It was much earlier this year I received a call from Cassandra, I was on the road in between appointments (usually the bets time to get me! – and yes it was using the hands free system in the car) she asked about my interest in taking part of her ‘black and white photography and all things vintage’ love that would be transformed into a Vintage Exhibition in the coming months. I do love those classic periods and was quite excited to receive her detailed email later than night. After a few emails back and forwards I realised the true production Cassandra was putting together, I was most excited to take part!
The mornings 16th and 17th of June saw me at the Jazzed Up by Peita salon preparing 2 models each day for the shoots. The models chosen were simply perfect for the characters Cassandra had created (and huge credit to her, the vintage and authentic scenes she’d also created to put them in!). I love a sneak peek image and was very grateful that we weren’t kept waiting! Timeless and elegant… That saw my part in the preparation over, I did keep in touch with Cassandra and watch as she chose which images to print, chosing out fits to display, sourcing manniquins… head blocks… printing the images… display plans… needless to say, I am sure Cassandra spent many sleepless (at least I know limited sleep) nights especially in the week leading up to the Exhibition and during it’s installation.
Cassandra, I don’t often attend exhibitions… (my two beautiful monsters don’t do well in places that don’t involve running around and dirt!) but it was an absolute pleasure to attend an evening with my husband and walk around to each image having met and made over the models (and knowing the planning that went into each gown) to truly admire your work. I was honoured to be a chosen part of your exhibition. This was certainly a new experience for me and my work and took the phrase ‘seeing my work in print’ to another level. It felt almost historic. Congratulations on your wonderful Exhibition. You deserve much more than that one word expresses, I know you are very grateful, the smile on your face and bounce in your step certainly showed on the night. What a fantastic achivement! I’m sure our paths with cross again in the future, I certainly look forward to it!
Also a thank you to Peita (Jazzed Up by Peita) for my 2 day visit to her salon for the preparations. Peita did an amazing job on the girls hair! Find her on Facebook here: Jazzed Up by Peita
I know your creative passion lies within black and white photography and vintage styling… what led you to your passions?
A love of the “Golden Years of Hollywood”. I love watching the classic movies as they offer me a glimpse into another world. I know only too well the state of the world at that time was no different to today in that there were wars, poverty, inequality, famine, greed, political unrest… but the escapism, set design, costume design, entertainment, singing, dancing, theatre performances, acting I find mesmorising. I spend more time analysing the design of the production from set to costume which I find extremely useful for further research. When I’m sewing, planning, designing, researching and shooting time stands still and I am completely in the moment.
At the opening of your exhibition I learned that there was a 2 year wait to be able to present your exhibition, how did you go about planning for your event?
Yes it can take up to 2 yrs to wait once you have applied for an exhibition. I knew that the outcome of my exhibition would be black & white images including vintage couture. During the planning & preparation I made the decision to do a fashion shoot displaying a small selection my vintage couture that I have collected, ranging from early 1950s to late 1960s. I also decided I wanted to shoot a selection of people I had the pleasure of knowing through my everyday life and whom were not overly familiar with being in front of the camera for any length of time. I spent hours and hours of time researching classic images, movies, documentaries, masters of black & white film photography, couture designers and other fashion photographers. I also spent 1 semester at QCA studying lighting.
How did you go about choosing the gowns, models and props for your exhibition?
Once I decided to select people I had the benefit of knowing, I went about watching, listening, getting to know the people I was in contact with everyday in particular in my hospitality working life and arts project management work, with the motive of getting to know them from the inside out. I not only gained new friends through this process I was able to make a decision to shoot people I knew would shine from the inside out. I immediately set about allocating an era to each of the 4 women Sophie, Dayna, Laura & Scotia and set aside garments that I could visualise them in. This was an amazing process because except for a couple of garments, each of the selected ones for each model fit beautifully and the eras suited their personalities. I also came to the conclusion that I would like to also have a male presence and a 4 legged friend. So I had the benefit of knowing Craig who I believed would be wonderful for this. I also had the pleasure of meeting Hugo the Great Dane as our 4 legged friend. I am always collecting props and I also had the opportunity to raid my Mum’s home which is full of antique and vintage things to use for props. I also have a lot of my own vintage pieces. I spent a lot of time going over many vintage images and would use the ideas of props, styles and lighting for my shoot. All this information I gathered was then put into shot lists for each of the models and the allocated vintage garment they would wear for each shot together with a selection of props I would/could use. I emailed this to them so that they had an idea or a visual of what I was going to achieve and so that they could also do some of their own research if they felt the desire.
Do you have favourite moment?
I can’t say that there was any one favorite moment because when you are doing what is your passion or your calling, although there are challenges through out it, the whole experience is your favorite thing to do. I will point out that there is one particular shift in my whole experience of this project and that was on the first day shoot. I had planned to shoot with digital and 3 of my film cameras and was fairly loaded up with film. I was all set up, scene was ready and I took a couple of shots with the digital. Then stepped over to the tripod with my analogue and took a shot and at that instant made the decision to go digital for the whole 2 day shoot. That was a huge shift in my photographic practice.
Through the planning process and on the night what personal touches did you add to your exhibition?
For the exhibition I wanted the guests to have some involvement and asked that they wear only black & white attire (of their choosing) and to also wear a mask as it was the Black & White With Shades of Grey Masquerade Event. Some time ago I had watched a documentary called “The Party of the Century” about Truman Capote which was one of the special features on one of the DVD series Mad Men. Truman Capote had thrown this lavish Black & White Ball in 1966 after the success of his non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. He wanted to celebrate in a grand way and this was his gift to himself. So he threw himself the party to end all parties. Everyone who was anyone wanted an invitation to Capote’s “Black and White Dance”, to which the guests were instructed to wear masks and just two colours – black and white. I also wanted to have a guest speaker to talk about the different decades in fashion. I had met Chrissy Keepance from Lindys Charm School some time ago after attending one of her workshops. I have stayed connect through the Vintage scene and social media. I thought she would be wonderful for the role as guest speaker and I was aware she knew garment history very well.
Where to from here? And where can we find your work after the exhibition?
Where to from here…..? Mmmmm so much is going on inside my head and I am sure any creative and artist person would know what that is like… I am giving myself some time to let the creative monkey mind to be calm and then start this process over again. There are some things I have in mind and am also researching in preparation for when the planning process begins. I do know that I will be spending some time up skilling myself in the use of digital post production techniques. There is a new blog in the making and of course there is the continual development of the arts and culture sector in the Lockyer Valley for which I have been a very active advocate for. I am however very excited anticipating my next project…. whatever that may be.
‘Laidley Vintage Gallery’ Exhibition