Interview: Dulcie Wagstaff

Dulcie Wagstaff uses photography as part of a creative process in which she explores quotidian environments and emotions. After Miniclick’s August talk On Catharsis, we interviewed her about her work…


Where do you find inspiration for your dreamlike but uncanny imagery?
In terms of artists, I would say Francesca Woodman is my biggest inspiration, and has been since I was about 15. Her images are strange and uncanny, but somehow have a ‘realness’ and depth that can’t be faked for a camera.


Your work deals with themes around the everyday and familiar. How do you develop the ideas that will become your projects?
My images are massively inspired by my surroundings, the objects and spaces that I see everyday, probably because they hold emotional value and experiences. Equally, inspiration for images springs to mind at any moment – when I’m not thinking about photography. It’s a combination of that moment of inspiration, but in a place that is very familiar. It’s seeing a place or person in a light that I hadn’t noticed before, or might not exist at all.


You use your camera as a creative tool rather than to document. Do you plan your images carefully beforehand or are they the result of playing around with the space and objects?
When I see an image in my mind, I try to immediately draw it, or write it down. Sometimes the images are pretty accurate to my original idea, but often I have to play around. Working mostly inside my house can be a challenge to make an image aesthetically pleasing.


“Familiar Gardens” addresses family and mental health. When did you start being interested in gardening and considering it a therapeutic activity?
My mum used to drag me up to her allotment when I was a teenager if I was feeling down, and make me weed a patch of ground – I don’t think either of us knew why this routine came about at the time. I only realised the connection when I had my own garden for the first time, three years ago.

Do you have any work in progress or upcoming projects?
Recently I’ve been interested in looking at light – especially sunlight, and the effect it has on people. I did a project about the colour yellow in the past – but I think really the project should have been about the sun. I want to photograph people that love the sun, how they change under it, and what it means to them.
It feels like such a basic idea when I try to write it down, but really, the sun is the most important thing in the world, so I think that’s worth pursuing.


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