Interview: Linda Bembridge
Luca Curci talks with Linda Bembridge, winner of ARTIST OF THE MONTH – AUGUST 2021.
Linda was born in London and has lived all of her life in the outer suburbs of this wonderful city. An education focusing on Economics and Finance enabled Linda to enjoy a successful but demanding career as a consultant in the financial services sector. Her role requiring creativity and imagination also resulted in no discernible work/life balance and was ultimately unsustainable. In 2005 Linda was lucky enough to receive a Camera as a gift and very quickly realized that photography could provide the much-needed counter-weight in her increasingly pressured life. Linda experimented with photographing the landscape enjoying wide vistas as well as the intimate details which so often go unnoticed. Over time an obsession with these inner landscapes and abstract patterns in nature became apparent in Linda’s work, creating a foundation upon which to build over the coming years. A change in home circumstances coupled with a further deterioration in her work/life balance led to the camera gathering dust for a couple of years. Linda then had one of those “light-bulb” moments which changed the course of her life forever. During the summer of 2018, Linda was walking across a field at a music festival checking emails on her phone. A photograph by Valda Bailey heading up an email circular stopped Linda in her tracks! After some quick research Linda establish that the image was indeed a photograph and had been created by making use of techniques such as In-Camera Multiple Exposures. Almost overwhelmed with curiosity and excitement Linda determined at that moment to change the direction of her life and to carve out a future centered around photographic fun and creativity, away from her career in consultancy. The Pandemic allowed Linda to walk away from her consulting career once and for all and fully embrace life as a photographer. She has risen to the challenge of learning to abstract using her camera producing small bodies of work that each tell a story. While Linda is a Digital Photographic Artist, she is passionate about printing her work and continues to explore different surfaces upon which to present an image. Each print is then hand-finished using a variety of techniques and materials such as Calligraphy or Gilding ensuring each finished piece is unique. While Linda’s journey as a Photographer has not been without its hiccups, she is incredibly proud to have been awarded Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society as well as the award for Excellence by the Federation Internationale De L’Art Photographique. Linda is also a regular Exhibitor at Obsidian Art Gallery.
“My approach to photography continues to evolve as I learn more about what inspires me. Using a combination of in-camera techniques focusing on blending and color shifts I photograph any scene which attracts my attention. I do not limit myself to subject or place arbitrary restrictions around processing techniques. I will happily devote time editing images if I feel I can communicate more clearly. I play with tones, shape and color if I feel the result will be more exciting. My goal is to use my camera frame as a means by which to pull the viewer out of a logical and recognizable world into a space that feels more alive and joyful. I am drawn to shapes, color and rhythm while I strive to connect within the chaos that surrounds us. My work varies from representational to abstract, and I am continually moving along the continuum between the two. Every image I produce is part of my journey to find my creative voice, each has its place and its own story to tell”.
LUCA CURCI – What is art for you?
LINDA BEMBRIDGE – This isn’t an easy question to answer, art is so fundamental. I find it easier to answer the question in terms of what Creativity means to me. I have been lucky enough to have had a career which, although not related to my art, still required me to be creative every day. This kept me happy and fulfilled for many years. I am lucky now to be able to spend the majority of my time exploring my art through the medium of the photograph. Allowing myself to play and (at times) to fail leads to the roller-coaster that life as an artist embodies. I wouldn’t swap it for the world. Recently I have had periods where I struggle to find time to be creative in any way and I am a poorer person as a result. For me being creative is like a drug that keeps me happy, balanced and brings color to my life, without it everything feels dull and monochromatic.
LC – How did you get to your current artistic practice?
LB – I started my journey primarily as a landscape photographer quickly developing an obsession with patterns and shapes in the small details often overlooked. Over time I gradually moved away from representational image-making and started to abstract my work. For me working with abstractions is much harder but gives me more scope to play as well as allowing me to work within wider projects parameters and concepts. Increasingly I find that working within small projects gives me the scope to use abstracted imagery to convey a wider meaning, I have more scope to communicate. Hand finishing my work is becoming increasingly important. Hand finishing a piece of work is critical in order for that work to be satisfying and often complex to produce, it also opens up a whole new world of play and exploration.
LC- What are your thoughts while you paint? Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
LB – My habits and rituals are simple. I find music a distraction while I work but I listen to endless Podcasts on any topic, the spoken word drowns out thoughts and worries buzzing in my head allowing me to concentrate and lose myself to the task in hand. While I work I will rarely (consciously) think about anything other than what’s in front of me. By allowing my mind to wander I will be pondering the shape of the next project on my ever-changing list. Unless I am working I will never have those creative sparks which allow me to move forward, something I have learned the hard way.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
LB – Equally fun and frustrating. I am lucky enough to be able to spend much of my time creating and for that, I am eternally grateful. As for living life as an artist, I still need to see what shape that takes, it’s early days.
LC- Did your style change over the years? In which way?
LB – Yes, my style has changed completely. I have moved along the continuum away from representational work towards an abstracted world as I learned to listen to my gut instinct and recognize what gives me joy and makes me happy. I have focused on acquiring skills and learning techniques that have fundamentally changed my approach to my work. Hand finishing my work has also opened up a whole world of ideas and possibilities, the challenge being to prioritize those which will suit my work the best. In summary, the journey is always so important, our history forms the foundations we build on today. Overall I am super-excited as to how my work is developing and hope that I can carry on playing and experimenting forever.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
LB – Incredibly pleased but also excited to move on to the next piece of work. I never know what the next piece will be until I work on my current project, that’s where the ideas come from. The challenge is to make sure the current project is finished before I move on, not always easy.