I was on a plane when I saw the movie “Brave” and I had actually avoided watching it in favour of “The Maze Runner”, but when it came time to choose between a C-Grade Nicholas Cage movie and Brave, I ended up choosing Brave.
I’ve always loved Disney movies, who doesn’t? And I grew up on all the classic Fairytales like Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty… but I was never really the kind of girl who these stories are aimed at. I mean, sure, these classics are great, but I was never the girl to dream about her wedding or the kind of man I’ll marry or about having a bazillion kids. For me… I went through a rather lengthy Tomboy stage. I did everything from jumping off the roof (much to my Mother’s horror), to climbing trees and I preferred Cowboys and Indians and Cops and Robbers to playing “house” with my dolls or pretending to do house-chores with my toy kitchen. Nope. I liked to wear amy fatigues, which my Pop would get from the Army Disposal Store and I even had my own Swiss Army Knife. So, even though I grew up with the likes of the Disney Princesses, there always seemed to be something missing for me. I wanted to be the one that rode the white horse and saved the day… but it just wasn’t possible back then and it wasn’t until my teenage years that I found role models in the likes of Xena: Warrior Princess and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
In the last decade or so, though…. I feel there has been a shift in the way kids movies are marketed and a mindfulness when it comes to such things. No longer do we react the same way when a boy plays with a Barbie Doll or when a girl dreams about joining the army instead of getting married. Remember Billy Elliot? Slowly, things are shifting, and I think they are shifting for the better. Campaigns such as the #LikeAGirl commercial that aired during the Superbowl have gone viral and more and more people are starting to realise that this separation of the sexes and the expectations we place on children due to their gender is somewhat outdated.
So with that in mind, and it affecting me deeply, I decided I wanted to create something to celebrate this and I came up with the idea of this Brave themed photoshoot. If you haven’t seen Brave, the general gist is that it’s about a girl who defies the traditional expectations her family place on her to get married and have children, for the simple reason that she’s a girl and that’s what happens. Even her own Mother pushes this and their relationship suffers gravely. But as the story goes on and Princess Merida refuses to back down, eyes start opening up and attitudes start to change. There is no man to save the day, there is only Merida, and in the end thanks to her resourcefulness, she saves the day and her relationship with her Mother and ends up being accepted for who she is and always has been. It’s a wonderful story and it really struck me that I’d like to see more of these stories and thus inspired me to create the series of photographs below.
It’s always difficult to translate what’s in your head into a piece of artwork, but I knew that I wanted something a little surreal, but very meaningful at the same time. The result is slightly darker than I had imagined, but it grew on me tremendously and I think the end result turned out quite well. There’s always a fine line between letting an image be, and not being able to… so it was hard to say “okay, I’m done.” but I managed and I think it turned out somewhat surreal and dreamlike, which is great. It’s almost like a cross between Brave and Little Red Riding Hood. It starts with our Princess not being able to find her Mum, and the Willow Wisps appear to her. She follows them into the forest and finally reunites with her Mother.
A huge thanks goes out to my friends Anneli and Denise and also to Stefan Wall of Wall Scene Production for supplying the various Props and helping to make this happen.