Assignment 5 Final Version December 2018

I have finally finished the last amendments to this assignment.  Time has been productive for me I think with this one and I have taken on board the comments made by my tutor concerning the aesthetic of the digital threads.  When I submitted the original idea, I had gone as far as I could with it without ‘finishing’ the full idea.  I had got to the point that I was fiddling around the edges while being blinded to the changes that needed to be made, both in the minor tweaks of the images and in the final presentation of the images together.

I was happy with the images as they were and although a bit rough and ready in my manipulations in PhotoShop, I did not want to start all over again from the beginning.  I have removed the digital threads as suggested by my tutor and by doing so, and leaving them a little while, I can see that the images appear cleaner and more straightforward. The threads that are the metaphorical ties between heaven and earth are now physical threads that I have sewn onto the printed images.  There is no particular theme on the colour, it is more what I had available.  I did feel that it was important to retain the original idea of tying the people to the bench and the flowers so that they make up a whole unit, with each person being bound loosely by the threads.  Each one is slightly different.

I have changed the titles so there is a more poetic flow to them.  They are various lines from songs that seem to fit the idea of the assignment.  The original assignment had scans of dried flower heads with the titles on them, and these were sewn into the interleaving pages of the scrapbook that held the whole project.  This was clumsy and actually was too cluttered with threads everywhere and small pieces of transparent paper printed and sewn.  I have changed this so that each photograph with its threads is mounted onto paper card, as they would be in a scrapbook so keeping the original idea, and a page of semi-transparent tracing paper with a small photo of a flower plus printed title is before each one.  I have had them bound together with a spiral binding and plain front and back covers, therefore keeping the scrapbook idea but now it is cleaner, smarter and flows better as the threads are all contained rather than running from page to page. The small photo is black and white which I chose to contrast against the colour of the sewn images and make it clean and simple in presentation.  The overall theme is black – background, mounts, spiral binding, writing and small photograph and therefore it creates a symmetry in the final book.  The iris has the symbolism that earthly life is transitory and fragile.  Maybe this is also what my tutor wanted me to think about when he suggested looking at the notion of vanitas paintings, although this is not strictly what this means.  My main concern is the notion that we define ourselves through relationships with others, particularly family, and we want to retain those links with them when they have gone on to a different world.  We can achieve it through memory alone or a physical place or thing to focus the memory.  My adding photographs of people that have links to my own family and past is my way of humanising the names that I do not know.

Overall, I am much happier with my final presentation of my idea and by refining the threads, I believe it is a stronger version of the original idea of life and death, love and loss and connecting ourselves to who we are through a physical place.

Here is a PDF of the finished book:  K.Allen_402872_PH4IAP_A5

A few close-ups of the sewing on the images:

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Assignment 4 Revisited November 2018

The feedback for this assignment had been the most positive of all the assignments so far, and I did not want to change too much for this one.  I had presented close up crops from the overall board rather than individual prints and this was the weaker version of the finished product:

My preference would be for you to produce individual collages incorporating the techniques you have utilised so the end result is that you have, and present to the audience, 8 separate unique prints. This would express the tactility of the work and your hands-on approach.

I had in fact taken shots as I worked through the montage stages so I had a record of it, but they were not very good quality.  I decided to re-do this part of the assignment to allow me to show the build-up of the board as if it was one that someone made over time.  It is something that would be made by a teenager perhaps.  The photographs were the same as the original set-up but I used smaller sized prints of them and treated them slightly differently so that there was a more uniform effect.  They were torn and creased, and looked used as old prints can be.

The next step to reworking the assignment was to look at the threads and other amendments that could improve the overall look.

This would also allow you to push the idea of the thread further, entwining it deeper into your photographs as you have with, The Sea 4. I really like the way that you have used the thread to work with the image, wrapping around the handrail, twisted wood on the beach and the woman. I feel that I would like to see more of this process, working with your other photographs, weaving in and out of the objects/seascapes, providing a link between each location and story.

In this version, I added some more words in addition to the hand written white scraps of photo paper that I wrote on.  I had some wooden letters that I had bought in the run up to this assignment with the vague idea that I could use them somewhere in it.  I dug them out and stuck them on the bottom corner as a way of putting a title to the work but still in a hand-made kind of way rather than as a well presented, more professional approach.  My thinking was to have something that feels personal and ‘home made’, something that someone would have as a memo of times gone by, places been and things done.


