Research: Useful links

Thinking forward to A4:

Write a critical essay in response to ONE of the following questions:

  • What is your understanding of self and what bearing does your personal use of photography have upon it?
  • How does the visual work of Rosy Martin, informed by psychotherapeutic theory, link personal memory to the construction of self?
  • Discuss the blurring of self and other within the work of a photographer of your choosing
  • What are the dangers in representing people other than your-self?
  • Using case studies, discuss whether single images can ever fairly represent others or self?
  • Your essay must be situated within a theoretical framework. It is suggested that you draw from the essays, theories and books outlined within this course.

I am likely to write about something to do with the word ‘feminism’, and collecting information which might be useful here. This will tie in with the work I plan for A3, which in some ways leads on from A2 and much of the work I have done prior to starting S&O. I am interested in the phrase the ‘digital feminist’. I suspect I can link this to the single image question above quite neatly. As well as some of the essays we are asked to look at in the course it will be useful to research elsewhere. Below are a couple of useful bits and pieces I have come across online recently. I will also interview a young  girl I have photographed, who models and received several A*, has a place at university which she has deferred and who thinks of herself as a feminist.

Thread about capital and sex:



Reflection: TVG 16th September 2017

Yesterday I attended the OCA Thames Valley meeting for the first time in a while as I have generally been busy with work on previous dates. It was good to see old faces again and to meet new ones too. As always, there was a lot of incredibly creative work which was inspiring, and it also broadened my horizons. I’m going to talk about a few of the presentations although not all, and some only very briefly indeed, as well as the work I presented.

David Fletcher (I think that is his name! Apologies if it’s incorrect.) Technically, David’s image of his family in a pool room all absorbed in their own worlds with their screens, utterly separated from each other as we are all so accustomed to seeing people nowadays, is utterly incredible!  It’s really, really really good. I am envious of his skills. He clearly knows what he is doing with lighting and camera work. It is wide frame and captures a lot of detail, crisp as you can image and beautifully lit. The subject matter is interesting. It’s topical and relevant and worthy of study/art. It’s an amazing submission. However, and I hope I don’t offend David (which I may especially as I don’t even know if I’ve got his name right!!) this seems like Crewdson’s voice because it appears so closely mimicked. It is a flipping amazing homage to Crewdson and what’s more, David did it with a fraction of the budget Crewdson uses, making me question Crewdson’s methodology even more than I already have done. I think it is good to copy people. It’s a way to learn about what we want to do and say. It’s good to pick up skills and to stretch ourselves and realise we have access to this visual language too – and I think David will benefit enormously from this experiment. But if he is to find his own voice he will need to break free from merely copying work exceptionally well and, in much the same way I always need to, to take some risks that aren’t about emulating someone else really, really, impressively well. One thing that is different, Crewdson didn’t use people he knew until the latest exhibition which I discussed the other day. And Richard is focused on his family.  I think this is a useful place to remind myself of the difference between style and voice. The other work he showed was some documentary images about rounding up the ponies in the New Forest. The same old argument about colour vs. mono came up and he was visually irked by it but in my view these particular images were so beautiful in colour I asked why would anyone want to remove it? There seemed like lots of potential for a lovely tale about this very old tradition and showing it in colour further emphasises the fact there is so much history linked to the activity which continues today in our technologically advanced world, where colour photography is the norm.

Kate Aston – I will speak briefly about Kate’s work  – just to say it was a pleasure to see it in the flesh rather than just on-screen as it is so idiosyncratic and original. I know she has had some difficulties paring it down following feedback from her tutor but it is immensely interesting work that steps outside the box. I wish her the best with her submission.

