“Art enables us to lose ourselves and find ourselves all at the same time.” Ever inspired by this Tomas Merton quote, fine art photographer Emma Solley captured this beautiful image in a stolen moment while visiting Watergate Bay last year. Here, she shares her thoughts on fate, light, colour, emotion and the “heartfelt joy” she’s found in the #artistsupportpledge community response to Covid-19.
Colour is in my soul. I am British Indian married for 15 happy years to a Cornishman. We live on the moors, but spend all our spare time with our daughter by the sea. It is not just the blues hues, but the full colour spectrum of sunrises, sunsets and all that’s in between that bewitch me.
I am fortunate enough to shoot seascapes around the world, but last year found myself in the Caribbean when tropical hurricane Storm Dorian hit. That’s one I don’t wish to repeat!
I am often bleary eyed and up at sunrise, but equally I love a good storm and clouds rolling in. The works I take featuring skies and seas are hugely personal to me. They are the thing that I have always been drawn to and shot forever. For me, sharing them with the world is the most personal thing I have done professionally.
I suppose I favour light over colour. With good light comes amazing colour.
Both camera and photographic print technology are progressing so much that we are constantly pushing our creative boundaries as to the art we can create. It is a really exciting time. My collections are primarily printed as fine art prints mounted behind acrylic glass. The water scenes look like floating seas when hung and the skies are like a window with the world’s best views.
My approach is probably a bit unconventional. I often shoot landscapes with prime (fixed focal) lens that are ordinarily used for portraiture. They capture changing tides and light beautifully and give you that other worldly sense.
Personally the knowledge that no two days, or two moments even, are ever the same leads me to believe that a lot of my photography is fate. You can plan to be somewhere, but thanks to this great big colourful world, you never quite know what the conditions are going to throw at you. If I am lucky, the stars align, I am on foot, the light is spectacular and I cloud gaze with a camera in hand. It is a moment captured and then gone. I still find that the most magical thing about shooting stills.
The nicest compliment I ever received was that my skies and seas were like Turner paintings. I was thrilled. I will take that.
A sense of emotion drew me to capture the Watergate Bay image. It is the same for all my photographic works and paintings. Some days that is tranquillity, sometimes hope. Often I find myself drawn to the sea as I like to be reminded of just how small we are and the sheer power of nature. It helps keep life in perspective. I like to think of my works as visual meditations, where we can lose ourselves in the same way when we are by the sea.
I would like to tell you that this was a precisely planned and highly executed image, but the truth is far funnier. After a long, leisurely, slightly bleary eyed breakfast at Watergate Bay Hotel, we had been sitting on the balcony in the sunshine having a peaceful coffee with friends. There was no surf (much to my husband's dismay) and then just like that I spotted how beautiful the horizon was looking. So, as ever, I disrupted their peace and went charging off to our room to fetch my kit and then headed to the beach, camera in hand. It is a familiar routine to those that know and love me, sorry guys! As always it was an inopportune moment to capture a moment of magnificence.
Often I find myself drawn to the sea as I like to be reminded of just how small we are and the sheer power of nature. It helps keep life in perspective.
I am known for taking off out the front door in my pyjamas and Ugg boots and running through our village like a crazy lady to the edge of the moors, just to capture a breath taking sky.
The #artistsupportpledge has been one of the true heartfelt joys to come out of lockdown and the tragic Covid-19 pandemic. Like so many communities, thanks to the founder Matthew Burrow, the artistic community has all rallied together to share our works and support one another. When lockdown was announced many of us faced closed studios, cancelled exhibitions and all avenues of self-employed income gone overnight. It was set to be a scary time, but the artists support pledge means we are not only surviving, but thriving. The premise is that we list our works available for £200 or under, plus P & P, and then once we reach £1000 of sales, we pledge to buy a piece of art for £200 from another artist and so on. Genius.
Sales have been great and I couldn’t be more grateful. I have new clients across the country and you found me. Which is so lovely. I have purchased two pieces so far in return; one from local Cornish artist Jethro Jackson, he is incredible and based in Rock; and another from New York based Elizabeth Waggett, who is also represented in the Drang Gallery, Cornwall. I have also discovered other artists whose work I love and we chat via Instagram. Take a look, it is a whole colour-filled world! Plus you get to buy original art whilst spreading love. A feel good for everyone during these uncertain times.
Follow #artistsupportpledge on Instagram and support where you can.
Emma Solley’s Watergate Bay image is available to buy on her website with 20% off until the end of May (discount code SPRING20).