20th April, 2016
This month we’re meeting Michela Griffith
Where are you from/based now:
I was born in Worcestershire, raised in Sheffield, studied and then worked in Edinburgh for 12 years, spent a couple of years working abroad and then returned to Sheffield. For the past 9 years I’ve been based in Longnor, near Buxton.
About your work
My images combine an early love of drawing and painting with a long-standing passion for photographing the landscape. It’s the small and sometimes unnoticed details that intrigue me. An important part of my portfolio continues to be about the interaction between water and light in and around the River Dove, but I’m also experimenting with movement on land and even my own progress on foot through the landscape. Nature is dynamic, moments are fleeting, and by including movement in my images I feel I’m getting closer to this.
What do you think people see in your work – what draws them to it?
I use a camera but my prints don’t shout this loudly, and they have often been mistaken for paintings. I’ve moved away from what many people expect photographs to be – my images aren’t a straight record or the result of a fortuitous combination of location, timing and light. They are interpretations of things that I see, which others may not always notice. I think their appeal stems in part from this more individual approach, but also from the fact that they hint at nature’s dynamic. There is an obvious beauty and colour to be found in water, but we tend to underestimate how this changes with time and how important movement is to our experience of the landscape. Photographing the river has fundamentally changed my way of seeing, and I’m now looking at the land with new eyes.
What’s your typical working environment?
Most of my images are the result of forays on foot into the Peak District around my home, an area that I have come to know very well. After a while familiarity can start to feel like a constraint – that you’ve done all there is to do – but this is a positive thing and forces you to become more creative. Sometimes we have too many choices….. I can now find interest at most times of day and in most conditions. My observations of the river continue to evolve. As I play with the dynamic on land, my studies of water are becoming calmer and the colour may be more subdued. Perhaps this is a reaction to putting together my solo exhibitions last year, a new sotto voce to the frizzante. of Liquid Light. I also feel it’s time to move on a little. With reiteration come new ways of seeing.
What / who inspires you? Is there anyone specific that inspires you – either from the arts world, or on a personal level?
This is less simple to answer now than it would have been in my previous incarnation as a conventional landscape photographer, when several names readily come to mind. The inspiration for my work now comes from nature; I’ve learnt that with patience vision and technique will follow. I enjoy looking at work by other photographers, but it doesn’t influence my own. I’ve been contributing interviews and the occasional article to On Landscape magazine for over two years now, so I’m always looking for people who have a particularly artistic and individual approach to their photography. The first person that I chose to interview was Valda Bailey; she produces quite remarkable and beautiful images, so if I were to pick one person whose work I find especially inspiring it would be Valda.
How would others describe you?
“Thorough” has come up a few times! I’m flattered that the word that cropped up most in comments left during my recent exhibitions is “inspiring”, though I still suspect that they are talking about someone else!
If you had to choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be and why?
“Curious”. Possibly in both senses! But mostly in the photographic sense that I have always wanted to know what was around the corner, or over the next rise. Now I’ve given myself permission to experiment creatively, to have a little fun and see where it leads…………. very much “What happens if …?”
What’s the greatest benefit of being a PDA member?
Membership of Peak District Artisans has provided a framework around which I can build. PDA events have clear branding, great organisation, and PR, and offer visitors and potential customers high quality but supremely accessible art and craft fairs in beautiful settings. It has opened up opportunities to me that I wouldn’t have had as an individual but has also given me a sense of community and friendship that provides a welcome contrast to the hours spent alone creating work.