'Urban Impresssions' - New series

I'm drawn to the surface of the urban landscape and the overlooked beauty of elements that combine to produce a contemporary canvas. These fragments and details attract my eye and I feel the irresistible urge to record them. From drawings on cave walls to graffiti tags in alleyways, humans have marked their environment from the beginning.

Whether a political statement, an artistic expression, or the tag on an individual, the walls of our cities reflect the layered history of it’s people and a moment in time. Through human intervention and degradation, these layers become a collective collage of the citizens, forming a dialogue between city and people.

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By use of the photographic lens, I aim to frame this communication, creating juxtapositions to draw comparisons and thereby create narratives based on social and political commentary. I’m equally intrigued by the abstraction on the walls of the city, both reducing it to impressions and revealing the accidental collisions of texture and intention which exist in cities at every scale.

I aim to celebrate the aesthetic of impermanence and imperfection and to reflect on a moment in time in a constantly changing landscape. I aim to challenge the viewer to look at their surrounds in new ways and highlight the beauty in the decay.

I AM NOT INTERESTED IN SHOOTING THINGS NEW, I AM INTERESTED TO SEE THINGS NEW.
— Ernst Haas

Changelings - Press shots

Recently I was approached to work with an exciting artist on the rise to take some press shots for his upcoming album. CHANGELINGS is the creation of 24 year old musician Jay Penaflor, who began a small acoustic project as 'Jay Penaflor' and recorded a few EPs, before reforming under a new name - CHANGELINGS. It was great to connect with Jay and we're both really pleased with the results. Looking forward to collaborating again in the future. You can listen to his work here.

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Urban Abstractions - Monochrome

A little while between posts, but I've been busy working on variety of new projects. In contrast to my street photography where the focus is on people, I'm also drawn to the abstraction found on our urban walls. The marks, gestures, graffiti and urban decay combine to create a layered history of moments in time. I find this really intriguing as it helps to form a dialogue between city and people. I will be exploring this concept in more detail as I experiment with new work.

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'Hope Street' - Street photography series

Over the last few months I've been working hard on creating a body of work that explores the beauty in mundane and extraordinary in the ordinary. Shot in suburban Melbourne, I've aimed to capture and celebrate the special moments that occur in our daily lives. I decided to shoot in suburbia, rather than the city streets that I usually draw inspiration from. It was this decision that made project began to take on an exciting new direction.

Shooting in the everyday landscape of suburbia allowed me to simplify the subject in the frame and to focus on capturing 'the decisive moment' I was seeking. Most importantly I wanted to capture the emotion and the images to resonate with the audience. Here are a few of my favourites from the series. You can view more here.

"Photography is an art of observation – it’s about creating something extraordinary out of the ordinary. You choose a frame and then wait until the right time for something magical to come along and fill it. ” – Elliott Erwitt

Abstract Mixed Media : No.3

Recently I have become very drawn to abstraction and the visual explorations within the urban environment.

I have always been drawn to the simplicity of line and form of architecture and the abstraction found in the relationship between buildings and their surrounds. Typography and street art provide interesting marks and graphic elements that can be combined to create interesting results. The layering of street posters peeling reveal an interesting interplay with type, creating new narratives.

This piece was created using found torn street posters. The technique of collage and decollage were employed to created a balance of colour, texture and type. The challenge with a piece like this is for it to look spontaneous with a strong sense of composition, without overworking it. Below are some progress shots, tweaking until it feels 'finished'. This quote sums it up well...

'Art is never finished, only abandoned' - Leonardo Da Vinci
DETAIL - Mixed media collage using torn street posters

DETAIL - Mixed media collage using torn street posters

More layering - Mixed media collage using torn street posters

More layering - Mixed media collage using torn street posters

Final tweaks - Mixed media collage using torn street posters

Final tweaks - Mixed media collage using torn street posters

Abstract Mixed-Media: No.2

This piece explores abstraction through firstly selecting some of my original photos. I don't set out with a plan of the how the work will look, it's more of an intuitive process of selecting images that speak to me at the time. I then proceed to add and subtract elements of the images by tearing of cutting as needed. In this piece I wanted to introduce some interesting layering by including transparency. Once the composition is complete, I glue it to the substrate and scan to enhance digitally. Some addition textures and minor colour adjustments were made, as seen in the final piece below.

