For quite a while now, our forever-lovely Ellen has been brewing something really extravagant for our eyes. This time, she imparts with us the pulchritude of her favourite inspiration: Hana, her muse. Read on and be mesmerized.
According to the oxford English dictionary a muse is a noun, a woman or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.
This is just one mere branch of the meaning this word holds. The dictionary also explains its origins and the 9 presiding goddesses governing over individual facets within art and science in Greek mythology. It also expands on its connections to thought and pondering but this one definition seems to be that which is most apt as a form of inspiration for me and you the artist.
So with in Greek mythology it is implied that she was once was a distant idea, a goddess who was all seeing and knowledgeable. Not corporeal, as I know Hana to be. Not someone on dull earth who you might talk to about salads or yoga. She was an entity so removed from society that she might have lived many ranks above the sky, she might have even been a work of fiction. You could not touch her, kiss her, hold her; you could only be inspired by her, learn from her infinite knowledge. She was in essence the vessel that you could pour your creativity and thoughts into.
In the ‘White Goddess’ by Robert Graves he goes into great detail about the muse and her relationship to the arts (specifically poetry) and explains that a women’s place is echelons higher than the meagre artist (or poet as he writes) and that she should refrain from attempting to write ‘as an honorary man’. I wonder what he might have thought of female photographers, especially ones inspired by other women.
It seems to be a relatively new idea that female artists can express and be taken seriously and it seems the idea of having a muse has always been the territory of a male artist or intellectual. Goddess worship at its roots seems to be a male stronghold.
This is Hana in my latest shoot of her, those familiar with her, will know that I have, when called upon, described her as my muse. I have many muses, but Hana is to me what a car is to a driver or a gun is to a marksman, an extension of self, the woman who I express myself through in a failure to be able to use myself.
I feel rather ashamed that it took so long for women to be taken seriously as artists in western society, that in the past we might have been looked down upon if we declared a need to express and have a muse. Even today people ask me if I find it hard as a female artist and at times I am made to feel rather embarrassed by small minds who ask pryingly why I photograph women this way. As though it could be impossible for seemly heterosexual women to see beauty and inspiration in the female form and that somehow I might only be using them for extortion or exploitation in both my personal work and my commercial work. So let it be known that I am inspired by women and Hana is my muse.
This is a short film by Prizme documenting our recent shoot:
Please also see the work of Susu Laroche for images with her muse Reba.