“The past is gone forever. We cannot return to it, not can we reclaim it now as it was. But that does not mean it is lost to us. The past is like the scene of a crime: if the deed itself is irrecoverable, its traces may still remain. From these traces, markers that point towards a past presence, to something that happened in this place, a (re) construction, if not a simulacrum, of the event can be pieced together” (Kuhn, 1995:3)
Since my previous assignment I’ve been working with my own archival images and am submitting a selection of montages plus a couple of images from my recently started Frozen (in time) project for consideration.
My work in progress towards the assignment is HERE
My re-works from A2 are HERE
All research (including my WiP & re-work posts) can be found under the ‘Research and Reflection‘ Category on my blog
“Photography has made its own contribution to the nation’s narrative of the seaside as a place of ‘radiant happiness’—the beach attracted photographers seeking to fix the seaside visually as a site of perennial pleasure” (Williams, V and Shepherdson, K. 2019:96)
I returned to Marazion in September and back again in October. The weather was awful both times, but strangely it turned out to be an advantage. I like the bleak emptiness of the beaches, places where my parents and their friends once stood many years ago, the moody skies, so different to their photographs of summer days, reminders of happier times. The montages communicate the transient nature of time, loss and a place where the past and present converge.
Mum in Shorts,1940’s
Mum in shorts
When the world was black and white
When the world was black and white
Northumberland 1950’s. I’m sat on Mum’s lap and in the background is Aunt Alice and her 2nd husband, Tommy. My cousins Joseph & Robert sit to the forefront, their father (Aunt Alice’s 1st husband) died a few days before Xmas in an accident. Joseph was born after his father’s death, he was named after him. Tommy became a father to both these boys and their elder brother David who’s not in the photo. Tommy also died relatively young of a mining related illness. So many memories come to mind as I look at what on first viewing is just a holiday snap.
The Lowery Clan (mum with her family 1940’s). Mum wrote across the front of this photograph many years after it was taken, she wrote on the back of other photographs too. She wanted to make sure that in the future, when she was no longer here, these people are remembered as family despite many being people whom I (or my own family) never met. Eventually these people will become simply strangers when the close familial connection is gradually lost as each new generation is born. It perhaps explains why so many family photographs are abandoned once that relationship has diminished.
The Lowery Clan
Different Worlds. My mum and her great-granddaughter on the same stretch of beach separated by the years. Together but each in their own time and space.
The memory of childhood holidays (rather than the everyday occurrences) remain so firmly in my own mind. Yet our small family of three went (at most) a couple of times a year. However, these were also the occasions dad’s camera went along too, fully loaded with film to capture our carefree expedition and ‘happy’ memories. A hypothetical memory inspired me to make the montage Stormy Skies. I can’t remember why I was crying or why my mum (presumably) took this picture. It is hardly a ‘happy holiday’ snap ! Dad’s face is a picture too, he hated confrontation or dealing with my moods. I have absolutely no recollection of this event, my memory refuses to acknowledge the discord the photograph clearly connotes.
I have made a start incorporating text, for my initial trial I printed small images on card and asked both my daughters to simply write any thoughts or memories that immediately came to mind. I wanted to overlay the text and image but because of the small scale of the cards this was not feasible so I added text in Photoshop. I did try to cut and paste just the text but my attempt was not very successful. Fellow student Catherine suggested the font size was a bit small hence I have made this slightly larger.
I miss her stories
I miss her stories
Cut & Paste / Digital Montages
Meaning changes and photographs originally kept as mementoes connote something different following for example death, they are tactile and ever evolving objects. My cut and paste work has been scanned and combined with contemporary images as digital montages.
The Simple Life, September 3rd 1939. Eighty years ago my 14 year old mum stood on a Northumbrian beach as Britain declared war. Not long after sirens started to wail and frightened mothers ran to gather their children to take them home. The sirens were actually only being tested but that was not known by those running to gather their loved ones at the time. She was due to start a new school that month but never went due to the outbreak of war. The simple life was over. Mum looks very young for a 14 year old, but that is compared to teenagers now I suppose. Three years later she joined the WRAC leaving her friends, family and Northumberland. She never returned there to live when the war ended but began a new life with my dad, whom she met whilst in the army.
