Tuesday, 28 December 2010

At the End of It All...

It's habit forming this blogging lark...though pretty much the whole shebang is over now...I recently wound up the bank account set up to support the show...it still seems as if the group has a life beyond the course. Is this true of all cohorts of students? Somehow I doubt it. Whether we really have staying power is yet to be proven but I am optimistic. The image above I took at the last gathering of the group...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A Few More Images

from the show... the opening party, the work of David Manley and Kate Luck.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Exhibition Postscript

Our exhibition went extremely well...both PV's were well attended and the work looked sharp and professional. Everyone had taken care to present enough work without overcrowding the (relatively) small space. The rooms evened out nicely with conventionally framed work mixed with other styles of presentation. All in all an excellent show that attracted good comment. Shown here is (from top to bottom) Ian Fletcher, Adela Miencelova, David Singh and David Atterbury/Daisy Fawcett.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Huzza! the Show opens!

This coming Sunday @ 2pm our MA show finally opens...it runs for a week at Pedestrian Arts, on Rutland Street in Leicester. It's opposite the LCB Depot (a well known local Managed Art workspace organisation) and just up and around the corner from The Curve (the new Arts Centre) - so in the heart of Leicester's Cultural Quarter. There's another View on Thursday the 15th at 6pm. Everybody is welcome to either of these - and if you can't make either drop in from 9 till 5 weekdays and 11 till 4 on Saturday 17th or 1 till 4 Sunday 18th.

It's been a slog getting it to this point but - hopefully - it will turn out well and attract a deal of attention!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Graduation and beyond

The reason behind this blog is now well in the past - the course finished back in May - our results were posted in June (I passed with a fair mark) and we graduated in July. I have no intention of posting any of the very twee graduation pictures here. What next - well I have been actively involved in the establishment of a Royal Photographic Society Contemporary Group in the East Midlands and have entered a number of competitions (to date unsuccessfully...) and there is still our graduation exhibition to come. This opens on the 10th October - yes 10/10/10 (though at 2pm rather than 10 am!) at Pedestrian Arts in the centre of Leicester (just around the corner from The Curve and opposite the LCB Depot in what is known as the 'Cultural Quarter'. We hope to be a significant contribution to cultural life in the city over that period!

After a fair gap I have been taking pictures again. At the moment there is no substantive theme at work...other than one or two ongoing obsessions that I have had for some time. One of these is a long term study of the Ligurian Apennines shot from a friend's terrace and inspired by a quote from Lina Waterfield's book Castle In Italy - “a superb view of the Apennines on every side while to the east were the serrated marble mountains of Carrara. There is a local legend that Dante conceived the idea of the circles of Hell and Pergatory while wandering as an exile in the Lunigiana for wheresoever he stood he saw ranges of mountains around him.”

Monday, 7 June 2010

Post Hoc Rations and relations

So it's well past the event now - indeed we have been marked - are indeed marked men and women now. I have debated whether I should have now left this behind me. There's a strong case for doing so. But the trouble is that one becomes addicted to the steady flow of useless (and even occasionally useful) information that comes through the electronic pipes. For example the last time I read Greg Lucas's blog he was on the lookout for corduroyed gentlemen on old record sleeves. Now for reasons too foolish to recount I have a huge collection of dodgy vinyl. So I rooted through it to see what cheesy geezers I could find...but like Greg I simply couldn't find much (despite imagining that I'd have quite a few). But I did find a few (see above) that I considered he'd find of interest...so imagine my surprise when one of mine turned out to be one of his. Now though there are mitigating circumstances (after all we were on the look out for Corduroy or as it turned out Corduroy sub) but the chances of the same two albums coming out of the cloud given the many many millions in the world - slim I'd say.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Last Rites

Well…that’s it then! We handed in our work at around two pm today…hung around for a few minutes, said goodbyes to the guys…and headed off to the restaurant for a long lunch.

It will be a little sad not to be gearing up for another session in the months ahead – I have really enjoyed the course and especially the people. I always used to kick off my ‘Dean’s intro’ at Derby by saying to the audience of freshers – turn to the people either side of you and take a good hard look…because they are the people from whom you will learn most, if not nearly everything, over the years of your study. And thus it was with the course at DMU, which is not to undervalue the terrific support, encouragement and insight of the staff team who also gave marvellous value for money.

