Category Archives: Research and Reflection

Assignment 5 – Progress with research to date 18/10/15

With the walk behind me, I am acting on the suggestion of the OCA TV group and recording each section of the walk in my learning log. I was walking with my friend Angie Lardner who kept me moving rather than letting me take too many photographs. I also found that two pairs of eyes enabled us to see what the other missed. These notes are recording my thoughts and feelings at being in the landscape that is part of my family history. The photographs I did take were mainly for reference. I will return to retake some when the conditions and viewpoints are optimal. The hardest task will be to take this account and extract from it a simple, understandable and interesting photo essay.

Wednesday 23 September 2015 – Bordon, Hampshire to South Harting, West Sussex

This section of the walk takes me from my present home where I have lived over a period of 29 years, first for 6 years and again for 13 years since 2002. During my first stay, I learned from my Aunt, (my Dad’s oldest sister) that my Grandparents lived in Bordon and my Aunt was born in Whitehill. Subsequent research into James Down’s Army record confirmed this and he served at Longmoor Camp. My Aunt was born on 5th  January 1907. Although the record shows that she was born in Bordon, at that time the camps at Bordon and Longmoor were quite primitive so it is likely that as expectant parents, my grandparents may have been billeted with civilians in Whitehill. A lot has changed in the village since 1907 but one thing that was certainly there was the Bronze Age round Barrow, now surrounded by houses, the main road and the village hall. 

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Also at this time, 2nd Corporal James Down was re-engaged to serve 21 years with the colours, his record being annotated and signed by the Captain OC 8 Railway Co Royal Engineers at Longmoor. The Woolmer Instructional Railway which was being built by the Engineers at Longmoor was a 9 mile loop of track and marshalling yards built to train soldiers in the use of a railway for supplies and troop movements on campaigns.

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The track bed survives and serves as an access road to the Longmoor Ranges and is used regularly by military vehicles and civilians for walking and cycling. Once we had walked the main road down to Whitehill we turned east  on the track towards a pedestrian bridge to take us across the A3 and onto the public bridleway over Weaver’s Down. All of the landscapes in this area are heathlands, conifer and silver birch with heathers, gorse and broom. The soil is light and sandy, not supporting much more than permanent pasture where it has been claimed for agriculture. South of Weaver’s Down the OS map tells me that the line of the Roman Road  from Chichester to Silchester crosses our path.

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The line of this road has been extrapolated from ariel surveys carried out in 1949 and evidence of earthworks on the ground. Interestingly, the main road in the centre of Longmoor Camp follows the line of the road and in several places, my route follows the line closely. Archaeological excavations that my father carried out on Roman Villas on the West Dean Estate  in the Chilgrove Valley re-enforce  my  close family connection to this route.

Passing the edge of  the Military training area as we walked south, we joined the Sussex Border Path, crossed the main Portsmouth – Waterloo railway line and walked into Rake, crossing the old A3 route, identifying an old milepost, upon which we could only identify the the numerals 17.

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Looking at the map and tracing the old A3 route south-west is the approximate distance  in miles to Portsmouth. At this point, the old Roman road lies just under 2 miles (3km) away to the east. Continuing south below a wooded escarpment, still following the border path between Sussex and Hampshire, we crossed another main route, the A272 at Durleighmarsh and at Wenham Common crossed the now dismantled Petersfield to Midhurst Railway line which operated between 1864 and 1955. Turning away from the Border Path at West Harting we came to the tree clad north side of Torberry Hill. The land here is in private hands with no public access granted by the landowners, Buriton Estates so it was not possible to visit the site of the 1958 excavations at the Iron Age Hill Fort that were the start of  our family association with the archaeology of West Sussex. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torberry_Hill

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During the summer of 1958, my parents, sister and I camped on the hill and helped with the excavations. I can recall that this dig also extended into the autumn and I spent several Sundays with my father on the hill. My abiding memory was sitting on the steep southern slope looking over the village church at South Harting, whistling loudly to hear the echo around the valley. My love of the Downs probably started at this time. Being brought up on the coastal plain, hills were a novelty but always in the background. From my bedroom window I could see Trundle Hill with its three masts looking like cricket stumps. It seemed so remote but was in fact, only 10 miles away.

We passed to the east of the hill on the lane and then crossed fields towards Church Farm and rested in the churchyard with a cup of tea before driving home. There are several folk tales associated with Torberry Hill. It is said to  be formed from the the Devil’s spoon which he cast aside in anger when he burned his lips while tasting hot punch from the Devil’s Punchbowl. Rumours of buried treasure on the hill have given rise to rhymes which state:

“Who knows what Tarberry would bear,

Would plough it with a golden share”

Perhaps this is linked with the activities of fairies who reputedly dance there on Midsummer Eve.

Thursday 24 September 2015 – South Harting to Lavant

Todays walk started with a climb to the top of Harting Down, overlooking Torberry Hill  to the north. We made our way through woodland to the south, skirting the Uppark estate and on to Apple Down.

