Wip # 14

‘I start with emotions…..love, pain, loneliness….the past is present for me‘ 

Katrien De Blauwer


I’ve recently discovered the work of Katrien De Blauwer who describes herself as ‘a photographer without a camera‘. Whilst her work When I Was Boy is autobiographical she uses none of her own personal imagery, instead she sources ‘vintage material from the mid 20th century’ (Painting. p.p 8). De Blauwer went to live with and be cared for by her grandmother (who had lost her own son in infancy). She dressed De Blauwer as a boy, kept her femininity hidden, her hair cut short. ‘The use of the blue endpapers, the splashes of pink throughout all seem to point to gender fluidity’ (Painting. p.p 16). Their ambiguity enables each viewer to relate to the pieces through their own experiences. The aged appearance of her collages aesthetically enhances the work, the pieces torn from magazines, books etc are glued to papers that ‘are in some way imperfect’ (Painting. p.p 16).  More of her work can be seen on Instagram

I’m an only child and I had what really must be considered an idyllic childhood (something I’ve come to realise is an experience not shared by everyone). I was loved, yet often yearned for and felt the absence of a sibling. I actually always wanted a brother, never a sister, someone older than me, someone other than my parents to always be there & protect me. I’ve felt that absence even more so recently when my mum passed away in January. I’m lucky I have a caring husband and enjoy a really close relationship with my children, yet there’s something missing. I’m the only one left from my own small childhood family of three, I want someone else to share childhood memories of my parents, as only another sibling can.

Family archives can be remarkably ambiguous, mine contains mystery strangers or photographs of people that mum has written on the back ‘can’t remember’. Some bear my dad’s writing with names that mean nothing to me. As a child I often wondered who these strangers were, I still do, could they be related to me ?

I had the beginnings of an idea back in November using found imagery and bought a few photographs from eBay but have had little time to write about the context of two images I posted on Instagram early in January. I bought a photograph from eBay with the intention of using it to represent my ‘brother’ however, I decided rather than using it in a conventional way my sibling should remain an enigma, a figment of my imagination.

The collages below are really rough edits and initial experiments using A4 printer paper that I’ve printed the images onto– I still cannot bear to cut into an original photograph ! They represent the absence of a sibling in my life. 

What I intend to do next is re-print the originals on Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285g paper and re-do them, though I find I am never able to re-create cut and paste collages exactly the same but that really doesn’t matter. The finished pieces are intended to be equivocal; rather like memories, both are open to interpretation.


Continuing with my theme of loss the very rough edit below was done using a Sharpie pen to obliterate my parents out of the photograph of all three of us together. Interestingly, when I posted this on Instagram a few people commented it was scary, yet that wasn’t my initial intention. However, it is a perfectly valid interpretation to make, viewed out of context meaning is open to change. 

Vicky Painting (2018) ‘The Cut is the Click’ Black + White Photography(Issue 222) 8-16

http://www.katriendeblauwer.com/aboutAccessed 7/2/19
http://www.gallery51.com/index.php?navigatieid=9&fotograafid=162Accessed 7/2/19

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Apologies

I’m sorry that I’ve not commented on fellow students blogs recently. I am trying to keep up to date with what you are all doing & slowly getting round to reading & will be commenting on your posts. Sadly my beautiful Mum passed away suddenly & unexpectedly last week at her home. It was a terrible shock & I have lots to sort out plus organise.

Judy x

Wip # 13

Do we leave a trace of ourselves behind that others can sense ? 

I went to Cornwall towards the end of 2018 & took some long-exposure images. We were staying in the cottage where my dad was born on the 29th October 1915, I was there on what would have been his 103rd birthday. I’ve stayed here on many occasions and often feel a palpable presence, an echo of the past, one that you can sense but can’t see or hear. The IT manager at work thinks I am slightly deranged when I talk about my experiences & laughs that there is always a logical reason for everything; but I know that I’m not alone in being able to sense traces of the past. I probably would have been burned at the stake if I had lived a few hundred years ago !    

