OCA Thames Valley Group : Meeting on 18th March 2017

Eleven of us met with Jayne Taylor, our presiding tutor.

We discussed progress on the Body of Work Project which began officially on 8th March and I’m pleased that we now have fourteen members who want to participate and a new, private, Facebook group, for relaying up-to-date information plus member discussions.  Potential venues need to be researched and Dawn is currently looking at one possibility for us. In any case, we want to exhibit in The Phoenix Centre as well – probably as a taster for a larger Exhibition and, at lunchtime, we members of the sub-group looked around the Centre at available space. Jayne is very interested in our plan and gave some helpful suggestions re potential sources of funding. She also suggested that if we decide, say, to go for September 2018 instead of August 2018, we might find other Exhibitions where we might be able to attach ourselves. Jayne also suggested Artquest as a very helpful site.

There’s promising news on the proposed OCA/UCA merger. A pity that we still won’t be able to borrow books but at least we’ll be able to access online journals etc. Monica mentioned that it is possible to borrow from Farnham UCA Library for a fee so I phoned their Library. I’m able to borrow up to six books, for two weeks, for a fee of £25 per year – much cheaper than buying books! I also checked the Degree Show dates which are from Thursday 8th June to Saturday 17th June.

Work presentation:

Nine members shared work and/or gave updates on progress:


Sue is creating a calendar for Gesture &Meaning Assignment 4 – iconic film posters referenced with Lego figures in scenarios created within the home.

Dawn is continuing to work with her camera alongside studying Graphic Design.  She showed us some photographic still-life experiments based around food (floating lobsters, oranges and bananas) and how disconnected we are from it nowadays as well as giving us some interesting facts that we might not know about food consumption in the World. What was interesting for me was the difference that taking a Fine Art approach towards food photography can make to the feel and message.

Gerry is studying Drawing Level 1 and has been experimenting with blue and ochre ink wash to represent sea and sand as a base for shells and other objects. He also has some ideas for drawing food, with a move away from a traditional approach

John – having completed his Degree work (and awaiting results from Assessment) is working in collaboration with another Level 3 student, where they respond to each other’s images,  and is producing many variations on flowers including collage and origami.

Richard showed us prints from his Level 2 Landscape series on Antartica and how the impact of tourism on the environment is being controlled. He has also been experimenting with printing maps on tracing paper as an overlay for images.

Holly is preparing Assignment 3 for Identity & Place and has settled on contemplative photography. One of someone reading includes silver stitching which enhanced the effect of him being in a place all his own.

Michael updated us on progress for Level 3 and his work on hidden history. Our discussion also touched on how shining the light on hidden history might be mirrored by a psychological journey.

Teresa is also preparing Assignment 3 for Identity & Place and building a series on reading. She talked about her efforts to make them complementary despite differing environmental lighting.

Monica has now changed from Context & Narrative Level 1 to Graphic Design Level 1. She showed us an exercise on visual communication and a game she devised that involves guessing the names of ten contemporary films from line drawings and signs alone

I didn’t present any work because I’d been concentrating on reading and exercises for the moment after a recent short stay in hospital suffering from the effects of biliary colic. In fact, I’d been feeling so low that I was in two minds whether to attend the group. I’m pleased I did though because it was so inspiring to observe the richness of forms that creativity can take. I decided I must get to grips with still-life photography so have booked myself on a day workshop on product photography, on the assumption that the methods might be the same even though the effect is different. I have experimented with printing on tracing paper in the past but have bought some more as I have an idea for some work with pressed poppies which will further my previous work on Assignment 1.





















OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting on 18th February 2017

We spent some time discussing the suggested tutor brief and all present agreed that it was a helpful document.  I particularly took on board the point about students needing to be clear what questions they have in mind regarding proposed work or a beginning idea, plus what, specifically, they would like to take away from the session.