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This was another significant site for my father and his team of archaeologists from 1982 – 87. Topped by a small reservoir at a height of 174 metres, it is an unremarkable hill but the remains of two Saxon Cemeteries  were found on it’s northern slope and provided a valuable historical insight into the social structure of late Romano British and early Saxon society. From the top of Apple Down to the south west a view of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight opened up as we made our way to the to the small church at Up Marden dedicated to St Michael.

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We took a tea break here on a bench in the churchyard where my father chose to have his ashes buried. A commemoration stone on the wall marks the spot.

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From Up Marden, our path took us down the face of the chalk escarpment, through trees and across meadows through a herd of Galloway cattle to the village of East Marden. Climbing up another escarpment, East Marden Hill which quickly becomes the long crescent shaped Bow Hill and runs north/south along the Chilgrove Valley terminating at Kingley Vale. I’m not sure if the hill is named for its shape or because of its groves of Yew trees which would have provided the wood for the longbows of the English archers in times past. Past Bow Hill farm the vistas open up and the forestry plantations on Whitedown and Warren hanger can be seen to the east.

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From this point, we walk into the  woodland of Blackbush copse and the Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve. This is another area that we frequently visited as children with my parents. At Goose Hill Camp, another Iron Age Hill Fort on the side of Bow Hill, my father’s pre-war interest in Archaeology was revived when he joined the Excavation team of J R Boyden in 1955 as a volunteer. I tried to find the earthworks and ditches but as they are covered by low growing yews and undergrowth, I was not successful on this occasion but did find them and photograph them later.

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Below Goose Hill Camp, alongside the B2141 lies the remains of a Roman Villa which my father excavated over an extended period from 1963 along with another site to the north east alongside Hylter’s Lane.

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A brief stop was made for lunch at a point on the path that afforded views to the south and east  over Lavant, Goodwood, Chichester and the coast at Bognor Regis. I’m sure when we were young the undergrowth and the trees at the southern end of hill were short enough for us to sit and picnic on the slope and take in the view while sitting down.  We quickly reached the trig point on Bow Hill (206 m) and shortly after a round barrow and the two large burial mounds known as the Devils Humps.

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Rather than take the steep slope down into Kingley Vale we skirted around Stoke Down taking the farm track which led us past the information centre for  the National Nature Reserve, across the end of  the Chilgrove Valley with a view of Bow Hill, to the B2141 at Welldown Farm.

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Crossing over to Binderton Lane, we made our way past Binderton House, across the A286 onto the track bed of the former Chichester to Midhurst railway line now known as the Centurion Way.

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This line was opened in 1881 and operated with passengers until 1935 and goods only until 1951 when a section of the embankment south of Midhurst was washed away causing a crash which closed the Cocking to Midhurst section. The line operated between Chichester and Cocking for two more years but terminated in Lavant in 1953. This was a general goods line until 1968 and served as a transport for sugar beet and then the Lavant Gravel pit until 1991. The Centurion Way was opened in 2003.

The track bed has been built over for a short section. The trail passes through a housing estate until the site of the former station next to the bridge over the A286. It then continues to Chichester Westgate. At the railway bridge, we found a footpath into the village and ended our walk in Lavant.

Friday 2 October –  Lavant to Rose Green, Bognor Regis via Sidlesham Quay

Today’s walk was a solo effort. Angie had a game of golf waiting. I left the car in Lavant and walk along the Centurion way into Chichester. On the way I passed under the bridge which carries Brandy Hole Lane across the track.

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This was very close to my maternal grandparent’s home in Summersdale and I can recall we often used to walk from The Broadway along this lane as a child. I can remember we always looked over the parapet of the bridge and I think I can remember seeing a train passing at least once.

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Very close to the copse here is an earthwork, possibly Iron age in origin where we used ride our bikes up and down the steep banks. There are several memorable places in this area that I will return to photograph, including my grandparent’s house and the Rousillion Barracks Guardhouse.

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It is at this barracks that my other grandfather James Down, transferred from the East Kent Regiment to the Royal Engineers in 1898. The walk into Chichester, mostly in a cutting with trees, ends when the Centurion Way reaches Westgate by the Bishop Luffa School playing fields. From here it is a quick walk eastwards into the city where my memories are full of the sites that my father excavated over his career lasting many decades. It is unfortunate that as a teenager, I took very little interest in them although my sister and I were very often ‘conscripted’ to help, usually on a Sunday and not willingly. My plan was always to offer to wash the volunteer’s cars, making some pocket money, and when that job was finished, I would go off and explore the city, which in the late 50’s and early 60’s was very quiet. (long before Sunday Trading)

As I walked towards the Westgate, I passed the Old Tannery, where I believe the Archaeological Unit was housed at one time. During the late seventies my father stopped being a volunteer and became the Director of Archaeology for Chichester. All of my experiences were very early on and as I made my way into the city I was recalling the places where I had worked with him. The Theological College Garden, The Bishops Palace Garden, Gough’s Art shop, Morant’s Department store, David Grieg’s; all were places that, in the process of redevelopment left exposed ground which had to be excavated before building work could continue. Again, I shall return to city later to see how I can interpret this idea. I did take a quick tour of the Bishops’ Palace Garden which is open to the public.

