Assignment 6 was about transitions in the landscape and what better than a transition both to the landscape of my garden and one that is a huge change to the landscape of my life. Transitions explores the stages of the build of my new studio from Flower Arrangers Garden to Garden Studio.
Transitions is a look at my own landscape as it transforms from what was my Mum’s garden into a photographic studio for my new business.
I recently inherited my Mum’s house after she died in 2015, the period from then until now has been one of the most emotional and traumatic times of my life, in many ways this project reflects the changes I have been through over the last few years. I decided to use this project at the end of 2018, when I decided to have a photographic studio built at the bottom of my garden.
I included some older images of the garden at the beginning of the series to add some context, when my Mum was alive and in good health she was a well-renowned flower arranger and demonstrator, her garden was designed to supply an endless amount of foliage for demonstrating and an endless supply of pleasure from the different things growing in it. As Mum got a bit older, she was less able to look after the garden, and she used to employ a friend to help keep it looking smart as we see in the first image.
The second image shows my Dads old workshop at the bottom of the garden which for many years he used as an engineering workshop and made his living at home, later using it for his passion of model making. As you can see from the next couple of images, the garden got rather overgrown and untidy as mum grew ill and finally passed away.
My plan which would have pleased my Dad was to use his workshop to make my living, but it was too small, so I decided I would extend it, as with all things this escalated into a full-blown rebuild. The series is then a set of images I took each time some progress was made on the studio with my iPhone. The project became a bit of an obsession to document every thing that happened as my glorious studio emerged from the mess of mums garden. In the end, it is a fully insulated building with a proper roof underfloor heating double glazing, and Alexa controlled lights not to mention an electric backdrop with six colours of paper. It’s so much more than I planned it to be, but it is such a wonderful space to work in, and I now feel blessed to own it.
The images here are a small fraction of the ones I took, but they do show the steady progress made as we built the studio:
And a little treat to end the assignment here is the moment Dads shed was felled!
Spaces and Places
I have been thinking about spaces and places, having been very busy with my new business my degree work has been a little slow this last couple of months. However, I have come to an idea of what spaces to places means: In my head when a space that has not had any meaning in the past is suddenly taken over for a particular use it becomes a place. So, for example, there was a small patch of land near me that had been a car park for the old REME then they had the driver test centre there in portable buildings it sat empty for a long while then they suddenly built a series of houses there, and it was transformed from a space to a place. The are many places that have this characteristic, parks and recreation areas come to mind. Thinking about the work on memory in this section, I think a space often becomes a place when you have an association with it. I think about the old lane down the side of my house when I was a child there was a point where my Dad helped my friends, and I build a tree house, and that space became a place in my mind for the rest of my life.
Exercise 3.5 had me researching the local area, and I came across the sculpture park in Farnham on several occasions, so I am thinking of using this for assignment 3
Exercise 3.5: Local history
This project is designed to develop your research skills. If you haven’t yet begun to generate
some ideas for possible approaches to Assignment Three, then this exercise could be a good
Using the internet, local library, museum or any other resources at your disposal, conduct
a short investigation into a historical aspect of the area in which you live or are currently
based. This could relate to industry or other narratives in the distant past, or a more recent
event. Don’t spend more than half a day.
Gather some primary sources such as copies of photographs, illustrations, maps, written/oral
accounts, and write a brief account (around 300 words) describing what you’ve researched
and any ideas you have about how this subject might be photographed today in a project
such as Assignment Three.
I started my research looking at local visitor sites like Get-Surrey; In my head, I have been pondering assignment three, trying to decide what it meant to go from a space to a place. I had decided that often there are spaces that are not used for much and then something is built that turns it into a place, like a housing estate built on a field, my own house was part of construction built on an old swampy bit of ground before I was born. It occurred to me that parks and recreation grounds are often like this. My research ion all the local visitor sites kept turning up the Sculpture Park in Farnham. It is a large area with a lake in the middle that is filled with sculptures, most of which are for sale. This park has taken a portion of land and scattered it with sculptures making a wonderful place to visit even if you don’t want to buy any sculpture. It is also home to several active sculptors who generate much of the work shown. A great number of pieces come from all over the globe to rest here until sold, making it a very interesting place indeed. The following are the links to the sites I visited during the research:
Find three examples of landscape photographs (or the collective efforts of a set of
photographs) that are being used to assert a particular ideological point of view. Look
at images that have been used in advertising or other commercial applications, as well
as within fine art and documentary photography. This might be a very explicit message,
or something a lot subtler. If text is used, consider how this relates to the image. In
your learning log, make some brief comments (around 300 words) describing how the
photographer or designer used the photograph and how the image communicates its
Consider an issue (social, political or environmental) that you feel strongly about.
