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Echoes of Depth showcases the diverse and innovative works of Emma Brown, Drucilla Burrell, Lauren Thompson, and Rebecca Sharpe. Each artist has responded to the Victorian Virtual Reality exhibition and brings a unique perspective through their works. Artist Drucilla Burrell details the work she has produced during her residency.

Drucilla Burrell is a photographer and creative director. Her photographic practice is rooted in the study of traditional classical techniques and their implementation and dissemination via digital technology. Through queering and digitising, her work challenges the hierarchies and displays of power embedded in this form of recording and memorialising. It queries the narratives inherent in the display and creation of art and interrogates the currency of analog art forms in an algorithmic digital future.

The Residency

It was a joy to undertake a two-week residency at Watts to explore the Victorian Virtual Reality exhibition which contains Brian May’s collection of stereograms.

The concept of artistic ‘discovery’ can be somewhat constrained as we are often required to lay out what will be explored and created before we experience or research the topic, location, or subject matter. I, therefore, decided to spend the two weeks purely on research, exploring the collection, gallery, and surrounding landscapes. I wished to explore stereoscopy, which was a practice I had touched on but not delved into in great depth, the inclusion of AI and elitism within storytelling.

The final works presented in Echoes of Depth are the results of the residency and subsequent research.

Drucilla Burrell, The Painter's Wife

The Painter’s Wife

‘For too long referred to as ‘the painter’s wife’ or ‘Mrs. G F Watts’, often of her own accord, Mary Seton Watts (née Fraser Tytler, 1849-1838) was an accomplished artist in her own right.

As an artist, designer, writer, businesswoman, and philanthropist, Mary found ways for her art and creativity to support and inspire the people around her. She was the creative powerhouse behind two significant enterprises: the Watts Chapel and the Potters’ Arts Guild at Compton.’ (from the Watt’s website)

During the Watts residency, I found great inspiration from being in an environment created in which to create and the work of Mary Watts, particularly taken with the fact she was known as ‘the painter’s wife’

While exploring stereoscopic photography and new AI technologies, I also wanted to take learnings from this research into my more classic photographic style - a return to safety after pushing my working practice. Drawing heavily on the work of George Frederic Watts, I additionally wanted to pay homage to creative partnerships.

In "The Painter's Wife," I explore the depths of artistic collaboration and the profound influence of the muse on the resulting work. The piece pushes the traditional portrayal of the muse as a passive figure, instead celebrating the active role of the woman behind the artist. Through a blend of generative AI, digital painting, and digital photography, I wanted to represent the intimate relationship between the painter and muse.

Set against the backdrop of landscapes and environments meticulously crafted, with a heavy reference to the work of George Frederic Watts, the piece invites viewers to contemplate the symbiotic relationship, and the often unsung role of women in art practice.

Through the lens of digital photography, generative AI, and digital painting, I wanted to explore the fusion of artistry and technology, inviting reflection on the often-overlooked contributions of those who stand behind the scenes, fuelling the creative fire.

"The Painter's Wife" is a heartfelt love song to the unsung heroes of artistic endeavour. It invites us to acknowledge and celebrate the profound influence of the collaborative partner, whose presence infuses every stroke of the brush and every pixel of the digital canvas. In honouring the person ‘behind’ the painter, we pay tribute to the enduring power of love, inspiration, and creativity, and environments created to aid creativity.

The AI generative prompts were created by condensing and essay of descriptions of George Frederic Watts’ painting style and my emotional reactions to the work.

It additionally sits as a thank you to my own collaborative partner, Magdalene Celeste. The work features her as a model and her own creations. It is shot in her studio and expanded and developed digitally.

A watercolour image of women with her hair tied back

Mary Watts, Self Portrait, 1882, watercolour

Stereograph on a Victorian sempstress

Stereogram and developments

One story told within the Victorian Virtual Reality collection of stereograms is the story of the sempstress. The series of four images depicts a sempstress’ slow decline in the attempt to make ends meet.

Taking this into a contemporary setting I wanted to represent what it means to be a contemporary small business artisan, and how the requirement to self-promote on social media can sometimes overtake the ability to create the work

Drucilla Burrell, Fade to Filter

Fade to filter

The resulting series of stereograms- "Fade to Filter" delves into the contemporary struggle of artists as they navigate the digital landscape, particularly through social media platforms. The title suggests a gradual decline or transformation, symbolised by the fading, while "Filter" references both the literal filters used on social media platforms to enhance images and the metaphorical filters through which artists present themselves and their work online.

Exploring themes of authenticity versus artifice, the commodification of creativity, the quest for validation and recognition, and the impact of digital culture on artistic practice and identity.

They invite us to reflect on our relationship with social media, self-presentation, and the evolving role of the artist in contemporary society.

All are shot on iPhone with stereoscopic outcomes. The backgrounds are AI-generated from descriptions of the area around Watts Gallery - Artists' Village.