I’m a member of the Body of Work Project sub-group.  We’ve now produced a project brief for all involved and we had a very productive discussion around this.  I’m seeing this Project as very much a learning experience for me as I have no experience whatsoever in either submitting work to or setting up an Exhibition. To be honest, the idea of doing so causes me to feel quite anxious but it will be a step by step process of learning and I know that it is something I need to experience as another step towards taking myself and my work seriously. It’s good that I’ll have the support of the group and those of us who do have considerable experience.

Work presentations took up the rest of the day. I had taken the printed Blurb version of the photobook created for Assignment 2 and asked for feedback re the sizing of the book. Feedback was very useful and positive, along with suggestions that I try some full-bleed images; either have the header on every page or not at all; check I maintain the sizing of borders and to be deliberate about what I do, e.g. including a header or not.


I had actually missed the variation in headers and think it best to have none at all. I’ll take account of all the feedback when I prepare the final version of the book

Whatever its shortcomings might be I enjoyed sharing the book and, as ever, seeing and discussing ongoing work from other members.

7. Response to tutor feedback on Assignment 2

My tutor’s overall comment was, An impressively research submission and great potential here to develop your ideas further in relation to the archive Catherine

 She recognised that the amount of research I undertook may have been due, in part, to my vision problems but continued

The research is of course very helpful (and yours is thorough and relevant) but as you move through the various assignments and exercises be mindful about keeping a balance between research (reading) and practice (making images)….. it is the final assignments themselves which will stand for all the past research carried out and you must ensure that you allow yourself enough time to play and to re-edit various projects

 Re the photobook and the letters …. The juxtaposition of two very different landscapes is one that I think you could develop further.

My tutor would like me to have a close look at the work of artist Sara Davidmann “Ken, to be Destroyed”.

In the book itself, Davidmann makes extensive use of two things, the handwriting included in the letters she is focusing on in this project and the envelopes that these come in too……….. I think it would be very helpful for you to have a look at the structure of this book and use what you learn from it to develop further ‘Letters Home’.

 You have a tendency to make juxtapositions and montages a little too complex. In your submitted assignment, the double page that works best for me is also one of the most simple.  On pages 26-27 you show a handwritten note jotted quickly on the back of a small photograph and on the right. On the left, you reproduce (to scale?) what is presumably the front of the photograph. This strategy – making visible what is normally invisible (I e Grace’s written intentions) is a simple yet powerful strategy (and one used by Davidmann in Ken, to be Destroyed and also in Gillian Wearing’s seminal ‘Signs’ series.

My tutor also suggested looking at the work of Tony Oursler and Susan Hillier if I am interested in further exploring the history of spiritualist photography.

Her pointer for the next assignment was:-

Concentrate on making rather than reading! Your research is very thorough and now you need to focus on the physical making of your work. You are clearly very connected with the archives theme.

My written feedback –  added to the Tutor Report

I have taken note of advice to keep an eye on the balance between research and practice.  Certainly, having the eye problem did make it more difficult to work with photography because I lost confidence in the clarity of my vision. There was a lot of reading suggested though for Part 2 of the Module but, of course, I added to it due to my choice of work for the Assignment. I’m pleased that at least my reading was relevant.

I have already played around quite a lot with layering, folding faces, linking past with more recent images in layers and/or composites – much more so than previously. I also experimented with handwriting on images but some ideas were discarded along the way. These were not only summarised in Exercise write-ups, but so far as Assignment 2 is concerned, there are composite/montage images on seven pages of the photobook, plus the front and back covers.

Wendy and I discussed the composite images – some work better than others and I’ll certainly aim to keep montages more simple. I will also repeat the strategy of revealing what’s normally invisible as in pages 26/27 of the photobook.  Regarding handwritten material; this was one of my concerns regarding how much of the letters to show’, how large and whether I got this right.  However, I do realise that I must put aside notions of  ‘what’s right’ and edit as seems appropriate towards the aims of my concept. The suggestion I look at Sara Davidmann’s work Ken to be Destroyed raised two aspects that I had wanted to touch upon in our discussion – my thoughts around revealing personal family information particularly when there are other family members to consider, plus ethics in general. I’ll return to this when I’ve read and reviewed the book.

