+May 18, 2019
Leanne Surfleet is a self-portrait artist and photographer living in the UK. Leanne creates her images using a variety of different films and instant film, especially polaroid. Taking self-portraits and using a manual film camera requires Leanne to be involved in every step of the process. She composes each shot, pushes the shutter, and poses. Most of what she shoots is decided upon spontaneously in the moment. The use of expired film and soft focus gives a sense of unease, dreaminess, and the essence of being from another time. The work evokes feelings of nostalgia.
When I look at Leanne’s photographs, it’s as if I’m looking at a memory. Each shot is so personal and intimate, essentially a visual journal expressing her fears and using the process to look at herself to overcome her anxieties. Leanne’s work covers themes of nostalgia, loneliness, and anxiety. She began taking self-portraits as a way to explore her own curiosities about her identity and to cope with health issues. Creating this work has been a way for Leanne to work through fears regarding death. Leanne describes her creative process as being a form of escapism. The process of creating self-portraits with her camera is also calming during times of high duress.
Leanne’s photographs are so haunting and beautiful. When I look at them, I have an experience that can only be described as feeling what the creator feels. This is of course subjective, but the work is emotive in the way light and shadow are used. There is this darkness/lightness play that represent a personal skirmish with herself and a slow resolution. Many of the images feel cold, and lonely. Yet other images have a warmer color tone and feel stronger, more hopeful.
Leanne often creates her self-portraits within her living space. Items that appear in the photographs with her are part of the process of documenting her own identity. The use of objects like a mirror suggest that Leanne is reflecting within herself. The imperfections that come along with shooting film such as scratches and dust are meaningful to Leanne. She sees these imperfections as a symbol of herself and her own reality.