Meet the lo­cal artist who is show­cas­ing the Coast’s back­yard through child­hood in­spi­ra­tions

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - Layne Whit­burn

IMAG­INE hav­ing the abil­ity to go back in time and see the world through chil­dren’s eyes. Eudlo artist Bon­nie Jenk­ins can and she is shar­ing her unique vi­sions via a video pro­jec­tion piece called The Se­cret Gar­den at the Ma­roochy

Mu­sic and Vis­ual Arts Fes­ti­val on Satur­day, Au­gust 26.

We caught up with the hum­ble pho­tog­ra­pher and vis­ual artist in the lead-up to MMVAF to un­veil some of the mys­ter­ies be­hind The Se­cret Gar­den as well as the woman be­hind the lens.

You say The Se­cret Gar­den “re­calls your child­hood fas­ci­na­tions with your nat­u­ral sur­rounds”. When you get be­hind the lens, do you feel like you can see the world through chil­dren’s eyes?

The cam­era al­lows me to see with fresh eyes. I try to shake my fa­mil­iar­ity blind­ness off and see things as though I am see­ing them for the first time, try­ing to not as­sume or glaze over out of habit. As we become fa­mil­iar with the world around us we tend to lose some of the fas­ci­na­tion in our sur­round­ings.

What dreams did you have as a lit­tle girl?

I think I wanted to be in Lord of the Rings (laughs). I re­ally loved ev­ery­thing fan­tas­ti­cal. As I got older I wanted to be a mu­si­cian and then when I re­alised that wasn’t for me I thought I could at least pho­to­graph mu­sic, this was one of the rea­sons I took up pho­tog­ra­phy. While I moved onto other gen­res of pho­tog­ra­phy, I started with a fo­cus on shoot­ing live mu­sic.

How do you think grow­ing up on the Coast hin­ter­land in­flu­enced your ap­pre­ci­a­tion and views on the en­vi­ron­ment?

Grow­ing up on acreage meant I had a big nat­u­ral play­ground. I used to spend all day in the rain­for­est and gar­den sur­round­ing my home, and when I went to school, I would come home and go out into the gar­den straight away. I started to cre­ate pat­terns from dif­fer­ent leaves and seeds when I was very young, this prac­tice has con­tin­ued as can be seen in some of my Se­cret Gar­den images and my Sun­shine Coast Univer­sity Hospi­tal com­mis­sion. My ‘happy place’ is def­i­nitely in na­ture and I am so thank­ful to have been brought up to ap­pre­ci­ate it.

You’ve stud­ied and lived in the UK, plus trav­elled the globe for work… but what makes the Sun­shine Coast en­vi­ron­ment so spe­cial?

While I have a se­ri­ous case of wan­der­lust, I al­ways come back to the Sun­shine Coast and say “geez we are lucky to live here”. The Sun­shine Coast has such a great cli­mate and nat­u­ral beauty. I am for­tu­nate enough to be sur­rounded by a great net­work of friends and cre­atives who reg­u­larly in­spire me. When I grad­u­ated, a lot of peo­ple in the cre­ative in­dus­try moved to Syd­ney or Mel­bourne to con­tinue their prac­tice, but with so­cial me­dia etc, it’s now no longer nec­es­sary to be in a ma­jor city to pur­sue and suc­ceed in the cre­ative in­dus­try. Hav­ing said that, in or­der to sup­port this in­dus­try, fes­ti­vals like MMVAF are cru­cial in fos­ter­ing this in­dus­try and en­cour­ag­ing new col­lab­o­ra­tions and projects on the Sun­shine Coast.

What was your re­ac­tion when you were asked to join the MMVAF line-up?

I was thrilled, as I wanted more op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­cor­po­rate my video pro­jec­tions with mu­sic after par­tic­i­pat­ing in An­i­mat­ing Spa­ces, and Dan­ger­ous Song. I am also ex­cited by the idea of show­cas­ing my work to a dif­fer­ent de­mo­graphic such as the MMVAF audience. I love the fact that the fes­ti­val show­cases vis­ual arts along­side mu­sic.

Do you be­lieve the coun­try needs more fes­ti­vals like MMVAF high­light­ing more artists and show­cas­ing their work?

Yes, it’s great to have the vis­ual arts along­side the mu­sic as its helps heighten all the senses and strength­ens the ex­pe­ri­ence. The Sun­shine Coast has a lot of mi­cro com­mu­ni­ties so its great to have some­thing like this fes­ti­val that can bring all these com­mu­ni­ties to­gether, we need a cre­ative hub on the Sun­shine Coast.

In to­day’s dig­i­tal age, how im­por­tant is pre­serv­ing pho­tog­ra­phy prints to you?

