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The Sublimely Beautiful World of Rosie Anne Prosser

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Photographer Rosie Anne Prosser grew up on her parent’s farm, which has been in the family for 100 years. The countryside has always been a feature in her life and work: she has long explored vast landscapes, which offer a counterpoint to the busy, technologically preoccupied hustle and bustle of modern life, and give a rare glimpse of how things used to be. An abandoned building or a dead tree are relics from a time passed, which once was as vital as the life we think is so solid now. These spaces are also representative of states of mind; a visualisation of inner experience. It is hard to state the exact emotion her photographs evoke, but it is one we have all experienced. The nearest explanation is her images conjure the sublime. While having many changing influences, Rosie is perennially inspired by the paintings of Aron Wiesenfeld and David Casper Friedrich, both of whom share a respect and sense of awe for the grandeur and power of nature.

Rosie works primarily digitally, which allows her complete control to realise the vision in her mind. The images have a Gothic and Romantic sensibility and owe a debt of gratitude to the pre-Raphaelite exploration of humanity in nature. To Rosie, the landscape is a place to meet yourself. It is a way to leave society for a moment and confront our place in the vastness of life and under the shadow of death. Death is one of the few certainties, but nobody knows what happens afterwards, and Rosie’s work carries an awareness of impermanence and the frailty of life, as well as the beauty that comes alongside it.

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Usually Rosie uses herself as a model in her photography, or models she identifies with. It is a way of understanding and expressing the experience of being in an environment that heightens the awareness of one’s own existential essence. She has always enjoyed exploring self-portraiture as a means of communicating universal truths through the synecdoche of the individual. You can’t generalise about everyone as a whole, but through one’s individual experience you can touch on something universal.

Narrative has latterly been an important feature. Her images have a cinematic quality and exist as part of an imagined story. The symbolism of the relationship between light and darkness persists through much of her work, which often approaches chiaroscuro in a way that evokes profound drama. There is a dichotomy of strength and frailty in her work that would appear to be oxymoronic but in fact expresses how paradoxical states can coexist, alongside a curiosity of the unknown that invokes trembling awe.

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The process of creating these photographs is an escape from the frantic clamour of life, and the finished images offer a similar stillness of mind to the viewer. They express an effort towards acceptance and peace within oneself and towards existence, towards the predicament of being a body in the world. Rosie’s photographs are part of an ongoing exploration of nature, of putting herself in a space where she comes alive and confronting our essential aloneness. While people often find them inspiring, some find them frightening, lending credence to Cesar A. Cruz who said “art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”.

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All images courtesy of Rosie Anne Prosser. If you’d like to see more of Rosie’s photography, you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Omar Majeed

Omar is a staff writer at Visual Broadcast, and is particularly interested in photography, art and design.

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