In response to the comment about the thread, the original fine white thread surrounding the woman and beaches is still there.  It was imported along with the photos from the original as the intention was to bind her to the places that meant something to her, and anchored them on the map.  Once I had completed building the map up, I used dress maker pins to create anchor points and then wound thread around them to create a loop that bound the words and pictures to the map, in a way that made them all part of the bigger whole.  A kind of ‘this is me and where I come from’ moment..

On reflection, changing some of the elements rather than the whole thing has made it stronger visually, especially in using the thread to connect all the pieces together.  The combination of photographs that have been made to look used and re-used works well and the colour themes overall are warmer, even with the dark background.  It now looks ‘complete’ rather than needing a finishing point.  I am pleased with the reworking of the original idea.  I am also binding them into a book so that there is an easy way of navigating through the stages and an ability to examine the images closer to see where the changes have been made, added and amended.  I can see from this how the idea develops during Assignment 5 when I took it further by layering photographs in Photoshop and reused the theme of love and loss.

Assignment 2 Redone November 18

I took the following from the feedback about the assignment and thought about it again:

I think that the end series falls short of a really interesting set of images that would engage an objective audience but I have a feeling that you are aware of this. I think that you could have better critically appraised your work and offered a more in-depth reflective text.

The images that you have submitted feel more like a document of Barney. The photographs show us the surface. They are unemotional and it’s difficult for the viewer to try and engage at a deeper level with the subject.

For the original submission, I tried a lot of different scenarios of trying to capture the essence of Barney, from him playing guitar to being outside just sitting and then again in a studio set up using continuous lighting.  While I had a lot of images to work with, none of them really had what I was trying to capture.  He felt that the set I had submitted were ‘unemotional’ and presented an ‘on the surface’ picture of Barney which was not what I had intended, but I could see his point.  Portrait sittings and directing people are not my strong point, and I think that this came across.  As I said originally, I was thinking of a montage type thing where I could make a new image out of several, as in David Hockney’s polaroid collections.  Out of the sittings, the ones that worked best were the ones done outside using natural light.  I was thinking of the dark and the light side of who we are, but failed to adequately bring that element into the assignment.  Barney is my older son and we have had times when our relationship has not been at its best.  Last year, he was still trying to find his niche in working life after a year of what felt like wasted time following his departure through injury from training to be a Royal Marine.  He willingly sat for me but there was reluctance there too and it showed. He was always on his way to do something and to pin him down was difficult enough. Eventually, I settled for what I could get and concentrated on his tattoos without showing him apart from one portrait when he is engaging with the camera.  This was obviously not the right solution but I was at a loss.

I’ve just noticed your work with Barney within the coursework where you are playing with the little photographs. In my opinion these tests are far more appealing than the final set. Consider re-working this idea for your final assignment submission, take a few more risks!

I left this assignment alone, just like the others, because I wanted to look it with fresh eyes.  I thought that I had lost all of the original photograph files – I backed up the drives before going away for a trip to Australia and inadvertently overwrote some folders, one of which contained the original images.  This was a disaster but in a way gave me the opportunity to reshoot new ones and take it from there.  I did two new sets, one outdoors in bright sunlight and one indoors using natural light.  I admit that it was a quick shoot fitted in around Barney’s working patterns and I did ask him to look in different directions while I snapped away.  During editing, I made the decision to change the interior shots into black and white.  My reasoning was driven by the fact that they looked almost monochrome anyway due to his black and white clothing against a mainly white background.  In addition, they contrasted against the vibrancy of the outdoors images and that gave more weight to the vice-versa theme of the assignment, the dark and light side of us.

Coming to the montage stage, I cut out small paper versions to see how they worked alongside each other. Then I had prints done and set up a table in a window to be able to move the photographs around.  As before, I had the Hockney montages in mind while moving them around. I then photographed the montages to see which ones worked and which did not.  As I progressed through moving them, I started to tear them to see how that altered the look and feel of the constructed image.  I also combined the black & white and colour images within a montage.  I understand that usually it is not the done thing to mix them, but I go back to my point about the dark and light side of ourselves and in this context the mixing is acceptable.  I did one set-up that had mainly colour photos with one black & white in the middle. I liked this as a way of seeing that there is a small part of us that is hidden or different to the whole that we portray.  Unfortunately, this did not fit the feel of the final selection of prints.  The ripping of prints was a way of dividing and softening the harder edges that regulate us.  It made the joins between images softer and more about Barney than the photos.