What exactly I have got out of the course I'm still too close to say. I've learnt a lot...about Photography I now know what I don't know and have a glimpse of what is still there to learn. About life - well - I understand so much more about how tricky and complex it is for all of us and how much tough stuff we all go through and how marvellously resilient and creative some people can be even under real duress and stress. More than anything I feel as if the enormity of just being here is something we all share - or at least those of us who attempt something of this kind...whether we complete (and how meaningless is that when you are undertaking this kind of endeavour) or not.

I have been humbled more times than I care to admit by my lack of knowledge and immensely glad and honoured by the hugely interesting material that my peers and the staff have either achieved and/or created. There has been some terrific stuff and I am richer by far for knowing about a lot of it. The work of artists such as Claude Cahun and Alex Soth and of writers such Michel Tournier and - more than anyone - WG Sebald have all been of value to me. Without the course who knows when I may have come across them?

So I shall be very sad on the 9th June when I shan't be on my way down the M1 to Leicester to meet up with the guys...but I'm still feeling good about knowing them and for having the opportunity to study at DMU. Thank you to you all - and to Paul, Mike & Greg. It's been a fabulously enriching experience.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Final Part

Part Three

Part Two

The full set and the introductory text

Well, for better or worse, here's the final full submission of images (In four sets of four as they appear in the portfolio)! Printed both as A2 on Innova Smooth Cotton High White 100% Cotton 315 gsm and as A3 on German Etching 310 gsm - not yet sure which of these two will be submitted this coming Wednesday. Will sleep on it. Just relieved it is all over...as I had already put the essay to print last week. It doesn't seem much now it's all together - but for me it has been a real voyage of discovery and something of a trial too.

The text that accompanies the prints runs as follows:

The lights gleams an instant then it's night once more
Pozzo, Waiting For Godot, Samuel Beckett

Out Of The Woods - A Painter's View explores the subtleties of the natural world through the prism of the artist's body. The landscape is viewed through the artist's X ray of his diaphragm and the mechanics of the body suggest contrasts between inhaling and exhaling, light and dark, between what comes to life and what passes away.

The images capture the fleeting moments of light; that 'sweet light' around the rising and setting of the sun, when the light is warm. They invite the viewer to look a little slower, wait a little longer, and discover subtle nuances of colour, line, form and texture.

The portfolio encourages a reading of the land that is a form of the contemporary sublime and a meditation on the purpose and meaning of our lives measured against the enormity of our natural world.

To experience a thing as beautiful means to experience it wrongly
Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Final Hurrah

Well that's more or less it! Today was the final crit - I presented a summary of what I'd got - to deafening silence. It's pretty poor all round, I know that, but I'd have appreciated a bit of feedback even if only negative stuff that I could feed into some minor changes between now and next Wednesday. But I suppose people feel too embarrassed to say anything with outcomes that are so evidently weak. At the weekend I felt like throwing the camera into the Etang but I didn't...I'm still hopeful that - one day - I'll make something half decent. But that day is some years off which doesn't help with a programme that has a deadline of only six days away! What the final submission will be physically I'm still not sure - I'm hedging my bets with several different sets of prints in production including duratrans and large scale images. The one thing I've got out of all this already is the sublime feeling you get when you are alone in the landscape at five in the morning!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Election Day - and completing the text too...

It's election day in the UK. Rather than take any notice of this depressing spectacle (no likely outcome seems satisfactory to me) I've tidied up my essay and printed it off. My feeling is that it could be better but there has to be a cut off point and I've reached it! Not least as, in the final analysis its the portfolio of images that really matters and I still have work to do there. I am experimenting with a lightbox and transparency as one possible final presentation solution. Having said that I can only present one or two images in that manner if that is the way forward. Another solution is good quality A2 prints - I can only print at A3 and I simply don't feel that the size of these is sufficient for what I feel the pictures convey - but that means farming out the work to others - something I'm rather against. Time is also a factor now...if I am sending them out the 2/3 day turn around has to be factored in. Decisions, decisions... but at least the text is now off my back!

