Carolyn Lefley studied fine art 1997-2000 at Coventry University before beginning her career in art. Inspired by the work of artists such as Duchamp’s ready made and Robert Rauschenberg she began working on a theme based on the home and its connection to identity. The home is an intimate and personal place, each created around our existence and will mirror the personalities of those that live there. Our homes are also a connection to our past and the many aspects of us can be contained within such a small space.
Using different shooting formats including Polaroid, Carolyn experimented with different techniques but her project focused on te absence of personality in the homes she chose to shoot. Working with estate agents she managed to gain access to homes that were between ownership and captured to strange remains of past owners, indents in a carpet, marks on a wall anything that held some intimate connection to the past.
Next project was at coastal towns studying the old telescopes that looked out to sea. Carolyn avoided the typology and went with more contemporary style, almost photojournalistic method of these old devices that are barely used anymore.
Next project was to take a series of images from the perspective of the television. How the television has become a member of the family that rooms are designed around. She experimented with tungsten balanced film for long exposure and also experimented with people but found it looked too commercial.
In 2005 went back to uni to study a masters at Uni West London. From there got a job to photograph antiques but during her Masters her first project went back to the theme of home, this time a night project looking at perspectives from the home at the outside world.
In 2006 Carolyn began a project based on semi-detached houses which although reversed were structurally identical internally. The goal here was to show how these properties mirrored each other but not aesthetically and how the families personality was once again on display.
Final project of the masters called belonging. Staying with the home theme she turned her attention to people who are building their own homes. Looking from the perspective of how people interact with dolls houses, creating that fictional life within the toy. She hired a doll’s house from a prop hire company where she created environments within the house and lit in such a manner that it was very hard to tell if it was taken in a doll’s house. These images were exhibited in 2008.
In 2007 started a new project but wanting to stay with the miniature theme. This time the dolls houses were more obvious and reflected the abandoned and discarded toys that once brought happiness and progressed onto a metaphysical insight into perspective on our own existence and that our universe could be just as miniature.
Carolyn exhibited these images in an unusual way through a gallery that comprises of a series of sheds on top of a London industrial building.
In 2011 Carolyn began her cosmogony project. Here she began creating her own miniatures from scratch. Cosmonogy is the history of the universe and its origins. Began with Christian theology and the genesis myth. Wanted these to look like models.
Realm 2009-2013. Carolyn’s longest project was a series of double exposure images. What started as a landscape project she toured the Scottish highlands looking for good locations. Drawn to sites with a history of supernatural folklore she took images from various locations but back in London she felt that the images had not achieved her original goals. Influenced by her early work coupled with the influence of CS Lewis works she created a series of images that combined her landscapes of the woodland areas with decaying indoor rooms. Carolyn did have problems finding good derelict locations until she happened upon a series of buildings in Scotland with a number of abandoned rooms. The result of this project led Carolyn to be invited and commissioned to produce another piece of work.
Timespan – Artist in Residence.
Carolyn was invited to a location where an archaeological dig was taking place at an old house and she was commissioned to take pictures of the artefacts with the idea that she could reflect the home life of the people who lived during that time. The house in question dates back to a time known as the clearances where farmers were forcibly evicted from their homes. There is very little historical record of the people who lived their and it was hoped that Carolyn, from her experience of taking images around home would be able capture some of that intimacy of the original residents. This was a daunting project as the site was literally just a series of rocks and it was difficult to get a feel of the original owners. Once the dig was underway Carolyn got involved in uncovering the artefacts and this began to trigger her artistic insights in how to emotionalise the excavation. Focusing on some of the artefacts she wanted to create images that asked questions about the owners, who held this pot, who used it, how did it break? In order to enhance that feeling she chose to use a cyanotype process that gave the objects an ethereal glow. The second part of the project involved some of the descendants of the original farmers who were now living in a local fishing town. By photographing these descendants it added a personal feel to the site, the image of the original owners great, great-granddaughter sat in the place where her predecessors once lived created an emotional connection to the past.
For Carolyn’s most recent project she stayed with the influences from the archaeology project and began a project on diaspora. This was a study around migration and began to attach images to objects using a liquid emulsion technique.