Yas Crawford : Abstraction & Ambiguity
Born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where the geological landscape and biological composition have subliminally influenced her work, Yas Crawford is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and a Fellow of the Geological Society.
Also a geology graduate with a master’s degree in photography, she has held a variety of positions in the business world, has been a business leader in the life sciences, and currently works in what she calls “gray space,” between disciplines, connecting them through internal and external human landscapes that often reveal intertwined micro and macro environments. Her research focuses on mapping evolutionary change and its impact on humanity. Through her work, she tries to highlight emotion more than science. She uses both digital and analog media, which has allowed her to give her images a spontaneously artistic dimension.
Her background allows her to explore abstraction and recognize areas of ambiguity. The repetitive nature of her images reveals her scientific thinking. Images where abstraction also removes objectivity to give images open to interpretation.
An internationally acclaimed fine art photographer, she has exhibited in the UK and Europe. And her work has been recognized in recent years with several international awards, including the Art of Neuroscience Award 2021 for Cognition IX, the Land Air 4.0 Quasi Quadro Award 2021 for Inception I and the RPS Science Photographer of the Year 2019 for Oxygen Ib.
Your first photographic trigger?
Yas Crawford : I have a science background and it was only when I started an MA Photography 2017 that I realised that I had been looking through a lens, of one sort or another, since I was a child and a first real connection for me between two subjects I love, art and science.
The man or woman of image who inspires you?
Yas Crawford : There are two, Man Ray & Wolfgang Tillmans.
The image you would have liked to make?
Yas Crawford : « Chamber » 2022, Oil on canvas by Danica Lundy. Not an image but a painting. Many of my influences are from fine art and I recently saw Danica Lundy’s series of artworks, ‘Stop Bath’ at the White Cube London. Her reference to ‘Stop Bath’ as a photographic technique intertwined with her subject creates an incredible piece of art. It’s such a beautiful story behind the image too.
The one that moved you the most?
Yas Crawford : The image of Alan Kurdi by Nilüfer Demir, a Turkish photojournalist based in Bodrum, Turkey. The child was one of 12 refugees who drowned during a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos.
And the one that made you angry?
Yas Crawford : No one image makes me angry, I see art as a vehicle to formulate and express free speech. Overuse or abuse of images makes me angry.
A key image in your personal pantheon?
Yas Crawford : ‘Inception O’, is a cameraless piece of photographic artwork and a recent image in the Series, ‘Nature Energy Technology’ which encapsulates the idea behind the series but also my methods of working in its entirety. I feel it addresses every important topic that we are dealing with today from mental health to the impact on our environment around us.
A photographic memory from your childhood?
Yas Crawford : Watching my father develop slides for family photo-get-togethers after each holiday.
With no budget limit, what would be the work you would dream of acquiring?
Yas Crawford : Nighthawks 1942, by Edward Hopper, oil on canvas. It feels like a place I might want to hang out.
According to you, what is the necessary quality to be a good photographer?
Yas Crawford : Emotion.
The secret of the perfect image, if it exists?
Yas Crawford : How can there be one perfect image, when each image means so many things to so many different people.
The person you would like to photograph?
Yas Crawford : My husband naked, but he won’t let me. Don’t tell him.
An indispensable photo book?
Yas Crawford : Sakiko Nomura – Ango. It’s one I keep coming back to.
The camera of your childhood?
Yas Crawford : Pentax Super ME.
The one you use actually?
Yas Crawford : Canon 6D MkII, Canon EOS 300 film and an Ondu Pinhole Camera.
Your favorite drug?
Yas Crawford : Mountains, with stormy clouds.
The best way to disconnect for you?
Yas Crawford : When I am creating an image or a walk in the mountains.
What is your relationship with the image?
Yas Crawford : I am from Wales, and we have a word we use when we miss home, ‘Hiraeth’. The word expresses a deep longing for something or a homesickness. I feel this when I am away from my artwork, away from art in general and it connects my artwork to my home country too.
Your greatest quality?
Yas Crawford : Perception.
Your latest folly?
Yas Crawford : Yet another Magnum square print!
An image to illustrate a new banknote?
Yas Crawford : Maybe text, ‘The route of all evil”.
The job you would not have liked to do?
Yas Crawford : Accountant.
Your greatest professional extravagance?
Yas Crawford : My first solo exhibition, at a time I couldn’t afford it.
The city, the country or the culture you dream of discovering?
Yas Crawford : South America, all of it.
The place you never get tired of?
Yas Crawford : Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Your biggest regret ?
Yas Crawford : Ensuring I could always do a job that was outside in the fresh air and not being trapped in a laboratory or an office.
In terms of social networks, are you more into Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok or Snapchat and why?
Yas Crawford : Instagram, it seems like the place to be to build your connections, LinkedIn because it keeps me connected to my scientific interests.
Color or B&W?
Yas Crawford : Both.
Daylight or artificial light?
Yas Crawford : Daylight.
Which city do you think is the most photogenic?
Yas Crawford : Florence.
If God existed would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
Yas Crawford : Definitely a pose, then a picnic!
If I could organize your ideal dinner party, who would be at the table?
Yas Crawford : There really would be too many to fit around a dinner table. Here are just a few though: Francis Bacon & Danica Lundy to get tips on how to paint, Nick Ut just because he’s Nick Ut, Wolfang Pauli to discuss the Pauli effect, Fabiola Gianotti, the first women director-general at CERN to discuss the ATLAS experiment and the Large Haldron Collider and how this might be communicated artistically to the layman, James Watson, Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins to discuss DNA and evolutionary changes, how they might have predicted those changes for today.
The image that represents for you the current state of the world?
Yas Crawford : Today, I feel a little like this image, from the book « Art and Politics » by Anthony Downey, Thames & Hudson, 2014, says it all.
What is missing in today’s world?
Yas Crawford : Kindness.
If you had to start all over again?
Yas Crawford : I would be an artist from day one.
A last word ?
Yas Crawford : « Geologists have a saying – rocks remember ». Neil Armstrong.