Sitting in his car during a lunch stop, Malcolm Halsall was more interested in eating than art.
But as he glanced in the wing mirror, he put down his food, grabbed his camera and clicked away.
He recalls: ‘I saw some Cub Scouts climbing a stile behind me, so I took a picture of them framed in the wing mirror. That was about four years ago and I’ve been fascinated by mirrors ever since.’
Malcolm adds: ‘My work’s progressed a lot from there. I found a round motorbike mirror to use, then I discovered a long strip mirror in a skip.
‘I nailed that to a broom handle and have since used it a lot in my pictures.
‘I’ve also made a set of three mirrors and have been to different locations, mainly seafronts and the countryside, sticking them in the ground.’
Malcolm says he’s fascinated by reflections and using them to create thought-provoking images.
The 42-year-old, who lives in Gosport, says: ‘I grew up in the land-locked Midlands, so these days I have a love affair with the sea, It features in a lot of my work.
‘The mirrors reflect what is already there in the everyday environment, but at the same time create a new environment. I liken it to a jigsaw where you take out a piece and put it somewhere different.
‘It’s about having a willingness to engage with what you see and what you perceive as a new truth of sorts, as if it has always been there.’
He adds: ‘It’s a project that always leads to something else and that’s why I’ve given it a working title of Reflections Without End. It is constantly evolving, changing and progressing into something new, keeping it fresh and alive.’
Malcolm originally came to this area to do a fine art degree at the University of Portsmouth. He started out as a self-taught artist using many different media, ranging from pencil and oil pastels to paints.
He worked as a gardener and then retrained as a teacher, but was made redundant last year. Now he spends much of his time looking for new locations for his unusual photography.
One of Malcolm’s favourite spots is the beach at Lee-on-the-Solent, while he has also found inspiration in the streetscapes of Portsmouth, London and in churches and cathedrals.
He says: ‘I’m not religious in any way, but I love the architecture. And I do a lot of walking around places such as Portsmouth, which has a real mix of architectural styles.’
Next on his list is to make a mirrored mannequin that he can then include in his pictures.
Despite being dyslexic, Malcolm is also busy writing a fictional story based on monks at historic Ranton Abbey in Staffordshire, close to where he grew up.
So far he has written 70,000 words and, perhaps not surprisingly, the story involves some mysterious mirrors. He has already had some interest from a publisher.
He explains: ‘The story ideas have been bouncing around in my head for the past few years.
‘In the 16th century there were people known as Scyers or Mirror Holders, such as John Dee and Edward Kelley, who claim to have had visions or predictions of the future through using mirrors.
‘Nostradamus, who predicted many future events, also used reflections, in his case those in water.’
Malcolm adds: ‘With the dramatic change in my personal circumstances, I find I have a lot of free time to actually develop the story.
‘Rather than just writing about ideas, I have actually started to write the book.
‘It’s proved to be a whole new experience to me, battling against my dyslexia.’
But although the book is taking up much of his time, the mirror photography continues.
He has successfully exhibited his work and sold several pieces. But he’s most excited about what happened when he donated two images on canvas to an auction held in aid of the Caudwell Children charity that provides specialist equipment, treatment and therapies for sick and disabled children and those with special needs.
Malcolm says: ‘They held an auction at the Butterfly Ball in London and I’m told there was a room full of celebrities and people like Elton John were viewing my work. It was great for exposure, but I don’t know who ended up buying them.’
An exhibition of Malcolm’s photographs is at the Gosport Discovery Centre until the end of March. Then it moves to Lucino’s cafe in Gosport for April.
He is also going to be doing some mirror photography at the Kings Theatre in Southsea in the autumn and then putting the pictures on display there.
For more information, go to malcsmirrors.co.uk