Cyanotype Process: Sun Prints

Two of my OCA student colleagues had recently uploaded Prussian blue solar prints to Instagram and I loved the deep blue colour so I decided to have a go myself using 4”x4” Sunprint paper.  Other companies make this type of paper as well so there’s plenty of choice on the internet. Technical descriptions of the process  completely miss the excitement of waiting for an exposure to be created – the timing, checking, slowly watching the blue paper turn white and then, after rinsing, see it all turn blue again and the image emerging more clearly (or not!) once the print has dried.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/222532387″>'''Twas on a Wednesday morning …..</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/cblearninglog”>Catherine Banks</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

My first experiment was to layer some leaves on the paper.

The look of it appealed to me but I thought the process could work better if items placed have clearer outlines so I decided to create a digital contact sheet of some pressed poppies I had photographed

 

There are two versions, the first exposure was pale and there was a leach of colour for some reason. During second exposure I had moved the negative slightly when I was checking it and there is a ‘double’ effect which I think is more interesting. I had bought some wooden cut-outs of butterflies so I tried those next and then decided to add to them so I layered some flower heads on top of the sun-print. By serendipity there were two tiny greenflies I hadn’t noticed when I re-photographed and these can be seen.

 

I had photographed my hotel bedroom whilst staying in Bath so decided to create digital contact negatives from the images and see how these turned out. A good result.

 

I uploaded jpegs of some of the prints to my Instagram account which, of course, meant I had to scan/re-photograph.  What was interesting was the difference between the scan and photograph as the photograph retained the slightly crumpled look of the original sun-print but the scan image was flat. You can see the differences above.  I also prepared a contact sheet as I wanted to print on some washi bamboo paper (which I thought would suit the colour of the sun prints) and then take to show members of OCA Thames Valley Group. The contact sheet also shows the differences as seen below.

 

What next? Well I have some ideas in relation to Assignment 2 and my dad’s letters and have already begun experimenting. I am also booked into a Cyanotype Workshop on the 2nd July down in Portsmouth with Russell Squires who is an OCA tutor and was also my tutor for Context & Narrative so it’ll be good to see him. In the meantime, below is a little more information on the cyanotype process.

The Cyanotype Process

This process was invented by Sir John Herschel in June 1842, for contact-printing photographic images on paper in Prussian Blue see here  .  Anna Atkins, considered to be the first female photographer , quickly used the process to create photograms of botanical specimens and, with her friend Anne Dixon, hand-printed several cyanotype albums. Coincidentally, as I began to write this blogpost, John sent me a link to an article about Anna Atkins  in the online Guardian  However, the cyanotype process only came into wider use after Herschel’s death in 1871 when a French company (Marion et Cie) marketed a cyanotype paper mainly for plan-copying and it was from this that the word blueprint came to be used.

You can prepare your own light-sensitive cyanotype paper by treating it first with a solution of potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium citrate or buy paper (or fabric) which has been pre-treated and then place natural objects or photographic negatives to contact print using some form of daylight – natural or artificial. When the treated paper is exposed in this way the light reacts with the solution on the paper and causes a pigment Prussian Blue to form. When the exposure is correct the paper is rinsed to wash the unreacted iron away, then, as the paper dries, the Prussian Blue colour is revealed. I should add that treated paper can now be in different colours – green, yellow, violet. Also the resulting prints can be dyed with liquid such as tea.

 

References

http://www.sunprints.org
http://www.luminous-lint.com/app/vexhibit/_PROCESS_Cyanotype_01/2/0/0
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jun/23/blooming-marvellous-the-worlds-first-female-photographer-and-her-botanical-beauties

 

 

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1. Spring on the Copse April 2017

 

 

 

Spring eventually arrived on the Copse after some very wet and muddy weather. I uploaded the above video slideshow, created on Photoshop, onto my Facebook feed – images taken with my Canon DSLR with ambient sound (from my iPhone) added.

Feedback was that the images needed to stay on the screen a little longer, so I extended the timing and, as I wasn’t sure about the black background, changed it to a white one which I think worked better.

