Wednesday 25 November 2020

History of De Montfort University: Focus on Architecture

 In this post, I am going to show you the start of the process of writing an article with images.  It is assumed you would have researched your article thoroughly in earlier posts so I will condense the research here ready to use for the piece.  

De Montfort University campus sits in the heart of Leicester City.  An ancient city that began as a military fort in AD 43.  The city grew and prospered through the ages and was at the centre of the industrial revolution (1837-1901) and the city grew from 40,000 residents to 212,000 residents.  The Victorian building erected during this time still dominates the Leicester landscape.  

'The Leicester Municipal Technical and Art School was then formed in 1897, when the Leicester School of Art was merged with the Leicester Technical School, under the control of the town council. Construction began in the Newarke on what we now call the Hawthorn Building. Initially, only the wing facing the Hugh Aston Building was completed. The other parts were added later, with the Richmond Street wing built in 1909, the Gateway Street wing in 1928, and the wing facing Trinity House in 1937.' (History of De Montfort University: 2020)

Today to really start to get the feel of the university into this article and to create the focus I took some initial photographs of The Queens Building

Test Shots 

Olympus SH-2, F3.7, 1/40, ISO 200, FL 40mm

Olympus SH-2, F4, 1/50, ISO 250, FL 49mm

Olympus SH-2, F4.2, 1/15, ISO 800, FL 60mm

Olympus SH-2, F4.2, 1/60, ISO 500, FL 60mm

'De Montfort University set out to design Europe’s largest naturally ventilated building in 1989; it was completed 4 years later in August 1993, costing roughly £9.3 million. After construction on 13 August 1993, the Queen herself christened it as The Queen’s Building. ' (Compton M 2006)

'According to Bill Bordass, “The architect’s concept for the Queen’s Building was for a highly insulated, thermally-massive envelope with both a shallow plan and generous ceiling heights to facilitate natural ventilation and daylighting.” (Compton M 2006)

'The original brief for the Queen's Building called for innovative solutions that would reflect the creative nature of the then-new university. The architects were Short-Ford Associates and environmental engineers Max Fordham LLP, backed-up by a team of advisers, such as Cambridge Architectural Research on the stack-effect chimneys, and Bristol University on the physics of airflow.' (Bunn R. 2006)

There is much written on the Queen's building above I have just added some snippets of what I might include.  R. Bunn who wrote in 2006 wrote about how the building faired since its creation and on many levels, it has not faired so well.  There are still issues with the ventilation and although it has been improved and altered over the years to adjust with the times the building itself now is more about its status as an iconic building rather than what it does well, at the time this was high innovation but as with all architecture, it has to stand the test of time the users (students and staff) need it to work for them.  Bunn writes: 'The saving grace of the Queen's Building is that its occupants seem willing to forgive the building's transgressions on comfort and lack of user control in the belief that they are working in a building worthy of being loved for its very idiosyncrasies.' (Bunn R. 2006)

I will now begin to draft this part of the article and I will retake these images when it is not raining so I can avoid rain spotted images.  

I want to add an element of psychogeography as I would like to include my own connection to the city, the university, and my own history.


Bunn, R., 2006. Queens Building. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 November 2020]. 2020. Home - Story Of Leicester. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 November 2020]. 2020. A History Of De Montfort University. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 November 2020].

Compton, M., 2006. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 November 2020].

Thursday 19 November 2020

Developing a Villanelle

 .A villanelle is a poetic form with nineteen lines and a strict pattern of repetition and a rhyme scheme. Each villanelle is comprised of five tercets (i.e., a three-line stanza) followed by one quatrain (a stanza with four lines). The first and third lines of the opening tercet are repeated in an alternating pattern as the final line of each next tercet; those two repeated lines then form the final two lines of the entire poem.' (Literary Devices: 2020)

Do not go gentle into that good night by Dylan Thomas is a very famous villanelle

Felt the shadow, creeping, crawling upon my back
Hot breath upon my ear, loud and urgent
The spirit of death was coming, I was under attack

Spent the night, screaming, dying silently, anxiety attack
Slithered under the bed, curled up, shaking
Felt the shadow, creeping, crawling upon my back

My eyes wide open, forevermore, now the eternal insomniac
The winter cold had seeped into my veins
The spirit of death was coming, I was under attack

Now the window open, evil draft, a sign of the maniac
Was it within me, does it exist beyond my shattered mind?
Felt the shadow, creeping, crawling upon my back

Falling through the air, my life in flashback
I returned to the womb sucking in the sweet solace
The spirit of death was coming, I was under attack

Time ran out, I knew I had been running
No escape, the hand of fate had chosen and now I must go
Felt the shadow, creeping, crawling upon my back
The spirit of death was coming, I was under attack

This is my first draft of a villanelle, this form works well and the scheme is correct however it need work on the composition and concept.  I think I could make this stronger with a narrative that becomes more urgent throughout to finally end on the two repeating lines. Considering this was a 20 minutes exercise I think it was not a bad start!


