Culture Magazine

from Our Lives, the Land Disappears, All That is Left is a Heart Made of Tears, from Her Smile a Golden Tooth is Worn

By Alyssapageot @alyssapageot
What is art? What defines artwork and who defines it? Can anything be considered art? Does it need a reason, an explanation? What is originality? Is anything purely original? Is everything a copy of a copy of a copy? If something has been done before, is it off limits? Is it okay to take ideas from other artists, to get inspiration and ideas and rework them into something that is your own? Is it okay to copy if it's subconscious? Is it not okay if you deliberately copy someone else? What if you create something that you think is original, only to find out that someone else has done the same thing? Is it that uncommon for two people to have the same idea, but be completely unrelated and unaware of each other? What does a copyright really protect? Is imitation really the sincerest form of flattery? Is there any point in even trying to be completely unique?
These are a lot of questions I've been asking myself lately. I am starting to feel that everytime I brainstorm a new artistic endeavour, or when I come up with an idea for a photoshoot/ an outfit/ a drawing etc. I am frustrated to learn that somebody has probably already done it, and perhaps better than I even could. With tools like Tumblr at my fingertips, I have access to tons of different mediums of art and a large range of individuals with passion and creativity that often mimics my own style, though not purposefully. I get discouraged, because I haven't found one specific medium that I feel I excel at or have the most drive for. And I get discouraged because I know so many extremely talented people who are doing so much more than I ever could. What's the point in creating something cool if someone has always created something cooler? Maybe my problem is that I don't believe in myself enough to come up with original and interesting ideas, that I don't feel like I have much to offer the world. I'm an admirer of others, I think I'm a better curator than an artist and I'm not necessarily happy with that fact. Sourcing, crediting, and celebrating others is very important to me. Places like Tumblr, and Pinterest, and WeHeartIt drive me insane because it's all pretty things floating around with no recognition for the original creators. Stuff gets stolen, reposted without proper links, and I know a lot of artists who struggle with being ripped off and are not okay with it. I'm not okay with it either, but I still need to figure out where the boundaries are for being inspired by someones work and wanting to recreate it on my own. I don't know if that's okay.
I've always loved photography, I've always wanted to be a good photographer, to take pretty pictures and have even more pictures taken of me. Except I don't even own a camera, the only pictures I've taken in the past two-three years are on my iPhone, and you can find them all on my Instagram. Nothing spectacular. In college I had a photo styling course which I really enjoyed but looking back now I'm still not that proud of some of the concepts I've came up with. Coming up with concepts for photoshoots doesn't come so easily for me. But I still want to try, I want to get better, I want to explore more. I see so many wonderful images, I feel that I could take some too if I tried a little harder.
What's spurred me to think about all of these things, was a photoset I came across. It seems like such a simple, almost obvious idea, but at the same time- I didn't think of it. But I really wish I had. The series of pictures, taken by Sarah-Jean are called 'Swallowed by the Season'.
from our lives, the land disappears, all that is left is a heart made of tears, from her smile a golden tooth is worn
from our lives, the land disappears, all that is left is a heart made of tears, from her smile a golden tooth is worn
from our lives, the land disappears, all that is left is a heart made of tears, from her smile a golden tooth is worn
from our lives, the land disappears, all that is left is a heart made of tears, from her smile a golden tooth is worn
from our lives, the land disappears, all that is left is a heart made of tears, from her smile a golden tooth is worn
from our lives, the land disappears, all that is left is a heart made of tears, from her smile a golden tooth is worn
All images via
Taken on a Vivitar camera, using Ilford HP5 plus 400 monochrome film; this set of photographs was inspired by a pondered thought: after death, we are taken back by nature, becoming one with the Earth again and living through it instead of a body.
Sarah-Jean also included this quote: "As her body lay limp upon the cold, barren earth, flowers flourished and grew from her limbs, consuming her body; she was swallowed by the season, finally one with the Earth once again."

So, these pictures really speak to me. The concept really speaks to me. Reading the inspiration behind this set, invoked a lot of strong feelings in me. I am an atheist, I don't believe in any life after death, nothing but a lifeless body left to decompose into the earth. And sure, that scares me. But I am trying to wrap my head around life and death, and if there is an purpose for me, if I will leave anything behind, or if my body will just get eaten by worms and turn to dirt. As much as I love cemeteries, I don't want to be buried in one. I want my ashes to be planted freely along with seeds and bulbs in a garden and I want flowers to grow where my remains were left.
Because these images, this idea, has so much meaning to me- I would really like to recreate it somehow. These images are black and white, I'd like to do something with color film. I've always been a fan of the sort of stop motion photography like this, that tells a story, and if you were to flip through the photographs or compile them online as film stills you could make a .gif! I'm sure this idea, with the flowers consuming the body, could be done with something other than flowers. Or done with something other than a body. If I could get one of my cats to sit still long enough I could try it with them. But as much as I'd love to try this, I don't think I would have the same satisfaction with it, knowing it wasn't my great idea. It sort of makes me more determined to come up with something as interesting, as meaningful, that is all my own. But I did want to share my thoughts, and these images, in case anyone has any feedback or answers/opinions to any of the questions I've asked. And because I want to give these photos and the artist as much appreciation as I think they deserve.

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By Sarah-Jean Henderson
posted on 28 November at 18:03
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Hello, lovely. I'd just like to say how overwhelmed I am to know that my work provoked such strong thoughts and feelings. My friend has just shown my your article, and I am truly flattered. Causing people to feel, and provoking emotions is exactly why I photograph, and knowing that I have achieved this is truly inspiring. Thank-you for taking the time to write about my work, and for crediting everything. I am truly flattered.