‘Nature educates us into beauty and inwardness and is a source of the most noble pleasure’Karl Blossfeldt, 1929
Open Doors Gallery is proud to present the first body of work by Canadian artist Jennifer Latour, Bound Species. The work in this series is created meticulously by hand in Jennifer’s studio in Vancouver incorporating a wide variety of fruits and flora. Resulting in these peculiar and incredibly beautiful ‘new species’. The prints are available to buy in limited editions through Open Doors Gallery. To celebrate this release we have asked Jennifer a few questions about this fascinating debut series.
Tom: So the ‘Frankenstein monsters’ you have created in your Bound Species series do sometimes seem to take on human characteristics. Are you aware of this as you make them? Or is that us projecting?
Jennifer Latour: Ha! Ya I think they easily take on human characteristics at times but it is subconsciously done. My work as a special FX makeup artist easily lends a hand in that I’m sure. I stick many types of prosthetics to actors to help create all forms of creatures and characters which leads me to believe a lot of what I’m creating with this series stems directly from my day job.
How do you think your experience and expertise as an FX makeup artist feed into your personal creative practises?
Well I’m very efficient with my time. I’m quick and decisive, especially when it comes to bonding this together practically and creating shapes. This is my first solo photography series and up until this I was so used to having others around and being a team so it was all very new to me to create in my own time without a deadline or having to pass the photos around for approval. As much as I love the collaborative process I was quick to love the solo artist process as well!
The prints available in this first release are incredibly bright and vibrant. There is such a beautiful balance of colour and form. Do you also capture these towers as they decay & fall?
At the moment I capture them right when they are freshly made. I have kept a few of them on their stem for a few days and seen them decay, and also thought they are beautiful but have not yet captured or time lapsed them, although I love that idea! I have sometimes taken a flower from the decayed still life and applied it to a new fresh species. (You really got me thinking here!)
This series is obviously very sculptural and I know you have a very broad range of artistic interests. I wondered if you saw yourself as a sculptor, photographer or fine artist? Or perhaps something else?!
I’m definitely a hybrid artist, it really depends on the project. At the moment, with this series, I consider myself to be sculpting with flowers for sure and also a photographer. I’ve never liked titles and certainly don’t fit in any boxes of classical art practices.
While there is much attention to form within this series it’s equally about the composition and colour palette, so calling myself a sculptor is still not something I feel completely comfortable with. I definitely see myself as a photographer too, although it took a long time for me to feel ready to use that title. ha! I can’t help it. I look to the best and at the time I started photography it was Gregory Crewdson’s work that I heavily nerded out on. He was at the time, to me, the top dog visually and conceptually. I’m much kinder to myself now and do feel very comfortable calling myself a photographer or an artist.
Which artists helped inspire this series do you think? And which artists do you most admire generally?
I grew up heavily glued to watching music videos and movies. Of course I loved a good horror film and Dick Smith’s makeup for the Exorcist blew my mind when I first saw it..which could have been because I was 8 at the time, but it really had a huge impact on my imagination. That and Michael Jackson’s Thriller were the beginnings of love for the art of creating characters. Music, videos and Cinema were and are still a huge influence on me. There’s a wide variety I’m drawn to but when I think of direct influence I think of all the early Michel Gondry and Chris Cunningham music videos, and the aesthetics of Jean-Luc Godard, early Tim Burton and currently Robert Eggers. It’s hard to not make a massive list of photographers that have inspired me but the main one I have to say is Tim Walker and I’m sure it’s easy to see why. His imagination and set creations are heavily ingrained in my imagination, along with the works of Sara Moon and Julia Hetta who both have a huge influence on my imagination as well.
It’s hard to not make a massive list of photographers that have inspired me but the main one I have to say is Tim Walker and I’m sure it’s easy to see why.Jennifer Latour
How did lockdowns through 2020 effect your creative output? Was this series a way of bringing the outside in?
