Sian Bonnell

At the recommendation of my tutor, I’m looking at the work of Sian Bonnell.

The first thing that comes to mind is a comment my tutor made in feedback for my second assignment. I had taken close-up images of computers in my collection, with shallow depth of field, so you couldn’t always tell what you were looking at. He suggested I arrange them, or parts of them, like circuit boards and stuff, so that they looked like a futuristic cityscape.

To be blunt, I didn’t like the idea, and couldn’t see why he would suggest such a thing. I think I understand now.

Bonnell’s (1998)’Constructed Coast’   series features, among other things, a toy boat placed in various locations, such as on folded navigation charts, and shot in such a way as to appear like a real boat on a wild and rolling sea… maybe shot with a tilt-shift lens.

It’s really interesting/pleasing to see this kind of role reversal. I’m used to seeing images using tilt-shift, to make real world scenes appear to be small toys, or dioramas. Bonnel seems to turn that around. I like it a lot.

The series isn’t all toys made to look like the real thing (kind of)… there are other images, which take objects that aren’t exactly a thing… but kind of look like it…. arranged in ways that suggest a location, or a scene. This whole series is, as it’s name suggests, a creation of coastal scenes, using objects found in a (her?) house.

Looking at other series’ by Bonnell, she seems to focus on presenting objects, up close, looking at the details, and how a mundane and unimportant object…. or maybe a toy or plaything can be seen in a different light.

In the series Kaput!  Bonnell (2006) looks at the little things people do to fix broken objects.. or maybe, to fix a situation. Bodges… I would call them. She looks at the paperclip, the piece of Blu Tack  or coat hanger, used to hold things in place. She looks at them up close, so you don’t see the bigger picture… just the detail.

It’s a very human thing… you can imagine the person putting it there. So much is suggested, without being seen.

Much modern photography is so serious, it presents itself with a great big frown on its face. Bonnell’s is refreshingly playful and happy. I like it a lot.

Looking at my own work, I have, for exercises, used toys to demonstrate certain aspects of camera use. I could see myself exploring this more. I’m reminded of how, as a child, I would play with my toy cars on the bed, with the folds in the blankets simulating rolling hills for the cars to race over. Images like that… they’re worth exploring.



Bonnell, A (1996 – 2014) Work At (Accessed 24/03/2017)