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Invisible pattern – Lyydia Osara

I am a Finnish fine art photographer, recently graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in photography from Cambridge School of Art. I moved back to Helsinki, Finland, where I am originally from a few months ago and it feels like I am still trying to settle back in.

I am spending a lot of time freely creating and trying to build new projects at the moment. I am also looking for a part-time job to help me with my expenses although it seems very hard to find anything at the moment. I am hoping to continue with further studies in photography and apply to do a Master’s at the end of this year.

Share with us your journey to photography.

My journey with photography started at a very young age. My parents, both working in the arts, taught me how to express myself with different artistic techniques very early on. I have always been a quick person and found painting, for example, too slow for me to create. If I have an idea, I immediately want to make it reality.

I found that I could express myself more efficiently by photographing shapes and forms rather than drawing or painting them. I have always wanted to share my own view of reality by choosing exactly how I want to present it with my photographs, and surrealism and abstraction have always interested me more than realism, which can be seen from my photographs early on. 

Photographs always make us feel something, whether it’s boredom or excitement or sadness, and this is what I am interested in photography. I want to really feel something when I look at a photograph and this is what I hope to create myself. I have never been the best at verbally expressing myself, so I have always tried to transfer this energy in expressing myself in other ways.

Let’s talk about your project. What’s it about? What was your motivation behind making the work?

My project is an exploration of my personal emotions that have come up with my mental health problems. ‘Invisible Pattern’ came about because there were new, extreme emotions I was dealing with, and dealing with these inside my mind I quickly realised how difficult these emotions were to explain, how difficult it is for anyone to truly understand it all without experiencing it themselves. This was my way of trying to show what I was feeling.

The motivation behind the work was sometimes to simply try to cope with these emotions, but it also became a way for me to speak up about this important topic because I knew I was not the only one experiencing these problems. It started from a personal need for relief ,and it quickly became important to me as a way to speak up about the importance of mental health.

Can you talk about the processes that you used to make this work? Did making the series become something of a cathartic process for you?

Making this project felt as if I had spent a few years on experimenting with different techniques rather than one year at university. I started with one alternative photography method and quickly went through what felt like all the possible ways to create images.

The project took a lot of courage and determination to stick to my vision as in the beginning, all the prints I made I considered rejects. I experimented with processes such as chemigrams, luminograms, cyanotypes, photograms and cliché-verre process. All processes of treating light-sensitive paper in different ways, either by working with different chemistry or blocking or drawing with light.

I also worked with post-processing with some of the prints, and this became a way for me to create something even more different but which gave me a lot of control, and introduced me to also create interesting shapes using photo-editing programs as well. I wanted to stick with analogue methods for a long time, but in the end, thought that I should give myself all the freedom to create this project.

My work is almost always cathartic for me and with this project I also became more comfortable verbally expressing what I am going through, which has helped me a lot. 

You said that this was part of your final major project – as it is a personal series, have you ended the work or is it ongoing? Do you think you will continue with it in another form?

I have ended the project and I am now looking at little aspects of my experiences, rather than trying to put it all together in this one major project.

I went through a lot of different alternative processes that I’m also looking into more individually and, for example, looking at reasons why I considered different prints rejects. I can see this project as a beginning of my professional work looking into and trying to depict different emotions in my work with a new abstract language that I am interested in exploring.

Share some recommendations for our readers. What are you currently watching, reading, or listening to?

I am currently focusing on drawing. In the darkroom, I was drawing with light and with different objects blocking light, although almost blindly, I never instantly knew the outcome.

I am looking into mixing photography with mediums like painting and sculpture and trying to find my own way of working with different mediums.

I am currently reading about contemporary drawing and painting and can really recommend The British Museum’s ‘Pushing paper: Contemporary drawing from 1970 to now’ edited by Isabel Seligman, and also ‘Vitamin P3: New perspectives in painting’.

Finally, tell us about a piece of art that has influenced you.

I’m choosing a recent experience that made a big difference in thinking about the work I enjoy the most and hope to produce.

My one piece of influential art would be one of the paintings in Mark Rothko’s room at the Tate Modern in London. I have been reading about Rothko’s work but seeing it in person, these big pieces, made a real difference.

The powerful layers of colour and pure emotion that I could see and feel. Seeing the work, while I was in quite a fragile emotional state, I could not believe that someone could have made work that can create such powerful emotional responses. In sitting and looking at them one by one I felt so many emotions and could see so much in every brush stroke and every layered colour in them.

I was working on my ‘Invisible Pattern’ project last year when I saw these pieces, and suddenly my work made complete sense to me.

In the beginning of creating my project, I felt like I was only making it for myself, but seeing Rothko’s work made me realise how much the viewer of this kind of work can find comfort in it, and it gave me strength in creating something different and something very personal.

I hope I can create relief and pure emotion through my work as Rothko’s work does. There is a lot of comfort in feeling the same kind of emotion as the artist had when creating the work, and this is what I hope to produce. /

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