Richard Down – I was just gobsmacked by how beautiful the books Richard had made for his landscape submission. One would need to consider the photography, as Richard himself said when we chatted via FB earlier, being it is that which will be marked in the main. And I did not look at it closely enough since we as a group felt it best not to hand the books around and risk damaging them or getting finger prints on the pages. However, from afar it is sublime in the greatest sense. Nevertheless, the presentation will have a big impact and Richard has done a truly beautiful and impressive job. He is submitting two books, both of which he has made himself from scratch. The first is a landscape black and white edition which details a walk that he made in honour of poet Edward Thomas (1878-1917) across the countryside, and who wrote about the same landscape. Richard has included words from poems by Thomas on the left hand side of the facing page for each image. The images are beautifully printed and the result is touching and seems deeply contemplative. Richard told us during his presentation that he used to do the walk with his late wife and Jayne mentioned that this added a whole new level to his work, and I think she was implying he might have made something of that fact in the book (I’m not sure if he did or not). I wonder about this. Perhaps just in a dedication page, but any more than that would not have been Richard’s personality and while I see that students are often encouraged to scrape their emotional insides out for the sake of their work, I think there are times when it is effective and times when it isn’t. In this case the immense care and attention to detail tells us all we need to know, I think. It signifies there is something much deeper than pretty pictures of the woods and some words by a soldier some of us have not heard of, although I am reliably informed was quite famous and is according to Catherine Banks the epitome of talent wasted in war waged by old men utilising young men (2017), who died before his time, going on. All of these things together seem to me an obvious indication that the books has deeper meaning. Baring our souls in a more obvious way is the trend in culture , high and low, but it is just that – a trend. Richard’s second book is a record of Deception Island. Again it is just so beautifully made, the same binding as before but with overlays of maps indicating where the image was taken. Here I wonder if he could have made more of the semiotics surrounding the word deception to give it more depth, or is that too obvious? I wonder what secrets are held inside the making of the book, as I suspect they will be there, but would need more time with it. It’s a wonderful object regardless, and I really think that someone other than a few OCA tutors should take a look at it.

Dawn Langley – I am always interested in Dawn’s work since she is often highly creative and has presented some interesting projects in the past. I am intrigued by her Graphic Design module. Not only has the step away from photography influenced her image-making, she has also learned to use other software which seems infinitely useful. (I dipped into InDesign this morning and although managed to do the very simple thing I was attempting, it was a challenge.) Learning how to use as much technology as possible does seem like an advantageous route to take nowadays. Dawn had to create covers for a series of books about aspects of graphic design such as typology and colour. The pages she showed us were so interesting, I actually wanted to buy the book she was proposing. I am envious of her new-found design skills and wish I could do such a course too. Dawn, like me, wished she might change pathways but the options were not available for what she wanted to do.

Some thoughts about studying – Dawn’s predicament seems to be a common theme for adult learners I have chatted to with the OCA. I wonder if undergraduate degree pathways for people who have already done degrees and/or have quite a lot of experience in work might be a bit limiting? I’m not sure. On one hand perhaps I am being greedy wanting to learn everything I see and need to focus in one direction in order to have any hope of achieving the levels I wish to, on the other, I really feel under pressure to earn a proper living and panicked that I am currently incapable of doing so. I can’t help thinking having as many strings to my bow as possible would make that more likely. Although a scatter gun approach of course isn’t always that helpful. Dawn, unlike me who chose to concentrate on child-rearing until I divorced and was forced into making some decisions about being self-employed, already has a job though and has not been out of the workplace for 15 years. For me a ‘job’ feels like a foreign land, but I do from time to time think about trying to get one since the money I earn from photography is not enough, and is unreliable and unpredictable. Ideally I would be able to work as a photographer and have some more reliable, regular work to supplement it but then studies might have to take a back seat. I have some teaching experience and so it makes sense to aim for that in the medium to long term but I will only realise that goal if I stick at the studies and also try to move a bit faster. I digress but it is something that is on my mind a lot and yesterday when we were discussing the course fees I started to think about what it is I’m paying for. I need to balance out affordability with possible end results, sadly, as I wish I were in a position to focus on learning for the sake of learning. But as my youngest boy gets older, this all begins to seem like more and more of a luxury that I can’t afford unless I can be more certain it will lead to paid work. In which case, perhaps this method, protracted long distance learning, is not the best way forward.

Which leads me to my own presentation: 

I showed some images for the Nexus exhibition I am working on with John Umney and Keith Greenough. I took these images earlier this week and then did another shoot on Friday (which I’ll discuss in a moment.) I wanted to suss out two things – would this work be suitable for Self & Other? And did the images convey what I hoped they would.

