'Vanitas in Isolation' by Photographer Amelia J Dowd - Par Femme

by Par Femme

Photographer Amelia J Dowd is currently isolating in Melbourne, Victoria. Inspired by 17th century Dutch still life compositions that explore transience and pleasure, she created the project 'Vanitas in Isolation' using the Par Femme toy collection and mundane household objects, collaborating in part with flower stylist Madeleine Vizard

Get to know more about the project, and the brilliant women who brought it to (still) life, below. 

Amelia Dowd, Photographer

What’s the Amelia Dowd elevator pitch?
I don’t have an elevator pitch, but I’m a photographer based in Naarm, Melbourne and am originally from Far North Queensland. 

Can you tell us a bit about the story behind the shoot?
I was reading about still life art history and came across compositions Dutch painters made called ‘Vanitas’, which are primarily compositions made to show the transience of life and our mortality. The compositions seemed appropriate for my experience in isolation—collections of mundane objects and everyday pleasurable things assembled as sculptural images. 

Have any mundane objects taken on special importance for you during lockdown?
I cut up lemons every day and drink lemon with hot water, so lemons seem very significant right now. 

How have you been prioritizing your own pleasure during lockdown? Why do you think this is important?
I think it's important to find pleasure in things that don’t make you feel like an adult. Finding fun in things that seem silly is very important to me. 

Has quarantine changed your relationship with yourself and others?
I think we have learned how to give each other space and recognise the importance of that more than ever. 

Why is community so valuable, especially now?
All we have in the end is each other, isn’t it?

Where does your mind go when you hear the word ‘home’?
When I hear home, I think of very early sunrises, mangoes and hot weather. 

Madeleine Vizard, Flower Stylist

What’s the Madeleine Vizard elevator pitch?
I predominantly work in film and television and have recently been trying my hand working with flowers. I’ve been creating flower arrangements and sculptures, or somewhere in between that. It’s been a really positive creative outlet for me during COVID-19 and is definitely something I want to keep exploring. My poor housemates have been dealing with petals, sticks and string scattered everywhere, but it’s been nice to bring colour to the house. 

Can you tell us a bit about the story behind the shoot?
Amelia asked me if I wanted to collaborate with her on a Par Femme project exploring the idea of Vanitas. Her idea was to use toys alongside mundane objects and wanted me to incorporate a flower arrangement. We chatted a bit about colour, tone and composition to get an idea of how we would tie it together. I had to Uber the arrangement to her house so she could shoot the project in her apartment. We were lucky to be within the allotted 5km radius. The whole thing was really relaxed and fun.

The idea behind the shoot was to explore compositions that evoke ideas of the transience of life. There is a playfulness that comes with dramatizing mundane objects which is highlighted really well in a still life.

Have any mundane objects taken on special importance for you during lockdown?
Vases and perfume. My perfume almost makes me feel ready for the day. It’s like the smell tricks me into feeling like I’m in a normal routine, maybe it’s because it has a positive nostalgia attached to it. I have a specific bowl-shaped vase which has subconsciously inspired lots of interesting ideas with the arrangements I’ve been doing.

How have you been prioritizing your own pleasure during lockdown? Why do you think this is important?
I’m all about two baths a day, wine, trackies and letting yourself go (ish) for six weeks. I think it’s integral to lean into pleasure during this time. Whatever keeps you positive or helps you cope. (In a healthy way of course). I’ve been watching trashy shows, eating what I want and making flower arrangements which I find really meditative. I did the baking bread and fitness thing last lockdown, which I quickly discovered isn’t sustainable for me during this shitty time.

Has quarantine changed your relationship with yourself and others?
Hugely so. I’ve realised what I need more as a person, in particular the importance of creativity and setting my imagination free. I feel like we don’t get to do that enough as adults because we are so busy with work and our social lives. Slowing down has allowed me to both question and explore things I wouldn’t have pre-COVID-19, like the line of work I want to be involved in and understanding certain unhealthy patterns of mine. I’ve also come to realise that I am 100% an extrovert.

I have gotten to know the friends I live with on a deeper level. We've had a lot of fun so far. It’s basically just been a whole lot of themed dinners and long chats. I feel like the conversations I have been having with friends and family are more vulnerable and open as people want to connect and check in with each other more than ever.

Why is community so valuable, especially now?
Fear, loss and isolation is a pretty scary combination. Many people are going through serious financial hardship and health issues etc. Without emotional support, mental health issues may quickly get pretty dire so I think community is everything right now on a smaller and larger scale. I’ve been thinking about people who don’t have that at the moment and it must be really tough. People need a sense of community and to feel like they are emotionally connected to one another. Knowing you have people there for you is more important than ever, in my opinion.

Where does your mind go when you hear the word ‘home’? 
Friends and family, genuine comfortability, the smell of onion garlic and tinned tomatoes frying, natural light and the go-to couch.

Photographer, Amelia J Dowd (@ameliajdowd
Flower stylist, Madeleine Vizard (@hellian.petal)

Currently in lockdown in Victoria? Par Femme is here to keep you company. We’re giving away aFREE Pjur Vegan Lubeor a brand-newPar Femme face mask when you purchase the MMM RABBIT VIBRATOR or the OOH G-SPOT VIBRATOR.

Add your preferred gift to the cart along with your toy and enter the code VIC at checkout, et voila! Ends Tuesday September 1st at midnight. Only available in Victoria. Shop now.



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