The advent of blossom is one of the surest signifiers of spring, and has become a much-documented phenomenon. Photographer Michael Bodiam and set designer Sarah Parker, however, have captured the beautiful branches in an entirely novel way: their new series, Blooms, is a study of blossom and other textures, natural or otherwise. The use of blossom is multi-layered: Bodiam shot the flowers in situ in the spring of last year, and using black and white prints of those images, plus real blossom and various other materials gathered by Parker, Blooms was shot in Bodiam’s studio. The result is playful and meta – photographs of photographs of blossom, paired with torn paper, more blossom sprigs, rubber balls or sticky-looking paint. Visceral and satisfying, the collection of images is a jovial ode to spring florals.
Part of the appeal of Blooms is its surprising portrayal of blossom. “At the start of the shoot I brought along a wide variety of objects and surfaces that ended up becoming backgrounds, although not always in their original form,” explains Parker of the process. “The materials were manipulated, shot both in and out of focus, working at both a macro and micro scale. As a result we ended up with a series of ephemeral, abstract textures that were then printed out and finally used as backdrops.” It’s this “visual complexity”, as Parker calls it, that is especially captivating about Blooms, in which multifarious layers, textures, objects and colours are brought together.
The introduction of collage added to this layering process. The pair looked to the cut-outs of Henri Matisse and “the amazing combinations of colour, beautiful abstract forms and the captivating layered depth that feature in some of [Jean] Arp’s paintings,” explains Bodiam. The cut out sections, rich colours and unexpected shapes speak to these references, but Blooms is unique in its combination of all these elements; the series is multi-dimensional, and the more one studies the images the more layers seem to appear, to mesmerising effect.