Goodbye Perfection, Hello Authenticity

“Trust the wait, embrace the uncertainty, enjoy the beauty of becoming, when nothing is certain, anything is possible” – Mandy Hale

Shadow Self, Samantha Boulanger, Digital Photograph 2020
Shadow Self, Samantha Boulanger, Digital Photograph 2020

There seems to be a number of recurring themes showing up for me to contemplate this year, both creatively and personally, all very much highlighted during this extraordinary time of lockdown due to the Covid19 pandemic. I also believe that on a collective level, there is an opportunity to reflect and slow down, become more present and mindful about what is truly important to us, to really think about what we are doing and why.

Creatively I think that I’m again being invited to really embrace the not knowing and just have fun exploring, investigating, playing and learning. I mean isn’t that partly what doing an MA is about, developing, investigating, exploring, practising and therefore achieving a deeper understanding of your chosen subject and of yourself as an art practitioner?

It is time to start accepting myself just as I am and go with the flow, to allow exploration to lead the way and let the mistakes happen. In fact I think these mistakes need to be made in order to learn and push the boundaries further, so we can stumble upon unplanned roads to meander down, these roads are often where the hidden gems of possibility are found; known as ‘happy accidents‘.

I sometimes think a good way to practice this is to try your hand at teaching others, to put yourself back into the place of the beginner again, back to basics, this being both humbling and enlightening…

Back In The Swing Of It, Samantha Boulanger, Digital Photograph, 2019
Back In The Swing Of It, Samantha Boulanger, Digital Photograph, 2019

Earlier this year during the second semester, I had the fantastic opportunity to assist with the BA first year photography module, specifically introducing the students to the ‘wet cyanotype‘ process that I had been specialising in.

Now, I have previously had a little experience with talking about my work and process to BA first year students, back in my final year as an undergraduate, which I found to be both terrifying and exciting in equal measures, probably due to the fact that I had only just started exploring this process myself at that time.

Morning Group BA Fine Art first year cyanotype workshop
Morning Group BA Fine Art first year cyanotype workshop

This year was different, I would not only be talking to students about my own work and process, I would also be running the workshops myself and getting paid for it! Introducing the traditional cyanotype process in a unique and contemporary way like this is something that I don’t believe has ever been done with students on this module before. I was definitely feeling the pressure, but I did feel less nervous than before. I think the difference being that this time, I had accumulated more of a working knowledge about the process and therefore felt a little more confident discussing it.

It did feel very satisfying to watch how, after some encouragement they quickly started exploring and experimenting with this medium with some really interesting results! I felt very proud, of myself and the students too, the workshops went very well with some really positive feedback.

Afternoon Group BA Fine Art first year cyanotype workshop
Afternoon Group BA Fine Art first year cyanotype workshop

I also took part in first year photography assessments and a photography group critique session with second year students. It was really interesting to experience both of these from another angle, having recently been on the other side of the fence as an undergraduate student at this Uni myself.

There was some really interesting work evolving, I look forward to seeing how they progress!

BA Fine Art Second Year Photography Group Critique 2020
BA Fine Art Second Year Photography Group Critique 2020

Being able to encourage someone to ease up on that striving for perfection, to push boundaries and simply believe in the infinite possibilities within themselves is a great thing to do for someone, I know that I experienced this from my tutors during the latter part of my degree and it has been life changing!

More so, I think that being able to find that encouragement and drive within yourself is not only the ultimate gift to give yourself and your creative practice but also to the world.

Thanks for reading…

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