Second question first – I foolishly read out the temporary/draft statement  I posted on my website at the end of presentation. Jayne said it was very helpful, implying I think it was hard her to make sense of the images without. You can read it here. In this case, context is therefore incredibly important (and I am not sure how I feel about that).

Some points that came from others including Keith who was there, which was helpful, and who showed his images too.

  • (Keith) How will I bring the images together as the colours are different in various rooms? I am thinking about grouping them and presenting them as acts – this is a performance after all.
  • (Keith again) The images where you can’t see Honor’s face make her figure more representative of her generation, rather than an individual. This is a good point. I am not sure if out of the many images I’ve taken we have enough but it is something I will consider as I edit. She is young and trained, through dance, to look out so I often said, don’t look at me and try not not smile all the time.
  • Kate said she could imagine Honor leaping from my images into Keith’s empty spaces, which I rather liked.
  • Jayne advised me to be very, very strict when editing and choose carefully, not allowing anything in that shouldn’t be there.  I hope I can grab another hour with Honor, before the end of the month when really I cannot take any more images, as there is one set up I want to repeat. Although I have as always taken too many images I don’t know at this point if I will have all I’m looking for. I was frustrated by my efforts on Friday. In my words, I’ve cocked up too many and need to think about what I do to correct that. I have some that will work from Monday for sure. I need to think about things and have very little time left. It’s scary.
  • Micheal thought Keith’s work and mine worked well together. John was not there but I have echoed his work too in mine so hopefully it will all fit.
  • People were generally positive. We will see …

Secondly Sue said yes, she thinks I could submit this work for A2 and I agree. It might be suitable due to the questions I ask with it. I am also planning (if there is time) to interview Honor and her mother and put the audio against the images in a sideshow with links to relevant thinkers on the subject of education. I’ve been keeping notes on my linked blog in case I wished to do this. But I am a bit wary. Wendy will obliged to tell me what to do to stretch it, by which time it will be too late to make changes for Oxford House which might make me feel truly hideous (not that that is a real reason to avoid doing so). I have had a response from the prison too which I was thinking about for this assignment but it may work for future one if that went ahead. For the record, A2 asks: Produce a story with a social theme. Your project should combine portraits, objects and spaces, to describe your subject matter. You should produce a between 8-12 images to demonstrate an ethical practice. The last sentence would have been the only sticking point since I had intended to include strangers in street images  – some of whom agreed to join and some who had no idea although they are mostly a blur. In fact there is only one such image I like or am comfortable with. I could always do a different edit though. In the meatime I must get on with the exercises which I have started to look at.

There was so much good stuff to see yesterday; Catherine’s experiments which she termed a “Catalogue of Disasters” may have led no-where for her but were inspiring for their risk taking and original approach. Holly’s urbex images were interesting and she has some super found images to begin exploring. Steven’s plans for his next course are influenced by Emily AllChurch and look fascinating. And seeing Micheal’s ongoing Body of Work looking at torture of the gay people in Nazi Germany was as impressive as ever.

Finally, my new mantra must be – use a smaller aperture, use a smaller aperture, use a smaller aperture. I must say this to myself as often as possible until it gets in to my thick skull!!! Aaaargh!



Banks, C, 2017. Private conversation on FB Messenger

Assignment 1: Further development

I have been thinking about developing Assignment 1 further over the summer weeks – sort of letting it percolate at the back of everything else that has been going on (thinking about Oxford House, reading and enjoying the summer with my kids). As well, I have been influenced by OCA tutor and artist, Bryan Eccelshall’s Digital Rain images which I have been watching emerge on Twitter for a few months. After he posted a video of how he puts these together I started experimenting with some of his methods using my own images. These are a couple of results from that experimentation.


This evening I looked at one of the images I’d chosen from the A1 booklet I made – #82. Trudi who had modelled for me had access to the description devised from the survey I’d created and this was her ‘early rehearsal’ improvised rendition of the person she was ‘playing’, which I used in the book. It contains a sketch by OCA student Stefan Schaffeld, one of the artists I’d asked to collaborate on this journey.


