'Of her heart's ocean, sagely dark, that holds my heaven and holds my hell' (2016)
"I wanted my portrait to celebrate where I am in my life, and I also wanted to include a tribute to my mother, who has helped make me into the woman I am today."
Talking to Olivia it was clear that she is very proud of the woman she has become. She is someone who has a very strong outlook on life and on what she can achieve – she is the kind of person who makes things happen.
The image which came to me when thinking it over was that of ‘The Magician’ in a pack of tarot cards. Traditionally the magician represents power, skill, action, and resourcefulness, and acts as a conduit between the power of the universe and the earth. Olivia and I discussed the concept and how we could replace the traditional elements that appear on a tarot card with objects which are significant to her – many reflect her love of cooking and of bespoke and handmade items. For example she is holding her rolling pin as a wand, and on the table is her custom-made Japanese knife.
For the photoshoot we decided to hold it in a garden because Olivia loves gardens, and I wanted to include greenery as seen in the tarot card. We visited Leighton House Museum in London together to chose the right location, and arranged a time when it wasn’t open to the public.
Although Olivia is proud of herself and her abilities, while we were talking it became clear that this doesn’t always extend to her body image. I hoped the process of taking the picture, and seeing the final result would make it possible for her to step outside herself and see things afresh. I felt it was important not to use any Photoshop on her image – although the concept of the portrait is fantastical, the beauty you see is real and authentic.
"Working with Diogo was very collaborative, and we discussed and agreed all the different elements of the portrait. I knew I wanted to include a reference to my mother, so it is particularly important to me that I’m wearing her ring on my left hand.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the picture, but as soon as I got my portrait I showed it to everyone I know. They all say it’s a stunning piece of art and now I can't wait to hang it in my home."