Claire Gill uses photomontage, or digital collage, to construct her intriguing sescapes. Slightly surreal, yet wholely familar, her work situates itself somewhere between photography and painting. Dominik Slowik talks to the photographer and artist about her processes and inspiration.
What does your process involve?
I create fine art limited edition prints using the technique of digital photomontage. This involves layering, combining and juxtaposing original photographic imagery to create an entirely new scene. Much of my work is inspired by the coast and the images which at first seem straightforward are surreal and not how they first appear. The images, created in Photoshop are printed onto Hahnemuhle paper using a fine art printer with inks which exceed museum standards for longevity in a print.
How long have you been making photomontages for?
My father is a graphic designer and when he switched from a manual method of design to computers in the early 1990’s I was lucky enough, through him, to have access to Photoshop. I started to teach myself to use the programme and used it to create mood boards for my Textile studies at the time. It was very new then and you could only undo one action, which really helped to refine my use of the tools. Creating mood boards was a very collage based textile approach I used to aid the presentation of my projects, but I had no notion at the time that it could become a way of creating Art.
What inspired you to start making photomontages?
About eight years ago I had decided that I wanted to take up painting. I didn’t really know how to start, or what to paint so thought I would get some ideas together by combining some pictures from a recent trip to the North Norfolk Coast. I used photoshop because my photographs were taken on a digital camera and this was a way of working, which was familiar. As the pictures came together, I became really excited by this way of working, and started to see possibility. I realised that there would be no purpose in painting these images and that actually I liked them as they were.
Seascape 54 Interwoven, £345
What inspires you?
Inspiration and ideas come from lots of places. In general I feel inspired when I am surrounded by space. It excites me and I start to see things that I want to photograph. I also see possibility in everyday things for example at the moment I am doing some display work in a school and feeling there is a lot of possibility in using off cuts - the bits that you would normally throw away!
How do you choose your colour palette? Is it to evoke a certain mood in the viewer?
Colour is a very powerful thing and as a textile designer I learnt that it is the first thing we see above both pattern and subject matter. Everyone has colours they are drawn to and it is no different for me. I have realised through making the work that on an emotional level, I am looking for a peaceful place within the image and I think that the way I combine colours helps me to create that sense of peace and calm.
What are you plans for the future (art-wise)?
I will create images inspired by a 'sense of place' for as long as I can keep it fresh and interesting, and continue to see things in different ways, but photomontage as an approach offers huge possibility for creating different narratives, with different imagery and I am excited by that. I will keep my mind open and I am sure find a fresh way into a different subject matter at some stage. I love photographing people for example, so who knows.
Seascapes 33 Beyond, £345
Interview by Dominik Slowik