I took the mood she’d absorbed from the description and did a quick selfie on my phone and then combined it with another collaborator’s work, Lottie Ellis, who’s drawings I think I will probably stick with if I go this route because of the abstract nature of how she works and what she presented to me. Recall, I asked artists to take the descriptions I’d created using the surveys and make some ‘marks’ that they felt were their own representations of the descriptions. I then combined the selfie and Lottie’s image and played around using the same sort of process I’d been exploring with the experiments above, influenced by Bryan Eccleshall.

And here is a series of images which led to the final result below. I have not included the text here other than the sequential number of the respondent as the input is less important I think than the output. Perhaps it is enough to know I created an image based on a personal description given to me by a stranger about their life, and that at each stage that description is used by the collaborators – in this image, Lottie, Trudi and me as well as the original person who gave me the story. In the feedback I was asked about the type of information I requested, and it was suggested it was quite substantial and may have been better if I’d asked for less. However, the working process of creating a character requires me to gather as much info as possible and then to allow it to be absorbed and transform me in some way. It is perhaps enough to know at the end that the final result is a character created using a variety of forms and through a collaboration to create a representation. I’m going to think about these some more and will return to them perhaps at the end of the holiday period.


#82 (c)Sarah-Jane Field & Lottie Ellis 2017


Eccleshall, B. 2017 Video describing Digital Rain Process, YouTube, Accessed 30 August 2017

Ecclelshall, B. 201, Twitter, Digital Rain Images, Accessed 30 August 2017

Feedback: A1

A week ago Wendy and I had a chat via Skype about A1. She confirmed my concerns that the assignment was overly convoluted but said there were lots of very strong ideas and my picture-making skills good (reassuring!) Her advice was to simplify it either by re-editing or even reshooting using myself as the model acting out each of the 6 people. I totally agree with simplifying but I am having a think about whether to use me in this work or return to one of the models I used and and getting them to ‘perform’ all of the characters. I favour using Lottie and her masks if possible if I go down that route but will need to revisit as I only photographed her with three of the people/masks in her garden – a conversation I need to have with Lottie. Wendy also said she really liked the surreal quality of the cover photo with the chicken and the cat which pleased me as that is the direction I hope to head in – somewhat odd, ‘oneiric’ images.

Here are my notes from our meeting:

A1 Tutorial Feedback 4/8/2017 

Main take-home message

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself
  • Keep it simple
  • Be clear
  • Be economical

Interests that emerge from the work are shifting identity and multiple personality (My clarification for my own understanding – not in the sense of ‘madness’ e.g. Sybil but rather how we all have various masks in different situations and in particular how social media and technology impacts on that).

Survey – the data set was very broad (because I didn’t really know what I was looking for)

Narrow the frame of inquiry – what is it you are trying to say?

Look at Natasha Caruna’s ‘Coup de Foudre’:

Also Claude Cahun and Gillian Wearing again

Gillian Wearing’s ‘Confess All on Video’:

Return to Sophie Calle’s Suite Vénitienne:

We discussed using my self in the work and I recalled thinking about it, indeed being asked by a fellow student from my UVC group if I would ‘do a Cindy Sherman”. Although I thought about it I was concerned I’d already done so much of this in TAOP and felt I should avoid going down that route immediately again. Wendy suggested I should in fact go for it and perhaps reshoot the series with this in mind. S

There was another work Wendy suggested I look at reshooting for the 21st century for A2 using myself (I think some early work bHans Eijkelboom was mentioned but I am not sure exactly which work it was)

Gideon Mendal’s DZHANGAL was also suggested. (Brief. initial look at this is so exciting to see as I did not know it before.)

Key points extracted from feedback document: 

“You mention in your ‘thoughts at the end of the process’ that you feel frustrated by the limits of traditional documentary and portraiture photography. Good! This questioning is all very useful and it is this aspect of photography and portraiture that indeed you are exploring in this assignment.”