Dafni Kemeridou’s long exposure images HERE  intensify the awareness of time passing. They have an ethereal quality, one that I have tried to portray in my own images below.  

References / Bibliography

Accessed 13/1/19
 
Accessed 13/1/18

 

Wip #12

 

The inspiration for my two cut and paste collages is the work of Sylwia Kowalchzyk.

Due to mum’s health she was admitted to hospital nearly 3 weeks ago hence I’ve been running around and working at the same time, I’m exhausted and have not had much time to make any progress with the coursework. However, inspired by Kowalchzyk’s cut and paste collages I made two of my own. They are very simple rough versions made from one photograph that I printed cut and tore. Shot with my iPhone I have used the Snapseed app on my phone to process them. I’m planning (hopefully) to expand on this idea and use more than one image for my next cut and paste montage.

Sylwia Kowalchzyk
Lethe

As important recollections slip from our memory, this loss brings its own kind of grief. The past becomes a vast, blank territory where even the most important memories of childhood are erased-if we do not remember them, perhaps these might as well not of happened in the first place’
Sylwia Kowalchzyk

Thanks to fellow Level 3 student Jane who sent me the link to this fabulous work.

Lethe; from the Greek ‘to forget’ a mythological river in Hades for dead souls to drink from to forget their previous life. Originally trained as a graphic designer she describes her approach as ‘pernickety’. The work explores the space between reality and illusion, the link between what we see and how the brain interprets it to construct our own version of the truth.

Kowalchzyk does not use found photographs but choses images from her own personal archive that she prints, tears and re-assembles. She discusses how a printed photograph, as a physical and tangible object, is so much more harder to let go off and destroy than a digital file on a hard-drive. The ripping alters the context, it morphs into something unfamiliar yet there remains a trace of what was once there.

References / Bibliography

Accessed 29/11/18
Accessed 29/11/18
Accessed 29/11/18

Assignment One

This assignment is diagnostic and does not count towards the final grade.

Part 1:
Begin your project by going out on a shoot. Submit it to your tutor with a few images chosen as a potential starting point for how you can move the project forward.

Part 2:
Accompany the images with a reflection on how or why the images you’ve selected may help you take the work forward. Detail how you plan to relate your practice to a particular genre or which genre you took inspiration from.

Since June this year I have been adding to the ‘work in progress’ section of my blog SEE HERE. However, its taken me nearly six months to submit this assignment and rather than procrastinate any longer I have chosen some of the images from this section that I feel exemplify how I want my BoW to go forward. My current work incorporates fictionalised autobiography and archival imagery. My proposal is to continue working with a combination of both contemporary and archival material. I hope to continue creating a selection of montages that explore the somewhat nebulous connection between past and present, in addition to conceiving new images that augment this concept.

The thing with old photographs is their pathos, their context altered by time. I’ve created some montages using a few of my scanography images with personal archival photographs, whether this is something I can develop further I’m not too sure but have included these in my initial edit. Also included in this first selection is a montage combining one of my orphaned/bought photographs with a personal archival photograph, this again is something I would like to expand on. I have some more old black and white images I’ve recently bought from eBAY that I intend to incorporate into my next assignment. I would possibly like to include in my final BoW a small selection of the original images I work with, perhaps displayed in a vitrine, but that’s some way off yet.

Photographs can function as a memento mori and my collection of old family photographs have always elicited in me feelings of nostalgia, a longing to return to a time that no longer exists. Some make me laugh out loud yet also be the cause of melancholia as I contemplate the smiling faces looking optimistically out of the frame, gaze at youngsters grown old, long dead. I cannot possibly have a real memory of them at that age yet they all look so familiar, I imagine their stories. I look at photographs of myself as a young girl, someone who is a stranger to me now. How much of what we remember is accurate or true? My ‘orphaned’ images too have the power to suggest past events, memories and emotions; they can be used to invent an alternative (non-existent) reality. (Work in progress on this, post to follow).