Juxtaposition of landscapes was a thread through the photobook. I think that if I develop juxtaposition of two very different landscapes further this might turn into a different kind of project – less concerned with the messages in the letters and so not in line with themes around the way in which gender stereotypes are re-inforced from childhood (however lovingly).

Tony Oursler’s newer books are very expensive so I’ve ordered one of his early ones to gain a sense of how he views his work.  I have also looked at Susan Hiller’s work on the web and it’s familiar to me as I remember looking at it during Exercise 2.1, (although I referenced another photographer who had an AuraCam 6000 camera), where I posted a photograph of my own aura.

I have taken on board the strong advice to play around more with images; experiment with different sizes; cut and paste and produce several book maquettes.

Further thoughts as at 7th February 2016

Sarah Davidmann’s book has now arrived and I will be visiting the Exhibition. It also occurred to me that I might become less personally immersed –  and lost in memories – if I work with someone else’s letters to experiment with the book maquettes. I have now purchased a series of letters from eBay. It also completely slipped my mind, but one of my Christmas presents was a day workshop on 11th March at Shepherd’s bookbinders   and I’m looking forward to it – hoping as well that it might reduce some of my inhibitions about not being creative in a practical sense.

I have now received the draft book from Blurb and I’m quite pleased with it how it looks, plus reassured that the PDF I downloaded first does match the book. I will be taking it with me to the next OCA TV group for some feedback







6. Reflection on Assignment 2 related to Assessment Criteria

Demonstration of Technical & Visual Skills:

I’ve continued to experiment with layers and composites and also new approaches such as folding photographs and 3D sculptures such as here . In Assignment two I used different types of layering, also experimenting with the warp tool in Photoshop to turn handwriting into waves as this seemed to me a way of representing travel overseas and also waves of sand in the desert of Egypt.  I feel reasonably competent in Photoshop although do occasionally have to resort to re-reading chapters in manuals.

The Assignment required me to produce a digital photobook.  I have produced two Blurb books in the past but two years have passed since then.  It was a relief to find that I hadn’t forgotten how to use and adapt their templates for my own purposes.  To begin with I used a board to sequence small prints cut from contact sheets but then being able to manipulate sizes in Blurb software helped me with further alignment of images and relative sizes and make some further decisions on replacement images. I think that, in general, I made good choices on which images went well together.  I also sought feedback from student colleagues individually and within OCA Thames Valley group. Feeling at ease with Blurb meant that I also had more opportunity to think what was involved in the whole process of creating a book. I became aware that the idea of a physical book was still in my head so that I was concentrating on making sure that viewers could read the handwriting extracts whereas, of course, an image can be enlarged in a digital book. Book-making is one of the skills I wish to improve on both digitally and in print.

Quality of Outcome:

I feel confident and competent in expressing thoughts/ideas in writing and within my learning blog and often receive positive feedback on this. Most of my work so far on this Module has been in digital form, although I have printed small size images to present to Thames Valley Group. I usually enjoy printing my own work, despite printer frustrations, and don’t want to lose the skills I have gained. Digital manipulation is interesting, challenging and enjoyable but I continue to prefer the feel of prints – their materiality and tactility. As mentioned above, the brief for Assignment 2 was to produce a digital photobook but I have also ordered a printed book because I want to see how the images and layout look in print. The book has not yet arrived but when it does I will take it to OCA Thames Valley Group to ask for feedback and suggestions for improvements. My longer term aim is to create and print my own photo book.