“I think the key thing to ask yourself is ‘what and why’. What do you want to say? How are you going to go about this and Why are you using your chosen methods or medium? If you ask your self honestly these three simple questions, things may become clearer. It does seem to me that the role of technology (ie. the internet) plays a rather large part in your ideas, as that is the vehicle that often allows us to assume multiple identities at the click of a button.” It seems odd to still be influenced by my acting training as it was so long ago now but the way I learned to work creatively seems so different from this. The most influential director whose methods I truly loved encouraged us to discover what, who , why over time rather than start with it. In a rehearsal process we would not try to be ‘good’ at the beginning of it. In fact, some super ‘bad’ (whatever that means) broad brush strokes to help get you going are useful early on and over the course of the exploratory period we would begin to find what I thought of as flags which we could put in key places to guide us. Perhaps the director had to consider ‘what and why’ at the beginning and in the sort of photography work I am aiming for I am both the director and the performer (even when I am using others, who let’s face it very often represent me in some way). In my current work outside of the OCA (although I may use it to save myself some precious time and, more importantly, my sanity for A2) I have taken Wendy’s advice and tried hard to think of one sentence that sums up what I am trying to say with the work. I have also made a short list of words that communicate what the work is aiming to encapsulate. 


See main body of the text


Excellent research and reflection

Learning Log

Very well laid out log

Suggested reading/viewing

See main body of the text

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

Don’t over work things – keep it simple and build from each assignment.”


The feedback was very encouraging and useful, constructive but without being patronising, for which I was grateful.



Research: Art & Politics

An important and relevant article titled At Documenta, Blurred Lines Between Art and Politics on Aperture I want to retain:

“Throughout his career, Boas returned again and again to the notion that indigenous peoples, as the subjects of ethnographic study, had much to teach the anthropologists who all too often depicted them as primitive. According to the writer Claudia Roth Pierpont, who profiled Boas in The New Yorker in 2004, “he demolished the standard claim that Indian and Eskimo speakers used different sounds for the same word at different times, and showed that the purported vagueness of ‘primitive’ speech was actually a characteristic of the primitive ears of anthropologists, who transcribed different approximations of what they heard at different times.” (By Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, 2017 – accessed 7/8/2017)



A2 Research: Links that may be of use

Shared economy – Uber/Deliveroo and AirB&B for instance (The Times on 2/8/17 publish an article about Uber driver ganging up to exploit passengers by collectively increasing fare-  small mention of the fact Uber drivers are exploited in the first instance and therefore forced into this position by their situation – )

Biggest information product in the world is Wikipedia – page xv (Postcapitalism)

Page 15 (PostCapitalism) David Graeber – anthropologist – who suggests ‘no evidence that early human societies used barter”….. instead trust


Silicon Valley and LSD Use

What comes after religion? School of Life links (History of religion – consequences of Heliocentrism, Strauss )

About Christopher Hitchens  – documentary (religion)

From Stephanie’s post on personal documentary  – –

  • “Morris claims his right to make his documentary as personal as fiction and depart from the traditional and  conventional frameworks and procedures considered the only ones certifying a reliable access to truth;
  • Morris explains that truth is neither guaranteed by style or expression, and leaving his imprint his not an obstacle in documentary, because truth is never guaranteed by anything anyway, even if it its still the receding goal of the documentary tradition;” (Dhubert, 2017)

Discuss position of ‘self’ in academia vs. other forms of expression  –

From Peter Haveland (Requested development from master/slave) (see page 217 onwards)

Below from page 219:

Screen Shot 2017-07-31 at 15.12.54

And see footnote on page 221

“…to what is most human in man: freedom” (222)

Transhumanism – What happens to concept of separate Self & Other when we are technologically linked to one another, who’s ability is all about serving the system (overall master)

“Troves of dossiers on the private lives and inner beings of ordinary people, collected over digital networks, are packaged into a new private form of elite money … It is a new kind of security the rich trade in, and the value is naturally driven up. It becomes a giant-scale levee inaccessible to ordinary people.”

From Catherine in repose to my question about master/slave dialectic;

” And I hate dogmatism. I think that nothing is as opposed to science and intellectual activity as dogmatism. The turn that we made in the mid-eighties, by creating a small group, which included people who had worked with Bourdieu, was an anti-dogmatic turn, not a political one.”