Design an image that you think will have a persuasive effect upon a viewer. This
could be a deliberately rough photomontage or something more polished. You don’t
necessarily need to make the photograph or tableau; this is an exercise in generating
ideas, thinking about communicating an idea and taking an ideological standpoint.
Annotate sketches and any other work and enter it into your learning log.
If you’re struggling with this exercise, you may find it helpful to read ahead to the ‘Landscape
and advertising’ project in Part Four.
Looking for examples, I was reminded of some of the cigarette adverts of the ’70s which ended up being banned because they made outlandish claims like cool as a mountain stream for a twist of paper full of leaves that you set fire too. So I looked some of these out and found the following:
In all three images, the designer is using outdoors activities and idyllic landscape to add glamour to a product that is the opposite of the things portrayed. Tobacco companies needed to add glamour in their advertising because in reality, breathing the smoke from burning leaves is a senseless act. By adding rugged cowboys and tough men fishing and driving off-road vehicles as well as people hiking up a mountain stream, puffing on cigarettes made the act of smoking seem glamorous.
What I find quite perverse is that using the product will shorten your life and stop you doing all these things and yet for years phrases like Cool as a mountain stream did not strike the advertising standards council as wrong. It shows the power that was once wielded by the tobacco companies, a grip they lost by the demonisation of smoking, leaving them no longer commanding such respect.
In the UK we move closer and closer to a Nanny state which continues to wind me up, the height of this was for me the ruling that you may only buy Paracetamol in boxes of 16 and you may only buy two at a time because it is possible to eat dozens of them and kill yourself. This is something that is not prevented by the ruling as if anyone wants to kill themselves they can just buy lots two at a time and even go into several shops, the people who are genuinely hurt by this are people like myself and my late mother who take them quite legitimately once a day because they are in lots of pain. We have to keep running back and forth to the chemists to buy them. I can not begin to tell you how much this law PISSES ME OFF (rude words and capitals to make it seem like a cause that I am really into) so I have created an image using some rued montage to show how I think this campaign could be represented:
Farnham Sculpture Park
This park is set in ten acres of land around three large lakes, it is a space that houses a stunning arboretum and wildlife inhabited water gardens. The owners have distributed over 650 works of art throughout the space that have been made either by the resident artists or by the many contributing artists around the world.
The primary aim of the site is to sell works of art to collectors, however a kind of sub culture has grown out of this, as most of the visitors either can’t afford or don’t have space to house some of the epic works of art, some of which are on a really grand scale. These people come and pay the entrance fee just to look on the sculptures in much the same way people would visit one of the big galleries in London where the works of art are not usually for sale.
What has emerged is a Place where you can wander through the landscape enjoying the art and spending a great day out among the tree’s sculptures and art.
This seems to me to be the exact transformation from a space to a place that this assignment is looking for. I spent a long time wandering around the site taking pictures and enjoying the art. I ended up with several hundred images that I had to edit down to the ten displayed here, which I hope to convey a sense of this great place.
The first image is situated close to the entrance of the park and hides a sign, welcoming visitors to the park. When entering the park, it is from the road and parking is opposite behind the pub. The site is navigated by a series of winding paths that regularly branch off through the tree canopy.
The sculptures are placed randomly along the trails and often a spur or blind walkway will take you up to a different group. I felt that It would be impossible to see every exhibit on one visit and that there are probably pockets of art I completely missed not knowing they were there, this all adds to the notion that you are exploring and coming across treasures throughout your visit.
The dragon on the gazebo was stunning, it took my breath away with its sheer size, one of the staff told me that it was made somewhere in the depths of Asia, though I do not know exactly where and it was transported with its gazebo which comes with it for a cool £150K. The image of the sculptor is included to add to the idea that this is a place of creation not just display and at different times it is possible to watch these skilled individuals creating their art, which looked to be a very slow and painful process.
Not all the art in this place was to my taste but then it would be a strange world if it were I can confirm that this place made a mark on me and left a series of memories that have without doubt transformed this space into a place for me.
Exercise 3.3 ‘Late photography’
Read David Campany’s essay ‘Safety in Numbness’ (see ‘Online learning materials and
student-led research’ at the start of this course guide). Summarise the key points of the
essay and note down your own observations on the points he raises.
Look at some of Meyerowitz’s images available online from Aftermath: World Trade
Centre Archive (2006). Consider how these images differ from your own memories of
the news footage and other images of the time. Write a short response to the work
(around 300 words), noting what value you feel this ‘late’ approach has.
That photography was assumed to be a better medium than television to record the aftermath of 9/11.
That while the Meyrowittz images were ordered and held together in the exhibition and the book there is a likelihood that history will fragment this and they will find their own way of representing events and that the desired control of this will be lost to time.