 

Feedback on that related to the slightly different sizes of the images, so I re-worked those to produce Version 3

 

Towards the end of the month I created another one purely with my iPhone and recording the sounds I heard at the time which I processed in iMovie.

 

 

It was quite an eerie feeling, hearing the music.

There doesn’t seem to be much difference in quality between Phosohop and iMovie processing so far but I have now downloaded Adobe Premiere Pro so will be experimenting with that at some point.  I’ve been uploading processed videos to both YouTube and Vimeo and have decided that Vimeo has better quality.

 

 

 

 

Holga Images

OCA Thames Valley Group Body of Work Project is ongoing (I first referred to it here)  . The submission date isn’t until February 2018 but knowing my tendency to procrastinate until the last minute, I decided to start playing around with some ideas. I’ve used Holga lenses during previous Modules so decided to experiment to see whether I could achieve a timeless effect that evoked narrative.

 Now I’ve uploaded them I need to let the effect settle until I decide a possible route.

Bath Spa University Graduate Show : June 2017

I travelled to Bath for a meet-up with Anna and after a catch-up on progress on our individual OCA work, we went along to the Graduate Show of Bath School of Art and Design. A busy day as this was also an Open Day for prospective students. Oh to be young again with the world at my feet!

There was a huge variety of work to view, scattered over the site, and here’s a selection from those I found particularly interesting.

 

After talking with Susannah Lemon – a Three Dimensional Designer –  about the sculptural lamp she had created from an old bicycle chain, I was attracted towards a table of ‘artefacts’ and other objects  created by Joshua Roughly another student of Three Dimensional Design.

He focused on “…. The creation , curation and study of objects and spaces that tell stories through a conceptual narrative attachment”, and his Design Studio is named Sögumaður   –  the place where stories are made.  The table/display contained his project based on Cryptogeology “the pseudoscientific study of geological formations that feature physical, chemical or historical references that are able to prove or suggest the potential existence of creatures that have a disputed or unsubstantiated actuality”- creatures such as trolls, objects and structures – to be touched and viewed and wondered about.

 

Juan Fontcuberta’s name doesn’t seem to be mentioned but, to me,  Joshuas’s work seems in the same spirit and I enjoyed its whimsical and imaginative nature. He even has an Etsy shop where he sells textile taxidermy

Josephine Frayling

In her Traditional and Digital Paintings and sketches Josephine explores classical figurative painting from a contemporary stance including using symbolic imagery from nature. The use of colour and the direct gaze really drew me here and I could almost imagine her subject stepping out of the frame.

Elizabeth Horridge

The above is a detail from a very large ‘installation’ strung along a wide area. Elizabeth’s work relates to the body – the concept of ‘fat rolls’ and body image – including  sculptural installations(as this one)  using  various types of materials such as latex, chains, woods, butchers’ hooks and bin bags. This is a visceral project that certainly almost hit me in the eyes and made me walk closer to look. Elizabeth was also involved in a Facebook Project “The Postal Art Project” that involved responding to a second-hand postcard – the outcome to be a collaborative zine. Interesting description of her approach to it  here 

Maria Kay

 

Delicate drawings in a concertina book  from Maria who is a Contemporary Arts graduate, printmaker and bookbinding enthusiast who handwrites her blog posts.

Photographers

Some of the ones we looked at appeared in Source Graduate Photography Online  and it was from there that I was able to obtain links to websites.

Steve Edwards

 

Tempus Fugit a series of still life images, photographed in Dutch Vanitas style, “ ….illustrating the accelerating rate of the consumption of consumer goods and thus the associated resources”.  He also showed his series In Step – a study of discarded shoes.

The Tempus Fugit images were most professional and well-presented and the discarded shoes series has a quirky personality all their own. Steve’s comprehensive Professional Contexts 3 academic blog makes interesting reading as well.

Charlotte Elkins

 

I am becoming increasingly interested in alternative methods and so was drawn towards Charlotte’s delicate images conveying her fascination with water.  The images were produced through the use of photo etching which is something I know nothing about and my internet searches produced little information.

