A Story Behind A Photograph by Saskia Drake

Third in the series of commissions for Develop at Home - a digital programme of articles, interviews and resources to help us stay connected, inspired and informed at this time of isolation - is Develop Ambassador Saskia Drake sharing a story behind their photograph series Latex Feet Replication.

Develop Ambassador Saskia Drake is a Year 12 student studying photography A-Level. 

As part of my A-level coursework, I’m investigating the human form as part of a wider interest in portraiture and people. Inspired by photographers Pierre Radisic and John Coplans, I wanted to create a life-like setting of body parts that instilled a sense of fear and uneasiness in the viewer. Upon seeing how liquid latex can make moulds of hands, I wondered what other parts of the body could be latexed and displayed. I chose to do feet because they are so often overlooked and ignored irrespective of their detail and importance as part of the body.

I started by painting liquid latex over the feet of 6 people (including myself) Once the layers had dried, I peeled off the latex, leaving a foot-shaped mould. The first few attempts ripped whilst peeling off the feet as it struggled to stretch over the heel so they had to be mended with masking tape. Although this is something I hadn’t factored in I feel the process adds to the final result. The revolting thing about the moulds can’t be seen but some of them have leg hair attached to them which came off when ripping the latex off!

The process of making the feet took a long time and it was interesting watching people experience having their feet moulded. They were so disgusted by a replica of their own foot. They found it uneasy seeing their own body part away from their body. People expect the process to be disgusting whilst the pictures are merely pictures but the surprising thing about this series is that the process wasn’t that gross, but the images are and that’s exactly what I aimed to achieve. 

Rather than the images being important to me because of the memories and stories attached, or who is in the picture, they are important because of how uniquely they reach each viewer. All the pictures are gruesome but each image features different feet and different angles making different parts of the latex glimmer and different shadows are created, which in turn alters the viewers’ reaction and some are really repulsed but others see beauty and most laugh.

- Saskia Drake