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Pavilion Dreamer

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Chrissie Berridge explains how the Royal Pavilion provides constant inspiration for her photo-artwork

Over the years I have taken thousands of photographs. When I’m not out taking new pictures I enjoy manipulating the ones that I already have. It’s proved to be a productive way to use up time when I’ve been unable to get out and about during the Coronavirus lockdown.  Working at my computer I select and overlay various photographs, working with creative apps to make new, striking images.

I usually work as a Visitor Services Officer at the Royal Pavilion and I enjoy seeing people photographing its iconic exterior. When you visit Brighton a photograph of this landmark is a must-have! Looking out from the first floor windows I see the cameras and mobile phones raised the minute people walk through the Indian Gate, capturing the fairy-tale frontage. There are also countless selfies taken in front of the main entrance; couples lounge against the turning circle’s green fencing, recent graduates wave mortarboards for their celebratory photo, and numerous groups of students waving and pouting. And now of course those who venture inside the Pavilion can fill their photo streams with even more exotic imagery!

You’d think that working at the Pavilion I would be immune to its photographic charm, but the opposite is true. It is a building that truly gets under your skin. The changing light, the differing seasons, and the beautiful planting in the gardens surrounding it, render the Pavilion a constant subject for the lens. That myriad of turrets and domes makes for a great image and it can’t be mistaken for any other building.

Another of my other favourite subjects to photograph are mannequins. Whether it is a full length figure, or just a head shot, I am constantly drawn to them. I’ve snapped them at exhibitions, in shop windows, and at antique fairs, and of course I have one at home. They’re certainly easier to capture than real moving people.

Pavilion Gaze by Chrissie Berridge

During a couple of creative sessions, I worked with both of these subjects to produce two new images. With Pavilion Gaze I combined a number of photographs; one I refer to as ‘the mannequin and the mixing bowl’ (taken at the Ardingly International Antiques Fair) of a female mannequin wearing a fur cape perched on a step ladder, beside a Mason Cash mixing bowl. The second image is a view of the north end of the Pavilion – not as frequently photographed as the west front of the building by visitors, and yet a third photograph is of a swathe of flowers taken at Preston Park’s beautiful wild flower meadow. The combination has been overlaid, tweaked and altered using computer software. The Pavilion, rendered to a sky blue silhouette is unmistakable!

Pavilion Dream by Chrissie Berridge

In my second artwork, Pavilion Dream I wanted to conjure up a Sleeping Beauty scenario, where the gardens have grown beyond their usual boundaries in a bid to hide the Pavilion, emphasising the fantasy elements that are part of this building’s charm. I used photographs of flowers and seed heads combined again with that view of the north end of the Pavilion exterior. Here you can see more of the architectural detailing of the minarets and domes. The prominent silhouetted seed heads were originally photographed in the grounds of at Emmaus in Portslade. All the photographs have been manipulated to create this final image.

I’ll certainly be on working on more Pavilion-inspired images in the days to come.

Images: copyright Chrissie Berridge