“In the mid-eighties, it was less that we thought that social classes were no longer relevant than that we concluded they were no longer interesting fields of research. When authors have dealt with an issue thoroughly—you find the same thing with novels—you have to move onto another topic.”

“Basically, we thought, very naively, that certain things could now be taken for granted politically and that, by the same token, we were freed from the tiresome task of having to repeat incessantly that capitalists exist, that inequalities exist, that domination exists, etc. For the left, it was a rather optimistic period, even if, after the fact, one might think that we were mistaken.” This is a precursor to sentiments many feel now (as seen on social media) that all the social advancements we witnessed over the last 50/100 years seem to be unravelling very, very quickly, and quite easily; their fragility not really understood or foreseen. (sexism, racism, anti-worker, protectionist choices etc)

“We live in a society with a broad middle class and a little fraction of the excluded who, out of charity, must be helped, and a little fraction on the top, composed of the rich, the too rich, who should be more mindful of the public good, of “living together,” etc.—in short, more moral, and whom we must try to make moral. This was the beginning of this moral society to which we still belong. I called our group the “Political and Moral Sociology Group” as an homage to Hirschman, but, personally, I don’t like moralism.” Interesting to note this was written in France, (massive player in EU, key figure in dragon up rights for workers which the UK has now rejected, and that it was written in 2012, several years ago)

Ethicists are more and more convinced we should no longer keep pets

Also – see Alfie Kohn’s thesis against behaviouralism training practices when dealing with children.

“Entrepreneurs of the self” – Foucault (as described in Paul Mason’s Post Capitalism)  Pg 24 (NB for dating apps work)

“Knowing that, you can go along with it, or resist — they have that covered too — but the possibility of jumping “out of the system”, if possible, would require a shift in concept of self and human nature, and expose you to a completely new set of risks.”

Also – see page 22 “All that would be needed to blow the whole ting apart os for one or more country to ‘head for the exit”, using protectionism, currency manipulation or debt default” published 2015 one yer before the EY referendum.

Rowan’s piece on networking  –

Again see Paul Mason – page xix struggle between the ‘network’ and hierarchy; also Twitter Mike Glasworthy re networks,

From Stefan, Dana Shultz, Open Casket, ICA,

The end of religion (Paywall)

About the recent riots


Great paragraph at start about how insubstantial a set of descriptions is when describing someone – relevant to A1 and onwards

Self & Other Assignment 1

Create a short series (6-10) of environmental portraits of people in places that provide the context for us to understand them. Pose and details are important.

PDF of the assignment in book format- Others (Otherscompletecover)

Please note: The cover on this version is different to the one I sent via email to WM, due to crop I noticed after emailing it.

It will be helpful to look at the book before reading further.


Two months ago I created a survey which can be found here. I was not sure if I would use the results for the exercises or the assignment or both. In the end they influenced all the work but perhaps it is only obviously visible in the assignment.

I received 86 replies to the survey. I chose 6 to work with. I condensed their words into short descriptions of people.


  1. #34 Female, English, lives in Kent, dress style – “sticks to monochrome”. High thin-heeled stilettoes, feels an affinity with industrial chrome and steel. Home is a modern 3-bed, built to look like a barn, decorated in industrial style, sleek modern furniture. Grew up in France. Has experienced devastating grief.
  2. #83 Female, Welsh, lives in Saudi Arabia. Wears full-length black abaya, with shorts, vest and flip-flops underneath. Home is considered a ‘beautiful bay in Pembrokeshire’ – misses it very much and compares where she is now unfavourably. Was a highly qualified professional when lived in the UK, no longer allowed to work. Signified by a pair of designer sunglasses.
  3. #82 Female, Arab, French but lives in London. Favourite colour red, signified by cigarettes, high-waisted everything, red lipstick, and big smile. Lives with 2 flatmates in Hoxton and although rented, the flat feels like home.
  4. #27 Describes gender as Other, Nordic, and lives on a hill in the woods between the sea and suburb. Struggling and fat. Lives in an old fashioned home that looks like a museum, which feels good. Signified by a tall walking stick. Wishes could tolerate ordinary people more.
  5. #61 Male, British, lives in Nottingham. Feels he is signified best by work trousers. Was changed deeply by death of best friend when he was 18 and grandmother within a few days of each other. Adult but wears superhero PJs. Ideal self is an international playboy, garden designer.
  6. #50 Male, British and lives in London; owns a large comfortable Victorian home, which he loves. Wears a cardigan, which he fiddles with as he did when he was a child with his comfort blanket. Knows he’s very lucky and tries hard not ‘to be a dick’.