I believe that this set work much better than the previous set, even though I personally liked them as a record of my son and his ever growing collection of tattoos.  I now have another set of the newer ones that he has on his hands and arms.  The montage works well in trying to create a more interesting portrait of the person that he is.  The technical side of the shoot was problematic in that it was a bright sunny day and the interior shots were done without any reflectors or screening but that was more to do with time and me forgetting than any conscious choice.  He was there, he had time, I had my camera and we got on with it.

Finally, the first one Barney Combined is more like the Celia’s Children Albert + George Clark, (Los Angeles April 7th 1982 composite polaroid, 35 x 23 1/4 in by David Hockney) that my tutor had suggested to me as a reference point.  It is more interesting and I like the feel of the bigger picture of him sitting combined with the smaller ones that show more of him.  My personal favourite of the set is Barney Thoughtful.  It is plain, simple and he is looking past me with eyes closed against the sun.  But I think he is not absent which for me is progress.

Images for the assignment:

Barney Combined
Barney Combined
Barney Dark and Light
Barney Dark and Light
Barney Hockneyed
Barney Hockneyed
Barney In Pieces
Barney in Pieces
Barney Thoughtful

Barney Thoughtful


Assignment 3 Revisited

Assignment 3 – Revisiting the editing section

I responded to the feedback when I received it in February 2018 but decided to leave revisiting the assignment until I had finished all the assignments in the course.  It has been twelve months since I started the work for the project and attended the two bodybuilding competitions, and time away has given me more perspective on the running order of the series.  My tutor had suggested that my editing of the sequence needed refining as there appeared to be more than one type of narrative at work, and this was detracting from the overall story and presentation of the images to produce a coherent body of work.  I must admit that I had found it difficult to narrow down the number of images as in my mind I had a story that I wanted to complete with all its different parts.  This did not translate well in the final sequence, and I can see my tutor’s point that there are a few separate strands going on.

As suggested, I removed the food photographs as, with hindsight, they do not add anything extra and do not fit with the  more ‘documentary’ style of the whole.  Food and diet is very important but it would have been better to have something more personal to her than generic food shots, even though I did with the intention of them not being like that.  I also removed the shots of the gym that detracted from the overall theme, while keeping the one that shows the transformation from day to night as I felt that it fitted more with the story in that she does her training around her work life, whether it is at 6am, 2.30pm or 9pm. It is also quite central to the story because it is the work at the gym that is the drive behind body building.

I decided to look again at some of the other shots that I had taken to see if I could rearrange them to make a better running order and a more consistent approach.  It seemed that it would be better to concentrate on the flow of what happens leading up to the competition and during the show rather than trying to bring in her life around these.  I had been to two shows, the first where Kelley was runner up in her class and the second that she won.  I had a disaster in that by mistake I deleted the original image files for the first one and so was dependent on the images from the second show.  However, I was lucky that it was the better show as the light was better and I was closer to the stage, even though I wasn’t allowed to get right up close to photograph.  Therefore my perspective was from the audience and is also why I wanted to include the audience shot with the phone as there was a sea of mobile phone screens as they captured their family and friends in action on stage.

I narrowed the sequence down from twenty one shots to sixteen and set myself the task of seeing if I could take more out without losing the coherence that I think was beginning to emerge.  In the end, I removed two more and left fourteen images that tell the story of Kelley working in the gym towards her goal of keeping her title.  Gym work,  practising the required poses in her studio after teaching the pilates classes, to being at the show doing her routine and finally posing with her trophy and prizes.

I made two changes in the crops of some images.  The two that were originally square, I changed back into oblong formats.  The square crop works on some images but to maintain the coherence that I found, it was better to revert to normal perspectives.  My tutor had questioned the square crop and I agree that it was unwise in this circumstance.  Achievement and Heels do work much better and fit the flow better in the original format.

