This Australian photographer explores sexuality and beauty through her gynocentric, visceral work
At 22 and less than a year out of college, Melbourne-based photographer Prue Stent has a first solo exhibition down the line, an Instagram following just shy of 50k and a series of dreamy and bubbly work that keeps drawing increased media attention. From feminist identity to gender exploration, her candyfloss images of young women immersed in idyllic natural landscapes have inevitably struck up a conversation over some of the hottest topics of today’s social agenda.
But while Prue’s style may seem fully developed and her artistic message sensibly envisioned, the reality is that it’s all pretty much subconscious. “I don’t consciously set out to make one intellectual message but I have a curiosity with exploring things such as sexuality, eroticism and fertility and I think this is inspired through my close friends (including best friend and creative collaborator Honey Long), my sister and myself. It’s a bit like a self-exploration,” the Sydney-born photographer says of her work. But being a girl with such a strong artistic vision was for some hard to accept, “Boyfriends and brothers were confronted by it – I didn’t want anyone to be uncomfortable but it was kind of interesting to work around it. I found it challenging early on when a lot of boys were like ‘why are you creating pornographic images?’ which I never saw them as. They didn’t really see them as artistic in any way; it took me a while to overcome that hurdle and persist with it.”
“I found it challenging early on when a lot of boys were like ‘why are you creating pornographic images?’ which I never saw them as” – Prue Stent
The concept is simple and sounds like a lot of fun too. Who wouldn’t like going off on adventures with a bunch of girlfriends after school, slipping out of their clothes, throwing paint at each other, wrapping themselves in stretchy fabric, rolling around in garden weeds and keeping a record of the whole thing? “I really like working with people that I’m close to because you get that intimacy and relationship that’s quite special. If I used a model it wouldn’t be the same thing, it would get awkward. But when I take photographs with my friends it’s more like a two-ways thing. It’s not me directing anything, it’s me and someone I’m very close to exploring and doing ideas together and keeping that dialogue. It’s always a collaboration, and it’s always a comfortable and rewarding experience.”
So for Prue, photography just seemed like ‘an obvious route to take’. After all she can hardly remember a day when she wasn’t holding a camera in her hands. “I’ve been obsessed with taking photographs since I was very, very little. I’d use little disposable cameras that I’d get from $2 shops, it’s ridiculous but I’d go through like 20 in a month.” Most of them would just be photos of nothing, she explains, but they were crucial in making her understand what looked and felt good in a picture.
While the eye can be trained, a visual sensibility like that shown in Prue’s photos is definitely something of an innate talent. Set against surreal natural backdrops, bodies are twirled, twisted and suspended creating fluid compositions that become organic extensions of the surrounding environment. “For me nature kind of ties into female body and fertility. I think they complement each other and one comes from the other so it’s just like a nice collaboration between the body and the land.”
To see more of Prue Stent’s work, click here