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It affords a good view of the cathedral. From here, I followed the  course of the River Lavant and the line of the Roman Walls to Southgate, stopped to photograph the Chichester Court building (father was also a JP and sat on the district bench of the Magistrates Court for many years) but my main reason for photographing here was the memory of the day that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards appeared in court on drugs charges.

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I was supposed to be on day release at Chichester College but a friend and I decided to queue for a seat in the public gallery. Unfortunately, the queue was longer than the space available so I cannot claim to have been in court to see the proceedings.

My route now took me across the railway line (over the footbridge where on one of my Sunday jaunts, I used to stand and watch the trains pass, hoping to see one of the few steam trains running on the Southern Railway).

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This next section of the walk was alongside the Canal Basin and on the towpath of the Chichester Ship Canal to Hunston. Another branch of my family, my mother’s Grandfather Edward Frogbrook was a seaman from nearby Bosham. During an internet search a few years ago, I found his name on a ship’s list for the port of Shoreham. In 1881, at the age of 17,  he was an Ordinary Seaman on board “Forager of Portsmouth”. A subsequent search of the library aboard the Dutch Schooner “Oosterschelde” revealed a book about coastal schooners in which “Forager” was mentioned as a coal carrier which carried coal to Chichester. Alongside the canal basin, up until the late sixties, there was a gas works. It is likely that  Great Granddad Ned was a frequent traveller on the canal which links Chichester Harbour with the city.

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I can remember  walking the towpath from Chichester to Birdham on a hike with a school friend. This was unusual because usually, we cycled everywhere. This must have been one of my first ever self planned walks.

This section of the towpath is only about 2 Km and I was soon at Hunston on the B2145 Selsey Road for a short section and turned left onto a lane leading to the church, Church Farm and the Manor House. From here the lane became a footpath, leading across flat agricultural land to South Mundham. This area is well known for growing vegetable crops on the rich clay soils of the coastal plain. I walked through the remains of a crop of courgettes on my way to Fishers Farm.

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The day was cool and bright with a low sun which made very pleasant walk. At other times, this can be a very bleak and windswept place. As a family, we often cycled the 6 miles between Chichester  and Rose Green. In the winter, the final section between Lagness and Sefter Farm off the B2166, was always hard work being buffeted by the SW wind.  There were not many people about but I did chat to some dog walkers on my way and saw some mini buses parked in a field of sweet corn. The harvesters were invisible. I had chosen to include Sidlesham Quay on my walk because this area was home to my maternal grandfather’s family who were included in my Assignment 2 on Remembering. As a family we also visited Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve and sometime made the journey around the harbour edge to Sidlesham Quay and visited one of my Mum’s uncles (Uncle Sam I think) who lived nearby.

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The path to Sidlesham Quay was straightforward enough. Past Honer Farm, the land use changed to rough pasture. This part is low lying and quite wet. Pagham Harbour is now silted up and the Quay at Sidlesham has long been out of use. The Nature Reserve preserves the unique saltmarsh habitat and is an RSPB reserve. As a sixth former I undertook an environmental project on the harbour’s shingle bank for my A Level in Biology.

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When I reached the Quay, I sat for a while to eat lunch and then took the rather wet and muddy path around the edge of the saltmarsh to the Pagham Wall, a sea defence which protects the land around the Pagham Rife from the sea.

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There were more people here, quite a lot of birdwatchers and photographers. At the end of the wall, I turned inland again towards Nyetimber, across the fields, through the village, past the former Windmill and though housing estates to my Mother’s home in Raleigh Road. As I took my boots off at the front door, I looked out across the road to the Rose Green Primary School, where I was a pupil from 1954 – 60. I took out my camera and photographed the view of the school and carefully included the classroom where, in 1960, a student teacher on teaching practice from the Bognor Regis College of Education, introduced us to photography and showed us how to make a pinhole camera…

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Summary

With the walk now behind me and perhaps just one more day of photography down at the end of the walk to fill in the gaps, this review of the route and the photography has given me some ideas for a  less complex topic for my essay. However I am conscious of the time I have taken so far, the 31 October deadline and my impending holiday from 11 November – 2 December. My topic for the essay is tending towards the ancient monuments and sites of historical significance within the landscape that my father worked on during his career.

OCA Study Visit – Richard Long – Time and Space – Arnolfini, Bristol 03/10/15

I have been interested to see Richard Long’s work after being given his name (and Andy Goldsworthy’s) by one of my previous tutors during a discussion about long distance walking.

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http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/richard-long-time-and-space

My current project “Walking Home” involves a 41 mile walk over three days, tracing closely the drive I make regularly to visit my mother at our family home in Bognor Regis where I was brought up. Having completed the walk, I wanted to look at the way Long works with time,  distance and the landscape, hoping to be inspired as I present images of personal significance in an area that means so much to me.

