A few weeks ago I came across the Flickr account of photographer Helena Aguilar i Mayans. Her ethereal work immediately appealed to me and I asked her to participate in this fourth edition of ‘Spotlight’. I loved hearing what Helena has to say about her work and inspiration, and hope you do as well. Enjoy!
Bleaq: If you had to describe your work in one sentence, how would you do it?
Helena: That is really hard! I think I would describe it like a gate to other realities or as visions from a mysterious past.
Can you tell about how you got into photography? What was your first camera?
I have always been interested in Arts but not exactly in photography. I think I started consciously working on it when I was fourteen or fifteen. Once in high school I had the option to do a subject about photography, all focused in analog photography. There I also learned a little about the history of photography, and I discovered Julia Margaret Cameron’s work. And I think it was then… Discovering the work of this woman made me fall in love with photography. I think that in that point my mind understood photography in a very different way. Usually we understand it as an easy way to capture our proper realities. If you’re not into the arts, sometimes photography is just used to capture important (or not) moments of our lives, it’s like a way to collect concrete moments and souvenirs. And maybe, I always found this a little boring, but Cameron’s work opened my eyes, I understood that with photography you can also go beyond reality. I think that was what I needed, I understood that photography is as magical as any other art, and that it has endless possibilities. I think I saw it (and I still do) as a medium one can use in order to make fantasies more real. After that I studied in an Art School and in the University of Barcelona. I also have a degree in Fine Arts, where I learned several photographic techniques and processes. And now I can’t stop, I work with both analogue and digital but actually I’m very interested in analogue and experimental techniques. My first camera was an Olympus OM10, It was my mum’s camera, she lend it to me, and I’m still using it!
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by a lot of things! Nature: I’m in love with my surroundings. I had the chance to live in a Natural Park and I think this has influenced me a lot, I love to take pictures there. Also I’m a big lover of the XIXth century, I love photographs of the early photography era and the Pre-Raphaelite and symbolist movements. Actually, all the art of the XIXth century is an inspiration for me. I love alchemical and occult illustrations, symbology and mythologies too. The Greek and the Egyptian ones are my favourites. And music is something that inspires me a lot! I love doom metal, post rock, and ritual ambient.
Who are your favourite artists? How do they inspire your work?
I think I always had been more inspired by painters than photographers. I have a lot of favourites ones, so I’m going to list the ones that are inspiring me most right now: Francesca Woodman, Jean Delville, Francisco de Goya, Robert Fludd and Max Ernst. I love the photographic work of Jonás Garcia, I think he is a wizard of images! Also since a year or so I had been researching in the victorian spiritual movement and its photography, and now I’m a lot into witches and their archetypes.
It’s probably like asking parents which of their kids they like best, but do you have a piece or pieces from your work that you like best? If so, why that one?
Mmm very hard to answer this… I think I would choose my picture called Planchette. It was taken with a large format camera and I think I could reflect what I really was searching for, also I was working in new topics so I think it was a new gate into my work. It’s part of a project I haven’t finished yet, but on which I am hoping to work more.
– Planchette I
– Planchette II
With many social networking websites it’s almost hard to keep track of everything! How important is the internet for you as an artist?
I think it’s very important! It’s a way to find lots of inspiration and to be exhibited and share your work; you never know who can find you! And discover that someone who lives very very far from you is liking and following your work is priceless. Also I think it’s a great way to discover and know great artists around the world with the same interests, and this can bring collaborations, friendships, mutual support, and discovering more and more artists in the same vibe.
I really think internet it’s great for artists, you can share your work to the world in a very easy way. If you want to have followers I think you have to be very active, and sometimes that is hard. I’m very slow at doing things and I try to post in different platforms (Facebook, Flickr, Etsy, Instagram, blog, and Tumblr). Sometimes I just feel that I can’t update them all, and it takes too much time! I’m terribly bad updating my blog for example, and every time I want to do a post I spend hours on it. I’m trying to keep it alive though, I had some blogs before and always I leave them abandoned. Hope this time it will be different!
Last but not least: can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?
Few days ago I watched Wuthering Heights, the movie from 2012, directed by Andrea Arnold. Even if it doesn’t explain the whole novel, I really enjoy it. I found it visually very interesting and inspiring! I loved the visual narrative it has! And also this last year I discovered some talented french jewel makers: Under the Pyramids, Cutebone and Pagan Poetry. I really invite you to take a look at their work, it’s magical!
That’s it! Big thanks to Helena for being so kind to share some insights on her work with Bleaq! Thanks for reading, hope you all have a lovely weekend. See you Monday!