The Simple Life, September 3rd 1939
Empty Spaces Mum on Mount’s Bay beach in the 1940’s. The last time I took her back there was 5 years ago when she was 89 years old, a total of 68 years following her first visit when my dad took her to his childhood home in Marazion. On first seeing St Michael’s Mount she said it looked like a fairy tale castle. It still does, a place where time seems to stand still.
Four of my Northumbrian Cousins These four children (older than me) were part of my childhood yet I have only met two of them and have not seen or spoken to them for many years. The affinity I feel for them was nurtured by my mum’s stories and photographs kept in a case.
Four of my Northumbrian cousins
Experiments with Ice
Frozen (in time) Inspired by the work of Soomin Ham. Although I have only been experimenting with my ice images for under a week and it is very much a work in progress I intend to expand on it. Therefore, I have included a couple in this submission. As regards presenting these I think small prints might be the way to go but in the meantime I’m going to print them on the A4 washi paper I recently bought.
Re-works (for consideration)
Passing through Re-work from A2
The Wave Re-work from A2
The Lookout Re-work from A2
Dance like there’s nobody watching. A rework of one of my earlier montages but not submitted for a previous assignment. A month after mum died in January I went with my daughters to Cornwall. We spent time reminiscing and still felt raw but suddenly and spontaneously my daughters started dancing on the deserted beach. The same beach my mum was photographed on many years ago. It was a moment of pure unadulterated happiness and joy.
Dance like there’s nobody watching
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
I’m very much aware that a Body of Work should be visually cohesive, I feel my underlying concept of using montage techniques incorporating contemporary & archival imagery taken in the same place helps achieve this. It also meant leaving out one of my more recent montages that I liked it very much. As a standalone image it is fine but not as part of the set I’ve submitted for A3.
However, I do want to expand on a possibly more multifaceted approach. Therefore, I’m continuing with my Frozen (in time) project & considering perhaps incorporating in addition to my ‘ice’ vintage seaside images some non-nautical photographs, I will chat to Jayne about this.
The much more subdued, unsaturated contemporary photographs I’ve taken recently have a melancholic, almost bleak quality that I believe connotes the concept of Hireth (longing, yearning, nostalgia).
Quality of outcome
Fellow student Simon suggested rather than montaging I try placing my archival photographs alongside the contemporary imagery. I think the combination of more sombre, less saturated contemporary imagery and positioning like this works particularly well.
I enjoyed making the cut and paste montages, these have then been scanned and altered digitally to make new composites.
The re-worked A2 composites are more somber than before and I feel complement my more recent work.
Demonstration of creativity
I believe my work has evolved since my last assignment submission and although subjective the concept of loss and the passing of time is communicated effectively with the juxtaposition used in the montages.
In addition to montage I’ve started to experiment conceptually with ice to create a small series of images.
I’m trying to post on my blog at least once a week, even if only a very short update or to share WiP. I try to attend regular hangouts but this is dependant on timing but they do make you feel less isolated & realise everybody feels the same insecurities about being a mature student.
I’ve managed to research & write short pieces on my blog about some fantastic artists as I’ve been working towards the 3rd assignment.
Soomin Ham whose art has really inspired me to begin my Frozen (in time) project.
I plan to share any books I’m reading / read (not necessarily photography related) I find are relevant to my studies, but these will probably be only very short synopsises. I read a lot but very rarely manage to write down my thoughts.
Artist whose work I plan to research in the next few weeks that I haven’t had the time to before this assignment:
Jo Spence Beyond the Family Album
Nadav Kandar Estuaries
Mandy Williams (thanks Sarah-Jane for introducing me to her work)
Look into Epigenetics (for both BoW & C/S) fellow student Sarah-Jane has sent me some links & recommended a book. Studies suggest we carry traces of our parent’s memory in our DNA.