On reflection, I think my tutor was right in getting me to think more about how I wanted to tell the story.  Less is more so taking out the extraneous elements focus more on the narrative.  There is now more coherence of gym, studio and show, with fewer distractions from images that do not have the same style or look.  I think that time away from it has been good and this is a stronger set of images that tell a story better than the original set.

I am attaching the contact sheets for the assignment that were missing.

Contact Sheet – Food  Contact Sheet – Gym and pilates  Contact Sheet – NPA Competition Taunton  Contact Sheet – Posing Practice  Contact Sheet – PS Merges with Veg  Contact Sheet – Veg

There is one other image that I did as another comparison between practice and show that I did not use as it was too similar to the 8 image one that I already had, but I wanted to include it in the other work leading to the final set.  It would have been nice to have been able to do a whole set of these but I did not think about it until afterwards when my tutor suggested this as a separate body of work.  This also illustrates the difference in her physique made by a couple of weeks extra dieting and gym work.  The muscles are more defines and she is leaner.  Hard work and dedication to her art. Here is Kelley practising and at show:

Kelly Back Dip

I am happy now with the final running order and I believe that the narrative is clearer and more coherent as a result of refining the order.

Assignment 5 – Tutor Feedback and Reflection


The feedback for Assignment 5 was positive but with the familiar feel that I had not quite gone far enough and there is a need to further refine the whole to finish it off.  I knew this when I submitted the final selection of images to my Tutor as I had got to the point with it that I was effectively playing with them while not making any progress forwards.

The main point he raised was concerning the digital threads that I had drawn onto each photograph using Photoshop.  He felt that they were crude in comparison to the real threads added to the images as I sewed them into the book.

My main issue is how you have implemented the thread. The idea to bind and link the series is fine and how this connects to the book makes sense. However, I feel that at the moment the drawn thread has a negative impact upon the final aesthetic. To be honest, it feels a little crude and detracts away from the sentiment of the work. The way that you have applied it doesn’t feel very accomplished, I think it is because it isn’t a real thread, it’s digitally produced.”

I can see his point although on a personal level I think they work and I found that the process engaged me with the image more than leaving them out.  But I am willing to try them without the digital threads and will look at adding the binds as a physical thread rather than a digital thread.  He elaborated on his reasoning:

This point is also enforced when combined within your physical book. The book is a nice idea; I like the physicality of it and how you have incorporated the physical thread (although obviously I’m looking at it online). I feel that you need to review and re consider the juxtaposition of the real and digital thread in order to gain the full potential of the series. Maybe, you could consider using real thread rather than the digitally produced thread? I’d suggest more experimenting with the final image.

The book is also a contention for me for while I like the idea of connecting the images together in one place in a physical location, I felt that I had ‘overdone’ it a bit and I wonder whether the images can be combined together in a better way  There is the factor of sewing ties onto the images and pages, and redoing the whole thing but I need to investigate a better way of doing that.

He raised the question of the inclusion of the photographs:

Another point that I think that you should reflect upon is the inclusion of the archive image from a moral perspective. You have chosen to include an archive image not related to the person whose memorial bench you are depicting. I have no issue with mixing fact and fiction within work; it’s embedded within photographic practice and the history of photographic representation. But, it would be good if you took a little more time to reflect upon this within your critical analysis and evaluation.”

When I first started thinking about the benches and the plaques, I was struck by the fact that these are just names and dates to most people as well as being of people who have been away for a long time.  Who were they, where are their families, does anyone remember them, what kind of people were they?  Some are for children both young and older so that seems a little more tragic than the ones who passed on at a good age.  In building the layers of each image, the flowers and the plaques felt impersonal and more like an extension of the bench already there.  It was this that prompted the threads and then a photograph of someone to take the place of the name.  Both my parents passed away over the past few years and I am still aware of the feelings of loss and remembrance surrounding the death of a close relative.  I wanted to personalise these people, make them real again but because I don’t know them I had to use other photographs.  I considered the match carefully based on the name, gender and age so that it was not just a random pairing but carefully considered.  I also used photographs from the family archive, which could be seen to reference the exercise earlier in the course when we had to raid the archives and make groupings that may not have been seen before.  The old black and white photographs were of my parents and grandparents and friends of my mother. I also chose a photo of the kids my boys grew up from years ago as well as a photo of an old school friend of mine.  For me, it tied the past to the present and gave meaning to the names and dates.  They were someone’s parent, husband, wife, child or sibling and they were allowed a face to make them relevant.  Maybe it was too personal to include my own parents but it felt right to do so at the time. Is it any different to some of the artists that I have looked at who use found or orphan  photographs or postcards and blend them together to offer a new meaning to an image?  He had pointed me to John Stezaker after Assignment 2.  Adding an old photograph fitted with some of the dates and gave it more meaning and personalisation.

