Beside my bed a pool of light—
Is it hoarfrost on the ground?
I lift my eyes and see the moon,
I bend my head and think of home.
Thoughts in the Silent Night — Li Bai
Hazel was born in Amsterdam shortly after her parents migrated there from China. Although she was raised in Holland the Chinese cultural influence on her was huge. Her cultural duality has shaped who she is today, how she sees things and the way in which she expresses herself in photography. Unconsciously the serenity, harmony and imaginary of Chinese art, combined with her awareness of western art have left an impression in her photographic style.
From an early age, she started to play with compact cameras and loved going through her mum’s black and white studio portraits from the sixties. Later she discovered the SLR cameras and found she could play with different objectives, combining apertures and shutter speeds and this opened up a whole new world to her. However, for a long time photography remained a much loved hobby and she chose to study Business Economics and worked internationally in the financial industry for a decade. When the right time came she decided to follow her passion for photography at the Photo Academy in Amsterdam. Shortly after beginning there, The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam approached her to create an artwork to cover a huge wall, 7 meters long. During this process, which took more than a year, she was guided by her mentor. Her first international exhibition was in 2015 at Arta Gallery, located in Toronto’s historic district, during the most prestigious curated Photo Festival (Contact Photography Festival) in Toronto. As a result of her association with Arta she drew the attention of another Toronto Gallery, who also exhibited her work. Following this breakthrough she continues to present her work both in The Netherlands and internationally. She has participated in many other festivals and art fairs including the Affordable Art Fair and was nominated for the ‘Rabo Talent Prize’. She has also exhibited in Museums such as Hilversum Museum and the Van Abbemuseum.
As a fine art photographer, I allow my intuitive sense of direction to unfold and for spontaneity and improvisation to dominate my choices. I often start with a raw concept and it’s the subject, my surroundings and state of mind that inspires my creative process. Photography allows me and makes me feel safe to let go of all constraints and just let things happen. I love to challenge the rules of photography, to break away from expectations and push assumed boundaries out of my way. Photography helps me to quieten my analytical, controlling side and nurture my intuitive free spirit.
I’m driven by the desire to mould colours, light and movement. Layering light with motion and transposing the imagery through a motion blur allows me to create an abstract reality. Playing with the blurred line between photography and painting, reality and the imaginary excites and inspires me. My photography creates compositions where the internal and external worlds collide and where reality meets the imaginary. When I photograph I feel like I am painting with the camera, using the camera as the brush and my surroundings as paint.
For me Photography is a meditative process, providing me with the opportunity to be fully mindful within the moment. It’s a playground where I explore life and come to a deeper understanding of myself. In this process I allow myself to see a new reality. Through my artwork I aim to evoke curiosity in others and allow them to look deeply into these images and find their own reality and emotions in my work.