I found Richard Long’s ideas beautifully simple, that walking and journeys are common to all mankind in all eras. As soon as we can stand, we place one foot in front of another and move through space at a pace which is natural and allows us to observe the world around us as we travel. This is what walkers find so inspiring and why it is such a popular pastime. If you give your walk a purpose or apply an original idea to it (as Long does) then it is art.

Richard Long presents his created  art from walking in several ways. As an idea in text, or as a mark or construction in the landscape which is then recorded as a photograph and left as a semi permanent sculpture. Whichever method of presentation is used, the walk is completed and even though invisible, it is always present  and referred to as an idea.

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In these examples. Long has, (I think) related locations and events to the thoughts he was having at the time or words that express his response to those locations and events. In the second example, he has distilled the five day experience into twelve words arranged so their lengths evokes a perspective.

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Richard Long – A line in the Himalayas 1975  – Made on a 23 day walk in Nepal

This image is one of the photographs used for the publicity of this exhibition. It also appears in the book I bought there, “The Art of Walking – a field guide” I was interested by the accompanying text in the book, written by Long in 1988: “There are a lot of things theoretical and intellectual to say about lines and circles, but I think the very fact that they are images that don’t belong to me and, in fact, are shared by everyone because they have existed throughout history, actually makes them more powerful  than if  I was inventing my own idiosyncratic, particular Richard Long type images. I think it cuts out a lot of personal unwanted aesthetic paraphernalia.

Richard Long also uses the materials of the landscape for his art, a mud installation made from the sediments of the river Avon near Bristol. The work is called Muddy Waterfalls and again was used in the publicity material for the Arnolfini Exhibition.

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Finally, I was impressed by the massive cruciform sculpture made with loose slate blocks laid on the floor of the gallery. With little or no explanatory text, the viewer is left to reflect on the piece. It’s presence in the room is massive and we started looking for a pattern or system of construction. We discussed its thickness – would it have the same impact if the blocks were thinner? We decided that the weight and impact would be less if this were the case. Images of the construction on Long’s website gave no real clue as to the system of construction other than you can see taped markers on the floor as a guide to the shape. As in most of his work, the art is in the execution, the piece is just the evidence of that effort.

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Study Day – OCA TV group, Saturday 19 September 2015

Following a brief discussion about the presentation of each others work in members learning logs, I have decided just to outline the contributions of others that I may find useful on my own project. Suffice to say, the members produced a range of interesting and varied work. As a reminder only, I have listed below who presented and the topic of the presentation.

Steve – Holodeck Project for the Real or Fake assignment in DPP.

Amano – No way home as a Photography with text assignment for Landscape

Holly –  an assignment on Chronic Pain (perhaps C&N I’m not sure)

Catherine – Putting yourself in the picture, triptychs of herself in the landscape

Vicky – Presented her 50 words for women project which she has now finished and discussed with us her ideas for Putting herself in the picture  which involves issues that she has to deal with each day

Eddy – presented a personal project (motivated by Sharon),  expressing his feelings about his home situation and his wife’s illness. I can empathise with his situation, having been there. I’m not sure I would have been able undertake such a project myself.

Documentary Assignment 5 – Personal Project

As detailed elsewhere, I took along my plans for the 41 mile walk from Bordon to Bognor Regis, some sample images and the “Down Outings” journal that we made as a family in the 1950’s. John made a suggestion about writing a journal of the walk and the feelings I had as I progressed on the route. Everyone was fascinated by the book and Sharon suggested that I could present the project in a similar way to the original, perhaps as a hand made book which looked it. At this stage, I am still not sure of the form the project will take and what is motivating it beyond the original idea. Until I have experienced the walk and been to see Richard Long’s Time and Space exhibition in Bristol next month, I am letting ideas wash over me.

Sharon Boothroyd

At this meeting we, as a group said our farewells to Sharon and wished her luck with her new job and her future work. There was no-one who wasn’t sorry to see her go. We have all received so much support from her, both as a tutor and a mentor to the group. Thanks Sharon!

Rencontres des Arles 2015 3–5 September

Notes: Two days spent in Arles with OCA students, Principal Gareth Dent and Tutor Jesse Alexander. A variety of the many exhibits available were seen in the time available. I have shown these chronologically and given weight to those that I thought more relevant to my current studies  and those that particularly interested me. I will continue to research and read about these photographers after this post.

