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A Decisive (or defining) Moment

The Unknown: The Decisive Moment II, 2016.
Acrylic paint and ink suspended in oil and PVA glue and photographed with Hasselblad 500C/M on medium format film.

As the first in this series of weekly posts featuring works available on my website, I thought I’d go back to a beginning. I say ‘a beginning’ because in reality it all depends on one’s point of view, but I’ll let you decide.

In 2016, I was an HCPC registered Art Psychotherapist and was working for Wandsworth & Westminster Mind in London, UK. I was making art on occasion as part of my job but I wouldn’t quite call it an art practice. I was invited to show work in my stepfather’s retrospective exhibition in Hong Kong: 70.40 Leong Ka Tai Photo Moments and Response Art exhibition. The exhibition celebrated his 70 years lived and 40 years as a photographer. He asked his artist friends to respond and submit work for this exhibition held at City Hall in Hong Kong. It would be my first public group exhibition, amongst a wide range of known (and some celebrated) artists in the first place I called home. It was all rather daunting. But I’ve been known to jump in, eyes closed, at the deep end on occasion (and I’ve got scars to prove it).

It was probably just a coincidence that I picked up photography in secondary school, however, I remember distinctly when Ka Tai, in my 20s introduced me to Henri Cartier-Bresson and I began thinking about ‘the decisive moment’.

The Unknown series began during my Masters degree in Art Psychotherapy as a transition from my roots in photography into a new, exploration of painting materials. The early versions from the series were made fast and shot digitally on a Canon 5D, which allowed me to take as many decisive moments as I chose. But for the 70.40 exhibition, I wanted to nod to Ka Tai’s love of old school film photography. I created only two setups that I photographed on a Hassleblad 500C/M using a classic Zeiss 80mm f2.8 lens. I had included oil which bled into the background paper that allowed me to photograph these images, precariously balanced to be backlit against my window. I only allowed myself one roll of 12 frame film per setup, from which, only one final image was chosen (in actual fact, the rest just were not successful shots). This image represents a single decisive moment amongst a series of moments that could stand to define the future.

The Unknown: The Decisive Moment II, 2016 is available as an archival fine art Giclée print.