I am now ready to take another look at this assignment to see how I can polish it and make it appear completed.  This will involve removing the digital ties and reprinting the images so that I can then add physical threads.  The final binding may change too to make it cleaner, less cluttered and more streamlined so that the flow of images works better.



Research and Looking at suggested artists:

Points made:

Research relevant to the subject – Once I had decided on the subject, I found it difficult to find relevant artists who had done anything similar.  Chris Coekin advised me to investigate still life painting and photography as well as the idea of vanitas which has a relevance to my assignment.  The definition of vanitas: “A still life artwork which includes various symbolic objects designed to remind the viewer of their mortality and of the worthlessness of worldly good and pleasures. “ Tate Modern version.

“Common vanitas symbols include skulls, which are a reminder of the certainty of death; rotten fruit (decay); bubbles (the brevity of life and suddenness of death); smoke, watches, and hourglasses (the brevity of life); and musical instruments (brevity and the ephemeral nature of life).”

Still life includes all kinds of man-made or natural objects, cut flowers, fruit, vegetables, fish, game, wine and so on. Still life can be a celebration of material pleasures such as food and wine, or often a warning of the ephemerality of these pleasures and of the brevity of human life (see memento mori).  (

I can see the relevance of this but I did not think of it as a depiction of death, it was more the feeling of trying to hang on to a person after they have gone and the memories that they created.  The creation of plaques on benches is a way to remind us of someone but I also questioned for how long it can be relevant, fifty years, a hundred years, does anyone alive still know who some of these people are? It is a transitory way of remembering, just as we are transitory so maybe it is Vanitas after all, reminding us that we are here for a fragment of time and then we are gone, possible forgotten.

My tutor suggested looking at the tradition of Dutch and Spanish still life paintings, and I found several articles that link the tradition to the vanitas paintings.  This article:  

talks about the influence of artists such as Wolfgang Tillmans and Edward Weston, both from different parts of the 20th century but still influential in doing still life photographs that echo the Dutch masters.  I visited the Tillmans exhibition at the Tate Modern last year and saw his wide variety of images, large and small, that could fulfil the description of still life.  They were of normal everyday items rather than carefully constructed images, but maybe they were constructed as he took photographs of items such as the parts of a printer.  I tend to think that my images are  more in this vein as I took several normal things and merged them into one image.  The layers each have a meaning on their own but combine to make a different whole.

I had also researched Edward Weston in Assignment 3 when I was considering his images of vegetables as part of the investigation into my bodybuilder project, with an idea of merging vegetables with a posing bodybuilder.  The images are clean and simple with strongly contrasting blacks and whites. They are so different to Tillmans’ images yet both are still in the tradition of arranging objects and photographing them. I am nowhere near being in that calibre but it does influence my thinking of objects.

The article states: “Is this how a photographer should approach still life? Should you be looking for metaphysical bananas, or arranging dead butterflies on a table to take an artistic picture of death? Is the still life, as some might say, essentially a vanitas, or emblem of mortality? Should you put a skull beside that array of nice food?”  I put decaying flowers beside photographs of memorial plaques on benches and photographs of people then bound them together in an image along with physical ties in the form of sewing threads.  It suggests that these images are still life and vanitas as I am pointing to the mortality of a person, and this is all that is left after they are gone as there are no physical remains and they no longer have any possessions.  The flowers could be symbols of death although I am not sure that I consciously had this in mind.  I did strongly feel that the flowers should decay and be changed in some way as the images progress, from fresh in one to dried and dying in others.