Since commencing with this course there has been a marked decline in my now 93 year old mother’s health and mental capacity. She recently told my youngest daughter she has had enough, is tired and just wants to go to for ‘the long sleep’ peacefully. This led to my digital montage entitled Forget Me Not, a visual representation of the person she has become. I feel sad that I’ve ‘lost’ her even before death, I miss the person she was.

I’ve been thinking of a title for my BoW that encapsulates my thought and feelings, the Welsh, Cornish and Portuguese languages have such words with no equivalent in English.
1. Hiraeth / Welsh
2. Hireth / Cornish
3. Saudade / Portuguese

My personal preference is to title my work Hireth, a nod to my personal connection to Cornwall (this might change as the work evolves). I feel a familial connection to the place but I don’t want to restrict myself too much by only creating images based around that area. Hence, although some of my work could be felt to fit into the Psychogeography genre, my interest lies within subjective narrative.

Artists who influenced my work for this assignment :

1. Astrid Reischwitz Stories from the Kitchen Table. There is a fragility about her juxtaposed and layered imagery that is touching. The faded and frayed materials, treasured objects and present day images connote the passing of time as Reischwitz conceives new memories.

2. Chris Dorley-Brown uses a combination of personal and archival imagery. I particularly enjoyed his book The Longest Way Round. It unravels and reassembles the lives of his deceased parents using a mix of archival material originally excluded from the family album in addition to Dorley-Brown’s own contemporary imagery.

3. Josh Huxham Silence. Huxham’s exploration of his collection of archival family photographs highlights the nebulous nature of the past as he re-interprets his own family album.

4. Nicky Bird  FOUND : Question for Seller (2007). The poignancy when looking at discarded photographs is one of the reasons I collect them myself, I like to rescue them from obscurity.

5. Albarrán Cabrera (photographers Angel Albarrán & Anna Cabrera work together as Albarrán Cabrera). This is you (Here) is a mix of personal and found photographs that explores the intriguing relationship between the past and present; how a photograph connotes concepts and feelings that words alone cannot convey. Memory is inconstant, hence a tangible object (the photograph) can become the substitute for a notional recollection. Individual perception of a photograph is instinctive, dependant on personal memory, lifestyle and knowledge. Whilst the manipulation of images is incessant a photograph still retains the aura of truth, which in turn enables us to visualise the unseen.

6. Lorena Guillén Vaschetti  Historia, Memoria y Silencias, (Unopened) 2012. An exploration of remembrance and the fabrication of memory through photography.

Final selection of images      (see WiP for context )

Contemporary and personal archival images (digital montages)

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Personal archival images (digital montages) 

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Personal archival image and eBay purchase combination (double exposure)

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Personal archival photographs and my own scanography images (digital montages)

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Two archival images, one is a personal photograph whilst the other is an eBay purchase. Both combined with downloaded images from Pexels .

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Possible stand-alone images ?

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Self evaluation:

Demonstration of technical and visual skills

I’ve immensely enjoyed creating my digital montages that combine archival and contemporary imagery. I’ve also experimented with double exposures, plus some of my work selected for this assignment incorporates a few of the scanography images that I love doing using a flat bed scanner. Working with archival material has meant that I have not taken an exceptional number of new images for the assignment. However, I don’t feel a vast number are necessary at this stage, I am happy with those that I have taken and have recently taken some more new photographs that I will write about in a future blog post. My Photoshop skills are vastly improving but often its been hit and miss when creating my digital montages, I spend hours in front of a screen and I know there is a lot more I need/want to learn.

Quality of outcome

I spend quite a lot of time simply gazing and thinking about combinations of images, how they will work, and what it is I am trying to convey. I am been pleased with the outcome of my images, both the screen and printed versions. Printing is an important element of my work and I’ve been especially pleased with the paper I’ve been using to do my test prints on. In the past I’ve used Permajet Fibre Base 325g Baryta, which has a semi-gloss finish. However, I ordered some Fotospeed Platinum Etching 285g which has a matte finish and am really pleased with the results, the paper is nice to handle, heavy and has a velvet appearance, the prints and colours are lovely.