A new aspect of this Module has been work with my personal archive. I have done this before but, this time, have had to get used to a larger volume of scanning, retouching and then re-working old photographs. Wherever possible I aim to retain the original monachrome tones. So far as the letters are concerned I have worked towards producing just large enough extracts to carry the message I wish to portray

Demonstration of Creativity:

As mentioned above (re technical and visual skills) I have continued to experiment with new approaches to working with photographs. The creation of the digital photobook for Assignment 2 also took me further into areas of more complicated editing and sequencing – how to balance facing images and make decisions on relative sizing for example.

Whilst planning for the Assignment I thought of new ways to combine images and utilise my learning during this Module.  Also, through the act of more intensive and systematic looking, I found themes new to me within the letters from the 1940s. I hope that this has enhanced my emerging personal voice and given me more clarity in what I want to express.


I’m very aware of my tendency to read and research too much admit that, this time, I got somewhat lost in reading about archives because I find it so interesting. My eye sight problem slowed me down as well and, strangely enough, seemed to affect my ability to summarise what I was reading. Thankfully, with better eyesight, I do now feel more focused and energetic., However, eyesight problems apart, I do think that Assignment two has benefited from being well-grounded in its emotional, familial and historical context so perhaps slower thinking enabled me to enter into the project at a deeper level.

5. Process of creating the Photo book

First stage

I had had the idea of this Project for quite a long time and started during Part One of the Module to scan more of the photographs I had from the 1940s to convert into jpegs. Original sizes varied from 2 ½ inch square, up to 5 ½ x 3 ½ inch so the scans enabled me to create a larger size at a good resolution to then allow for different crops.  I have to say, though that, to my eyes, a scanned photograph has a different quality from the original photograph. I could have processed them in all in the same tones for uniformity but decided to retain the original toning as much as possible.

I also did a few early experiments in layering in Part One which I took along to OCA Thames Valley group in June last year – having queries around leaving borders or not, merging or showing separation. Our attending tutor suggested layering actual photographs on top of each other then re-photographing, which I did subsequently in layering photographs etc onto newspapers/Picture Post magazines that I had purchased through the web via eBay and Historic Newspapers (pp 5, 7 , and 9 of photo book). I discovered that one of the issues about layering actual photographs on top of each other is having to resize them first to get the needed proportions, whereas it’s easier to do this by digital layering.  As part of some digital layered experiments I used photographs of sand and sandy ground which I had taken on Horsell Common plus photographs created when I placed a copy of one of the photographs into the sand.(front and back cover os photo book The project then took somewhat of a back seat in a practical sense whilst I concentrated on Assignment 1, although my mind was busy with memories and reflecting on the past. It was also during this period that I realised that my eyesight had deteriorated and I was informed I had a cataract that needed to be dealt with. This slowed me down considerably in general.

Second stage – October 2016

On the 16th I discussed the project in the work presentation session held during the Brighton Festival but was only able to show work so far on the my laptop. I described some of my inhibitions around using personal material but I was encouraged to continue working with something that was important to me. I referred here  to my comment to the tutor at the end that I needed to find a way to stop treating the original photographs as ‘sacred objects’. Later that month (28th) I had a very helpful Google hangout with my student colleague Stephanie, having emailed some images to her.


We talked about memories triggered by photographs which might even be memories I don’t have; the way sand linked photographs; using maps as a path for myself and elements that have a strong presence (such as the drawing of the camel – p. 17, photo book).

Third Stage – November 2016

I made some small prints of work so far as on these contact sheets

contactsheet-001-web contactsheet-002-web

which I took to Thames Valley group on 19th November (see here ) receiving some positive comments and suggestions for further work. With this encouragement I emailed my tutor on the 21st describing my idea for the Project, together with a proposal and outline of some visual ideas which  I wrote about here  and was pleased to get some positive feedback and aspects to think about such as how the images were linking together with particular themes of sand, space and water. The next day I was fortunate in being able to have a further discussion with fellow student John via Skype with further feedback on how the images seemed to be linking together to form a narrative, what seemed to be working and what not.