I found this photographer a few years ago while studying another OCA photography course, and was very drawn to the simplicity of the images that she made using flowers that were past their best.  In addition, the flowers were from florists so not the usual everyday flowers that we are familiar with.  The stark white or black backgrounds contrasted with the colour that still remained in the flower heads,

“Rachel LEVY photographs flowers almost faded. It is a limit state, an in-between, because for the gardener or the florist it is the moment when he has to cut off the stem and to get rid of the flower. The flower just starts to decay, so most people keep it. This moment crystallizes the ongoing metamorphosis. An obvious daintiness emanates from it. 

In a way, we are almost facing a photographic herbarium, a collection of floral photos patiently gathered by Rachel LEVY. However, unlike herbariums, pictures became portraits, the plants are humanized thanks to a subtle work of removal. We can note the leaves are always subtracted from the stems, giving the impression the plant is standing. Therefore, Rachel LEVY emphasizes the living being present in each plant.”

These are still life portraits and focus on the flower head as its’ life drains away.   There is such a beauty and stillness n the simplicity of the image, that I have in the past tried doing something similar.  In some ways, I had this in mind when photographing the flowers to use with the plaques as adding flowers to tributes gives a sense of passing of time, while can remind us of the person that has passed.  For example, there were a lot of hydrangea bushes in my parents’ garden and when my mother passed away in the care home, they put one of these flowers in her hand without knowing the significance of it.  Every time I see them, they remind me of her.

He also suggests that the images need refining, and I am in agreement.  When I submitted them to him, I felt I had gone as far as I could with them at that point and had got to the point of playing with them.  There did not appear to be a stopping point when they were ‘finished’.  His issue with them revolves mainly around the added digital threads and has suggested reconsidering these, while maybe replacing them with real thread.  Part of my thinking behind the digital threads were that they were my input to the images, my way of putting my mark on them and threading them in a way that I was not sure I could in real life.  While personally I like them, I can see his point and I am considering redoing the images without the digital thread but attaching real threads.  I admit that there is a reluctance because the images need to be reprinted then resewn into the book so I will need to look again at the total presentation of them, something that I knew I would have to revisit.  I had got to the stage that I was actually sick of looking at them and going round in circles so a good break from them will have been beneficial.

Another photography student at the OCA looking at setting up still life arrangements, and the discussion on it.  An interesting article as I had spent time during other assignments setting up shoots with inanimate objects and it is harder than it looks.  For this assignment, i had to shoot photos of the flowers from when they were fresh through to dried out in the sunlight.  I ended up using a lot of natural light rather than artificial, mainly because it summer and the light was strong and clear.




Assignment 5 Images

Where you go-4
If we don’t know where we’re going
Where you go-1
It’ll make no difference from where we started
Where you go-5
I am the sea and the waves
Where you go-6
I am the high mountain and the low cloud
Where you go-7
I always thought that I would see you again
Where you go-3
I am the sun, the moon and the stars
Where you go-9
I am the stones and I am the wood
Where you go-8
I am the fire and I am the rain
Where you go-2
Wherever you go, I will go with you

Assignment 5

The last assignment in Identity and Place and it proved to be a lot harder than I anticipated.  After a couple of false starts, I finally settled on revisiting and building on work I started in Assignment 4 on the theme of love and loss. The idea was to develop it using the ways that people try to hold onto people that have gone, people who are part of their past and heritage.  There is a market in memorial benches, particularly in seaside towns, where the bench is adorned with a brass plaque with the name and dates of the deceased.  Often these are also used as shrines with flowers and plants or small items attached to them.

Personally I have no desire or need to have a particular place to go to connect with my parents who are both now gone.  However, I realise that some do need a concrete something in order to stay connected to their heritage and the person that they loved whether it is a parent or a child.  I was interested to read the inscriptions, find out who these people are and what they might mean to me.  From that, I looked at the issue of flowers that are attached by various means.  The experiment of taking my bunch to use on each bench did not work as I expected, neither did attaching a photo of flowers.  There was something missing.  I realised that what was missing was the human connection.

I have always loved going through my mother’s photo album with the black and white photos of people long gone.  By re-photographing some of them and adding them along with my photographs of the flowers as they decayed leant a different aspect to the plaque.  It humanised it and gave it substance, even if they are not the actual person named. Photoshop was a good tool even if my use is very basic.  I blended the flowers, photograph and name plaque into one image and then drew delicate threads over the top.  In this way, the three elements link together and bind them to the present.  To link them together as a series, I sewed them into the album and added the scanned flower in between as a guide from one to the other.

