R J Poole
R J Poole
Without me © R J Poole
Entering the world of photographic artist R J Poole reveals a hauntingly beautiful place that simultaneously captivates and challenges the onlooker. A gothic, dream-like landscape stripped of power lines, motor vehicles or any reference to the modern material world. Populated by innocent looking women in long, flowing dresses staring unnervingly at the viewer. Each carefully crafted scene of R J Poole’s photographic art suggests a story or event that begs us to enter, but only if we dare! His masculine self speaks to us through ghostly wraiths and iconic images, inviting the viewer on a spiritual journey.
R J Poole was born in Sydney, Australia in 1960. His father was a boxer and his mother a stern, former land-army soldier. In the family were also a number of uncles admired by their bravery at war. Growing up in this environment, there is little wonder that young R J felt his masculine and protective side encouraged.
Drowning with grace © R J Poole
"I come from a traditional art background, drawing with pencil on paper. Since childhood, I have also practised writing and photography. My collective artwork is titled Anima Series because it is inspired by the anima part of my psyche. I have expressed this aspect of myself since 1984 when I began the Anima Series. The Anima comprises the feminine traits or qualities within the masculine. It is part of the psyche associated with feeling and creativity. The Latin root of Anima means soul / spirit /breath of life and is found in many English words, such as animal, animate and animation.
Giving my anima a female face allows me to express something that would otherwise remain hidden. To this end, I employ models through whom I express this part of myself – my alter ego. Without the collaboration of these people, I could not achieve the same results. Some of these collaborations have been on-going for many years and involve a lot of input from the models themselves in the form of ideas and suggestions. Including the people I photograph in the creative decision making process is an integral part of art practice."
Myself © R J Poole
"The Anima Series is symbolic in nature. These symbols are inspired by the esoteric, mystic traditions of my European ancestors. Like Carl Jung, I am also interested in the Western spiritual tradition. If you look closely, there are no power lines, wrist watches, or other modern items in my photos. This is because I have excluded any references to the modern, material world and focused instead upon the enduring nature of the human psyche. My work is a tribute to the feminine part of the masculine."
Initially, the Anima Series comprised works on paper drawn with pen or pencil. Having developed his drawing skills since childhood, R J’s drawings were typically a metre wide and executed in the traditional chiaroscuro method. R J taught himself this method by studying the masters. This crosshatch technique involves multiple layers of pencil painstakingly drawn on top of the other to create a sense of depth.
Tragic loss © R J Poole
R J’s interest in photography began in the 1970’s with his mother’s 35mm Kodak Retinette camera, where he learned to operate the speed and aperture settings manually. This grounding in traditional silver halide photography has served as the foundation for his shift into digital technology. Yet despite these changes, both his subject and work methods have remained consistent throughout.
“I like to collaborate with the people in front of the camera,” reveals R J. “Some of these collaborative relationships have been on-going for many years and have allowed me to get close enough to really ‘know’ each individual and to express myself through them.”
Rather than his models being positioned like decorative objects, as per the tradition of male artists, R J prefers to involve them directly in the creative process. This collaborative approach is evidenced in his portrayals of emotional and spiritual candour. The level of trust and emotional honesty expressed through his images are tangible proof of a working familiarity established over years of constant effort.