I asked people whose work is about representing others to work with me creating a response to these descriptions. The result is the short photography book, Others.

Thoughts at the end the process

I have been quite surprised by the way the course is set out. To me, it feels extremely prescriptive and I had imagined that it would be less so than landscape or documentary, which despite knowing that both those terms can be interpreted in many ways, I avoided, because I wanted to look at things within a wider context. The terms self and other might be fairly broad, interpreted in several ways but the module feels as if it is extremely focused in the documentary tradition, for now at any rate. (Perhaps I am completely wrong, it would not be the first time and I don’t doubt that writing such a course presents many challenges – I can’t even begin to imagine where one would begin.) I wanted to avoid documentary. As a result of feeling potentially pushed into a corner I didn’t want to be in, from the start of the module I have felt compelled to question the trustworthiness of portraits – why am I being asked to do this, I wondered, it won’t tell anyone anything at all? As well, each time we were asked to make work I felt frustrated by the fact that I was being asked to inspect my prejudices and hang them out in public. We are all riddled with preconceptions and assumptions about others. It’s how we operate. Rather than head down that path I felt compelled to explore the fact that we do project and come up against counter-transference too. I conceived the idea of the survey, which was really a reaction against the photographic object. Once I had done that I then felt trapped into making work with it and wished I’d been less prescriptive myself. I also wanted to work collaboratively to suggest my belief that the terms self and other are not as clear-cut as we might imagine.

Because of the concerns addressed above, I have spent a lot of my time lately wondering if I have chosen the right module and/or am on the right course for me.

About the work

In a sense the project is a failure as I was not able to work as I initially wanted to. I could not gather enough people on the same day or days, although I am extremely grateful to Melanie Ingram who so generously offered her time and commitment should we have been able to. Instead, I had to either abandon that idea or work with people individually. At the same time I suddenly became exceptionally busy with work and life which I had not expected. So each shoot felt done under pressure.

Did I work collaboratively? (It might be useful to read my reflection about the term collaboration) With some people I did and with others less so. Melanie Teall (dancer and choreographer) and I were able to sit and talk one evening and share ideas. The rest of the time, although we only were able to grab a few minutes here and there at pick up time at school, we threw ideas around and decided for or against certain things; hence, the image I have used from our shoot is a genuine collaboration between the two of us. Melanie took my intial ideas and came to me with hers in response. She really brought herself into the work (and was very brave too). She understood precisely what I was hoping to explore and felt strongly it connected with work she’d been thinking about for a time. This is a result of those conversations


Note that this image still contains the light coming through the windows behind Melanie unlike the image in the book, which has had it removed.  (c) SJField & MTeall 2017

I asked artists to get involved because I was interested in the process of using drawing marks (good or bad drawing, writing, automatic writing) to illicit unconscious connections. Had I been able to go with the group work we’d have certainly used drawing in the preparation process.  I feel that the images of Lottie are also a genuine collaboration. Perhaps I played a ‘producer’s’ role but, even though our conversations were brief, the images of Lottie required her to trust me, which she generously did as she gave me her work and self to incorporate. I could have chosen a number of images from the shoot with Lottie and went with the one that fitted in relation to the others.


I didn’t use this image but there were a number from this shoot that might have worked. In the end I went for an image that contained an element of chance.

I work often with Trudi Jackson as you can see here.

We have an on ongoing unspoken collaboration that comes from being very long standing and close friends; her career fits well with this project and the fact we have worked and lived together in the past helps. I would work with Trudi again and again and read that Giacometti preferred to work with the same people repeatedly too, as I think many artists do. These others that we know well are perhaps the most interesting ones often. In a film I watched at the Tate exhibition on him, Giacometti talks about recognition getting further and further away the more he works and the closer to someone’s inner life he gets. I think it would be useful to really look at his work in-depth.

