Canadian photographer Barbara Cole turns ordinary into extraordinary using only water, her camera, and imagination. You already met her through her beautiful underwater portraits. In her latest series Appearances, she took flowers and gave them a whole new look, turning them into watercolor-like images.
Like most of us, the coronavirus pandemic forced Barbara into isolation. Since she couldn’t work with people, she turned to flowers in an attempt to connect with loved ones and others. When we spoke about her previous work last year, Barbara mentioned that she had been experimenting with underwater photos of flowers. Therefore, when the pandemic hit, she already had a project in progress that didn’t involve humans.
Barbara’s signature style is present in Appearances like in all her other series. Only this time, instead of humans, she used nothing but flowers as her subjects. Still, each of them is given a human name. Speaking with Creative Boom, Barbara revealed that it’s no wonder she ended up humanizing the flowers in her work. She shared a heartwarming story of doing it with her teddy bears as a kid, showing no favoritism so she wouldn’t hurt their feelings.
The title of the series, Appearances, asks what it means to possess a form (human or otherwise) and what is considered worthy to be the subject of an artist’s attention. Barbara told Creative Boom that she embraced these flowers with a similar passion as she had for her other work. “They soon taught me about discovering the beauty in all things, even that which is beautiful to start with,” she added. “I wanted to bring out each flower’s personality and sense of humour, its hidden beauty that is not so easily accessible, to show flowers in a fresh way.”
Appearances remind me of watercolor paintings, painted in a free ad loose style I personally like a lot (and trying to learn). They resemble oil paintings as well. But all in all, the whole series blurs the line between photography and painting and turns something so common into something completely new.