Aleksandra Kondracka

Aleksandra came to England from Poland at the age of eleven and the series Rodzinka focuses on ideas of identity and belonging following a period of reconnection with Poland and spending time with members of her family.  Her entry in Source Online focuses instead on landscape and the woodlands that enabled her to build a sense of place when she came to England.

Alena Nicholson

Alena comes from Chicago and the series I viewed explores how she became accustomed to living in Bath and came to terms with being homesick. She makes an interesting use of handwritten text on her display panels

Further Thoughts

It could have been because I interacted with them last but the photography work I saw, whilst interesting, didn’t impact me as much as the more three dimensional work I saw first. I was very aware of how ‘flat’ photographs can seem when viewed on a wall. Maybe this is why I find photo books so interesting because they are more tactile and am attracted towards the layering of images and alternatives methods. I felt relieved that Anna had a similar experience as she describes here

 References

http://artdesign.bathspa.ac.uk/news/degree-show-2017-save-the-date/
http://clockworkimaging.co.uk
http://www.clarekrige.co.uk/current-work
http://elizabethhorridge1.wixsite.com/artist
http://elizabethhorridge1.wixsite.com/artist/postal-art-project
https://www.etsy.com/shop/sogumadur
https://www.jonhardsdottir.com/portfolio
http://www.josephinefrayling.com
http://www.pinningdownclouds.com
http://www.pinningdownclouds.com/works.html
https://sogumadur.com
https://sogumadur.com/portfolio/cryptogeology/
https://www.thealenanicholson.com/about/

 

Sara Davidmann, “Ken. To be destroyed” (2016)

In her feedback for Assignment 2, my tutor recommended that I look at this book and, if possible, visit a pending Exhibition at the London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle. I have divided this blogpost into sections which follow the ways in which I approached and understood the work. I knew about the “Ken’ project already from reading a Photoparley blog in June last year . I have read other articles since but, originally, the Photoparley blog gave me the information I needed as to Sara Davidmann’s reasoning and motivations for revealing the story despite her mother’s instruction that the material should be destroyed.

Since 1999 Sara Davidmann has been involved in taking photographs, often over a number of years, in collaboration, with members of London’s ‘queer’ and transgender community and, since 2009, her work on ‘The Family’ has included her own family and family history. I see an early precursor of the  Ken project in her series of twelve photographs My Mother’s Notebooks   which were taken in the rooms where the notebooks were found – in fact Sara Davidmann refers to this in an illuminating 2013 interview with Jonathan Worth of phonar.org . There Davidmann talks of how she moved into photography from sculpture; her earlier work; what it means to her to work collaboratively and how the process developed for her as she attempted to redress the balance of power between photographer and subject. She also talks about the size of photographs for one series – 5’ in height to act like an ikon, for a transgender person to be seen as magnificent, and also much smaller 10”x8” so that the viewer has to step much closer and I saw this strategy used again when I visited the Exhibition subsequently.

The Book

Sara Davidmann worked with photographic historian and curator Val Williams to create the book and an accompanying exhibition and Williams wrote her own commentary on the archive (2016:24-30). Williams acknowledges and queries the gaps in the archive and why the papers were kept.The book is quite large (24cm x 32.5 cm in portrait aspect) and I quickly realised that it needed to be to contain the story and images that burst out from the pages. The front cover has a layered image – a woman’s figure in a 1950s dress, wearing gloves and holding a large handbag in front of her. All that can be seen of her head are her chin and bottom lip as the photograph has been cropped and laid against a larger image (looking to be of a similar scene) so that the top of a tree replaces her head.  For me, there are mixed messages in the title, reinforced by this front cover – Davidmann’s mother wanted the family to keep the secret she told them in 2005 and she later wrote the instruction to destroy the letters, yet she had kept them herself. Working through the book I also began to think that the title should perhaps have been “Hazel. To be destroyed” because, as the story unfolds therein, Hazel appears to be swamped by the energy and strength of Ken’s need to become a woman himself whilst keeping her as a wife; her own conflicting desires to end the marriage or to stay with him; and then Davidmann’s own urge to allow Ken to become ‘K’ by manipulating, de-constructing and re-constructing the photographs of Hazel.

