Saturday 16 May 2020

Development & Process: Contacts #03

The next set includes a further African figure - however, I think the problem with this is perhaps this is too stark with a plain background - let's take a look. 

I think I actually prefer this one when you can see the books at the edge as this kind of balances out the shot, more inspection of this one will be needed later.

The ophan doll here may have something and I like the final compositions where she is sitting sideways to the camera. 

Orphan Dool: ISO 400, F5, 1/200, FL 14mm

I do think this has something - the doll stares straight at the viewer - the books next to the doll work with the images in the set and the pattern on the pot really works to make this work taking some time over. Check this out in a frame...

This works much better than the flowers tested earlier - here there is longevity to the visual time you could spend on this image. 

I am not going to add the rest of my contact sheets - there are five more but for the most part, these would be rejections - however if I decide to use any from them I will add them in. 

I will now begin to choose the final images that I would like to use and begin to put these together in post-production. 

Development & Process: Contacts #02

To continue we have many more flowers!

As there are many and they may not be included in the final cut, let's look more closely at these shots 

Flower Test: ISO 400, F5, 1/40, 20mm Focal length

As can be seen, the shot is okay the light and composition are okay but is it interesting? 

One way to really see - add to it a frame, consider if you would want it on the wall.  The answer here is a definite no, it would not sustain much attention for long!  Sorry flowers..

So here we have the Russians and the books - you have seen these before in my initial test shots - I still like best tiny Stalin and now we have the final shots I think he will make it!

Stalin Test: ISO 400, F5, 1/25, FL 16mm

I may shoot this one again with Stalin in focus and the books blurred however and compare this to my original test shots to choose the best image. 

Continuing - although I have spent many many hours monkey making and this here is sofa monkey - I don't think he will make the grade, However the mannequin and the strange half balaclava here I really do like and will be looking much more closely at this 

Head Test: ISO 400, F5, 1/40. FL 20mm

I like the rule of thirds composition here - the image is sharp and you can feel the wood stool texture in contrast to the polystyrene head.  The woollen balaclava is strange and I will tell you this story when I add this to the book. 

Development & Process: Contacts #01

As I have 18 contact sheets I will break this down into a few posts.  I used my Olympus E3 to take all the images and show on a wide aperture F5/5.6.  I was indoors so my ISO was on 400 throughout.  I shot all the images in Black and White and I also shot in RWA and high quality so that I have choices in post-production.  I was most interested in playing with the light levels to get the right tones and shadows I was looking for in the images.  

So here you can see I started with the hand as I used as an example in my last post - this image could be interesting the final work and could work as per my sample.  The next was the mannequin - this one I am still contemplating, the images work and there is something about the form and composition here that I am enjoying.  The mask on the wall may not fit in compositionally with the set so I will need to look at this more closely as this is on the wall and portrait. There will need to be decisions around whether to include both portrait and landscape images and how this would affect the layout of the final book.  The bowl and African figures would like to keep in as these are important to me to include.  

The summer hats on the dummy head I actually like these images, I think the most, I was not expecting these to work particularly but there is something about these that will work and as an object in these images there is definitely something interesting.

The African figure here does not work as well as the pair with bowl - but I will need to examine this more closely to see if it makes the final cut.  Then the flowers I took quite a few of the flowers however I am not sure that they even fit into the methodology of the work!

Project Development: Object Therapy

Georges Perec (Author of Life)

When in doubt I like to consult Perec - Perec was a writer, filmmaker, and essayist.  He enjoyed wordplay, creating crosswords, classification (taxonomy), and lists.  He tried to find order in life essentially and here in Species of Spaces he states when considering the objects on his worktable 'It's several years now since that I have contemplated writing the history of some of the objects on my worktable.  I wrote the beginning of it nearly three years ago; re-reading it, I notice that of the seven objects I talked about, four are still on my work table (although I have moved house in-between).  Tow has been changed: a hand blotter which has been replaced with another hand blotter (they're very much alike but the second one is bigger), and a battery alarm clock (whose normal position is on the bedside table, where it is today), replaced by another wind-up alarm clock.  The third object has disappeared from my work table.' (Perec, 1997: P145) and so this continues, to some this may not seem very interesting a chapter on objects on a work table however I do consider this a piece of high art.  How important the objects are, Perec recognises this in every part of his life, the spaces he inhabits day to day.  This is why I have now photographed my own objects that I will use for this project.  I will add and discuss these in the next post.