Fourth Stage – January 2017

I now needed to tackle the sequencing for the photo book so I chose  28 jpegs from extracts of letters, photographs and composites, and then created contact sheets, cutting out the small images to put on my board and play around with placement


second-selection-contactsheet-002 second-selection-contactsheet-001

I knew that using the Blurb book templates (which I now know how to adapt for further choice) would further assist me in terms of the sizing of the images and substitutions that might be needed.

Blurb Books website 

I have only created two Blurb books so far but have found their templates fairly easy to use, particularly now I know how to re-size them. My main issue is in the book sizes offered – understandable in considering their economy of scale but less conducive to individuality and creativity. A square book didn’t seem appropriate this time (I could be wrong though) so I chose a small landscape size. My preference would for a book the size of Robert Frank’s The Americans (2008) which is smaller at 8”x7 ½ “. Still Blurb is one of the best sites for creating photo books so far as I know and also has the advantage of providing PDFs at a low price which remain on their site for seven days and can also be downloaded. I used Blurb for exercise 2.3 to provide a PDF and for the Assignment 2 Submission, which I have written about here 

Using the templates did help me to decide which images to replace and re-size. Choosing the images for the covers was particularly difficult in having to choose between one composite with just my father and another with composites of Google images and composites of both Egypt and Calver.  In the end I decided that the photo book was about letters home so I needed the two places to link together on the front cover.  I have had comments about the strength of the Egypt composite but will wait for my tutor’s feedback to make a final decision.

Thoughts so far

I certainly feel a sense of completion of the draft stage and that I created a particular narrative whilst leaving room for the viewer to form their own perceptions. I’m clear with myself that the tile is an interim one until I have tutor feedback. However, I feel uncertain about the inclusion of the Milly-Molly-Mandy pages (18 and 18 photo book) even though they fit the theme and will discuss the covers further with my tutor.  I knew that I didn’t want to include the whole of the letters, just relevant extracts but I’m still unsure about the sizing and placement of these.

Having looked at the PDF I decided to purchase the cheapest book because I need to hold a book and see how the images look in print. With an online or PDF book it’s simple to enlarge everything so as to read text but less so with print and it’s important to me that viewers can read the words.


Postscript: Having re-read my final paragraph I realise that the point of the Assignment was to create an online photo book not a printed book so I need to keep this in mind.


Frank, R. and Kerouac, J. (2008) Robert Frank: The Americans. Gottingen: Steidl, Gerhard Druckerei und Verlag.


4. Background Research

Background Research

I have wanted to do something with my father’s letters and photographs from Egypt for a long time. Somehow, more than any other documents, they had become embedded within my psyche. Thinking about it now I’m sure this had something to do with the age I was and that the documents became a ‘transitional object’ for me – something tangible that I could look at, hold and talk about that represented him in his absence. Of course, they are precious to me and I soon became aware of some inner resistance to changing them in any way, even though I continued to experiment – particularly with different forms of layering in Photoshop and I wrote about this here . I decided that one way of dealing with this was to become more detached from the letters and photographs as memento mori by becoming a researcher in my own archive and, regarding it as an object of interest, refreshing my knowledge on that time period in Egypt and Sheffield.

In 2011 I had re-visited Derbyshire, including Calver. The fields were still there (albeit now divided by a new road from the pub from which we used to access them) but the huts and occasional caravans have been replaced solely by caravans which have their own electricity and running water in tandem with a toilet/shower and laundry block right by the river. Very different from paraffin stoves and lamps and trekking down to the pub toilet unless you had an Elsan toilet!


There was no-one on the site who remembered the 1940s times and I have been unable to find any written historical accounts of the practice of going into the countryside at the weekends and staying in huts. In 2012 I contacted Sheffield University Geography Department but they were unable to locate any information. I also talked with the one remaining family friend from the 1940s who also stayed in Calver.  She told me that she and her parents started going there during the war. Her parents,  looking for somewhere to stay for a holiday, found the site, which was called a camping site but huts rather than tents.

