Neil

It is now three years since I met Neil, quite soon after moving to Oxford. It was one of my first models here in England, and he helped me so much with getting confidence in myself and in the work I am doing. I was then happy to photograph him again, after a long time, this spring. Here are some of the photos we took in his apartment, under the supervision of his playful snake Patrick (see the picture below!).

Model: Indroneel Chatterjee

©2017 Flavia Catena

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Secret garden

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in – what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
From a visit to the Botanic gardens of Oxford with my Lomo Instant.

©2017 Flavia Catena

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Just a room, a pretty soul, and a smile

“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” Franz Kafka

From an improvised (due to weather conditions) – but not less enjoyable – test shoot with the beautiful Liana VL.

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Graduation portraits – Oxford

No, this is not a dream: the best season of the year has finally started, with lots of interesting events and great people to photograph. I could not be more happy! Only a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to work with Asuka, a lovely japanese girl and a very talented student who successfully graduated from the Oxford University. Here are a few photos I took to her and her husband Sigfrid in a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Congratulations again, and “ad maiora”, as ancient romans used to say!

©2017 Flavia Catena

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Shepherds Bookbinders – The beauty of paper

At the beginning of this year, I had the chance – a very lucky one – to visit Shepherds Sangorski & Sutcliffe’s bindery. Thinking about my craft project, a few weeks before, I was looking for interesting places where to photograph artisans working with paper and books, so you can imagine my joy when I found a few articles speaking about one of the oldest bookbinding companies in England. For a woman, and before that, for a child who believed that books, especially the antique ones, smell even better than flowers, having the opportunity to access to a similar place was already a small exciting miracle. Everyone at the bindery welcomed me with an happy smile. I spent a few hours (more than planned) looking at the craftsmen working. While I was not taking photos, I simply enjoyed listening to their stories. Some of them where in the middle of restoring an old book, some where carving and decorating precious leather covers, some other were hand sewing pages and bringing ancient maps to life. I believe that the images below will give you an idea of what I briefly but happily took part into: art, in another of its form, art shining through layers of delicate paper.

I really suggest you to pay a visit to Shepherds Bookinders’ shop, whether possible, or to look at their website: http://www.bookbinding.co.uk/

©2017 Flavia Catena

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Last days of winter

“Those slight words and looks and touches are part of the soul’s language; and the finest language, I believe, is chiefly made up of unimposing words, such as “light,” “sound,” “stars,” “music”—words really not worth looking at, or hearing, in themselves, any more than “chips” or “sawdust.” It is only that they happen to be the signs of something unspeakably great and beautiful. I am of opinion that love is a great and beautiful thing too, and if you agree with me, the smallest signs of it will not be chips and sawdust to you: they will rather be like those little words, “light” and “music,” stirring the long-winding fibres of your memory and enriching your present with your most precious past.” George Eliot

From another beautiful collaboration with dancer and model Hanna Lyn Hughes (she is also an amazing make up artist)!

©2017 Flavia Catena

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Mirror

“For I do not exist: there exist but the thousands of mirrors that reflect me. With every acquaintance I make, the population of phantoms resembling me increases. Somewhere they live, somewhere they multiply. I alone do not exist.” Vladimir Nabokov

Working with reflections, dreams and delusions with the sweet Marlena.

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Comfort Station – Looking at the stars

Another chapter about my craft project is going to be open. Today I want to tell you a bit about Comfort Station, a jewellery brand I have discovered a few years ago, while I was visiting Shoreditch as one of those turists that always make the city of London crowded, noisy and happy. As soon as I noticed the shop’s window, I knew I had found something special. I immediately fell in love with all those necklaces and rings inspired by the constellations and the grandness of the universe. Being a real “vintage girl”, I was close to scream of joy seeing how old maps had been used on beautiful pendants, and how books had been hung on the wall to display the jewels. Not to mention the antique instruments, the suitcases, the music paper that were murmuring, together with the bracelets and earrings, words about love and beauty. Since that day I was waiting for the opportunity to photograph the person who was behind that work. And late in January this year I had that opportunity. I was very happy when Amy Anderson, the British fine artist who is the creator and designer of Comfort Station, replied to the email I had sent her saying she was interested in having me in her studio. When the day arrived, and I was friendly welcomed in her own little world (just in the basement of the shop), I was really excited and curious to see her at work. My camera was ready, so my eyes! I always find “behind the scenes” interesting. What can be better than photographing an artist who creates something in front of you? That’s why I want to thank Amy, once again, and leave you with the photo I took that magic afternoon!

Don’t miss to visit Comfort Station website: https://www.comfortstation.co.uk

©2017 Flavia Catena

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Short story of a scarecrow

“All the same” said the Scarecrow, “I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.”
“I shall take the heart,” returned the Tin Woodman, “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.” L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Another collaboration with performer and artist Donna Han who created this beautiful scarecrow mask.

©2017 Flavia Catena

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British artists

As you may know already, craftsmanship and art are a real passion of mine. Since the beginning of my path as a photographer I enjoyed taking photos of people at work. Last summer, with the idea to build a proper series on British creators, I started to contact artists in Oxford and having the pleasure to have them in front of my camera.

In the photos below you can see the work of Itsuko Doherty, a great painter originally from Japan, who studied in Tokyo, at Cornell University and at the Sorbonne, and whose work has been internationally exhibited. It was such an amazing experience to see her painting and to chat in front of a cup of coffee while the neighbours’ cat was snooping around the garden!

A few days earlier, I had the joy to visit and photograph Gabriella Blakey, a lovely lady, originally from Rome, who paints elegant furnitures and works on intaglio, appliqué and inlay using coloured veneers on wood. Mainly speaking about our native country and about art, we spent a really beautiful morning together!

After a few months when I mainly did research for the project, I went back to work on it and I discovered Hannah Shipway’s creations. She is a pround pottery maker, whose beautiful tableware will make you think: “I want one!”. She has her own studio in Oxford, where I was welcomed and where I photographed one of her tipical morning at work, blessed by the sun and fascinated by the shape of the bowls coming up from the wheel.

To know more of these artists, that I dearly thank, I suggest you to visit their website:  https://sites.google.com/site/itsukodoherty/home; https://www.gabriellablakey.co.uk; https://www.jerichostudiopottery.com/

©2016-2017 Flavia Catena

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