Wednesday 18 November 2020

Portrait Image for Website

 Today we were looking at how to take a portrait image using our mobile phone for our website. To create my images I am using a Doogee X95 phone and I have an HD Camera app.  All my images get backed up automatically on Google Photos so I can easily access them from the cloud. On the camera app I can change the settings manually or add a simple filter.  I choose to take my images black and white and square and I used the normal colour photo on auto settings and the beauty settings in my second set just to soften the light.  

I downloaded these onto my desktop and then created contact sheets on Photoshop (File-Automate-Contact Sheet) 

These images above were in my office today 

These images were from Sunday in my home - I think the light was much better in my apartment so let's take a closer look

Settings: F2.2, 1/20, ISO167, FL 3mm

This is okay but I think I look a bit tired!  The light is okay and has been softened - lets compare to one of the colour images form home

Settings: F2.2, 1/20. ISO 194, FL 3mm

I do prefer this the light is more natural, I look less tired and may just be presentable!

Now let's compare a couple of the black and white images 

Settings:  F2.2, 1/20. ISO 194, FL 3mm

This I like as the light falling across one side of the face and looks perfectly reasonable.  Always more difficult when looking at yourself but overall an acceptable image

Settings: F2.2, 1/25, ISO 171, FL 3mm

I have decided the light in my office actually ages me! Or perhaps I am just old but no, I think I prefer the one above with natural light.  The mixture of artificial and natural light in my office does not help me!

I may use one of these images on my site or I could retake these or do something different, the important thing is to represent myself well on my site.  

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Building on Digital Skills: Photoshop & Painterly Effects

 I have used Photoshop for many years, however, as I am sure is the case with most people, I use the same tools and functions of Photoshop all the time and rarely do new things.  So considering this photoshop rut that I am in and wanting to expand on my skills I considered carefully what I would like to do on Photoshop that I have never really tried.  I have a love of all kinds of art and so I thought it would be great to learn how to create a painterly effect on my images perhaps for a project.  

As is usual with photoshop there are usually many ways to do the thing I want to do so let's try something out! Here is the first youtube tutorial I looked at:

Unusual Slider to Create Painterly Effect in Photoshop! by Piximperfect

Now I will follow this and show you my own process of following this instruction.  

First I need an image I would like to work with. I will use this one here: 

I am now opening Photoshop and adding my image.  The first step was to create a background copy of the image and this is what I have done here.

Next I go to filters and convert for SMART filters and I click ok.  I then go to filters and camera RAW filter and then a new dialog box appears 

The next instruction on the video was clearly in a different version of Photoshop to my version so I can see what the man is doing but now I have to work it out on this version - the 'luminance' that he is using does not appear as it does on the video 

I, therefore, begin to improvise I go instead to grain and increase this, then to texture and increase this, and then to clarity which I reduce and then I reduce dehaze and reduce the contrast.  All of this adds a soft effect to the image

The rest of the video seem to do just what I did and play with the filters etc.  So I thought okay I have not learnt that much! But here is the final image...

It is basically softened and perhaps does look slightly more 'painterly' however I think I want something a little stronger here and perhaps more complicated than manoeuvring some sliders and filters!

This was a good start and so I will now continue to investigate further options to build upon my Photoshop skills.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Ferris Bueller's Day Off: The Opening Scene - A Critical Response

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) Directed By John Hughes 

Ferris Bueller's Day Off directed by John Hughes is now considered a classic 1980s film, it includes classic Hughes themes 'the philosopher of adolescence, whose credits include "Sixteen Candles," "The Breakfast Club" and "Pretty In Pink." In all of his films, adults are strange, distant creatures who love their teenagers, but fail completely to understand them.' (Ebert 11/06/86).  Buellers Day Off uses the main character to speak directly to the audience this creates a kind of intimacy between the audience and Ferris as he gives his thoughts directly to use and make us feel we are with him throughout.  He takes us on the journey and this journey is a real ride.  A great day off school, a feel-good movie that makes me certainly wish I was young again!  

Also, it is a movie of its time, the 1980s, Adam Smith writes: 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off is, in fact, an unadulterated celebration of what it's like to be young white, middle class and well-heeled in mid 80s America.' (Smith 01/01/14).  Times certainly have changed but there is something interesting as we are treated to the idea that consumerism is great and how we did aspire to have the things that Ferris experiences through the day, posh car, the best restaurants.  

This is obviously a feelgood movie and all the kids are essentially alright which is why as a viewer we enjoy experiencing it, movies are an experience we feel with the characters, through the magic of editing, music diegetic and non-diegetic. 'John Hughes, the writer and director of "Ferris," was an obsessive music fan who cemented the legacies of several artists by building film scenes around their songs.' (Smokler 14/09/16).  