Anyone who knows me knows that I always have a few projects on the go so 2020 only amped up the output on a more personal and larger scale, meaning I could think bigger and do more with the free time I had. I turned down any job offers I was given as my instinct was to make the most of the given time and focus solely on what I wanted to create. I knew I had to be selfish with all my time.
Everything changed in the first lockdown. Like so many others I was left with only what was around me and things I quickly picked up at the grocery store or ordered online. I knew I had to stay creative to help pass the time and that I wanted to keep it light and playful as there was so much uncertainty, fear and sadness everywhere round the world. I have to be honest in writing that before the lockdown I never really felt any need to have plants in my home. That all changed in March of last year, especially when my series properly began. Now I can’t imagine not having things growing in my home and having the colours and textures so close is very soothing to look at. Now bringing the outside in is very important and there’s not going back.
Was Bound Species something you had always wanted to shoot but didn’t have time?
I knew I wanted to sit down and properly tackle still life photography at some point in my life but having the time to devote to a whole series never seemed possible with my schedule. Then the world stopped and so many people had opportunity and time to catch up and do the things they talked about. I daydream about still lifes often but during the first lockdown I couldn’t stop. I wanted to find that unique piece to my puzzle, something I’d never seen before and something that reflected me as well. It wasn’t until I dreamt of the still life as an extension of my FX work that things came together. Seeing the flowers transform into a type of Frankenstein became the inspiration. Once that came in my head everything came together while testing it out.
How do you select your specimens?
It’s all about what stands out. Shape, color, texture, and especially character. Some plants and flowers really stand out in that way and I find myself hopping from markets to flower nurseries in search of more exotic and rare pieces to use. My eyes are peeled everywhere I go now and it’s hard to turn off new possible specie pieces.
Is the process of creating them quite instinctual or do you have a rough map in your head before you begin? Do you sketch them out perhaps?
Creating Bound Species has been so instinctual. I am so comfortable making creatures and especially using my hands and imagination. It has all been such meditative work with patience needed for sure but so incredibly satisfying as a whole.
I have however started to plan and sketch out my next series as it will be much more ambitious and more costly. Organization for this next Species is essential.
What are you looking for in the finished sculpture and how do you know when to stop?
It’s a feeling really. I take the photo once the composition feels close then tweak if necessary, and if it feels secure enough I can play around with it more, replace pieces or add/take away, but if I have a delicate specie then there’s not much I can do, I have a brief window before gravity takes it course as there is no glue in my bonding. Overthinking them mostly ends up bad for these compositions as I’ve discovered, less is more.
Do you have plans for more of these creations and how do you see this series evolving?
This series is morphing in my head so often and quickly, I’m constantly writing the versions I see in my head down. Shortly I will be starting my Spring/Summer series and I am especially excited about the changes I have coming to that. I can definitely see this becoming a seasonal series and also see this becoming a life long series that will shift and evolve into many different species.
See a selection of available prints by Jennifer Latour here
For more information on the series by Jennifer Latour, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Latour is an FX makeup artist/Photographer based in Vancouver & Montreal
Follow Jennifer Latour on instagram: @bonjourlatour
Jennifer Latour was born in Seven Islands, Quebec, and now works and lives
in Vancouver, BC. She is a self taught artist having moved to the UK in 2003
working in special effects makeup and later starting her photographic practise
in 2006. Her love for cinema, sculpture and creating characters has heavily led
to the making of Bound Species as she sees each piece as its own creature, a
Frankenstein of sorts. Her influences are many but within her fields span from
Dick Smith and Rick Baker to Irving Penn and Tim Walker.
Bound Species by Jennifer Latour is an ongoing series that started in her apartment during the first lockdown in 2020. Jennifer finally had the time to focus on her own artistic practise. Sourcing flowers and fruits locally and using all her skills as a special effects makeup artist she set to work constructing these incredibly delicate ‘new species’ of plant. We are so excited about how this series will evolve and plan to release new work seasonally.