Raiders over Sheffield  (M. Watson & J.P. Lamb, 1980), compiled from official records, tells the story of the air raids of  12th and 15 December 1940 over Sheffield. Although the worst damage occurred before I was born I was always aware of the ever-present anxiety of further bombs and I do recall hearing air-raid sirens and being taken to a neighbour’s house. Sheffield at War (C. Hardy, 1987)(1987) is a pictorial account of the years 1939-45  that attempts to capture the atmosphere of war-time. Reading it reminded me of events my parents and nan talked of and also some of the damaged streets and housing I would see on bus journeys. I also obtained five original copies of Picture Post Magazine (read regularly in our house until it ceased publication) and two original newspapers. The Milly- Molly-Mandy books, a simple series told and drawn by Joyce Lankester Brisley, were written for little girls aged from about five to eight years old.  They were probably based in the late 1920s and about a little girl who lived in, probably, the south of England and experienced a much more rural life than industrial Sheffield. Even so they were amongst my favourite books at the time and she had similar kinds of adventures.  I have utilised two drawings from a more recent compilation book of these within my series.

I researched many websites but the most interesting and useful were  a section on the Sheffield Blitz here on the World War 2 Stories for Sheffield siteGrowing up in Sheffield during WW2 on the Imperial War Museum site and Service in the Suez Canal Zone, Egypt until 1956 with maps and photographs of the service zone. I also accessed a video British Forces In Egypt 1946 on the British Pathe site, created from film shots taken a time when British forces were leaving the Abbassia camp in Cairo and setting up temporarily at Fayid. The video is without sound unfortunately but towards the end it shows the bathing beach at Fayid, on the shores of the Great Bitter Lake, where I think my father must have been swimming. I looked for him of course!



Brisley, J.L.  (1997) More Milly-Molly-Mandy London, Kingfisher Publications Plc
Hardy, C (1987) Sheffield At War: A Pictorial Account 1939-45, Manchester, archival Publications Ltd
Watson, M & Lamb, J.P. (1980) Raiders over Sheffield, Sheffield, Sheffield City Libraries
Picture Post 8 (4) 27 July, 1940
Picture Post Vol. 14 (11) 14 March, 1942
Picture Post 13 (12) 20 December, 1941
Picture Post 26 (5) 3 February, 1945
The Yorkshire Post 4th December 1941
The Yorkshire Post 9th February 1945


3. Photographer Influences for the assignment

Photographer Influences

I’ve been absorbing the ideas, strategies and techniques of artist and photographs as I’ve been working through this Module and it’s been a slow process because sometimes I’ve been thinking how their approaches could be applied to my own work and trying these out as I did here  . Stephen Gill’s work varies in every series as he makes conceptual leaps, manipulates layers, photographs, layers and re-photographs as with Hackney Flowers .  His work is complex in its structure and I think I will need more inward reflection to enter into his frame of mind, so I keep returning to it. I wrote about Esther Teichmann and Helen Sear here . They layer images in different ways and both appeal. Painting and photograph; subject against background (Teichmann). Birds in front of face ; pixellation and erasure through layers to create ethereal/lacy effects (Sear). I did experiment with layering past and more recent images of locations when I started on the Assignment (see Assignment process) but decided not to continue with this as I haven’t had recent opportunity to return to the locations. However, I achieved the layering in different ways by layering different photographs and Google images over a photograph taken on Horsell Common, as I thought its sandy substance mirrored both the sand of Egypt and the sandy river bed of the river Derwent in Calver (front and back covers of the photo book . Overall the exercises in Part One of the Module gave me more confidence in creating the collages and composites – such as in pages 5, 7, 9 and 11 of the photo book.

I have previously referred to Album 31   the work of Sophy Rickett and Bettina von Zwehl in their response to the archive of Sir Benjamin Stone. The way they presented their response mirrored that of Stone’s original album and the in-framing appealed to me.  However, I decided that it didn’t suit my own concept for my photo-book as I wanted the images to be freer on the page.