The front cover opens onto marbled blue, rippled paper – a large detail of the inside of an envelope with ‘Ken’ handwritten thereon. I think that the structure of the contents with its thirteen different sections/chapters adds ‘punctuation’ to the narrative, allowing it to be revealed – mirroring a process of taking out the letters, unfolding and reading them. Following brief biographical details of the ‘players’ in this narrative and a wedding photograph Sara Davidmann introduces the story of the letters and photographs whilst clearly stating “They are a partial chronicle of the relationship between Ken and Hazel”.  (S. Davidmann 2016:09). We then turn to a 1953 photograph of Ken and his first letter introducing himself to Hazel. There are ten, numbered pages of this letter – covered with his handwriting and without side margins – full of information about himself, except for the information that overshadows their marriage.   A photograph of them at a ball, with Ken gazing intently at Hazel, is followed by a double page spread of a very enlarged extract from a typed letter (transcribed from a handwritten one written by Hazel in 1958 or 1959) containing the word “secret” (2016:16/17).

The story continues to be told through the letters, envelopes, cards written by Ken to Hazel and correspondence between Hazel and her sister, with her brother-in law becoming involved as well. As a reader I felt both pulled-in and repelled by the intensity of the letters and the enlarged details and repetition used by Davidmann – facsimiles of the letters (with some selected printed transcription towards the end of the book) and the detailed records which were maintained. Ken’s portrayed obsession with his progress was mirrored by Hazel and her sister and brother-in-law’s obsession with what was happening.

Sara Davidmann moved from re-photographing the photographs to physically engaging with their materiality, their marks and scratches as she examined them on her computer screen.

Looking at the enlarged photographs on screen reminded me of seeing things through the lens of a microscope – another way of looking, another way of seeing. These photographic details made me think about how we assume that what we see is all there is (2016:72)

She was particularly drawn to five photographs of Hazel from the 1950s and concluded that Ken probably wanted to be Hazel, to wear the clothes that she was wearing when he photographed her. Davidmann developed her examination of the photographs into experimenting with different ways of working with them – layering, painting, scratching and rubbing through. “I used collage and cut or tore and reconfigured the prints” (2016:72). She then wanted to visualise how Ken might have looked as a woman and did this by digitally combining photographs of him and Hazel., including a composite of the two of them together, both wearing Hazel’s wedding dress, to create ‘K’.

In addition to the work constructed around the archive; photographs were made of the stored archival material and here Davidman collaborated with photographer Graham Goldwater  .  These photographs are a counterpoint to the abandon of Davidmann’s  ‘Ken’ images earlier in the book. Piles of letters in envelopes, bound with string or yellow rubber bands are shown in almost forensic detail against a stark, white background 

The Exhibition Visit 7th March 2017

A teaser from the London College of Communication where the Exhibition was held during the Moose on the Loose Biennale of Research http://mooseontheloose.net   17th February to 26th March 2017. The Biennale was organised by the UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC)

This gives a very good idea of the scope of the Exhibition and how it was presented. The larger than life size images of ‘K’/Ken on the back wall appear to be holding court over a long table which holds several copies of the book for perusal, whilst smaller images of ‘K’ and the archival material are in attendance on the two side walls. A darkened side room holds photographs of letter pages, with a video loop.

The Archive

After looking at the Exhibition we went to the UAL Photography and the Archive Research Centre (PARC) to a Private View of the  Archive where we were greeted by Sara Davidmann and Val Williams.  I had been expecting to see the letters and other documents but this is an archive of the Project itself which has begun to be gathered together by Davidmann (who is still working with the material) and Williams.  Large scale annoted layout sheets for the book print were on the wall and we also saw some of the test prints from the Project and a handmade dummy book. We talked with typographer Alexander Cooper who has responded graphically to the Project in the form of a letterpress hand-bound book and I was also able to talk with Sara Davidmann who reassured me that the archival material is safely stored elsewhere.  We also talked about the nature of family archives and what happens to them and, after myself acquiring old photographs and letters through eBay,  I shared my own anxiety as to what will happen to my own archive of family photographs and letters in the future.

