I have come to the end of the module Identity and Place and I have finished reviewing the assignments that I did over the eighteen months of studying. I admit that I have not been the most studious of students, I haven’t reading lots of books or written lots of blog posts about my findings and that is despite my best intentions to do so. However I have visited more exhibitions than ever and started going to the meetings of the OCA South West group where it was possible to meet and interact with other students as well as take part in a couple of workshops. I have seen paintings and drawings as well as photographs and sculptures. I went to see David Hockney at Tate Britain, Wolfgang Tillmans at Tate Modern and Grayson Perry at Arnolfini in Bristol as well as an exhibition at Torre Abbey in Torquay. I visited the Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A which was music orientated but also covered the artwork for their albums, something that I had always been interested to know how they did it. It was a revelation to find out that the photograph of two men shaking hands with one of them on fire was actually done while the man burned. No photoshop involved there!
The assignments were challenging and thought provoking, although I probably found the first one the worst to do in terms of being comfortable approaching strangers. The resulting photographs are not the most inspiring but it was a way to get started. The other assignments were building on that and about the relationships between people and their surroundings. The submissions to my tutor were most definitely starting points and I made the decision to leave making any amendments or changes to them in response to tutor feedback until I had completely finished the module. I believe that this was the right choice for me as I had time and experiences that helped me to see the submissions more clearly. Whether it was reading Grayson Perry’s book Playing to the Gallery: Helping Contemporary Art in Its Struggle to Be Understood (2016, Penguin Books) in which he talks about how we can start to appreciate art, separate the good from the bad and form opinions. Or watching a programme on David Hockney, or seeing abstract images in paint or formed on light sensitive paper. All these things inform life and my approach to the assignments. I can always see how I could do better and actually any assignment is never truly completed, it is just as good as it can be at that moment.
I have done some travels in other countries during this time, in Europe and the UK plus the States and over to Australia. If ever there is a time that I think about identity it is when I am away from home. Europe strikes me with its Catholic heritage that is so apparent wherever you go. The USA is another place that feels like it should be easy to navigate because we speak the same language but it isn’t and I often felt out of step with the place we visited. But it was the trip to Australia that made me think most about identity and place. I stopped off in Singapore and Hong Kong , each one for a couple of days. I was on my own and knew no-one. Before I left, I began to think I was mad even considering going there but I am glad that I did as I had to stand on my own two feet, get by in communicating and get myself around the area. I decided that I am ok on my own, I am not religious but there is something in the Chinese temples and worship that seems spiritual and I absolutely do not like crowds! In effect, wherever I am is just a place and who I think I am is more important. What I am is independent and strong.
The last two assignments were very much based in this idea of people and the places that tie us together. Other people help to define us and how we are with them, whether family or friends or acquaintances because we also measure ourselves by their reactions. In Hong Kong I was just another white female tourist, and that was ok with me. In Australia I was a sister and a friend. In Europe I was not religious. Overall I am me, and I live here for now. I am here now and then I will be gone. That is identity and place.
I think this is a good place to finish and I am ready to take what I have done to develop it further. It has been good to get out of the straight way of looking at and presenting photography. It is time to take that a little bit further and try more new ideas.