The flowers represent the then and now, they are fresh but they die and then we replace them in an attempt to keep them going in the same way that we try to keep the memory alive.  The memories are who we are, where we came from and ultimately where we are going, born in one place until we go on to the final place.

karen Allen 402872 PH4IAP Asignment 5

Assignment 5 Research and Info


William Eggleston – looked at in the course materials as one photographer who could use everyday items to suggest the presence of people without having people in the frame.  They used the child’s trike made large in the frame.  He loved road signs and store signage.  Mundane things that caught his eye.  Photographing the mundane and the ugly.  Bright colours.


Lost and Found, the culmination of road trips over many years.  reminds me of driving across Utah and seeing a sign in the middle of nowhere for something hundreds of miles away. I had this in mind for another incarnation of the assignment following the M5 southbound from my old hometown of Birmingham to my new hometown of Torquay.  In the end I decided to go with the idea of benches and flowers in an exploration of how we keep tabs on our past.


On how people see the benches.  People can get very upset if flowers are removed and yet this is a public place not a shrine.

a council tried to ban them!


Derek – He wanted to scatter the ashes of his mother in the woods on Dartmoor. They asked permission which was granted so they went ahead, put flowers on bushes and decorated the surrounding area.  The Park Ranger told them that they were free to do that but everything would be removed the following day.  Derek said it made them feel closer to his mother and designated a place that would be about her even if there were no other markers. Maybe there is something of that in me too as I am taking the ashes of my parents to Scotland to scatter them there. However there is something of the “what do I do with these?” and putting them in the garden does not seem quite right. The flowers that decorate bushes etc are transient.


Jerry – a friend of mine has a bench in memory of his mother.  He used to go there a lot to sit there but not so much  now.  It was more for his children and the other grandchildren who could have somewhere positive to go.  I was interested whether he had put flowers on it, he said never as couldn’t see the point.  The point of the bench was to have somewhere to be quiet. It’s a way of connecting with the person who has gone before us. Perhaps it is also a place to find some quiet in a busy life.

So why something so public? Why not go for a gravestone as was traditional, somewhere with a name and date and a physical thing to visit.  Is it because we have moved away from religion and now we need something that is more normal?


Julie Cockburn

Another suggestion from my tutor to expand my knowledge of artists who were altering photographs through different practices.  In this article she talks about using archetypal portrait shots from the 1940s to 1970s so that there is space around them and they are divorced from any background, allowing her to stamp another meaning on them. Also:

“Found objects start the conversation. I think that perhaps the fact that I use actual photographs in my work (at a time when photography itself is taking on a new dimension – particularly with the sharing culture of social media) has highlighted the nostalgia of the photograph as object. How great to have all ones photos on file, ready to crop, colour adjust and post online in a few seconds. But I miss my old photo albums and the paraphernalia that went with them. The guillotine, glue, corners, hand written notations and ‘stuff’ (pressed flowers, train tickets) that went in too.”

So true. I think I had this in mind once I went down the route of coupling my old family photographs with names on benches of complete strangers then drawing ties on them to bind them all together and along with my new flower photos they create a new something.  I actually read this particular article after I had completed the work and was looking through things that had inspired me, Cockburn being one of them.


Anegret Soltau

I was still thinking of her work when I began this assignment.  There is something very personal about taking a needle and thread and sewing through an image, as it involves deciding where to pierce the paper and how to use those threads to symbolise something intangible.


New and old photographs – the old black and white prints that are so small are very evocative of an era that is gone.  The 1940s and 1950s were the years that my parents were young people and it is my way of keeping in touch with who they were, where they came from and keeping connected to them. Rephotographing them reminded me of Sherrie Levine’s After Rodchenko 1-12, 1987 and in particular the one of the old lady and reading glasses:

The full set:

I studied her work during an OU course in art history and thought that her approach was interesting, challenging the male canon.  No different really to Marcel Duchamp taking found objects.


Perhaps that what I am doing, I am taking found objects in choosing a bench and a commemorative plaque then adding found photographs and combining them with everything else to make a new image.