Mel Collie


Who wrote the forward to my book, Elemental?

When I first opened Pauls photo book, Seaworks, I cried with amazement, I mean I actually cried tears. I was so overcome with the beauty of the images, but also amazed at the mind behind each image, how he had come to achieve each piece, and at the enormity of this body of work.

I found his work so refreshing. This was so different.

Inspiration poured through those pages. 

Can you do this with a camera? I wanted to know how..

I spent time looking for stones and rocks on my local beach, similar to those he had captured in his images...of course I didn't find any..

It was therefore only natural for me to book his workshop earlier this year, because I wanted to know more. 

I then found out why I couldn't find those patterned stones and rocks..because of the way he creates his unique work meant he layered sea water onto small glass plates.

The layers included shapes he found on the beach like stones, rocks, rusted circles, that may have come from the bottom of tins and cans. 

His imagination was having a field day every time he went outside. 

I had invested the last of my savings into this course, and had very very nearly believed my excuse not to go..I just couldn't afford was by no means a cheap day course, this was over 2 days, I had a car to rent as well as well as put a hold on work over the weekend. 

Do you know what? It was worth every single penny.

I would do it all over again.

I would book that course again , if only to meet Paul and Doug Chinnery... To be with these two genius minds during the 2 days, at lunch, at dinner, chatting, listening to their words, having a laugh, being out of work mode, was priceless. 

Part of the weekend was to share our work, have it critiqued by Doug and Paul.

Hiding, I remained amongst the last few to show my work. After lunch on day 2, I opened my laptop. Concerned that all my work was within 3 projects on Adobe Spark software, not printed out as many others work was, Dougs skill with computers got it all connected to the big screen and there was my work for everyone to see, makes you feel vulnerable and theres nowhere to hide. 

An hour later, and the general consensus was one of praise, good comments, and a question from Doug

"What are you going to do with this work?"

I had no idea...I had no plan..I was just posting it on Instagram, Flickr, Twitter & Facebook and Adobe Spark. 

He then suggested publication in a book. 

I do believe I wish the ground to swallow me up.

Was my work that good that people would buy a book of it ?

The rest is history as they say, but this is only part of the journey.

You don't ever know the journey, you have to walk the path, everyday, showing up, taking the rough with the smooth, taking the crap negative comments, from others as well as yourself, but also listening to the good comments. 

Notice how far you have come, review where you are going and where you want to be, understand what you need to do to get there and take steps everyday.

Take the occasional duvet day too of course, but not too many..!

..this is where my creativity started to unfold. The barriers, which of course were self imposed, of what I should be doing with my camera, loosened, and then, I started to experiment. I began to worry a little bit less of what others expected, or what I thought they expected or thought of my work, and did this for myself, what I thought I liked and wanted. 

If someone else liked it too, well, thats a bonus. 

My book, Elemental, is just a step along the journey., a massive step, for me, a bonus that people like it, a step towards to next chapter., doesn't make me feel any less vulnerable, but thats where chocolate comes in handy ..

Heres my book, Elemental :

Heres Chris Friels work :

Heres Pauls work :

Heres Dougs work:



p.s. When Triplekite suggested I ask someone to write a forward I had Paul in mind, it took me 4 days to summon the courage..when his reply came back, it took a few hours and a long walk before I was brave enough to open that email. My faced ached with the biggest smile for a very long time...he is, not only an inspiration in his work, but to talk to, so interesting. One day, I will pop up there and see his little studio, the beach he walks on to find those treasures, and share a cup of tea and maybe a gin and tonic too..

Melanie CollieComment