commitments leaving me clear, calmer, more empowered, but damme and blast, the lenses are off, my view is clear, and at some ungodly hour in the morning I am sitting in Heathrow’s Terminal 4, looking around me at the sparkling shops selling the illusion of luxury, watching the mass of life trying to find its way forward to the next adventure and I am not enjoying what I see.
Apparently it is relaxing to have really loud, really awful music playing all the time. Men straining their vocal chords to tell me how much they want to love me in the most awful rhymes.
And then there is the notion that because I have paid a fortune for a ticket, and then a fortune for the journey here, that I want to buy generic crap… Why? It is plastered everywhere, the mad illusion of wealth, luxury and difference, and you get it by paying over the odds for something that was made in a sweatshop in china, by underpaid humans in appalling conditions, in the millions… Not just the number of underpaid minions but the number of luxury items, too. Somehow the keyring, the scarf, wallet or pair of shoes will magically elevate the wearer out of the dross of their daily routine and transform them into someone with taste and style. Pray tell, how will this magically happen? Ah, by the Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome which is now at epidemic proportions.
I can go on like this around all sort of things: the lack of Internet connection I am promised by some dork with Richard Branson’s beard stuck on his face and so locked into a two year contract which the engaging and kind seller of said contract failed to mention. Or the voice of the woman who welcomes me to Orange…. If I used that voice to speak to them, and I kid you not, I can do an excellent mimic, they would think I was insane, yet that is the voice that drove me so crazy I had to turn off the answer machine on my phone: I still have to hear her if I call orange but I have created a damage limitation zone. And the voice of the woman who comperes Masterchef…
Facebook! What is this? I have 1300 friends. Fantastic, all delightful, but do we really want to look at endless posters commenting on how positive we should all be. A friend, James Delingpole, write recently that the way to get rid of swathes of friends on Facebook is to post something negative…. Suddenly it is the new PC to be stupidly positive or post endless YouTube clips…. Why?
Or Hipstamatic. Arghhhhhh! A loud scream of boredom. Look any of the millions of pictures, and think oh, Hipstamatic. Not, what a great picture, just oh, another iPhone turning life as we know it into a very tiresome photo opportunity and the pictures are all rendered homogenous.
Somewhere it has all gone awry, very quickly, and no one seems to have noticed
Wake up! Live! Get real…… Please……
I am coming back into working as a photographer again and I love it. I cannot describe how much I love to take photographs…. There is a line in the film Billy Elliot, where he is auditioning for the Royal Ballet School. It is all going really badly, and just as he leaves, despondent and rejected, a woman examiner asks him what it feels like when he dances. His reply brings him to life and is word-perfect for my experience of taking photographs.
I have been privileged by some extraordinary sitters recently: I have been doing a series on Make Up, and another on Scars, plus other personal portraits, and each one, each portrait, each Divine Human that sat in front of my beautiful Hasselblad, was an utter delight, a treat, an extraordinarily personal moment and I feel so happy to be back behind the camera again.
I have made a new photography website, www.carolyncowanphotography.com, and although I have an excellent past history, my vision, my view has changed profoundly and it is great to be gently and with great commitment, building to the portfolio again.
So apropos of all of this, if you would like to be part of any of the current projects listed on my site - do please be in touch, but I am also very excited by having just entered the first photography competition for years! I won one ten or so years ago, the prize was an unusable weekend for two in Libya or somewhere equally sprung loaded…. Let’s hope this one is more fruitful…
I have put three images into the Memory category of the Renaissance Photography Prize. All recent images, all of them I am very pleased with.