Day 1 –  4 September

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Stephen Shore: This massive exhibition covered Shore’s lifetime body of work. Apart from owning and reading his book “The Nature of Photographs”, until now I knew very little about his work and have had to do some research into the work we have seen. I thought it best to look at his website to research the relevant work. http://www.stephenshore.net/info.php

Stephen Shore on Uncommon Places https://vimeo.com/32562146

On American Surfaces https://vimeo.com/32521780

On New York City https://vimeo.com/131859555

I can only really sum up briefly what I thought of this work. It seems that although I had not consciously seen Shore’s work it seemed familiar and similar to other work by photographers working at the same time. Shore talked about “un-mediated” images “with no pretensions to art” which seems ironic as he is one of the photographers credited with the acceptance of colour photography as art during this period. His large format images are stunning, not only in their composition but their use of colour. I cannot understand the establishment viewpoint of the time that art photography could only be in black and white. When I started in photography in the 1960’s I was desperate to to work in colour but the  scant availability of media and cost of processing  was prohibitive.  He claims that he works by setting himself challenges which require him to solve problems. Once the problem is overcome, he moves onto the next challenge. I found his 2001 New York City images made an impression on me where he has totally inverted the idea of the street photograph as something spontaneous and set up a field of view, pre-focussed, inserted the film and waited for the  players to assemble. The spontaneity comes from the moment when the shutter is caused to open by the photographer. The images were presented in a darkened gallery at very close to life size which I thought was very effective.

Toon Michaels: American Neon Signs by Day and Night

This typological study, made in the 1970’s in Reno, Las Vegas and other US cities, was unusual for its time in that colour photography was still outside the “art” world.

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The pairs of images of the same scene made by day and night contrast the banality of the daylight scene against the saturated and garish night time view. I very quickly got bored with this exhibit and started looking for differences. I did find at least one pair in which the some of the illuminated letters had failed to show in the night time scene. I have to say that I am not a big fan of typologies. They say more about the lack of imagination of the photographer, relying as he does on obsessively recording similar scenes. (I’m thinking what my tutor would say if I presented this as an assignment) Ten  pairs would have been enough to make the point. It was a good venue and the work was well presented but the space was wasted on this exhibit.

Jean Marie Donat: Vernacular

This exhibit showed three collections from publisher Jean Marie Donat with the titles Predator, Teddy Bar and Blackface. Each collection was made from found archives and each was disturbing, either by the content of the photographs or by what could be imagined when looking at them. Dressing up in a Bear costume and posing with holiday makers at resorts, would I suppose seem acceptable in places where bears have a strong historical presence or association, (USA and Germany)  and provide employment for commercial photographers in an era when owning and using a camera was unusual and seen as difficult. What seems odd about these particular images is sometimes how fierce and  unfriendly the bear seems. They seem to have been taken in the period before and during WW2. The whole idea seems very odd and I was wondering why until I read about the picture of a Hitler Youth girl posing with the swastika clearly shown on her clothing. I could see that the collection had a duality, carefree day trippers and the presence of the Nazi threat effectively juxtaposed.

Predator is presented with a similar but un-named “threat”. Donat has sought out dozens of photographs in which the hatted shadow of the “photographer” appears in the foreground. Immediately I started to question this collection. Was the photographer deliberately including himself in this way? Why are there no pictures where the photographer is not wearing a hat? If they are from different photographers, is this some forgotten game played by photographers of the period? Why are there so many photographers so careless about lighting and composition? Finally, is the inclusion of a shadow merely a manipulation for effect? Perhaps this is a “trademark” of a particular group of photographers. I think the point Donat is making is that this un-named, mysterious presence could be a threat……

Blackface presents a look at the strange phenomenon of white people wearing black make-up in the pretence of being Negroes. In retrospect the idea seems almost unbelievably insensitive but at the time, it indicated just how little attention was paid to the feelings of minorities in the pursuit of entertainment. Photographic artist Anna Fox has recently done a piece on “Zwarte Piet, the blacked up assistant to St Nicholas found as part of the        Dutch Christmas Festivities, who, like Othello has Moroccan origins. http://www.annafox.co.uk/work/zwarte-piet/

Alice Wielinga: North Korea, A Life between Propaganda and Reality. This multimedia work was presented as an audio visual sequence with spoken commentary, music and constructed images which contrast the propagandized presentation of North Korea and the reality of the situation as witnessed by the photographer. Many of the images were constructed using the the official government photographs/paintings and Wielinga’s own photographs.

At the next venue, the work of several photographers was shown in two collections An Unusual Attention and An Exchange of Views. Both were avant garde but at this distance in time and at the end of a long day, my recollections are a bit unclear. The first collection was by four students Cloe Vignaud, Lois Matton, Swen Renault, and Pablo Mendez. The second sees three students looking at the work of established photographers, reworking and re-inventing it. I’ll do a search on the names to see if I can remind myself of the details.

The final exhibition of the day was this one:

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Of the exhibitions we saw today, this was the one I liked the most. It did not have the scale of the Shore exhibit but it was certainly large and ambitious in its intentions. The accompanying website shows interviews with Paulo Woods and other information on the company that is ‘The Heavens’.

http://www.theheavensllc.com/

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The project questions the morality of tax havens even though they may be legal, the deficit of avoided tax on local economies can be significant. The exhibition is set up in the “offices” of the “The Heavens”, a real company incorporated in Delaware USA, complete with reception and board room. To convey the impact of  tax avoidance by global companies, the first part of the exhibition shows the logos or products of familiar brands, backlit in a darkened room. The following rooms are normally lit and show large prints with comprehensive explanatory captions. As Paulo Woods explains, the concept of a tax haven is something difficult to grasp and even more difficult to convey in photographs. He and Galimberti succeed by taking us to the locations and giving an insight into what goes on, not only at the top of the social scale but the stark contrast of a woman working as a maid to a wealthy family, forced into prostitution to make ends meet.