A Google Hangout

Subsequently I joined in a Google Hangout with three fellow students (Anna, Stephanie and John) where we discussed our individual responses based on looking at the book and/or attending the Exhibition. We touched on aspects such as how meeting the artist might affect attitudes toward the art; the physicality of an actual book; book layout and flow; photograph as object; the effect of an Exhibition and how/where it is presented and role/influence of a curator.

Some Conclusions

I am aware that I have spent a lot of time thinking about this Project; perhaps too much time; but it has had such a large impact on me, including a realisation of the amount of work, thinking and research that goes into a Project such as this.

The book had the greatest effect on me due to the richness of the content and context and I am very interested in the way in which Sara Davidmann controls the ebb and flow of the effect of her artistic process. She thought that this archival material was important, both as an illustration of family secrets and how they can inhabit the lives of family members but also as a means to both draw attention to the way in which being transgender  was dealt with in the 1950s and to raise awareness in the present day. In his Despotic post on the Project Lewis Bush points towards an aspect of an archive which holds a story of injustice or personal loss where someone working with it might feel the temptation to, ‘try and heal the wrongs of the past, if only by the act of allowing them to be witnessed and remembered by the present’, and he refers to Jules Michelet’s observation of the process being like raising from the sepulchre ‘as in the dance of death’. Bush links this with Derrida’s view of the archive as being a product of Freud’s death drive.

Whilst being clear that this is an incomplete archive and acknowledging her own artistic engagement, intervention and re-interpretation, Davidmann raises awareness whilst also telling the story of a relationship – well several relationships – a woman with her family; a woman with a man and vice versa and a man with himself.  It got me to thinking about how we choose partners – looking for an ideal other; someone just like us or someone who complements our gaps and inadequacies.  Ken’s need to reach out leaps from the pages of his letters, themselves contained within the pages of the book.  I imagine he was searching for his ideal self, a feminine alter ego; someone he wanted to be. I thought back to those sentences of Hazel, written in one of her letters to her sister, having encouraged Ken to  to be ‘the woman’ whenever he felt it necessary,  ‘E’ knew I was beginning to resent this woman who was taking my husband and was also taking my place as mistress of my own home……..I have noticed even as the man he has been jealous of me as a woman’ (2016: 53).  With her own work Davidmann gives Ken what he wanted – to become ‘K’ and, in doing so, figuratively obliterates Hazel as a person.

As mentioned above I felt sometime repelled by the intensity of the images, letters and story, as conveyed by Davidmann,, and I was relieved to read, Val Williams words, ‘Hazel becomes both appalling and powerless – serene and magnificent in her female-ness yet maimed and violated by an avalanche of chemicals’. (2016:27) as I had been concerned that I was over-reacting.  Having thought long and hard about my reaction I think there was a complicated psychological process going on for me on several levels. I was drawn into imagining what it must be like for Ken to believe and feel he was a woman whilst being within a man’s body and an identification with Hazel in realizing that not only were her expectations of a ‘husband’ not being met but that her status as a ‘wife’ and identity as a woman were under threat. Somehow or other, so far as we know, this tortuous process was resolved in that they stayed together.  [1]

 

References

Davidmann, S & Willliams, V  ( 2016  ) Ken. To be destroyed London, Schilt Publishing
http://mooseontheloose.net
https://phonar.org
https://photoparley.wordpress.com/2016/06/20/sara-davidmann/
http://saradavidmann.com/index.html
http://www.arts.ac.uk/lcc/people/technical-staff/graham-goldwater/
http://www.disphotic.com/ken-to-be-destroyed-by-sara-davidmann/
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/love-story-jan-morris-divorce-the-death-of-a-child-and-a-sex-change-but-still-together-839602.html
http://www.photographyresearchcentre.co.uk/what-we-do/moose-2017/the-ken-project-archive

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[1] . I am reminded here of the story of James Morris http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/love-story-jan-morris-divorce-the-death-of-a-child-and-a-sex-change-but-still-together-839602.html who remained living with the mother of his children after becoming Jan Morris in 1972, despite having to go through an amicable divorce for legal reasons and then, in 2008,  being able to re-marry in a civil ceremony.