'East' - Digital collage. Started analogue and finished digitally.

'East' - Digital collage. Started analogue and finished digitally.

Abstract Mixed-Media: No.1

I've been feeling very inspired lately. I'm discovering more and more how the various projects I'm working on connect and feed one another. I've been shooting new images consistently and they're providing me with interesting source material for my collage work. I'm drawn to the abstract details that leave clues about time passed and the juxtapositions created when layers are peeled back.

Using various elements from my photography, I'm drawing inspiration from torn posters and the typography found on the street walls. I'm interested in recreating the layering, hiding and revealing what appears beneath. Equally, I'm intrigued by the role that typography plays when its no longer legible and becomes celebrated for its form rather than function. Aesthetically I'm drawn to the abstraction of the letters, textures, and how these ordinary, everyday elements come together to create an exciting composition.

8 x 8" mixed-media collage on canvas

8 x 8" mixed-media collage on canvas

Details - 8 x 8" mixed-media collage on canvas

Details - 8 x 8" mixed-media collage on canvas

8 x 8" mixed-media collage on canvas

8 x 8" mixed-media collage on canvas

The Typeset - Melbourne

In recent months, my friend and fellow creative, Leanne Franks and I started a new project to share our passion for typography and sign painting. We're collaborating to chart out the type and signs of Melbourne's yesteryear. Not only are we drawn to their aesthetic qualities, but they also provide interesting clues about the city's quirky past and social history.

The image below for example, is a recent discovery of a ghost sign in Carlton North, "DeWitts Otis Tonic Tablets". The name was an early twentieth-century product for "making your nerves stronger and your blood richer", released amid the post-WWI pharmaceutical boom.

You can follow the project via Instagram at @thetypeset, and join us as we continue to discover more hidden gems around Melbourne. Enjoy!

Ottis Tonic Tablet - Ghost sign, Melbourne

Ottis Tonic Tablet - Ghost sign, Melbourne

Tarax ghost sign, Melbourne

Tarax ghost sign, Melbourne

Newmans, ghost sign - Melbourne

Newmans, ghost sign - Melbourne

Vintage Coke, ghost Sign - Melbourne

Vintage Coke, ghost Sign - Melbourne

Abstract Collage Experiments

In recent months, I've been focusing predominantly on various photography projects. I've been really looking forward to getting back into some collage, so I decided to start a new abstract series. Lately, I've found myself really drawn to the potential of working in this way. Using my original photography as source material, I'm combining colour, texture and type to create layered compositions. Below are some work in progress shots.

Abstract collage
Abstract collage - work in progress

Ghost signs, Melbourne

I've been out shooting a lot around Melbourne lately. I'm always inspired by the city surrounding me, the people and the urban landscape. As a designer, I also notice good typography and interesting signage. I love the old heritage buildings and ghost signs that are still fairly prevalent in Melbourne today. It's what makes this city so unique and interesting.

Here are a few shots I've taken of signs in various locations around Melbourne.

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Ghost sign, Melbourne
Ghost sign, Melbourne
Ghost sign, Melbourne

'Street Focus' - Melbourne street series

I've recently started a new photographic project, 'Street Focus'. I'm documenting people in this series, whether a part of the urban landscape or caught in a candid moment. In our daily lives it's so easy to fixate on what divides us—ethnicity, age, gender and class; instead of what unites us. I'm fascinated with the way we gather and act collectively on the street, on the tram, at work and having fun, it's all superbly similar.

I continually seek evidence that we do absolutely mirror each other despite our vast differences. Every day I am captivated to document the people and the places that surround me on the palpable streets of Melbourne, an incredibly diverse and dynamic place to live.