After looking at the exhibition I started to consider whether I should reorganise my finances to avoid companies that encourage and condone tax avoidance. After some thought I decided  such action was pointless. The changes required need to come from within the financial sector. Money is power but unfortunately, transparency  in global financial dealings still has a long road ahead of it.

Day 2 – 5 September

It has been some time since I wrote up day 1 (work on assignments has taken priority) so my recollections may be a little hazy but I’ll do my best to recall where we were and what we saw.

First stop was the Grande Halle, Parc des Ateliers where there were a number of photographers work on show. For me, one of the most original was Thierry Bouet’s “Personal Affairs”. Talking about his work here: http://rencontres-arles-photo.tv/en/thme/arles-2015/#thierry-bouet he explains that he was amazed at the objects people sell on-line and wanted to tell a story about these objects in one picture. He says that his images are all staged in order to make a picture that is, in his opinion, suitable for an exhibition. However he stresses that all of the pictures tell the truth in that the location, people and objects are all real.

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In the same hall was Ambroise Tezenas “I Was Here – Dark Tourism” a disturbing look at the trend for tour companies to take tourists to the scene’s of war, atrocities and natural disasters. http://rencontres-arles-photo.tv/en/thme/arles-2015/#20778  Five years in the making, Tezenas signed up for tours to disaster sites and went,  as a tourist, for the same short period of time and photographed from the same locations. He remarks on the graffiti scrawled on a wall in Cambodia; “I Was Here” and questions the right that some feel they have to record their presence with little or no respect for the sensitivities of those effected directly by the disaster.

Marcus Brunetti “Facades” was a massive collection of European Churches, photographed architecturally in very flat light and printed very large. As a typology it has to be admired but I couldn’t get excited about such a large collection. A niche interest I think. http://rencontres-arles-photo.tv/en/thme/arles-2015/#markus-brunetti

Gareth set us a challenge before lunch, take a look at the exhibits for the “Discovery Awards” 2014 and select our choice for the winner and explain why. With only 30 minutes and 10 exhibits to look at, surprisingly not everyone finished. From the 6 that I managed to look at in the time, my favourite was Delphine Chanet’s constructed reality of the exploration of the world by a group of adolescent girls which told a story of young lives embarking on the journey to adulthood. Asked why I like this, I had to admit that it was probably because I didn’t have daughters, but I immediately recognised aspects of the attitudes and behaviour of my teenage grand-daughters. It took me back to the time when I was not a child nor adult when everything was confusing, sometimes scary but always and adventure. http://delphinechanet.com/projects/prix-decouverte/

The first exhibit in the afternoon was called Congo by Alex Majoli and Paulo Pellegrin. http://rencontres-arles-photo.tv/en/?s=Congo&lang=en#alex-majoli-paolo-pellegrin A large exhibition designed to be shown without captions and curated using the work of two photographers who wanted to show Africa free from the preconceptions and structures of photojournalism. It was skilfully presented and had a light mood, showing what I thought of as perhaps Africa as the people see it, life as they live it.

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After this we moved to the Total Records exhibit to see the  exhibit devoted to the art of the album cover and almost as an afterthought, to view three images submitted and displayed by myself, Gareth and Mirjam in the Sleeve faces  exhibition:

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Mine

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Mirjam’s

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Gareth and Julia’s

This was the icing on the cake for me Although my image didn’t make the book, it was gratifying to be recognised at such a prestigious festival.

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A very enjoyable two days in a beautiful city with convivial company, a comfortable hotel and good food. I shall be back!

 

OCA Thames Valley Study Group – Meeting 18th July 2015

Eleven students came today with tutor Jesse Alexander in attendance. The agenda for the meeting was to  bring work for discussion  and/or questions for the tutorial group to discuss. I have made brief notes below about each student’s contribution to the day. If  reference was made to another photographer’s work I have included the URL and will made research notes in my blog later.

Eddie provided a very useful insight into the quality of different types of inkjet paper by presenting 9 different papers from a Marrut sample pack all printed with the same image. This made comparisons easy and showed how the surface texture effected the quality and resolution of the image. Eddie’s preference was the Smooth Fine Art. My choice would have been the Archival Matt or the Pro Photo Satin/Oyster. The group went on to discuss limited edition fine art prints and whether if a print was destroyed (by accident) would the photographer be justified in refusing to provide a replacement? An interesting question.

