Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Weaving Through: Joel by Green Carnation Photography

'The poet William Blake dubbed them the Dark Satanic Mills, with their intertwined histories of labour & colonial exploitation.'

I love featuring images of models in long forgotten and abandoned locations. Some of my favorite features have focused on artists who have brought to life previously dead spaces with their images of the male form. There is something especially beautiful about the energy that a young and alive naked body brings to a space with a hardened history. I did a piece in 2013 featuring Tyler, posing in a long closed Colorado mine. (Mine) I couldn't help but think of the locations history, and of all of the miners who descended each day into darkness in order to survive, pay their bills and feed their families.

Last December I had the pleasure of featuring Green Carnation's work with model Joel Nestaras. (A Late Autumn's Day). For that shoot, Joel was captured by a beautiful lake in a green oasis in the otherwise industrialized heartland of England's Black Country, a name believed to come from the soot from the heavy industries that once covered the area. When Green Carnation told me that he was sending on images of Joel shot on location at a former Victorian Cotton Mill, my mind first went to the beauty of all the incredible clothing that must have been created from the yarn and cloth that would have been once woven and spun there. But like that lake in Black country, nature's beauty often masks a locations history.

When we hear the word 'Victorian', we often think of Kings and Queens, mansions and castles, carriages and lavish balls. A simpler time, defined by proper etiquette and class. But class didn't mean 'classy' during the Victoria Era, it meant a label that was almost impossible to escape from. Although the clothing at Lancashire mill may have been lavish and rich, the people who worked there, most certainly were not. The hours were long and work painful. There were also very few labour laws at the time, meaning children were often used to jobs for cheap wages.

'The poet William Blake dubbed these the Dark Satanic Mills (with their intertwined histories of labour & colonial exploitation - & the mechanistic mind-frame they symbolized). Opposing this he celebrated the bodily form alongside freedom & imagination. It seemed fitting then that despite its dark heritage, the light-filled space should instead be employed to invoke a celebration of youthful liberty & beauty in the radiant form of Joel!'

Green Carnation shares that even though the Mill wasn't as colorful and picturesque as the location on the lake, the space was visually interesting with may area's and textures to beautifully contrast with Joel's skin and naked body. GC reports this was short, laid back shoot, following the sun's journey around the building as it created interesting pools of shadow and light. The only note of tension during the peaceful afternoon came when shooting in a public corridor, one in which workmen were wheeling in goods in and out of a nearby service lift. 'We had to snatch pictures in brief moments of privacy whilst they shunted their wares between floors! Joel though seemed to positively feed on the frisson of excitement generated by the threat of impending exposure!'

'The skies are usually a yearlong blanket of grey there, but we enjoyed a rare treat as the clouds parted, & luminous soft sunshine flooded through the immense windows. The warm light played off the cream-white brick walls & wooden flooring, wonderfully complimenting Joel's tanned body. It was quite a heady sensorial experience. I liked the contrast between the patina of time etched over centuries on the buildings solid Victorian surfaces (with its peeling paint and worn textures); against Joel's delightful sylphlike young physique & vivacious spirit.'

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