Chantelle Boyle : Artist behind the scenes

Chantelle Boyle : Artist behind the scenes 1800 1188 John Whitmore Photography
Chantelle Boyle - Photographed with Film - Ilford HP5 400 at ISO 800 on 35mm 135 Roll ID-0122-021

The first time I met Chantelle Boyle was at an art meeting in Classroom Gallery, Coventry.  We talked about our difficulty with the written word and how long it took to get the words/ideas from our heads on onto paper.  But talking is not something Chantelle has difficulty with, beaming with excitement and an infectious Brummie accent, she told me all about her performances and exhibitions.  How she was trying to source old duvets, cuddly toys and of course dressing up in a bear costume. It wasn’t long until her upcoming final year Fine Art degree show at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Coventry University and time was running out.

2 weeks later a message popped into my Instagram asking if I would could photograph her performance, which of course I couldn’t refuse and she kindly allowed to me arrive early and capture the final preparation and excitement.

Warm wine, empty crisp bowls and the smell of fresh paint.  The degree show was underway.

Enlisting promotional help from Rodrigo Costa, dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh, they spent some time pre-performance touring around the University, enjoying the exhibitions of other students.

Chantelle Boyle - Photographed with Film - Ilford HP5 400 at ISO 800 on 35mm 135 Roll ID-0122-013
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Chantelle Boyle - Photographed with Film - Ilford HP5 400 at ISO 800 on 35mm 135 Roll ID-0123-030

The transformation in Chantelle during her performance couldn’t be any more polar.
Wearing the mask of the bear costume she becomes reserved, closed off to the world.  It’s a disturbing and saddening interpretation of the themes running through her exhibition.  Slowly releasing herself from the costume, as sense of birth and release.  Just like real life, this transformation is a long and uncomfortable process and as the performance ends there’s a sense that this process never really ends.