Teresa is studying Context and Narrative. She presented a very personal piece of work entitled “When You Left” which was about  coming to terms with grief. She showed two versions, a book and seven single prints with texts. The work was in 2 sections, three images depicting grief and 4 depicting acceptance. I was interested in this work as I have been thinking for a long time about this subject and how to express my own emotional journey through similar circumstances. It may or may not be something I would be brave enough to share but I certainly got some inspiration from Teresa’s work. ref Sophie Rickett.

https://photoparley.wordpress.com/category/sophy-rickett/

Teresa also showed several prints recording progress in the rebuilding of her garden and a personal project on Stanwell (Middx) explaining her personal connections to the locations shown. (This ties in with my later question to the group about personal connections to the landscape which could form the basis of Assignment 5 for Documentary).

Richard is studying TAoP and DPP and showed prints covering some of the exercises for these courses. ref Victor Burgin: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Burgin His question to the group was, should he produce individual prints for the assignment on colour/complementary/contrasting or produce a print with several images show these various combinations. Jesse suggested the old Triple Print idea when a processor would produce one large and two small images on the same print. An interesting idea for presentation that I may use in future projects.

Katherine is also studying context and narrative and has experimented with self portraiture for the section “putting yourself in the picture”. She said she was uncomfortable with the idea of posing and taking her own picture but some of her results were interesting, a manipulated print where she appears twice in the same frame, a fun shot where she is wearing a wig. ~She complained that the remote trigger she was using for her Canon was less than sensitive but this gave rise to the most striking image of all where she had placed herself in the right half of the frame with some beautiful flowers (in a garden) to her left. Her right hand is raised as she points the remote at the camera. I thought this was a more subtle though still overt way of saying “this is my selfie”. https://www.flickr.com/photos/arreton/19282098498/in/pool-ocarts/

Vicki is working on “Woman as Object”. I’m not sure which course this is in. She discussed her idea of photographing parts of a mannequin (which she calls Hayley) in various locations in a shopping street which would include or suggest the terms that are used to objectify women and there bodies at locations which would include the butchers, pet shop, bakery e.g. meat, pet, buns etc. This provoked a lot of discussion around the topic of objectification which resurfaced later with Steve’s contribution. Meanwhile, I see from the Flickr page that Vicki has started her exploration of the High Street: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vickimartine/19635510848/in/pool-ocarts/

John is working on sequencing his “Purgatory” (see previous OCA TV posts) project for an exhibition in the Churchill Hospital, Oxford; 1 August – 12 Sept. He laid out a series of 23 prints in two rows (either side of a corridor) and asked for feed back from the group. Various options were suggested regarding the grouping and sequencing of the images which gave me an interesting perspective on how complex presenting an exhibition can be. I hope to be able to get to the exhibition sometime before it finishes.

Michael is studying Gesture and Meaning and showed his work for the Calendar project in which he has to produce a corporate calendar. He decided he would create a calendar for the fictional Hoverjoy company, based around the disused Hovertravel terminal in Ramsgate. He decided he would subvert the idea of the corporate calendar by using images and gender stereotypes from the 1970’s to exclude and subjugate the roles of everyone except the Males and the heterosexual family group of a man, wife and two children. The idea worked well although some of the images were a little unclear.

I took along my re-edited Assignment 3 for the group to discuss and I got good feedback from them and Jesse. Briefly (I shall expand on this under my Assignment 3 heading) Jesse thought the project was too complex and that I should restrict it to just Kelly’s musical career and contrast it with looking after the children. He also questioned whether my photographs needed captions as I had included all of  the story in the introductory explanation. I got some technical advice on using slow sync flash for low light photography at Kelly’s performance venues. Further editing and reshooting will take place in the coming week.

Steve is working on the Real or Fake assignment for DPP and had produced a video cover for the 1980’s TV series ‘V’ showing a girl with the left side of her face peeled back to reveal a lizard’s head underneath. It looked very good an Steve talked about the different techniques he has used to achieve the effects. A discussion followed on the ethics of manipulation and there was some discussion on the objectification of women and the ethics of the promotion of an idealised female body shape.

Keith brought along his design for a catalogue for his “Lifting the Curtain” exhibition which will take place in Spitalfields 15-25 October. (proposed study visit) He also brought some Platinum/Palladium prints of the modern east end which were interesting to see.

Holly presented prints from the Great Stones Walk project that she is doing which she felt turned out to be ‘pretty pictures’ the same as any other tourist shots. The discussion that followed talked about the difference between directed reality i.e. the way the landscape in tourist sites directs access and views which everyone follows not only physically but visually. The truthful reality is usually very different.

Ref Fay Godwin, Land https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fay_Godwin

This prompted me to discuss my Personal Project for Assignment 5 of Documentary which would be to undertake a walk from my present home to my childhood home via the sites of family interest along the route, Generally the idea was well received. I will do more research on Fay Godwin’s work and look at the work of Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy who use walking an inspiration for their art. (from Robert Enoch 2012)

Study Visit: Jem Southam Talk–Exeter Central Library–11 April 2015

 

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Jem Southam discusses a point with Amano at Saturday’s Study Visit.