I saw this movie at the time and have seen it again later and I think it has stood the test of time well.  But perhaps I have a nostalgia for what I saw as a simpler age where mobile phones didn't exist computers did not connect to the internet and we did have a home phone and used it.  We went out with our friends and perhaps we were not so watched over (in many ways) as we are now.  Imagine no social media and then imagine the freedom that affords you...

In terms of what I really get out of this work in relation to my own is that it is the kind of thing that I would find incredibly difficult - something feelgood, happy, a little movie of joy... that is why I admire this as it has qualities that I would find incredibly difficult to emulate! The filming of the scene is very straightforward in terms of the shots used such as close up to the medium shot, shots of the TV, the Sky representing exactly what the character is saying.  The editing is fairly quick to keep this moving forward quickly and keeping the narrative flowing.  Again this makes us feel as if we are on the journey with the character.  As with all works the artist/media producer needs to find a connection with the audience and my overriding response is that this connection is very well executed here.  In my own artworks, I do find it challenging to find that connection and ensure that there is some universal meaning that will connect people to the work. 


Ebert R (11/06/86) Rogert Ebert Reviews: Ferris Bueller's Day Off [Online] Available From: (Accessed 11/11/20)

Smith A. (01/01/14) Ferris Bueller's Day Off Review [Online] Available From: (Accessed 11/11/20)

Smokler K (14/09/16) Secrets of the Ferris Bueller's Day Off Soundtrack [Online] Available From: (Accessed 11/11/20)


Pierre Bonnard: Nude in The Bathtub - A Critical Response


Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Nude in Bathtub (c 1938-41), oil on canvas, 121.9 x 151.1 cm, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA. The Athenaeum.

This image by Bonnard is one of many that show Martha, his mistress bathing.  This period in Bonnard's work just prior to the second world war, he spent in France on the coast of Normandy exploring the colour and light.  

Bonnard was part of a group of painters that called themselves Les Nabis, this came from the Hebrew word for prophet.  'Les Nabis used flat patches of colour, and admired Japanese prints and the work of Paul Gauguin. Gauguin was known for experimenting with colour. Bonnard worked in the years following Gauguin's death in 1903 and was directly influenced by his style.' (Tate 2020)

Bonnard was a post-impressionist and intimist and as stated he was highly influenced by Gauguin's use of bold vivid colour.  In this image we can see how he has used bright yellows, purples, blues on the tiles surrounding the bathtub, this colour palette also reflected on Martha's body, the floor the tub reminds the viewer of a bright summers day, the warm colours and French light in mid-summer.  Martha's body is relaxed and this intimacy of seeing he rin the bath that Bonnard shares is the gift that gives to the viewer.  The dog lying on the floor represents loyalty and domestic scenes which is what Bonnard is most fond of produce that intimacy as we are allowed into a private space.  

When looking at this work it feels as if we are a quiet eye looking on as Bonnard did at the person he loved the most in the world, Martha. 'Pierre Bonnard met Marthe Boursin getting off a Parisian streetcar in 1893 and they remained together until her death in 1942, although they didn’t marry for at least thirty years.' (Linely 14/03/19)

As a photographer when I consider this work by Bonnard, I consider how he has used the light and the colour of the light.  The French light here in mid-summer is very distinctive and as one of my favourite place in the world is Cognac, France, I understand this light, it's gentle orange/yellow warmth that permeates the image.  When looking through the lens and photographing flesh this is same light is present.  I photograph often in black and white but in France, I see this light and how it changes through the day and through my lens it touches everything in the frame to create this feeling of intimacy and warmth.  Bonnard demonstrates the pleasure of intimacy, love, his place in the world through these colours.  


Hockley (15/08/18) The Eclectic Light Company, Pierre Bonnard: At home with Marthe, 1937-1943 [online] Available from: (Accessed 11th November 2020)

Tate (2020) Eight Essentials to Know about Pierre Bonnard [Online] Available from: (Accessed 11th November 2020) 

Linely N. (14/03/19) Oxonian Review, Marthe [Online] Available from: (Accessed 11th November 2020) 

Sherwin (25/01/18) The Guardian, Pierre Bonnard’s Nude in the Bath: a woman in the tub or a corpse entombed? [Online] Available From:  (Accessed 11th November 2020) 

Thursday 5 November 2020

Biteable: My Jobseekers Video

 A very exciting day as I have created my very own jobseekers video on Biteable!  Check his out here:

Zoe Van-de-Velde: Jobseekers Video 

In your own biteable video post ensure that you add all of the processes here.  Also, add a small reflection on the success (or not!) of your video.  

Reflection: This video was fun to make and I did it in a limited timeframe.  If I were to improve this, I would add more seconds for some of the film slides so that they could be read and some go slightly too quickly.  Also, I would change some of the colour of the words so that they are easier to read against the background. My son said that the music made him cringe, so perhaps a different music track!  If I were to actually use this in my CV I would pay to get the watermark removed and ensure that this was of high quality for a job application making the changes I have suggested here.