Demonstration of creativity

Incorporating a variety of imagery I think my personal interest in the photograph as a mnemonic device is  evident. My work is subjective yet I hope can be universally understood, that they convey the passage of time and the poignancy of old photographs. My work is intended to preserve, re-create and re-invent the past.

Context

My blog is gradually becoming a useful resource but my plan to post each week has fell by the wayside due to increasing difficult personal commitments. I’ve enjoyed the research done so far but need to read a lot more, a huge pile of books is growing on my bookcase, all unopened. I have lots of links to artists I want to  research too, I hope to catch up a bit on some reading and research over the next few weeks.

Future development 

I intend to do some work with my ‘orphaned’ images. I hope to create some cut and paste collages, which to my surprise I greatly enjoyed doing for my previous course. Continue to take more new images that supplement my WiP with archival photographs. Read those books !

References / Bibliography

Boothroyd,S. (2013) Photoparley online Available online @https://photoparley.wordpress.com/category/nicky-bird/ Accessed 20/8/18

Boothroyd, S. (2012) Interview with Lorena Guillén Vaschetti Available online @ https://photoparley.wordpress.com/category/lorena-guillen-vaschetti/ Accessed 5/7/18

Dorley-Brown , C. (2015) The Longest Way Round. UK : Overlapse

Smithson, A.(2012) Interview with Lorena Guillén Vaschetti:Historia, Memoria Y Silencios Available online @ http://lenscratch.com/2012/02/interview-with-lorena-guillen-vaschetti/ Accessed 5/7/18

Smithson, A. 2017. Astrid Reischwitz: Stories from the Kitchen Table. Available @ http://lenscratch.com/2017/05/astrid-reischwitz/ Accessed 15/7/18

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Wip # 11

The course notes refer to what is termed ‘genre hopping’.

I feel my own practice borders somewhere between Personal Journeys & Fictional Autobiography in addition to Responding to the Archive.

 

 

 

I went to a Girls Grammar school and our formidable headmistress believed  that “grammar school ladies don’t need to type“, we were all expected to aspire to greater things. I assume my dad took this photograph of me in my new uniform, I hated that hat. The hat blew off on my first day so mum sewed elastic onto it that went under my chin to keep it on, I still remember the indignity that caused. My son-law bought an old typewriter that I’ve used to type the words I’ve never forgotten. I’m smiling to myself at the moment as I’m sat word-processing this post, I wonder what my old headmistress would think?

 

This isn’t as successful as the previous montage. The blending fades the image too much.

My next montage is an iPhone selfie and an old B&W photograph of me. I have no recollection of where I was or who took the photo but I clearly remember the red blouse I am wearing.

 

My next montage incorporates one of my scanography images and an old photograph I keep despite my head being cut of ! Why do we keep these, if this had been a digital image I’m 99% certain it would be deleted.

To put the montage into context I need to explain that although my husband loves flowers I can count on one hand how many times he has bought them for me. He also took the headless photograph of me (along with other disastrous ones that I cannot throw away). My hubby prefers flowers to be left outside, a sentiment shared by my nature loving maternal grandfather who requested that no flowers be placed on his coffin. Sadly, his  wish was not granted because some of his relatives felt it ‘not right’ to have no flowers at a funeral. I love flowers inside the house and outside, I buy them and immortalise them through my scanography or photography.

 

 

My daughter found the photograph of my paternal grandmother Florence, seen below with her three sisters, on a genealogy site. Writing on the image indicates who each sister is. I certainly recognise my grandmother because I have a photograph of her as a young woman inside a locket with my grandad.

 

Photography has traditionally been linked with veracity, the camera supposedly doesn’t lie. Yet is photographic evidence of our ancestral roots truly reliable ? I wonder who wrote the captions on the photograph, they could just as easily mislead.

 

A really short post

One of my ‘work in progress’ images was shared by the OCA last week on its FaceBook page 🙂 .