Objects inhabit our lives and become part of them, I cannot imagine what it would be to lose all objects that I have.  As I discussed before about them being touchstones - they are memory but they are for the moment, they create familiarity, I come into my home and the objects welcome me, they are a constant, a comfort, a safe place.  

The objects I will discuss all inhabit my home and I will add these photographs with text to create a small book - here is an example with one of the images - I have just grabbed this image - the rest are taking some time to become contact sheets as I took over 500 images (the miracle of digital photography - means I can play until my heart's content).

The Marble Hand

The hand here has really no purpose, originally bought for an art project that I have forgotten (or never developed) I just keep it on the shelf.  It sits among the books and like statues where they are pointing to God, I rather consider that this hand does the same. It is the hand that is reaching to God for me, every day.  It has no function, it is not attached to memory, it is simply a totem that is constant.

This is kind of the idea - a sample, of what I intend here - eventually, my pictures will be complete and I will share the set with you!


Perec G. (1997) Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, Penguin Books Ltd. London

Wednesday 13 May 2020

Joseph Sudek: The Object & Isolation

'Czech photographer Josef Sudek (1896-1976), known as the ‘Poet of Prague’, was drawn to desolate landscapes, simple, solitary objects and the quiet, unpopulated street scenes of Prague, a city to which he dedicated his whole life.' (Huxley-Parlour 2020) Sudek was originally a bookbinder but after fighting in the first world war and losing his right arm he studies photography.  He was expelled from the local camera club for arguing for a more progressive photography that moved away from a pictorialist style. He then set up his own group The Progressive Czech Photography Society in 1924.  Sudek was a shy and retiring person who love his city and became the office photographer of Prague.  people rarely appear in any of his work and between 1940 to 1954 he photographed The Windows of my Studio which were his best known work of still lives and objects within his studio.

I am very interested in the work of Sudek as he created beautiful, poignant still life images that really use light to make an ordinary object extraordinary.  

As can be seen from this simple rose stem in a glass the light streams directly through the bottom of the glass making the water in the glass visible and tangible with the bubbles gently exposed.  The flower stem at the top of the glass is then thrown slightly into the shadow but this contrast is a light grey tone and the flower remains clearly visible with the light just gently touching the edges of the flower and stem to emphasis ts shape and texture.  

This image is one of my personal favourites, an apple or a peach sits centred on the plate with light falling behind it to emphasize its sumptuous shape.  The window the perfect diffused backdrop covered in condensation from the cold Prague outside and the warm studio inside.  Droplets of water run to make small rivulets down the pane and through these extra light from the outside peaks in.  The composition is created perfectly by the tree outside on the edge framing the window along the left-hand side.  Again it is the use of light and the shades of grey tones that really make this image work and stay with you.  A photograph that stays with you and that you can contemplate again and again without boredom is surely the mark of something great.  This composition and idea I would like to try with own objects inside.  I will be using my Olympus E3 and shooting in black and white for this as I then can really control finely the expose and settings.  I want to use just natural light to these have t taken at the right time of the day and I may have to experiment with timings and the amount of sunlight to ensure that I get the right effect.

This window and chair Sudek photographed through time from 1948 onwards so there is a series of thee images that reflect age and time with same window and chair, objects, like people age and transform and I like this idea that the world through the window changes and moves and the chair ages but remains in place, a place to sit and watch the world moving, a chair that has been loved and kept and remains.  Age is strange sometimes you realise something happened 20 years ago and it can seem like yesterday and this melancholy and again beautifully composed image with the light, the trees, the net at the window is an example of capturing time, the moment, this exists here and now forever and in all photographs that sense of belonging in the world is so important. This should exist for eternity.


Huxley-Parlour (2020) Joesph Sudek [Online] Available from:  (Accessed 13/05/20)

28 Vignon Street (2020) Joseph Sudek [Online] Available from: (Accessed 13/05/20)

ICP (2020) Joseph Sudek [Online] Available From: (Accessed 13/05/20)

Monday 4 May 2020

How Do I Stay Creative & Productive?

Yoko Ono (1993) Bastet

How did I generate my idea/s for this project? Tell the story….

