An Interview With: Danielle Carruthers

Who are you and where did you study?

My name is Danielle Carruthers and I studied at the University of East London.

What is your artist statement for the body of work “Dismissed Lands“?

Dismissed Lands is a project about animal agriculture as a growing problem. We are increasingly destroying the planet through the demand for more food. Every second one-acre of rainforest is destroyed to make more room for farming. The trees in Dismissed Lands represent these rainforests. Through the use of coloured smoke grenades, the trees have been beautified to make the viewers notice them and recognise that this is an issue that we need to act collectively in order to resolve. The red smoke replicates the danger surrounding the trees.

In all the images in the series you choose to centre the subject, what is the reason for this?

Often in my work I aim for symmetry, however, in this project I was particularly conscious of doing so. This was to specifically outline the trees to make them the main focal point. This was emphasized through the use of the smoke bombs as they spread up and around the centre of each image hiding any possibility of distraction in the background from the foreground. 

Where did the project develop from?

The project developed from my increasing interest in the deterioration in our planet. There are so many underlying problems with our world that many people are not even aware of, that we can’t continue ignoring them. In particular, the excessive need for animal farming.

From the beginning, I knew I wanted to use trees and beautify them in some way. I first began taking inspiration from Christo and Jeanne-Claude by wrapping them in coloured material; however, this contradicted my beliefs, as I was suffocating them in a non-sustainable material. Therefore, I covered them in newspaper to test how they would look using a material to make them stand out amongst nature. However, newspapers gave away mixed messages. I then discovered the use of smoke bombs in Filippo Minelli’s work and began testing this method out. This was immediately the most effective.

Why did you choose to use red smoke?

The purpose of the smoke is to beautify the trees; and the trees represent the rainforests being destroyed for land. However, whilst beautifying them, I wanted to alert the audience of the danger they are in. The best way I found to do this was to ensure the smoke was red. I did experiment with various colours, however, through peer and tutor feedback, it seemed that various colours did not maintain the consistency of the message I was aiming to portray.

What is the best piece of advice you could give a student of photography?

The best piece of advice I would give is to always pick a subject that you have a keen interest in and make it your own. No matter what brief you’re given during your time studying, find a way it relates to you and capture it through your own method and interpretation. In doing this, every project given to you will be enjoyable and you will begin to be recognized for your particular style.


All images copyright of Danielle Carruthers.


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