A Bath Spa University student of the History of Art and Design, Danae Stewart is also an artist and photographer. She works in black and white photography to create bold and personal works that stem from her desire to understand herself and capture emotions that she can’t otherwise express. Chelsea Davies talks to her about her works and creative process to delve deeper into her art.
“What makes us an artist is our minds, our ability to have a vision, an idea and to physically create something from a thought or feeling.”
Inspirational words from fine art photographer, Danae Stewart. Undertaking a degree in the History of Art and Design at Bath Spa University, Danae fell into photography as a way to articulate emotions that could not be expressed. “Photography kind of saved my life,” she says. “It gave me an understanding of myself, of the way that my mind works and my creativity when I didn’t really have a grasp on any of those things.”
Now beginning her second year of undergraduate study, Danae says her degree has allowed her to translate inspiration from art, images and nature into compositions. An “eternal capture” that remains forever in time.
I ask about her artistic process. “I don’t stop when I have a good image. I stop when I feel the narrative and the inspiration for the composition has been fully articulated,” she states. “I use how I’m feeling, the mental and emotional place I’m in, and I translate that into a composition. I take what at the time feels so overbearingly colourful and complicated, and make it black and white, keeping the raw and vulnerable elements through the use of drastic contrast between bright whites and intense blacks. My main focus is narrative and emotional depth – brutal honesty.”
She often makes use of double exposure and combines elements of nature, branches and vegetation in her portraits. Danae particularly enjoys distorted portraiture, stating that the study of “purposely unattractive portraits” is a “confession of [her] creativity and life experiences.” She discusses images that fight against traditional standards of beauty.
Danae is a photographer who works primarily in the medium of monochrome, taking inspiration from controversial photographers such as Sally Mann and Diane Arbus: “I feel like black and white is more vivid. It makes things clearer…the emotion behind it is stronger.” Clearly, Danae is an artist who finds beauty in that which is overlooked.
“I love photography because I think it’s a very easy language and art medium to become fluent in,” she explains when I ask what it is about photography that captivates her. We talk about both good and bad images. Danae is adamant that photography grants her more freedom than other artistic practices by placing less emphasis on mistakes. “Some of my favourite works that I’ve sold and presented have been images that were a bit shaky and weren’t necessarily technically obedient to traditional photographic rules that determine what makes a strong composition.” She’s passionate and clearly dedicated to her craft with love and care, and an acceptance of human flaws.
Words by Chelsea Davies
Featured Image: Danae Stewart (2016) Lost Myself in Him, Photography © Danae Stewart