Monday, 3 May 2010

Pushing On Towards The Line

A long weekend passes and with it another couple sessions to try and get the pictures that will make up the final sequence. Although I have enough images to do so I, like most people I guess, am always trying to get those elusive final few pictures that will make all the difference - in my head at least. But along the way there has to be some playtime so I'm making the occasional composite image that I think might be an altogether different presentation that I'll find some use for after it's all over. This week the first batch of definite inclusions are to be printed - with a second batch on Monday week following one final session...about which more to say next week...

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Crunch Time is here!

Even I am starting to think that it might be decision time. After all the draft essay will have been picked over and analysed by tomorrow evening so there's clearly little time to start completely rethinking that. Strangely that will be the penultimate session for the course (if one discounts the hand in day itself) and it still seems a little unreal that, although the sessions have been fewer this year than last, this activity that has dominated quite a deal of my time for two years is rapidly drawing to a close. More of that in a few weeks when it's over and I can use this to mull over both what it has been and what I have learnt from it.

So yesterday I took some firm decisions. Firstly the submission will be on A3 paper, as I want to print it myself, want to have the flexibility to include pictures up till around a week from hand in (some have suggested this is a little crazy but...) and for both economic and practical handling reasons. However I do think the suggestion that emerged from last week's crit (from Mike S, one of the teaching staff) of light boxes for these images is a really good one. After all even a casual glance at them would be enough for most people to see that the raison d'etre for the work is light and its absence and well constructed lightboxes would enhance the work greatly. So the impulse to firm up the form of the work and to begin initial selection of the pictures that will make up the sequence has been underlined by this decision. Not least because I want an example to submit alongside the paper prints.

Choosing the image to have made up is tough - the very nature of the work is that the differences are accentuated by the similarities - so it's rather a case of Hobson's choice. However the contrasts twixt light and dark is greater in some than others so that has been a consideration. In the end I plumped for the one above.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Where Does The time Go?

It is really unbelievable that its two weeks since I last posted here...and even more mystifying that the MA is only a few weeks from completion. The current state of play is that there are probably around six images that may make the final cut and there are some five sessions planned to try and cull the remainder - to hopefully produce a sequence of 14 or 15. Earlier this week we had what is almost certainly the last really useful group crit (we have another but too close to the wire to allow for much adjustment, indeed none if you went down the route of book production). Even allowing for changes and adjustments beyond three weeks (and thats where we will be at the end of next week) is risky if one wants commercially produced prints...something that looks likely if I want to have mine printed larger than A3. A good friend suggests I should have everything done and dusted by now...but its just not my style! As for the text....I find that can't really be sown up until the work is pulled together but given the requirements for binding that has to be submitted at least a week ahead of hand in. So all very hairy now!

Monday, 12 April 2010

The End Of Days

and after all that... pretty much what I'm after...

"The light gleams an instant then it's night once more"

Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett

The Brick Wall

It always happens...a crisis of confidence, a feeling that its all pointless, the brick wall! Even though conditions have been intermittently decent and I've been out there taking pictures I feel as if this project has little or no meaning or value. The text is rambling and over complicated and the photos increasingly arch and samey.... I really want to step through into one of those parallel universes where I'm doing something self evidently exciting and vibrant! But sadly that looks unlikely and I'm left with the work I have and how to breathe life into it...ironically now a metaphor that I'm trying to express directly in the pictures...

One small salvation is that, unless I've completely lost my faculties (always a possibility of course), when I look at other bodies of work by artists who relatively recently graduated and have achieved some recognition or success in the same area of activity it doesn't seem that the quality of idea being explored is a deal greater. A small crumb of comfort but nevertheless...

I'm looking at the moment at whether a small amount of judicious compositing might be in order...having already cropped images...all as a result of just looking and shooting rather than having a theory of production that is then simply carried out - there's always a danger this might look like indulgence and that its overdone but if its kept to a sparing application I think it may work.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Test Pieces

What with the poor light, the wind and rain this is yet to get into proper service. But the shots in the studio are promising...

Monday, 5 April 2010

Onwards Robots!