Street photography, Centre Place, Melbourne
Street photography, Swanston Street, Melbourne
Street photography, Melbourne

'Street Focus' Melbourne

My passion for street photography started about 5 years ago when I moved to London. I started out shooting on my iPhone for fun and was lucky enough to connect with the mobile photography community early in it’s rise to popularity. I built relationships with some excellent street photographers, such as founders of the Mobile Photo Network, Ollie Lang and Misho Baranovic. It was also around this time that Instagram launched and provided an excellent platform to share my images and learn from others.

There is a rawness and an excitement to shooting on the street that I find addictive. I suppose it’s because you’re concentrating on what’s right in front of you and really 'in the moment'. I photograph urban landscapes too, but I decided to get back out on the streets of the Melbourne CBD and shoot with a focus on the people of the city.

I wanted to get as close as possible to the subjects, which is of course very difficult. It’s quite hard to take a good photo of someone without them noticing. The iPhone provides a discreet and wide angle camera which makes it a good option for street photography.

These were shot on my DSLR at around 50mm, which is closest to what the viewer would see if they were actually there. I'm pretty happy with results and found it quite thrilling getting amongst the action and capturing the people surrounding me. 'Street Focus' will be an ongoing series documenting urban Melbourne. Stay tuned for more images soon and follow the series here on Instagram.

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Urban Fragments

This image is one from my ongoing 'Urban Fragments' series. Capturing the rich urban landscape of Melbourne's streets has become a consistent source of inspiration for my work. I'm drawn to the layers on the street walls, the accidental collage of torn street posters, the texture and the typography all provide so much visual interest that is so often overlooked. I love the contrast of the pink and yellow against the strong black and white type. I hope you enjoy it too... 

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Flinders Street, Melbourne

This shot was captured on Flinders Street, during my daily commute home from work. The street crossing provides a good backdrop to capture the energy of Melbourne's CBD, combining interesting architecture with people in motion. Like this image, I shoot and edit a lot of my street images with my iPhone, because it's the camera that's always with me.

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'TREND' Exhibition - Presented by RAW Melbourne

On Friday 10th of June I was selected to take part in the one night only exhibition, 'TREND', presented by RAW Melbourne. RAW is an independent arts organisation for artists and focuses on spotlighting independent talent to the public.

Every second month they hand-select and showcase approximately 40 artists in film, fashion, music, visual art, photography, performing art, hair and makeup. Naturally, I was very excited to be approached to showcase with so many talented artists.

Another awesome thing about RAW is that once you've showcased in your hometown, you can then showcase at any RAW city, anywhere in the world in places like New York City, San Francisco, London... and beyond!

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This was quite different to other group shows I've taken part in, as it wasn't you're usual white wall gallery exhibition. It was good experience deciding how to best display and hang the works. I created urban signage and designed some self-promotional postcards to accompany my display so that people could take away a little piece of my work, as seen below.

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All works are available as limited edition prints, framed and unframed. Email lesley.bourne@gmail.com for more information on pricing.

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Urban mixed media experiments

I've been experimenting with some hand-made urban collages. Taking inspiration from Melbourne's vibrant streets, I've been exploring the possibilities of using my photographs as the source material for new mixed media works. By printing them out and cutting them up, I'm able to open up to a new, meditative way of working and the results have been very rewarding.

Here are some works in progress that explore layering, with a focus on type and texture like that of the torn street posters that surround us every day. There is so much visual interest and history to be found in the layers of the street walls.

I have enjoyed exploring decollage techniques with these works too. There's a fine balance between adding elements and taking them away. It also creates unexpected results when peeling back the images in this way, creating some playfulness to the work. The type is illegible and therefore becomes part of the design, rather to be read. I'm excited to explore this direction further and share more experiments with you soon...

Street photography, Melbourne

I've been trying to challenge myself with my photography lately and experiment with more with shooting film. I seem to be more thoughtful about my composition and lighting, and I can anticipate the 'moment' better which brings a true sense of achievement. Here are a few images I shot around my neighbourhood in Brunswick and Northcote.