Photographer in Residence: Diana Vucane

In theatre, the little things matter. You may not know it, but just think: the first, creaking step an actor takes on stage; the tiny pause before a character delivers their critical line like a spear to the spleen; the sumptuous thud of the heavy curtain as it comes down. It is a million small moments that hoist the spectacle in place, built up in imperceptible layers like greasepaint.

As a viewer, you are not there to sift through and separate those milliseconds, you’re there to see the details come together as a roaring, dramatic whole that sweeps you into the storyline. But Diana Vucane’s photography shows an intimate understanding of the scaffolding that props the scenery of our lives up, and so it should come as no surprise that she works in theatre production.

With a specialist’s eye, she’s able to settle on the most precious of diminutive details, the most evocative of daily commonplaces that make up the big city around us. Wrought iron railings, flower pots, rooftops, street lamps, menus in twilight. Snowflakes spinning like confetti. Colour-streaked petals like rainbows. Fat blue pigeons huddled on branches. We don’t set much store by pint glasses and lampposts, but what would the vast expanse of London be without the props?

Although, a word of caution on props. They are all very well in London, they are quite different when you rely on them in your personal life. But Diana, to her credit, has never needed a crutch. Born and raised in Latvia, Diana completed an undergraduate in Audiovisual Culture and then a masters in Theory of Culture in Riga, at the Latvian Academy of Culture, which included classes on filmmaking and photography. By the end of her education, everybody expected her to continue and get a PhD. But the thought came to her that if she didn’t go to study abroad now, she would never again have the chance. Leaving it up to fate and allowing for no second choices, she only applied to one programme: a masters at our illustrious RADA. And she got in.

“It really did throw me in the deep end”, she recalls, “I’d never done any of it before. It was fun, it was hard and a lot of it didn’t make sense to me. I don’t think I meant to stay after I finished, the environment is so challenging in London, but it’s the place to be if you want to do theatre.” Currently working as an assistant on several youth projects at Queens Theatre Hornchurch, Diana has delved into many aspects of the thespian world. Having been attached to a number of fringe ventures in various capacities, she’s assistant directed, acted, stage managed and even worked on a summer Shakespeare season for the English Repertory Theatre. If there’s one thing she knows, it’s that narrowing in on your interests is a nightmare. “That’s my mother’s voice in my head,” she laughs, “that, ‘do you know what you want?’ question. It would be nice to know what I want, because I do have anxieties about what I’m doing. Especially since I do so much; photography, writing, teaching, film, theatre… But at the same time, I do feel that picking one will be limiting myself.” Diana’s interests spill beyond the remit of the creative industries; she took singing lessons, speaks French, wanted to master Italian because of her love of their native cinema. Even her photography, which she began at a young age, became all-consuming during university when she converted her bathroom into a dark room. “It’s my solitary art,” she explains, “I don’t need anyone else, I don’t need any funding”.

It makes sense for someone with as many commitments and projects as Diana to wish occasionally for a breather. She agrees heartily, “that’s a new year’s resolution of mine! To just do nothing. Sometimes you need to switch off and allow yourself some space.” There is a lot to admire in her modus operandi, and so much to admire in her photography. Though we can learn something too. The smaller things in life give beauty to the bigger picture, so follow Diana’s footsteps and never stop adding to your story.

For more of Diana’s work, please visit her website. With special thanks to Togge, our partners for the photographic residency.

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