There is a certain robotic quality when you are under the cosh of a deadline...I have always rather liked the adrenaline rush when the going gets tough and something just has to come together. On the other hand my temptation is always to be pushing on with ideas for fresh images without fully realising the possibilities of those that came before. I'm a terribly poor completist...and with this project its vital it is a completed piece of work rather than a hotch potch of ideas that never came properly to a conclusion.

Nevertheless I have had to rethink at least a part of the idea to enable the inclusion of the Portrait filter as well as the landscape. Given that all the pictures are landscapes this is a wee bit perverse but I'm following an internal logic of my own and this is where it has led me. Maybe the portrait images ought only to be single pictures - I'd almost definitely decided to pair up the landscape ones but maybe that too needs a rethink. Some decisions are best left to the final hurdle though...

I'm yet to use the portrait filter (that utilises an old x-ray plate taken during my serious illness of nearly four years ago now) in earnest but I'm already excited by what might result from this picture taken a couple mornings ago from the garden window.

Friday, 2 April 2010


It's not the best of ways forward but for various reasons the last week or two have been pants for progress on the final submission. So April has now become the month where it all has to happen. So awake at 4am this morning hoping to catch the rays as they rose...only they didn't - not until around 11am...so dog tired and a little demoralised. But still I've a list of sunrise times and a set of locations to visit. And of course there's always the text lingering in the background...

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

In Situ

Just when I'm settled I start looking again at those askew images I have started taking alongside the straight ahead pictures... I kind of like the heroic quality of the stick when seen from this angle!

The Confluence of Two Rivers

For better or worse the final shape of the project is now coming together. I suppose there may some revisioning as a result of the last crit before Easter (tomorrow) but it's hard to see how, at this stage, a dramatic change is going to take place in the concept or the form of the final work. This piece is, I'm pretty sure, now complete - it's title is "The Confluence of Two Rivers" and it (along with the other four pieces in production at present) means that the idea has travelled a fair distance since starting out last autumn. There will a paired image of Dimminsdale as part of the project but will be simply titled "A small piece of English Woodland" in keeping with the other titles indicating typical landscape types. Behind the images and their titles stands a melange of ideas around landscape photography and more widely landscape as a historical genre in art. This in itself is hardly a new or original idea although accordingly it makes it easier to write about as quite a few other photographers have recently been working the same seam - albeit I trust a little differently than myself. In a way its a calmed moment - I have decided on what it should be and am putting it into effect - the hysteria will return I guess as I wrestle the final selection of 12 to 15 pictures to the ground and try to subdue them...

At the Confluence...

of two rivers this morning - the Trent & the Soar - with the Radcliffe Power Station in frame. Funny how the Power Station's around the UK (and Radcliffe in particular) have exercised so many photographers over the years and funny how I've come back to it myself. I'm now using the filtering device - just occasionally - without the filter! Have also taken to placing it off centre and at the margins of the frame - all symptomatic of a growing desire to free myself of the obligation to use the damn thing at all...but as it has been the idea that seems dangerous as well as perverse. However at 6:30 in the morning (having risen at 5) you find yourself easily distracted from your purpose!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Driftin' & Driftin'

Sometimes the will just leaves you. Being rather poorly hasn't helped either. But there's a definite whiff of ennui surrounding my endeavours at present. I've got a couple more images that will make it into the sequence for the submission so that at least will make next Wednesday less embarrassing than I expected a day or so back. And who knows there's still the weekend and early next week to go - though Tuesday is being given over to a trip up north - this time to view the Simon Roberts exhibition at the NMM.

Instead I've rather got taken with looking over some of my other pictures, there are others! and I've decided to have a go at a first competition for photographers...risky but fun. Not least as its getting me to print some of my other images up. All this singularly the fault of my friend Simon...whose blog alerted me to the deadline for the RPS print show that he was privileged to have a print in last time around. I very much doubt I'll get anywhere with my efforts but we shall see. My wife, bless her, suggested that one of the images "was the best you've ever shown me"! It's here for other's to judge!

Friday, 12 March 2010

All in the light...

