Conversations: Karl Dmitri Bishop

“My grandson is a Devil worshipper,” said my grandma upon seeing my work for the first time.

Artists, Interviews
November 22, 2013
by Karl Dmitri Bishop
Karl Dmitri Bishop, ∆nsuz
Karl Dmitri Bishop, ∆nsuz

It wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked if I’m involved in a dark cult. Once, a priest thought I was sending out a hidden ‘occult’ message, and so was banned from the church. I don’t cast magic spells or fly around on a broomstick to do my local grocery shop:my art is simply about reconnecting with nature. After all, if it wasn’t for nature we wouldn’t be here at all.

I first fell in love with photography when I stumbled across my parents’ vinyl cupboard. I would flick through the glossy images and dream up stories. I started to collect images from magazines, books and old photos and stick them all over my wall whilst listening to my mother sing Kate Bush around the house. I still remember those haunting lyrics: “It’s in the Tree’s, It’s coming!”Funny how music you never appreciate as a kid ends up being something very influential to you as you grow older. The quiet and isolation of my surroundings soon increased my fascination with creating things, learning stories of occult magic, foreign cultures and traditions; old films and taking midnight strolls through the woods.

Captivated by strange and wonderful imagery, I taught myself about the masters of Photography. I became more focused onthe ‘story’ of the image, rather than the technique of capturing it. From Hindu philosophy to European mythology, the more I got lost in any subject that engaged me my conciseness changed. I realised we live in a highly mechanical age and have forgotten our sense of belonging. I wanted to send my audience back to a time when our ancestors were shrouded by mystery.

Now, I would say that I collaborate with nature and the phenomena of its material world to bring back that element of our forgotten roots. I like to create a scene of timelessness through the overarching theme of nature, both in dark and light. I love photography from the 1800’s to early 1900’s. The Victorians were fascinated by spiritualism, and tried to capture this through art. These days it’s about sex appeal and money: where’s the mystery gone?

I’m always finding new obsessions, like Bollywood. There is a dreamy surreal beauty in Bollywood that really getsmy creativity flowing. All those fabrics and colours floating around the screen have a definite connection with my work. Maybe I’m attracted to India’s elaborate movie industry because I find it in touch still with its roots and core beliefs, and manages to portray this through its practice.

In my free time I like to take my camera for a dusk walk around Wandlebury Ring in Cambridge. Thanks to a random meeting with a local historian, I found out recently that Wandlebury in fact sits on a ley line, and is an old Pagan site turned Roman fort. It’s funny how I was attracted to the place’s Pagan roots without even knowing it. It just goes to show that history is all around us, we just lose touch with it. I don’t necessarily believe in everything I read, but the important thing is that our ancestry believed in it. If it wasn’t for our ancestry, we wouldn’t be who we are today. That’s what is important, and that’s the message I’m trying to send out. I dream about the past and all it’s mystery. Through my photography, I want the audience to dream with me. Maybe I do live ’between worlds,’ only to emerge between dusk and dawn, but at least I haven’t lost touch with our past ‘magical’ selves.