Continue with my Frozen (in time) series of experimental work.
Try different printing techniques and paper types.
Hopefully get back to Marazion in February. I am booked to go with my daughters but it’s difficult to plan too far ahead due to hubby’s kidney problem, he’s awaiting a transplant so could get a ‘call’ at anytime).
Continue excavating my case of photographs. I’m having to be very careful as a lot of them are glued into albums and I don’t want to rip or bend them. I’ve had to scan whole pages to avoid damaging them. For this reason I often use the same archival photo in more than one montage but obviously wouldn’t submit more than one of these for assessment or include in my finalised BoW.
Continue making composites.
Experiment with text, I especially want to try combining hand writing.
Make a video ? I did make a very short one using iMovie (see WiP #26) but I’m not exceptionally proficient.
References / Bibliography
Archives & Creative Practice [online blog]Available at http://www.archivesandcreativepractice.com/susan-hiller(Accessed 09/11/19)
Berger, J. and Dyer, G. (2013) Understanding a photograph. London: Penguin.
Chaisson, C. (2018) ‘How Susan Hiller Has Foregrounded Empathy in Her Art’ Hyperallergic https://hyperallergic.com/456284/how-susan-hiller-has-foregrounded-empathy-in-her-art/(Accessed 09/11/19)
Cooke, R. (2011) ‘Susan Hiller: I’ve had just the right amount of attention, not enough to live in total despair’ The Observerhttps://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/jan/30/susan-hiller-tate-britain-interview(Accessed 07/11/19)
Ham, S. Available at https://www.soominham.comAccessed 26/11/19
Hiller, S. Available at http://www.susanhiller.org/home.html(Accessed 07/11/19)
Hiller, S. (2012) “Ghosts (1) “Artsy Estrella Gallery [online] Available at https://www.artsy.net/show/max-estrella-ghosts(Accessed 09/11/19)
Jones, J (2008) ‘Susan Hiller: A skeptical spirit ?’ The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2008/nov/17/susan-hiller-art (Accessed 07/11/19)
Jones, J. (2015) ‘Susan Hiller review: a bizarre, brilliant haunted house’ The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2015/nov/12/susan-hiller-review-lisson-gallery-london-bizarre-brilliant-haunte (Accessed 07/1/19)
Kapajeva, K. Available at: http://www.mariakapajeva.com/(Accessed 02/08/19)
Kganye, L (2013) Her Story Available at https://www.lebohangkganye.co.za/ke-lefa-laka-herstory-2013-all(Accessed 10/09/19)
Kuhn, A. (1995) Family Secrets. London:Verso
Lachowskyj, C. (2018) Her-Story Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/lebohang-kganye-her-story (Accessed 10/09/19)
Needham, A. (2019) ‘Susan Hiller, Artist, who explored the paranormal, dies aged 78’ The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/jan/29/susan-hiller-artist-who-explored-the-paranormal-dies-aged-78(Accessed 07/11/19)
Padua, P. 2016 ‘Soomin Han’s Photography is a Gut-Wrenching Exploration of Loss and Memory’ DCIST [online] At: https://dcist.com/story/16/11/10/soomin-ham-works-through-grief-with/ (Accessed 26/11/19
Searle, A. (2019) ‘Susan Hiller: An artist who chased ghosts-and took no prisoners’ The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2019/jan/30/susan-hiller-artist-conundrums-vivid-and-intriguing (Accessed 07/11/19)
SEAS [online]At: https://www.seasphotography.org.uk(Accessed 15/11/19)
Shepherdson, K. Available at http://www.karenshepherdson.com(Accessed 10/11/19)
Staply-Brown, V. ( 2019) ‘Susan Hiller, a ‘paraconceptualist’ who abandoned anthropology in favour of art, has died, aged 78′ The Art Newspaper https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/susan-hiller-a-paraconceptualist-who-abandoned-anthropology-in-favour-of-art-has-died-aged-78 (Accessed 09/11/19)
Williams, V and Shepherdson, K. (2019) Seaside Photographed London: Thames & Hudson.