At least that's the sage advice I've been given. It has to be generic landscape types now... so moorlands, formal gardens, beaches, and other types will join the woodland and forest to try and capture a set of worthwhile images for the final submission. And it's all in the light - the device needs to be pushed into the unfocussed foreground - so that it has more ambiguity and so that the light - either the early morning or late afternoon light it has to be - is captured inside the device. So I just have to go and do it! Alongside which of course there has to be a text. But given the length of journey, and the distance travelled simply recording the twists and turns will pretty much demolish the word count so its time to buckle up and get on with the final lap!

Monday, 8 March 2010

First Forest Picture

Here is the first composite forest picture - it was taken near Darkhill in the Forest of Dean - not far from the site of David Mushet's Foundry at which his experiments with iron founding and the discovery of steel took place. A key issue is whether or not this is at all important or interesting in the context of the work? If it isn't (and to be frank the visual evidence isn't at all compelling!) then the key issue has to be whether I should focus on the generic landscapes as a way forward. A first step needs to be taken so I'm planning rapid trips to locations that can furnish very different visuals including several that I'm fond of and know reasonably well. First up the pool on top of the Roaches in the south west of the Peak...

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Back from another woodland

A trip to Monmouth was an opportunity to get into the Forest Of Dean. Now that I'm decided on a course of action that will take my filtering apparatus around the UK I immediately hit a fairly obvious problem - viz. one bit of woodland can look much like another - especially when using the kind of device I am. Hopefully when I get to the coast it will all look a lot different.

Another fairly obvious issue is the associative nature of certain kinds of imagery - and because I made it with the very specific purpose I didn't stop to look hard enough and understand how others might view it and the pictures taken with it. A good friend looked at one of the images and immediately thought of a music stand... and of course it is an altogether obvious referent - along with a lectern maybe. And that is interesting to me as if I go back a fair few years (around the early 1990's) I made several works that paired up abstract painted elements with photography and in addition used a lectern as part of the structure (see the photo of the work called "As I walked Out One Summer Morning"). So now I have to do some more thinking through of the whole thing and how and what these aspects say about what I'm trying to figure out with this work.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Moving On...

At last some decent late afternoon light! So down to my favourite riverside location to try out the filter stick approach at a different site - hopefully the first of many. Although I'm now thinking of choosing a variety of sites for their significance in terms of their attributes as sites of acculturation this one just about counts if one accepts the disused and dilapidated boathouse that makes an appearance in the lower right hand corner of the image (not that you would necessarily see it!). Anyway it was an opportunity to make some more images and to develop the idea in the camera and afterwards on the screen. This is really vital at this stage - simply to keep on making the pictures, thinking them through visually and assessing the overall impact a selection of times, lighting effects and locations interact to make a picture that has a real resonance.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Too Much Information or a rich rhizome?

I have been thinking of alternative locations for the remaining images for my project. At first I thought of using a variety of generic landscapes - but really this seemed too random. There has to be a rationale that stacks up. A conversation on the road with my good friend Simon threw up the possibilities that a number of equally potent sites returning to nature as Dimminsdale provides. In particular in addition to the Forest Of Dean where I shall be later this week, Simon suggested Orford Ness amongst others. Strangely I'm just completing my reading of 'The Rings Of Saturn' by W.G.Sebald and he has just reached Orford himself in the strange rambling journey he has chronicled across Suffolk. It must be an omen.

So I look up Orford Ness in good old google. But as so often it throws up delightfully chaotic linkages that can so easily set me off on other tracks...I sometimes think the net was designed exclusively for me...the 'rhizomatic' deleuzean nature of it suits my magpie mind so well! So I come across Matthew Roberts - an artist I've not previously known but now want to know better! His watercolours of the site (one above) only serve as an intro to the project he undertook in 2008.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

New Paintings

Three new canvasses that I'm quite pleased with! Nothing to do with my MA work of course...though it's surprising how the thinking about one feeds into the thinking, if not the practice, of the other. In fact there's perhaps more of a connection than I'd want to admit - the interesting element is the way the colour and incident is being pushed out of the picture plane in the paintings and into the centre of the photographs. Why this is I'm not at all sure though I suspect it may have a lot to do with the physicality of paint and canvas as a medium and the choice of digital for the production of the photographs. Even in writing this I'm thinking I may revert, if only as an experiment, to chemistry based photography to try out how it affects the image production for the MA work.