Photography is becoming used more often to document the aftermath of events.
Photography has inherited a major role as an undertaker to events.
Photography is assumed to be connected to memory which has developed from mass media using photography to freeze a moment.
This has cemented the notion that photographs are a snapshot of an instant in history where film has come to represent the now of an event.
From the 20’s photographers used the advance in technology to be in the moment of an event where the goal was to be in the right place at the right time as things happened. this lasted until the 1970’s when portable video took this mantel
Today it is rare that photographs break the news, the newspaper is often the only a second wave of the news.
Cinema developed an Idea of stillness in photography
In the era of photojournalism the speedy compact camera and the the photographers quick reaction and ability to be in the right place at the right time gave rise to the “Decisive Moment”
Videography took away this monopoly with stoppable repeatable cheap quick material.
The announcement of the death of photojournalism he claims are premature as photography had to sketch out a new pace for itself
He reflects over the history of photojournalism
Vietnam is regarded as the last photographers war
The Gulf War was described as the first war experienced by simulation using satellite images an missile cameras. Very few photographers covered this conflict.
After the war lots of photographers went in to cover the aftermath.
Photography discovered that the sombre quite reflective nature was somewhat seductive in its melancholy
Today more than half of the photographs used are screen grabs from digital sources
Two points from this 1. The lines between video and photography are more blurred 2. Photography is finding other roles to fulfil such as the aftermath.
He reflects that Meyrowitz stated that he was performing an automatic process in which creativity is avoidable and notes that a man with his skill set has a second nature that can’t avoid making beautiful images.
Late photography has become a vehicle for mass mourning or working through.
He points out that this kind of mourning can get a bit aestheticized and indifferent.
Certainly the late photograph is often used as a vehicle for mass mourning or working through (Meyerowitz’ Ground Zero project was produced primarily for New Yorkers). The danger is that it can also foster an indifference and political withdrawal that masquerades as concern. Mourning by association becomes merely an aestheticized response. There is a sense in which the late photograph in all its silence, can easily flatter the ideological paralysis of those who gaze at it with a lack of social or political will to make sense of its circumstance. In its apparent finitude and muteness it can leave us in permanent limbo, obliterating even the need for analysis and bolstering a kind of liberal melancholy that shuns political explanation like a vampire shuns garlic.
If the banal matter-of-factness of the late photograph can fill us with a sense of the sublime, it is imperative that we think through why this might be. There is a fine line between the banal and the sublime, and it is political. If an experience of the contemporary sublime derives from our being caught in a geo-political circumstance beyond our comprehension, then it is a politically reified as much as an aesthetically rarefied one.
Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problems of ‘Late Photography’ by David Campany
Brooke Shaden – Promoting Passion
On Saturday 18th May, I went to London to attend a seminar hosted by Brooke Shaden, who readers of my degree will know is one of my all-time favourite photographers/artists.
The day started early, and we were all greeted into the auditorium one by one by Brooke, who hugged all the 120 guests individually. This was the start of a great day that took us through the concept of being passionate about our work and pushing through to create art even when motivation is low.
Brooke Shaden has a relentless and unstoppable work ethic she has created hundreds of pieces over the last decade every one I find appealing and inspirational though Brooke herself is more critical of some of her work.
The day opened with us all getting paint on our hands and putting them on a huge bit of cloth she spread across the stage.
There was a lot of time spent doing what Brooke called exercises, which got us to lose our inhibitions and feel easy interacting with a room full of 120 people. Brooke was very free with her inner self and even shared details on how she makes her money and what worked and what did not. It was a very revealing day and left me feeling motivated to create and get on with the artistic side of my photography.
The day ended in a photoshoot where Brooke had hired a set of models, and we spent time shooting them in all sorts of places around the auditorium including at a large grand piano. Lots of fun was extracted, and I have a few hundred shots yet to play with.
I enjoyed the whole day and loved the experience of meeting such a giving artist who put her heart and soul into inspiring us. The day ended as we all single filed out and received another hug and a selfie with Brooke. Best study day ever!
I have already speculated that Spaces become Places when they take on a use, or when we use them for something specific, the use of a place casts it into our memory and there is a transformation from space to place.
The idea that Parks and recreation area become a place either because they are built on a space or because in playing there we build memories took me on a search for such places. During the research for exercise 3.5 I keeptfinding reference to the sculpture park in Farnham. I havd been there in the past and had some fond memories of teh place. This seemed to me to be a place that fit the bill for assignment three.
The park is a place that is sited within ten acres of stunning arboretum and wildlife inhabited water gardens which have been developed with a series of landscaping projects and the introduction of thousands of new plants, bulbs and specimen trees. Infused throughtthis are over 650 works of art.