 

OCA Thames Valley Group Meeting on 22nd April 2017

Talk by Photographer David George

 

NB (This post is an extended version of  one I created to be placed on the OCASA website)

15 of us (including two new members Jonathan and Alan) travelled to the Phoenix Art Centre, Bordon to listen to photographer David George talk about photography and collaborative practice. The talk was arranged for us by OCA graduate and TV Group member John Umney.

David has been a photographer for 40 years now and gained an MA at Sir John Cass Metropolitan University in 2009.  At that point David joined with two of his fellow students Spencer Rowell and Fiona Yaron-Field to found Uncertain States   an artist-led project that publishes a free quarterly broadsheet newspaper; holds monthly talks focussing on contemporary photography and organises/curates an annual exhibition.

Morning Session

David told us that he thinks that photography is going through an exciting time at present being freed-up to do other things now that we all have cameras.  Just as the invention of photography expanded painting into other areas of creative art (such as Impressionism) so photography, in an age where we all have cameras, can now focus on other aspects of life, such as our inner worlds. David uses landscape photography as metaphor and is very interested in the qualities of light, particularly at night and in the early morning. He enjoys working with square format, as he ‘sees’ square and I can understand this point of view because I usually prefer working with landscape as opposed to portrait format yet have noticed recently how often I use square format on my iPhone camera.

In his own work David has taken a contemporary approach to notions such as the ‘Uncanny’, the Sublime, the Pastoral  and Romanticism.  He is firmly of the view that, when editing work, one should always start with a title and then exclude any image that doesn’t fit that.  Work should also be given context otherwise you’re taking pictures. He talked us through several of his projects:-

Enclosures, Badlands and Borders  (2009) looked at the Sublime and what terrifies us now in a western post-industrial landscape.

Gingerbread House Series (2010) examined the idea of the Uncanny in the 21st Century by looking at familiar structures such as pumping stations, lodges and portaloos that are rendered somehow unfamiliar when viewed in a different way.

Shadows of Doubt (2011) captured looming buildings in haunting light evoking Alfred Hitchcok’s East End childhood. Not recreating scenes or film sets but photographing landscapes that would have been familiar to Hitchcock.

Backwater (2012) was an attempt to discover whether the Pastoral ideal can be found the present-day British countryside, or whether the traditional distinctions between the urban and the rural can no longer be found.  David’s contextual statement  reminds us of the link between the Pastoral, with its contrast between the countryside and the urban, and, subsequently, Romanticism.  He asks whether the pastoral ideal only existed for a certain strata of society, i.e. ‘the landed gentry’, and suggests, “…. perhaps if we view the English pastoral with some sense of irony, it may become more relevant to a contemporary society and seem slightly less unjust to a historical one”. These night landscapes, created over the summer of 2012, all contain some element of water reflecting that this particular summer was the wettest on record at the time. This series, with its mainly golden-brown tones, does present a still almost painted effect which is more often lit by the electric lights in the distance than the moon.

Albedo (2013) With this series, David moved on to reflect upon the differences between romanticism and the New Topographic School with its arm length view of landscape.  He finds romanticism in the man altered landscape with the use of infra-red film, whilst also questioning the notion of ‘landscape’ as being a wild and unaltered space as he explores 120 plus quarries that run over a 20km stretch of the River Wear, no longer in use, with nature drawing them back into the land.

Hackney by Night (2015) Part of a larger series created between November 2014 and July 2015 for the book Hackney by Night (2015) which deals with the notion of the “Broken Pastoral” by looking at the cultural response to the impact on the English landscape of  industrialisation and technological advances during the past fifty years.

Nine Square Kilometres (2017)  is a new series, not currently on his website, that looks at historical Peckham and will be exhibited during Peckham 24 –  a short photography festival taking place over a 24 hour (19th/20th May) period during Photo London week . The Exhibition Elsewhere has been curated by four artists from Uncertain States , including David George.

