London-based artist Nicolette Clara Iles’s painterly photographs depict a world—or worlds—quite different from our own. ‘My main inspirations is, strangely, life itself,’ says the artist. 'There is so much more to life than we see or realise on the surface … I like to make the everyday seem a little more unusual, even magical at times.’ Their work also draws inspiration from Francesca Woodman, Imogen Cunningham’s early photographic work and the surrealist paintings of Leonora Carrington.
Shown here are photographs from two of Iles’s series, Pitchfork and Cornish Folk. The former is based on a daydream the artist had about a group of people rising up to bury those who hurt them in previous lives. It’s a scene plucked straight from the unconscious mind and made tangible. For the latter, they stayed at a tiny farm in rural Cornwall with a woman who kept sheep. Cornwall, with its pastoral landscape, rugged coastlines, Neolithic history and local folklore, seems the perfect magical setting. ‘The lady who owned the farm had seen some awful things in her time, yet being there felt healing." Near her home were the Men-an-Tol standing stones, shown here. "Legend has it if you can put your body through the hole of one standing stone, it can heal.’
Iles views creativity as a magical practice and likens it to ‘stirring a cauldron of ideas.’ They reclaim the word ‘witch’ as an artist, but also as an act of defiance against the oppressive forces of the modern world. ‘Witch to me means having a strong connection with yourself, your ancestors if you can, and the world around you. It’s a soul-bearing declaration, but it’s powerful; with it, you can harness a hidden power within and put it to good use.’
‘There’s more magic in our world than we realise,’ they emphasise. These photographs remind us there are still things in our reality we cannot see. Iles invites us to look for them.
All images © Nicolette Clara Iles