The person I felt most bad about is Stefan Schaffeld who put so much into the collaboration but I was not able to do as much with his contribution as he may have deserved. You can read his excellent notes here. I could not work out how to incorporate his work effectively. I did not want to layer our work together because I’d not done that with anyone else. But he was too far away to appear in the images. I thought about photographing him on a Skype call talking to me about his work, which is perhaps the way I should have gone but finding the time to talk at all was impossible as both he and I are so stretched for time. In the end I don’t think it was only about location, but perhaps this shows that collaboration is not a simply matter of sharing ideas but of being able to work with and accept them. Stefan has in fact made some interesting work with images I sent him which you can see on his blog.

Finally this work looks at the issue of copyright too, which is being questioned by some now – do we need it especially in the new digital reality where everything is downloadable and people make ‘collabs’ all the time (my sons are always talking about Youtubers who do ‘collabs’. How does this old world view of ownership fit in with a changing cultural landscape where sampling and sharing online are so prevalent? So in essence it explores issues surrounding the fixed sign and the changing relationship we have with those signs as language and social structures transform.

I see this as exploratory work rather than a final series, perhaps like a proposal.


Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills Materials, techniques, observational skills, visual awareness, design and compositional skill

I was trying new things and working in ways I don’t usually so all the little niggles in my skill set loomed large. I don’t like using a zoom for non-commercial work but I wasn’t sure what I wanted so did but it’s less controlled and too easy to zoom in or out and not think about why. I could have used images that had slanty lines etc and justified it with the mention of creating an oneiric atmosphere but this is something to consider more in future. The final six images I’ve used are technically sound, if not a little dark in places – which is perhaps down to my enjoyment of working with deep shadows. The Blurb online book making software may not be good enough for future books and maybe I will need to try out their downloadable package or something else.

Quality of Outcome, Content, application of knowledge, presentation of work in a coherent manner, with discernment. Conceptualisation of thoughts, communication of ideas.

The idea and execution aren’t quite where I was aiming but it nevertheless communicates the ideas incorporated into the work and images . Some images are stronger than others. I think the edit is probably decent enough considering the images I ended up with and how I had to fit them together. The book is better than the video because of importance of text, so I was right to go with that, although a video could have those words spoken over images.  Some of the images don’t work as well as others with the full bleed and the compromise is not ideal in those, but I’ve stick with full bleed across the book for now. Something to consider when framing a series of shots that are aimed at a book format – not that I was certain here how I’d present them.  I also hope I got the balance right in the book with context – enough but not too much. I think there are probably too many quotes in the lead up to the images especially considering there are only 6 images – you must be thinking, get on with it. And should I have provided a page here with the images alone outside of a book format too for evaluating? Perhaps….

Demonstration of Creativity, Imagination, experimentation, invention, development of a personal voice.

This work may not be to everybody’s taste and in fact I can see it quite irritating some people but it is creative. I deliberately didn’t want to make the same images and present them in the same way as we are used to seeing. I took risks. I don’t know if those risks always worked but at this juncture I think that is a good thing to be doing. I would hope to be encouraged to take risks and to take even more going forward. I wasn’t sure while working I would end up with anything at all and if any of it would have any of ‘me’, my voice, in it – but in the end, the final draft does seem to have a strong sense of my developing voice, despite contributions from a variety of people.

Context, Reflection, research (evidenced in learning logs). Critical thinking (evidenced in critical review).

Doing UVC was such a useful course. It has helped me to look at everything more analytically and better yet, to be able to write it down. As always I have written reams and reams in preparation. I do it more for me and working out how I feel and think about things, but I appreciate it’s hard to wade through it all so I do hope I’ve laid out the blog well enough. I find non-photogprahy but relevant aspects deeply interesting and compelling, and since starting with the OCA I have read widely, albeit not always quite what has been prescribed. I have referenced many, many books and articles throughout this section. I must admit I only just noticed the reading list (although it is not in the folder and online only). I will get on to it but it is safe to say I have been reading plenty of useful and relevant material.