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The morning session ended with a Q&A Session where David elaborated more on his approach to editing and again stressed the importance to him of contextual research, whilst emphasising that he wants people to look at his images first and then read the text at which point they go back and look at the photographs. His overall aim is to get people to think more about the world they inhabit. He is a fan of Instagram which he thinks is a good way to get your work out there and he only uses his iPhone for this.  I was pleased to hear that as only the day before I had joined Instagram here  and was already appreciating the opportunity to be more spontaneous.

Afternoon Session

To begin with David talked more about Uncertain States and how their quarterly broadsheet came about through an Exhibition. The artists who appear in the broadsheet contribute to printing on an equal basis as it supports and develops lens-based art practices that share the same approach whilst retaining individual choices of subject, visual language and forms of expression.

He then went on to give some advice about Exhibitions – planning, preparation and presentation and I attach some PDF notes.

David George’s advice re Exhibitions

The advice was most helpful given that Thames Valley Group are currently planning for our own Exhibition in 2018 but I have my own proviso that we are mainly fledgling exhibitors who are likely to start small, whereas Uncertain States are now well-practised in putting on large Exhibitions.

We then had just sufficient time for two of TV Group members to present some work and utilise the projector that Richard Down (TV group member and venue liaison) had kindly brought along for the day. Sarah-Jane shared images of her children taken during a stay in Ferentillo, Italy, where her mother has a home, so Sarah-Jane is collecting photographs of her children as they visit and grow over the years. This village not only has two great castles but also holds mummified remains in its church of Santo Stefano . For Sarah-Jane, this phenomenon links with photography and the way it fixes images in time/freezes a moment. We had a beginning discussion around the sequencing of images and her notion of transitional space between them. How does one ‘free’ images to create their own space, introduce randomness.

Johnathan, one of our new members, presented some of his Instagram images which he had used towards an Assignment around a crime scene in his Module “Expressing Your Vision”. David George made an interesting comment along the lines of “… once you put a person in the landscape the whole thing becomes about that person”,  and I immediately thought of the work of Elina Brotherus, as in her series here . David also commented about the use of hashtags as in Instagram and how this can add to ways in which an image is read.

Conclusions

Another interesting day which gave an excellent insight into the way a professional photographer approaches photography as a discipline. What came through to me was the way in which David George contemplates both the effects and consequences of the rise and decline of manufacturing and industry at a time when the UK has become more of a ‘Service” Economy. His approach is more scholarly and considered than political I think, in the sense that he presents us with what he sees by utilising approaches such as night photography, long exposures and infra-red that add the element of stillness/caught in motion to fix the image in front of one’s eyes. I admire the way in which he collaborates so effectively with other lens-based artists whilst retaining his own approach and vision. Uncertain States have a YouTube Channel here which includes two 2009 interviews with David and  there is also an audio interview here from November 2016

I’ve been musing on ways I can incorporate my own insights from the day in my own work. I have used infra-red photography in the past but the aspect that bothered me was the way it, somehow, makes everything so similar as, unlike, black and white photography it seems to remove shape, form and structure from an image giving more of a sense of drifting in the landscape in some indeterminate space. I have recently returned to experimenting with a Holga lens which puts back colour into the world for me yet still retains a dreamier aspect. I’m attracted also to long exposures but will have to think around that because it’s better-suited to night time perhaps which is not my preferred time of day for going out and about.

David George’s emphasis on the importance of context led me to think again on text and image – how much images might rely on textual reference to be understood and ways to traverse those boundaries between photograph as narrative and photograph as illustration. When I started with Instagram I omitted captions but viewers sometimes asked questions about images and so I’ve now begun to use hashtags.

 

 

References

https://www.artrabbit.com/events/elsewhere
http://www.davidgeorge.eu
http://www.davidgeorge.eu/Statements/Backwater.html
http://www.elinabrotherus.com/photography/#/12-ans-apres/
https://www.instagram.com/cbankssurrey/
http://www.italymagazine.com/news/mummies-ferentillo
https://www.mixcloud.com/Resonance/there-then-hear-now-4th-november-2016/
http://www.uncertainstates.com

 

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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:

Discussion:-

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.