Continuing with the vintage vibes scooter story with Emily (Part 1), our next location, an apartment block with a staircase tower right near that Dumfries parking lot, was ideal for a bit of 60s urban optimism re-enactment for my project series.
To me the tall staircase tower subtly alluded to the 60s boom in high-rise housing. Now much maligned, the tower blocks with their modern amenities, such as central heating, running hot water and a fully equipped kitchen, were once a dream dwelling for many young people who were raised in crowded tenements. The future looked bright for them!
The youth-driven Swinging Sixties were giddy about all things new and modern. The cultural revolution was on the way, there were more youngsters acquiring university education than ever before, and there was a boom in British arts scene, music, film and fashion.
The epitome and fashion sensation of the 60s was a mini skirt. It defined the image of a young, confident, sexy, modern and self-aware woman of the era.
The sixties mini was the most self indulgent, optimistic ‘look at me, isn’t life wonderful’ fashion ever devised. It expressed the sixties, the emancipation of women, the Pill and rock ‘n’ roll. … It was the beginning of women’s lib.The miniskirt myth
So Emily’s mini skirt, her vintage-style makeup and the “tower block” ambience of our location combined create the overall vibe of the imagery. Emily, a great young artist, had a lot of creative flair and confidence to act along, despite the curious passers by.
As Emily wore a stripy tee, I based a lot of her portraits on a deliberate interplay between her clothing and the visual rhythms naturally present in the building itself.
To enhance the portrait composition I used the vertical strips of the staircase tower wooden cladding, the repetition of the metal balusters and the shadows they cast onto the girl’s body, as well as the horizontal lines defined by the steps and hand-railings of the outdoor access gallery.