Art of the impossible

Tristan WheelerManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Bridgetown artist Todd Cleave with some of his composite images.
Camera IconBridgetown artist Todd Cleave with some of his composite images. Credit: Manjimup-Bridgetown Times

Bridgetown artist Todd Cleave has been wowing people with his composite imagery, created by combining elements of local scenery.

The appeal of composite imagery for Todd is the ability to replicate his mental images using elements of nature surrounding him and utilising Photoshop to combine them into a single image.

“I’m a very visual person, I have these images in my head and I thought what if I take an element out of that photo and one out of this photo and combine it into one,” he said.

“I can make these non-existent places, but they exist in my head.”

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Todd has taught himself Photoshop with the assistance of online tutorials.

“I love doing it and now I’m just totally addicted to it, because there is no other way to describe an image in your head,” he said.

“Photography and composition takes up all my time now, I even get into trouble from my partner for spending too much time on it.”

Todd has been passionate about photography since childhood.

“I never got into it, because it was too expensive and back in the day you needed a darkroom and for me that was a little bit cumbersome,” he said.

“I was a traveller, to do all of that was a little bit difficult, but now everything is so portable.

“All you need is a computer and a camera and you can do it anywhere in the world and that’s what got me.”

All of the elements in Todd’s composite imagery are from photos he has taken.

“I like to travel around the South West and take photos of different elements or different subjects and combine them all into one,” he said.

“One of the most important things is they have to all be my images.”

Todd’s first artistic pursuit was the resin pieces he creates and sells as part of Pancake Designs.

“I got back into it here in Bridgetown eight or nine years ago and started creating this washed-up sea glass sort of style, which I really liked,” he said.

Todd’s inspiration to begin working with resin came from resin toilet bowls and he said that he began about 20 years ago while living in Broome.

He threw himself into working with resin and came up with his own method for making decorative bowls.

“This was before the internet so I didn’t know much about how to do moulds, so I used to just pour the resin into one wok and then push another wok into it and make a shape of a bowl that way, but I was very limited,” he said.

The common theme running through all of Todd’s work is nature, which he credits with providing the colours for his resin work and the elements for his digital work.

“All my composites and resin are the colours of my surroundings,” he said.

Todd’s resin work can be found at pancakedesigns.com.au.

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