After a brief introduction by tutor Jesse Alexander, Jem Southam proceeded to deliver a fascinating talk on his many years experience of landscape photography and some of his work. He is a lively and entertaining speaker and he treated us to a wealth of amusing and serious anecdotes around his life and practice. He started by introducing the idea that traditionally landscape was seen from a very narrow pictorial viewpoint. The introduction of the New Topographies heralded a critical approach to landscape where the effect of man’s intervention was examined. Jem also talked about the connection between landscape photography and what he called “Cultural Geography” – the ways in which we use and interact with the landscape. He also pointed out several times that landscapes are intensely contested spaces. His method of working is to repeatedly photograph the same scene to record the changes that occur over a period of perhaps several years or perhaps a decade and  longer. He likes to work locally arguing that traditionally, individuals experienced their environment not on a grand national scale but on a short daily walking routine. Ref: Thomas A Clark 1988, In Praise of Walking.

Over the following couple of hours, Jem talked at length about some of his work and I have summarised his talk under these headings:

(expand these by further reading)


The Red River
1980s Jem was living in Cornwall and discovered a red stream.  He discovered that pictorial representations influence our approach and perceptions of what a landscape should be. Following the Red River to the sea, he divided the project into seven sections and associated each one with a myth. (e.g. the welcoming light in a window)

http://www.landscapestories.net/issue-12/ls_12-001-jem-southam-the-red-river?lang=en

Rock Falls & River Mouths In this series Jem looked at the natural sculpture and traumatic shifts of rock falls in the Isle of Wight, East Sussex and the Normandy Coast and at the erosion and shifts in position of river mouths.

The Pond at Upton Pyne This section of the talk provided us with some amusing and salutary anecdotes. In this six year project, Jem photographed the changes in response to the attempted “beautification” of the pond by two successive individuals and the conflicts this caused locally to the neighbours and the ultimate friction with the landowner when the work came to be exhibited.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/l/landscape-photography-jem-southam/

We also looked at “The River, Winter” which examined the river Ex and its tributaries over one winter. Jem carried out an interesting experiment with school children, asking them “What is a river?” and asking them to make a picture of a river to describe what a river is.

http://www.mackbooks.co.uk/books/48-The-River-Winter.html

Jem then went on to talk about what he called The Snippet – a commissioned work in which he was asked to photograph the Cumbrian Coast around Maryport once an intensely industrial landscape, now desolate.  His work was accompanied by texts and artefacts from  fellow travellers who included his ornithologist brother and a “walking poet” who produced a word map of their walk. He mentioned Wordsworth’s poem “On Black Combe” in which are mentioned “Geographic Labourers” (early mapmakers). He says he likes to consider himself as such.

From this point we looked at work that had been brought by various students. I presented eight more images from my on-going project on the redevelopment of Bordon.  Jem thought it was a good project and wondered whether I could expand it and include it in local archives. I told about the Bordon Reflections project and hoped that although this was very new and was concentrating on the past, I was hopeful that the inclusion of present and future developments would lead to a more permanent record. On 16th April I will be given access inside the wire of Louisburg Barracks. An opportunity to revisit a former workplace after 11 years.

I think this was a worthwhile and fascinating visit. I found myself constantly in sympathy with Jem’s views and ideas. I feel inspired to try new approaches to my own projects. Landscape is my next level 2 course and the genre in which I wish to specialise. I can’t wait to get started….

Reading: How We Are–Photographing Britain from the 1840s to the Present

This book of the 2007 exhibition of the same name which was curated by Val Williams and Susan Bright was a very useful summary of the recent section I studied on “A British Tradition”. As well as a useful variety of work from the period, there were some useful essays. The introduction sets out what the book is not, and what it aspires to be – a celebration of the diversity of British photography and how over many years photography has challenged the concepts of art and documentary. It has held up a mirror to a constantly changing and evolving society, so much so that very little, be it earth shattering or trivial, goes unrecorded in modern society.

At the start of the book the authors reflected on the tendency for the British to be seen constantly looking back to a better time when the nation was at its greatest, the landscapes before the industrial revolution, simpler times but also times of great innovation and change. They also talked about our obsession with ourselves, the strange characters and costumes we find amongst our traditions, celebrities, worthies, working men and women, heroes, antagonists and drunkards are amongst our cast of thousands. Throughout the book, what is photographed doesn’t change much, people at work, people at play, nature, the sea, mountains, cars, animals, war, streets and buildings. What does change is how they are photographed and equally as important, who photographs them.

At the end of the book are two essays. The first by Kevin Jackson looks at us as if he was George Orwell and whether or not he would approve of the British today. Although I know little about what Orwell thought during his lifetime, Jackson seems to think that despite our shortcomings, we as a nation are still a family. The second essay by Gerry Badger and Martin Parr outlines the development of the practical techniques of the photographic process from the 1840s until today, highlighting that even early on, despite being invented and given a start in the upper class drawing rooms of Europe, it soon found its way to good solid commercial practice where at first everyone could afford their likeness to be taken and later for them to take and process their own films. Today of course without film, a whole new generation are growing with no idea of what life is like without constant recording of their lives and surroundings streamed to social media, often seen only as coloured  light on a screen.