I began by using an object which originally was a Matryoshka doll - I like the idea at the beginning of looking at identity and this led to the idea of looking at art therapy. Interestingly at the time, I thought that this opening up in a therapeutic way would be good for me, however as events have taken over and things have changed now I am more interested in the object itself and the idea of the object representation.

How did I begin to develop this idea? Did you draw sketches, take pictures, film clips, what experiments did you do?

I started to develop the idea by looking at research but also drawing some bad sketches and taking a few photos to explore. I often use my camera as a pencil - just checking out ideas with a few snaps and seeing where they lead. The photograph often you find something surprising or interesting you weren't expecting within the image and this is what happened with the set of objects they had old fashioned picture quality that made me want to tell a story with these objects

What research have you carried out and how has this assisted you with your ideas and helped you develop them?

I looked at Frida Kahlo, to begin with which is where the bad skec=tches came from - she kind of does these there is a slightly grotesque quality to the sketches to exemplify that inner pain and suffering. Then I looked at Tracey Emin and her art therapy project when she locked herself down in the gallery space for 14 days - I was really interested in that concentrated stream of consciousness type of work as something always emerges from this kind of intensive focus. I also looked at Eve and woman and the weight of creation - I think I felt life might be lying heavy on me at the time!

What is your method of working? Explain how you create focus and space for your creative work?

My method of working is always to start with snaps with the camera - just holding my camera makes me happy - if I am taking pictures I see this as a form of just thinking - it doesn’t necessarily mean I will take a lot of good pictures but I will find what I want in the pictures and it will give me ideas for more serious sets of images and things I could do with those images.  

I do find it hard to create focus and space for my own work when I am teaching and this is why I make the projects as I think it does keep me focussed on things that genuinely interest me in life and I get to explore and look at art and photography and film and writing and all these things give me ideas

What does it matter? Who cares?  What universal meaning is there in your work?

This is a very good question! This blog and the work I do on it I do for the students to show examples and to use a teaching tool by example and I have a teaching methodology that means that I don’t believe in asking students to do things that I have not tried out and completed myself.  

In terms of universal meaning I hope students relate to some of the work and also some of the work I do I think does have a wider meaning but as much off the work I do is conceptual i think it has perhaps a limited audience - I like to think that these are the elite! 

I always do think though that if my work gets out there and it means something to someone I have achieved something and I have shared something that just might have bought a moment of stillness and beauty to their day

Object Therapy

So a few development pictures of some of the 'objects' that live with me....

Here are the contacts..

Now let's have a closer look at the ones that may some future potential!

This one is a good case in point the mannequin is a drawing aid he sits in front of a bunch of 'magic' books ad some concerning De Sade - I advise you all to be concerned about De Sade!  This image has a feel I like to it - it looks like it could be found in an old book and this has set off some other ideas about text and these images in a small book...

This one sits behind me when I am working - a friend gave it to me years ago but I like to feel she is watching over me... her eyes are not hollow - she sees all! I like the Tantrum note at the side on the pinboard.  Again this looks like it could be in an old book just sitting there as an illustrative part of a story

My third favourite from this set a very angry looking Lenin from a Matryoshka doll - he is the tiniest one in the centre.  I like the shadow falling across him - he is probably annoyed I have put him to live near the vegan cookery books and a book on thyroid disease - he is most upset!

Definitely more to come....

Brief Hiatus

An apology for the brief hiatus on my blog.  I have had to take some time out due to a personal loss and it is strange I chose art therapy for this project as it should in theory help however I am certainly not ready to talk about it or explore it through art!

Therefore I am looking at other methodologies and as we started with an object this term I thought I would start with photographing the objects in my house as my first experiment - I have a slight fetishism (I mean this in the magical way - not the sexual one!) for the objects that live with me they are totems, touchstones, basically, I like them about, they keep me company and they remind me of good things, memories, people. I like their materiality, I basically just like it that they exist.

Also, I am a fan of the object that may possess some magical power, hence my earlier posts about the magic fertility figures.  These African totems come in pairs and are considered more magical in pairs - I really did blame my pregnancy on them as I bought them just before I was married and I used to clean them each week - rubbing them and carefully placing them back on the mantlepiece - I was pregnant within the first month of marriage!  Check out this if you don't believe me:

So let's begin again and start my object therapy!  Check out my first images in the next post...