In the latest issue of AnOther Magazine, Swedish photographer Julia Hetta and stylist Cathy Edwards joined forces with set designer David White in a whimsical shoot inspired by 17th century Dutch portraiture. The resulting photographs resound with a dramatic sense of juxtaposition between the modern and the old. Hetta’s style, painterly in itself, and her use of solely natural lighting strongly evoke the Old Masters, while the styling and clothing – an array of bright, mannered colours and modern fabrics such as foam and latex – strike a very contemporary chord. White's role involved the creation of unusual still lives whose presence, again, references the portraiture tradition but whose subtle oddities intrigue and beguile, in a current, conceptual manner. He replaces the sort of portraiture props one would expect in such a scene (flowers, pets, symbols of grandeur) with ones entirely unexpected (a mishmash of everyday objects displayed in new contexts).
White, who trained and started out in theatre design, now works predominantly with photographers on a diverse range of projects and has collaborated with the likes of Alasdair Mclellan, Paolo Roversi and Sølve Sundsbø. Here, we talk to him about his influences and visions for the shoot…
What was the story behind the shoot?
The clothing, set and still life elements juxtapose the Dutch Golden Age era with modern textures and materials that retain similar qualities inherent to those in the original references. Textured satin is replaced with plastic bags, cotton tablecloths with dust sheets, fruit with canned versions in syrup or still in its wrapper.
"I wanted to collect items which had a strong sense of form and texture, regardless of their immediate use, without dismissing the ordinary or plain."
What was your vision for the set design?
I wanted to collect items which had a strong sense of form and texture, regardless of their immediate use, without dismissing the ordinary or plain.
How did you create the sculpture setups?
I waited for Cathy to complete the look then selected elements to compliment and contrast the outfit; a colour that added disparity or an object that at first glance appeared traditional but on closer inspection introduced a more contemporary quality.
Obviously the shoot is very painting orientated, did any painters/paintings influence your practice?
I actually looked more to Wolfgang Tillmans' still life images and the work of sculptor Laviada Alejandra as they both present mundane objects as revered forms whilst retaining the traditional composition of classical still life.
Text by Daisy Woodward