In our Quixotic themed fourth issue, Nina Ijomone's submission wowed us. The striking images, centred around an octopus, left us asking questions and wanting to know more, this was a significant advance on a fish out of water.
Moving from her water surrounded family home in Poland, Ijomone found herself longing for the connection with aquatic nature when she moved to London. A glass of wine, a refuge for many, is nothing compared to the freedom and empowerment of nature felt by Ijomone, with its essence never captured or contained.
We took the opportunity to catch up with Ijomone and not only expand further on her submission but also find out what we can look forward to next.
Are we adapting ourselves to unfamiliar surroundings or attempting to change the new environment to our existing needs? Moving to a new place can be an exciting experience, offering new encounters, opportunities, and narratives. However, taking the next step can often create a gap that prevents us from returning to our previous ways or fully utilising our abilities in the new environment.
Tell us how this project came about?
I come from Poland, a small city surrounded by four lakes located just two kilometres from my house. Family, social life, and sports all revolved around the water. However, when I turned 18, I moved to a bigger city and eventually settled in London, where access to and spontaneous contact with water became restricted. I had to meticulously plan my daily schedule, always keeping a "water map" in my mind, to ensure that I could allocate at least a minute to gaze at the water or make my way towards it. On busy days or when the weather didn't permit me to reconnect, I began collecting objects within my living space. These items became my own mini artworks, serving as reminders of the water and enabling me to reconnect with those cherished moments.
As I became aware of the changes in my home environment, I made the conscious decision to document everything that evoked my connection with water. I desired to create a collection of these memories and desires, preserving them in a more tangible and meaningful way than relying solely on memory.
Is it ongoing or have you concluded it?
The process of creating this project allowed me to reconnect with the girl who left her hometown and understand the significance of this bond in my current life. It revealed how it influences my time, moods, and the role it plays overall. In this sense, I believe I have achieved the goal of this project within myself and the questions I had been asking.
"Do You Ever Remember Me" stands now as a finished project, fulfilling its purpose in my journey. However, it has also propelled me into a new dimension where I will continue to develop my relationship with water, showcasing its various facets rather than seeking answers to specific questions.
Initially, I had envisioned different visual presentations for this project, but they did not materialise as the connection with water was not initially clear to me. Therefore, I consider "Do You Ever Remember Me" as the first successful step toward further explorations.
If you were to move on again, what do you imagine your connection representation of the city or London might be?
I think if I were developing a project about the influence of a city, I wouldn't focus solely on cityscapes, whether they are buildings or nature and greenery. Instead, I would place more emphasis on people, culture, and the differences that separate me from my hometown, as well as the similarities with my own identity and background.
I would observe the streets, people, their habits, and the ways they spend time with their families, spend free time. My goal would be to uncover valuable differences in the small, daily aspects of people's lives. I'd examine what living in the city provides for them and try to identify what might be missing and how people compensate for it.
Are you currently working on any new projects?
There are two projects in my head. One is still trying to take shape; there's a seed of an idea that I'm waiting to sprout so that I can pick it up and carry it forward. I would like to develop this project further now as a way to take a break from the previous one, although again it will be somewhat autobiographical.
The second project is developed conceptually, as it was one of the approaches I considered for "Do You Ever Remember Me."
When I started it my heart was torn between two separate directions. One was more performative, focusing on the relationship of my body with nature. The second one (which I eventually chose) was more abstract, concentrating on my mind, memory, the unseen and indescribable aspects. Despite my decision, I still feel that the idea I didn't choose is lingering in my subconscious, waiting to be developed in the future.
Now that you have graduated, what ambitions do you have for your photography?
The biggest ambition I have towards photography at the moment is to maintain a space where I feel free. Photography has taken me to my own little safe haven in my mind, a place I can escape to and work on myself. I aspire to keep photography and my dreamy artistic bubble separate from the everyday challenges of life, such as financial concerns and the pressures of commercialism.
I realise this may not be the most economically viable wish, but I believe that it is what motivates my growth in areas that will eventually support my future.