Ulrika Kestere creates creatures out of cloth, and very convincingly so! This budding photographer makes us believe that photographs capture souls, but in a positive sense. Bringing folklore and mythology back into the modern world, observe her creations spun out of fibers of dreams.
We love your fairy tale-esque story The Girl with Seven Horses and want to know what inspired you to create these set of photos and the accompanying story? For instance the fact that your horse creations are ‘invisible’ makes me think of the invisible creatures in Scandinavian folklore.
During the summer I started a project called Daydream were I wanted to photograph women with different animals. But it was so difficult to find the right animals and to find owners that wanted to lend their animal for a photo shoot that the project never got anywhere. Frustrated by this I decided to build up my own animals and start a new project. One day out walking I took a wrong turn somewhere and found a beautiful place. Later that day I came back with my camera and a bag full of clothes and decided to lay out a horse on the ground. After shooting I went home and the story about the girl and the horses just appeared in my head and I decided to make it into a series. The girl in the pictures is me.
Clearly you have a strong relationship with your surroundings. The woods, ocean, and land that I’ve heard Scandinavia is famous for, aren’t just the backdrop in your photos but set the mood. What about your models, including all the animals. What’s your relationship with them?
I often use myself as the model in photographs. Mostly because I don’t have friends that like being in front of the camera. Also I don’t like to plan too much around my photos but rather just go out and make something spontaneously. Then it’s easier to use myself.
I LOVE photographing animals but as I mentioned before the tricky part is often convincing the owner and not so much about finding an animal. I did my first big photo-project when I was 17. During a whole year I followed some elder ladies and their dogs. William Wegman was my inspiration for photographing dogs, ever since I was small and my mun had a t shirt with one of his photos.
You also dabble in illustration. We know this might be a ‘chicken or the egg’ question…but which came first, how did you find your way into photography and drawing, and for all practicing creatives out there, would you advise practicing more than one art form?
Photography definitely came first. I became passionate about that when I was twelve already. I’ve always liked to draw but I never did any interesting work while growing up. It was during my photographic studies (when I was 19) that I started drawing black and white sketches. It was the perfect way to distant myself from photography yet stay creative. Creative people often have their hobby and job in one place. But you should definitely have more hobbies, creative ones. Drawing has unfortunately started to feel like a job for me, so now I started dancing ballet and playing the piano to clear my head.
So yes, try to practice more than one art form… but note that it might be difficult to chose which one you want to continue with professionally in the future.
How serendipitous the feeling of coming in and out of daydreams are, as much as the daydream itself. What’s your take on reality, and how important a role do you see dreaming to be, in that reality? Aren’t we all dreamers…
Oh…well one of the worst things about growing up is how much harder daydreaming gets. All the things you thought were easy breezy turn out to be difficult. When I was small I couldn’t wait to get a moment by myself were I could just close my eyes and dream away into a fairytale. I try to do it today, but my mind won’t let me the same way. It always wanders of to thinking about to-do’s in my life. But I don’t want to let go of the daydreams, it’s the most beautiful thing, so that’s why I photograph and draw. I portrait my daydream world, I still know how it looks, I just have a harder time staying there with my mind. However, if I didn’t portrait it – I might loose it forever. Dreaming is so important. When you stop being a dreamer you sort of stop having fun. You just settle with what you have. Ignore all the people who say that dreaming about rainbows and unicorns farting marshmallows is for kids, it’s for everyone!
Complex thoughts conveyed through simple language and rudimentary, natural, subjects and settings for photographs. This is the impression I gathered from your blog and the writings and images on it. Is it important to be interpretable, for your audience, or do you create primarily for yourself?
Everyone I know, knows that when they see something beautiful in nature or an adorable animal they should tell me about it. I love how people understand me by having seen my work. Although I produce mostly for myself, I am very aware of the fact that I want to spread a warm tingling sensation through my audience and make all the dreamers dream more.
What’s one thing you wish you’d captured on film but didn’t have a camera in hand, to do so?
When a baby killer whale jumped right towards me when I was at the back of a small boat in Norway.
What does movement mean to you?
If I freeze a movement in a photograph, it’s a frame the eye isn’t used to see. It happens every day all the time, but so fast we hardly notice it. That’s what makes a photograph brilliant.
What does colour mean to you?
It’s the artists candy.
You say, on your blog, that you’ve watched yourself grow as a photographer, by looking back through your extensive collection of photos, over the years. If you are ‘growing’ then there must have been a starting point and a desired end. What hopes and accomplishments do you have for the future?
My dream would simply be to be able to work professionally with photography. I would even be happy working with food or interior photography. But my biggest dream is to photograph animals. Either for documentary purpose or preferably as an art form. The thought of being out in nature, seeing wild animals, capturing their beauty on film…and getting paid for it…wow.
Tell us about your home country Latvia. What does it mean to you and does it have a place in your world of dreams?
Definitely! There’s a little eastern European in me who grew up on a block and had a dog with 14 puppies. I love that that’s were my roots are and not in Sweden. There’s a great countryside in Latvia, a lot of storks, a lot of dreamy fog covering meadows during summer, girls with long braids…empty long white beaches. It sure has a dreamy place in my heart.