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Casey Crockford

PHOTO MEDIA

Artist biography

Casey Crockford

Casey Crockford was born and raised in Canberra, Australia, where she resides today. She is in her second year of a Bachelor of Visual Arts degree at the Australian National University School of Art. Predominantly working in photography, she prefers using analogue techniques and darkroom printing, but shifts between different mediums, materials and techniques depending on the nature of each project she undertakes.

Casey exhibited her work in the Facing Space group exhibition at the ANU School of Art in 2011, and has put her photography skills to commercial use as a wedding photographer in 2012, teaching her not only how to work under pressure but also how to communicate with clients.

In her work Casey explores issues surrounding identity, memory and history – both personal and cultural. She is interested in the constructed nature of photography, often creating and changing the environments, objects and people she photographs. Her work has an element of deception – appearing at first to say one thing, while hinting at another – leading the viewer to question the meaning of the work and their own perception of it.

Casey is also interested in textiles, illustration, food production, cooking, and travel. Wherever possible she tries to bring these elements into her photographic practice. As part of her degree Casey is hoping to participate in an exchange to Kyoto Seika University in Japan in 2013, to help her develop further as an artist and as an individual.

Artist work: Slit and Simmer

Medium: Digital inkjet prints
Dimensions: 40.6 cm x 47.8 cm (prints), 25.8 cm x 7.5 cm (recipe labels)
Date: September - November 2012

Artist statement: Slit and Simmer

From the days of early settlers to modern-day society, food, and particularly meat, have always played an integral role in the development of Australian culture and identity. Slit and Simmer is a series of photographs created in response to this relationship, examining the shifts in food culture in Australia since our settlement.

Drawing upon historical Australian cookbooks, I deconstructed a number of recipes that have slipped past the grip of modern society – from a time when we didn’t have the luxury of supermarkets or processed foods – and then physically reconstructed them as contemporary representations of themselves. At this point I photographed them in the constructed environment of a studio in a style similar to modern product and advertisement photography, creating a fusion of innovation and tradition.

The resulting images and accompanying text present a complex view of Australia’s food history, embedded with layers of imagery and information that continue to both conceal and reveal themselves over time, infusing the work with juxtapositions and contradictions. They are enticing but grotesque, humorous as well as austere – a kind of allegory to the true history of Australian culture, which has been largely forgotten in the fast-paced, processed nature of modern food production and consumption.

Artist inspiration: Slit and Simmer

The inspiration for Slit and Simmer came from the Extending the Farmlands area of the Landmarks gallery at the National Museum of Australia. From this module I was especially drawn to both the pyramid of prize-winning grains and Mary Gilmore’s typewriter. I wanted to find a way to touch on both of these objects in my work, combining my interest in food with the history of the typewriter.

Upon further research on Mary Gilmore, I came across a book titled The Worker Cookbook, which was compiled by Ms Gilmore while she was writing a column for The Australian Worker Magazine. This led me to discover a number of other historical Australian cookbooks, often filled with peculiar and distasteful-sounding recipes, which are practically unheard of in Australian cookery today.

I found it difficult to believe that such a young country had already lost sight of these traditions, many of the recipes not even a century old. This is what pushed me to the decision to resurrect and reinvent these recipes in a way that was both informative and visually engaging; bringing into question the origins of the food we eat today and what food products may contain without our knowledge.

Artist work: Consumed Identity

Medium: Type-C darkroom print
Dimensions: 107 cm x 87 cm (framed), 87 cm x 66.5 cm (unframed)
Date: September - November 2012

Artist statement: Consumed Identity

With such immediate access to supermarkets, vending machines, and fast-food chains, Australia has become known as one of the unhealthiest countries in the world. This image from the photographic series titled Consumed Identity is my response to this processed and packaged nature of modern food culture, exploring how the food we eat can affect and change our bodies and our minds.

The negative effects of an unhealthy diet are not purely associated with physical appearance and body image. The potential ramifications are much more diverse and often invisible. They can alter our bodies, our health, and our emotions, shifting our personalities and moods. I chose to use portraiture in my work for this reason, as the face is the part of the body most closely associated with identity and the mind. The closed eyes of the subject and her black surroundings symbolise this mental space, while the plastic food packaging represents the physical, seeming to protrude outward from the body, while also invading and engulfing it.

In Consumed Identity I wanted to create a dialogue between interior and exterior – the emotional and the physical – as it is the combination of these two elements that makes up who we are, and establishes not only how others view us but also how we see ourselves. It looks at the influence diet has on our identities, and questions at what point the food we consume becomes the very thing that consumes us.

Artist inspiration: Consumed Identity

The idea for Consumed identity came to me while I was working on my Slit and Simmer project – a series inspired by Mary Gilmore’s typewriter and the collection of prize-winning grains from the Landmarks gallery at the National Museum of Australia.

Slit and Simmer was a project that focused on the history of Australian food and cooking, exploring how it has continued to play a role in the establishment of Australia’s identity as a country. From here I began to consider this sense of identity on a more personal level, thinking of how food culture and diet can have an effect an individual, and what those effects may be.

As someone who has suffered from low self-esteem as a result of body image, and whose family has a history of diet-related illness, this became a fairly personal project for me to undertake. But despite these personal associations of mine, the work covers a topic that is highly accessible and to which the general public can relate – an issue that has the potential to effect just about everyone at some point throughout the course of their lives.