Duane Michal’s work has long been an influence, with the attention given to the interplay of image and text, including his use of handwriting. There’s an interesting interview with him here and I have recently purchased the book Storyteller (L. Benedict-Jones et al 2014)  which is a retrospective of over seventy-five of his works. It’s a delight to read and look at and I notice that he uses a mix of cursive and block letters.  Is this even his own writing? Does it matter? I did experiment whilst completing exercise 2.3  – using my own writing (exporting to my iPad and writing over an image that way) and then a font of my handwriting which I acquired a while ago.  My handwriting can be very untidy but the font seemed to work better. Even so my writing isn’t as distinctive as that of Duane Michals which is perhaps, in any case, the charm of his work.


In the event, I decided I would certainly want to use this method in the future but adding my own handwriting didn’t seem suitable for Assignment 2 because I already had handwritten letters and photographs with inscriptions on the back that I could use.

The photographer Angela Kelly used images from her family album with maps, letters and other material  to ’reference issues of migration, home and the vernacular album’ in her work Sundays at Sea . Her situation had been similar to mine in having an absent father, a sailor, although his absence was his full-time employment. What came through to me, though, was her mention of the drifting apart because he had so often been absent. My father was virtually absent for two years – a long time in a child’s life –  yet his letters formed a bridge between us. A PDF of some of my notes on Kelly’s work is attached, including notes on a Photoparley Interview (5th June 2013)  where she provides a detailed analysis of her approach to her work.


I read this work at the time then it went out of my mind until I was reminded of it recently by a fellow student who remarked on the similarities with my developing work.  I had already begun to experiment with maps as part of the layering and it’s interesting how other artist’s work can lie in one’s subconscious to the extent that it’s difficult to remember where and how an idea was first sparked.  Looking at my notes again there are two aspects that leap out at me – ‘layers of different material  within an image need to be decoded ‘ and the use of frames, within a frame, within a frame – ‘framing can give importance”.  Regarding frames, was I making a wrong decision for my book?

Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood (2011)   is a general inspiration for me.  His book was the first one where I was aware how a real story could be re-constructed using found material – archive material and new photographs – a mix of genres utilized, de-constructing and re-constructing. This is what I’d like to be doing in the future and I know that this Assignment has been just one step along the way, plus I’m hoping that I might feel freer, less inhibited with less personal material.

Larry Sultan’s work has been an inspiration for a different reason. The book Here and Home (R. Morse et al, 2014) was published alongside an Exhibition of the same name organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The Exhibition was the first retrospective of Larry Sultan’s work and there is a long interview with him here. His work has a spontaneity about it that I can only aspire to at this stage. So far as the Assignment is concerned it was the series Pictures from Home (1983-92) that drew me of course and his introduction to it in the book. My interest in taking photographs began years after my parents died.  My father enjoyed using his camera and my mother and I were happy to pose for him, as were Sultan’s parents for him. I found it so refreshing that they trusted him enough to go along with whatever he wanted to do. Sultan writes about being in his parents’ home, they having gone to bed, and thinking about why he continues to take photographs of his parents. These words resound for me:

These are my parents. From that simple fact, everything follows.  I realize that beyond the rolls of film and the few good pictures, the demands of my project and my confusion about its meaning, is the wish to take photography literally.  To stop time. I want my parents to live forever. (Morse et al 2014:78)





Benedict-Jones, L., Ellenzweig, A., Gubar, M., Kozloff, M., Ryan, A., Schuman, A. and Art, C.M. of (2014b) Storyteller: The photographs of Duane Michals. Munich, Germany: Prestel.
Morse, R., Philips, S. and Gefter, P. (2014) Larry Sultan: Here and home. Munich, Germany: Prestel.Patterson, C. (2011) Redheaded Peckerwood. 2nd edn. London: Mack.