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The Strange Worlds of Paul Biddle My inspiration and influences range from Renaissance art to Dadaism and Surrealism, from Picasso to the flotsam and jetsam that I pick up on my walks by the sea near my home. Having experimented with a wide variety of media during my time at art school, I found that photography was the thing that most excited me. The immediacy and the rather hazy line that can be created between reality and the feeling of not being quite sure what is happening is what I find appealing. I really believe in understanding the technique so that it becomes transparent and the image shines through.
Some pictures are simple and complete inside my head from the beginning, but most of my images start with the inspiration of the objects themselves. It may be something found in a junk shop, washed up on the beach near my home or something from my past, such as wooden letters from a childhood game or my palette from art school days. I am mostly drawn towards old stuff with a bit of patina and an air of decay - I love the textures and variations in the colours. Also, objects from the natural world are a great inspiration.
I often assemble a collection of such items and then experiment to find the perfect juxtaposition of composition, form and colours - what I think of as playtime. This “Playtime” is possibly the most important and creative part of my image making process. I deliberately try not to be specific or to choose meanings to portray at this stage - it’s a time I need to be alone with the image, and it’s the time when things begin to happen quite unconsciously. At this stage I like to work quietly with no interruptions, I make the composition, then use a spot of light to shape the forms into an image.Then follows endless deliberation and honing of the picture; I like to pare it down to it’s essentials and suddenly the dynamic is there and the image sits well, as if it has always existed. Of course, lighting also plays an extremely important rôle as this is what creates the all-important atmosphere. I like my pictures to have a narrative quality but I mostly prefer people to read what they like into them and hopefully enjoy them for their visual stimulation. I love super saturated colour. I often use pure artists’ pigments to create the effects, but also am very fond of faded, degraded colour and monochrome - it really depends on what image I am making. At the moment I am working on a monochrome series as I feel that it is sometimes essential to get back to basics.
Many of the images are entirely shot ‘in camera’ but I also enjoy using Photoshop ( I have been learning it for 18 years). It is a wonderful tool that has opened up whole new worlds (fantasy islands?) to me. I use it to print every image I make whether they be composites or entirely shot in camera - it has replaced my darkroom completely and now I dodge and burn and tweak my images with many layered files and produce better prints than I ever did in the dark.
I work with Pam - my Muse and Missus who in her words “Interferes a lot”. Luckily as we have the same taste we usually tend to agree and the images wouldn’t be the same without her. When I started out in photography I was scrabbling around wondering what to do and it was Pam who said “Just make photographs like your drawings and paintings” and I did.
Paul Biddle (August 2011)