Playful Practice: Tamzin Forster

Three images stacked on top of each other. The top image shows yellow curling leaves on a branch with the sun behind them. The second image shows an ivy leaf also illuminated by light behind it. The bottom image shows some twirling green grass strands close up with a black background.

Spring, Tamzin Forster

 

The importance of the arts in our everyday lives has become even more apparent after our time spent in lockdowns. In this series of blog posts Redeye hears from photographers who take pictures for the joy of it, in particular looking at how photography can improve our wellbeing and be beneficial for our mental health. If you would like to submit your work to this series please get in touch at chat@redeye.org.uk

 

Tamzin Forster is a socially engaged multi-disciplined visual artist who specialises in using creativity and nature to benefit wellbeing. She has over 20 years' experience of working within the NHS, third sector and educational settings - delivering a wide range of projects.

 

Summer, Tamzin Forster

 

Where did your interest in photography start?

When I was at school, education was predominantly verbal and written. No matter how slowly, or how many times, that information was given to me, it would dutifully file on through nodding and smiling and out the other side. Memorising what I was supposed to have understood became my cloak of deception. It left me feeling stupid and exhausted. Picking up a camera in my 20s felt like coming home after a long, tiring journey. Photography showed me that there were other ways to learn and to understand the world. Through using the camera - making mistakes, creating happy accidents, considering the desired outcome, and studying the results - I was able to build an understanding of how a camera worked. More importantly for me was the grasp of how photography could be used creatively, as a means of communication and as an exploration of self. Crucially I built confidence in my ability to learn and it felt satiating. It also gave me insight into the benefits of creativity on positive mental health and wellbeing. 

How does your other work play into your photographic practice?

I am fortunate to undertake work which utilises how I process and function and relies fully upon creativity - which encompasses much more than artistic ability. I facilitate creative activities over a wide demographic, in a variety of settings, primarily to benefit mental health and wellbeing. The activities I devise are evidence-based and have a deliberate emphasis on play, exploration, reflection and discovery. It goes without saying that I employ those strategies myself. Building enjoyable activities into a routine is a healthy way to increase resilience to stress. This was crucial during the pandemic. Photography was a constant amongst ever changing variables. Whilst the world beyond my sphere was panicked, isolated and restricted, photography grounded me; offering me an unceasing stream of calm and motivation, a soothing companion and a sense of freedom.

 

Autumn, Tamzin Forster

 

Do you find that photography has an impact on your wellbeing?

Taking photographs, particularly in nature, relaxes me. I hone in solely on what I am taking a photograph of and what I want to achieve with it. It feeds into some of the ‘ways to wellbeing’, that if undertaken regularly are known to benefit us:

  • Keeping learning - the problem solving that photography necessitates, and the sense of achievement which comes with finding a solution.
  • Noticing our surroundings - Finding a local green space shifts my focus from litter and greyness to the beauty in everyday places; paying attention to the nuances of seasons within seasons, the small changes that make up the bigger ones; the things to be grateful for.
  • Being active - Constant bending, squatting, holding a camera up to the eye and managing posture is a subtle workout. Taking a camera out tricks me into covering more distance than if I had simply gone for a walk!

How do the ‘ways to wellbeing’ play into your recent work?

The Deconstructed Landscape series shown here isn’t about having the perfect product, but is about the process. It encourages getting outdoors, problem solving and exploration - of the camera and the environment. Having parameters to work within helps me to be concentrated and creative. A landscape is split into sections - top, middle and bottom. The resulting composite can be made up of three, nine or 16 photographs. Images are taken in the same vicinity and time frame. This mindful photographic activity is a great way to notice surroundings, to slow down, and to consider how a subject might be framed - dependent on the quality and direction of the light. I try to vary the subject, composition and framing so that I am continually challenging myself. However the visual results do highlight where my interests - and joy - lies and reminds me to seek those things out to boost and maintain my wellbeing.

 

See more from Tamzin

Website: https://www.tamzinforster.co.uk/

Instagram: @tamzinrunningphotographer

Twitter: @tamzinforster1

Winter, Tamzin Forster

Redeye, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market Buildings, Thomas St, Manchester M4 1EU, UK
© 2010–2022 Redeye The Photography Network