Interviewed by Veronica Farmer
I was 19 years old when we moved to Australia... Here I was, in a new country, ripped away from all I knew. My confidence in my English skills was deflated, trying to understand the heavily accented Australians around me. The Queensland weather was so very hot after the cool mountains of home, the soil was red, the landscape harsh. I felt angry and lost my natural, enthusiastic joyfulness. I missed my home, my friends, and life in Colombia. I resented being here and threw away all my paintings.
I started my photography business once the children were older, taking photos of babies and then moved towards images of women in business. At the same time, I began reading about the healing power of the natural world and was delving into concepts of our wild nature lying beneath our appropriate programming. I would watch my small daughter climbing trees and the bliss on her face as she reached the top. I had begun to wonder if we had all got lost in a delusion, away from our natural beauty and connection with the silent natural world...
Image by Steve Parish
I created a documentary series called “Men in Nature.” I could see how nature offers precious time to be quiet in this time poor world. Time to stop, breathe and get away from the constant grind of normal life. The more I listened to my male subjects, the more I heard how too many men were suffering in silence from hidden depression, and the stress of responsibility. Having been around many women’s groups and mother’s groups, I knew that women have many outlets for emotional expression. They can talk to friends and family about how they are doing when they feel the most vulnerable or are struggling. Men, and particularly Australian men, often suffer alone. They smile and hide the pain, but it’s there beneath the surface. If you listen without a need to interject, they will share with you a gentleness and wisdom. Listening is the way through.
Creating images became the last part of the conversation with my subjects as I began my series of portraits in nature. I wanted to explore and understand that sacred connection between the earth, water, sky, and man. To witness so many moments of being healed by nature, has cleared away my rage of being dragged half way across the world, to a land so unlike my home.
Images from Men in Nature series by Michele Pocknee
My photography began as a connection back to art for me, but it has now helped me find home. Not home as in a place or a country outside of me, but a feeling where nature and human intertwine. The eucalyptus trees I used to sit beneath as a child in Colombia, are in plentiful supply in this hot red country of Australia and shooting the light coming through those trees has warmed my soul.
AN EXCERPT FROM MICHELE POCKNEE'S STORY.. Join our email list below to hear when the book is available! To see more of Michele's work visit www.michelepocknee.com