The ‘art’ of pho­tog­ra­phy has been im­proved by dig­i­tal in some as­pects such as mak­ing it more ac­ces­si­ble, but it has changed peo­ple’s per­cep­tion of pho­tog­ra­phy. Un­for­tu­nately I be­lieve peo­ple no longer look at a pho­to­graph with the won­der of “how has that been cap­tured”; in­stead post pro­cess­ing is of­ten as­sumed. While pho­tog­ra­phy has al­ways been able to be ma­nip­u­lated we al­ways used to be­lieve what we saw, now we ques­tion this a lot more. For me I was drawn to pho­tog­ra­phy for its abil­ity to ex­pose the won­der around us by freez­ing and slow­ing time, depth of field and so forth, draw­ing our at­ten­tion to things just out­side our pe­riph­eral vi­sion. While this won­der is still there for me, as I get to wit­ness it in the process of tak­ing the pho­tos, I of­ten have to ex­plain how images have been taken in or­der for the viewer to be­lieve it has been cre­ated in cam­era as op­posed to ma­nip­u­lated in post pro­cess­ing.

As far as prints go, the tac­tile ex­pe­ri­ence of prints will al­ways hold ap­peal, when we see some­thing in print I feel it can hold our at­ten­tion a lit­tle longer than when view­ing an im­age on a screen.

What chal­lenges and/or sur­prises have you stum­bled across over your ca­reer as a pho­tog­ra­pher and vis­ual artist?

I find the so­cial me­dia el­e­ment hard to keep up with but I also find it fun. It has taken me some­time to get to a client base and brand­ing/style that I am re­ally happy with.

Why do you be­lieve art is im­por­tant for hu­man be­ings? What ben­e­fits does it pro­vide?

Art is one of the ways we doc­u­ment life, through­out his­tory this has re­mained strong and served as a great ref­er­ence of times past and present. Art also has the abil­ity to cre­ate emo­tion, mak­ing us ques­tion the world around us. As any cre­ative per­son will con­cur, when you don’t ex­press your cre­ativ­ity you can of­ten feel a bit empty, it’s very im­por­tant that cre­ative ex­pres­sion be en­cour­aged for men­tal health. Art brings hap­pi­ness, de­vel­ops and in­spires peo­ple.

We are su­per ex­cited to see The Se­cret Gar­den at the MMVAF Au­gust 26. Can you please tell us a lit­tle more about The Se­cret Gar­den, how it came about and where you got your in­spi­ra­tion from?

The Sun­shine Coast has a lot of mi­cro com­mu­ni­ties so its great to have some­thing like this fes­ti­val that can bring all these com­mu­ni­ties to­gether.

I will be cre­at­ing a short video, which will be pro­jected. It will

feature ab­stract footage of spi­ders and their webs. It is part of my con­tin­u­ing Se­cret Gar­den se­ries.

The Se­cret Gar­den re­calls my child­hood fas­ci­na­tions with my nat­u­ral sur­rounds, where my imag­i­na­tion in the fan­tas­ti­cal and our multi-faceted en­vi­ron­ment ran wild. To con­vey this vi­sion, I pho­to­graph in my gar­den, break­ing down the fa­mil­iar­ity veil and

re-in­cit­ing my imag­i­na­tion within my ev­ery­day sur­rounds. We of­ten get so ex­cited by the new and ex­otic, that we forget to

ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty right in front of us. I draw in­spi­ra­tion from the pe­riph­eral vi­sions of the ev­ery­day and the com­bi­na­tion of na­ture and the lens. Pho­tog­ra­phy rep­re­sents re­al­ity yet si­mul­ta­ne­ously has the abil­ity to un­set­tle this vis­ual ‘re­al­ity’. Col­lab­o­ra­tion with na­ture is vi­tal to my work,

so the fact most ef­fects are cre­ated in-cam­era is in­trin­sic to the work. It’s all about ap­pre­ci­at­ing the very real en­vi­ron­ment we

live in and the magic of the op­ti­cal in­stru­ment at cap­tur­ing these el­e­ments in a unique but very real way. The spider se­ries be­gan after de­cid­ing to take no­tice of the com­mon web at my front step, which, with the aid of a macro

lens, an­gles and sun­light, re­vealed its rain­bow and re­flec­tive qual­i­ties. From this mo­ment I have found the in­tri­cate de­tails,

tem­po­ral and colour­ful qual­i­ties of spider webs to be an end­less source of in­spi­ra­tion.

Art brings hap­pi­ness, de­vel­ops and in­spires peo­ple.

A col­lec­tion of shots by Bon­nie Jenk­ins show her abil­ity to ad­just from pho­tograph­ing na­ture to fash­ion and wed­dings.


A La Robe styled shoot. Hair: Leaf Hair Stu­dio Dunedin. Makeup: Re­becca Cameron Makeup Artistry.



Styled shoot for Heav­enly Blooms on Brook­lyn Bridge, New York City. HMUA: Du­nia Ghabour. Dress Suzanne Har­ward.


Bon­nie cap­tures magic on a re­cent trip to Ice­land.


Pho­tog­ra­pher and vis­ual artist, Bon­nie Jenk­ins, joins the 2017 MMVAF line-up with her video pro­jec­tion piece, The Se­cret Gar­den.


Bon­nie cap­tur­ing the ro­mance at Robyn and Whit­ney’s wed­ding.


The Se­cret Gar­den col­lec­tion will ap­pear at the MMVAF on Satur­day, Au­gust 26.

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