Polly Penrose: “A Body of Work”

Polly Penrose studied Graphic Design at Camberwell College of Arts in London. She went on to work in Fashion Styling and after that worked for the photographer Tim Walker. She has always taken photographs but started to take the practice seriously when she entered and won a competition held by the London Photographic Association in 2008.

United Kingdom – 

‘A Body of Work’ by London based photographer Polly Penrose is a series of self portraits taken over seven years. I set out to take strong, powerful, dynamic and interesting nudes and started to use myself as a model – firstly as i was always available, and then because i realised something interesting was happening. I could push myself further than i could other models and by shooting myself, the pictures became a visual autobiography. The pictures are very spontaneous within the space, i never plan them i just work with what’s there, it’s like a secret conversation between myself and the location, a bit of silent theatrics which i document. Because i’m alone, often in quite scary places when i shoot, the atmosphere and my mood is very raw and saturates the pictures.

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The process of taking the pictures is punishing. It leaves me bruised and aching. Every picture is taken on self-timer, which makes for a repetitious, highly physical process of running between the camera and the pose, making adjustments as i go. It feels like i’m hammering my body into the landscape of the room, one picture at a time.

On reflection i can see that my state of mind at the time of shooting definitely feeds into the imagery, my choice of pose and the general feeling of the work.  ‘A Body of Work’ as it stands is just the first seven years, i want to keep taking them until i can no longer move to do it – it will be interesting to see my body age and how the poses and locations will change with it.

Art & Culture

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