3: Text and Image: Walking St Ives (September 2019)

This third part of the course continues my interest in documentary. It explores the dynamics of text and image:

  • how text and image combine to create narratives and meanings
  • the ways in which visual communicators author such content
  • the role an audience has in reading it.

This set of projects extend earlier work on St Ives in Printmaking 1 and Illustration 1.

The project aims to develop and examine different ways of communicating ‘place’. And respond to a key skill area I identified for development: watercolour, gouache and ink drawing and painting. Looking at the range of styles and the ways in which these affect interpretation of the image. And starting to develop my own approach to these media, building on earlier work for an OCA Certificate in Painting that has not so far been followed through in my illustration work in any significant way.

It will continue my consideration of what might be meant by ‘alternative documentary’ in the light of discussions around walking and psychogeography and selection and treatment of what I draw and how I draw it in relation to both ‘visible’ and ‘invisible’ dimensions of:

  • Whose place? different perspectives and interests. Looking particularly at what might be meant by ‘the female gaze’ and ‘multiculturalism’
  • When place? places change over time – even over a few seconds short term, long term, historical perspective and layers – St Ives has a long and colourful history going back to ?? times
  • Subjective perspectives: exploration and deepening understanding over time and ways in which other people have translated what they see into images, including St Ives artists
  • Imagination: how I want things to be and why. Selective erasure (eg cars and rubbish bins). Simplification and expressive representation.
  • Who is meant by ‘you’? Myself?  An absent imaginary friend you wish was here? A voyeur always watching? Unseen presence of different artists who affect one’s perception of the place?
  • Where or what is ‘here’? Which ‘here’ are ‘you’ at? Different focus and viewpoint.
  • When? places change over time – even over a few seconds – short term, long term, historical perspective and layers – the past is always present
  • Subjective perception, exploration and deepening understanding over time
    Imagination and how I want things to be. The ‘here’ I want you to see (if I like you) Selective erasure (eg cars and rubbish bins)

Although these questions might at first appear rather philosophical (that was encouraged by the brief), they have important implications for other types of documentary and travel illustration. Going beyond just sketching and recording what can never be ‘objective observations’ to make more explicit and interesting the biases and thoughts of the illustrator. It will explore different ways of visually representing the visible reality compared to an ‘invisible’ history and my own imagination.

In this assignment I am particularly interested in the role of individual subjective perspectives, perception and imagination in ‘documenting’ reality and communicating a message and how ‘real’ and ‘fake/imagined’ can be visually combined or distinguished. Linking with my interest in ‘feminist gaze’, it considers what difference my gender might make to what I see, what I drawn and how I draw it. It will explore different ways of visually representing the visible reality compared to an ‘invisible’ history and my own imagination.

I will continue to explore and experiment with ways that style and technique affect the interpretations given to the same text and vice versa. In particular comparing what can be done on the iPad compared to Photoshop and Illustrator.

Project 3.1 Visual Dynamics: St Ives Abstracted

Starts by producing new iPad ‘imagined images’ with text from earlier work for Illustration 1 and Printmaking 1.

Project 3.2 Finding texts: St Ives Reflected

Further develops Project 3.1 further exploring the work of St Ives artists and St Ives history and social context from Guide Books.

Project 3.3 ‘A Very English Holiday’

Produces a series of humorous collages and iPad images from my photographs of people enjoying themselves in Aldeburgh.

Assignment 3: Walking St Ives

A bringing together of the above together with new images and my own text from an annotated sketchbook and diary as a humorous/semi-serious look at life, art and tourism in St Ives. Looking particularly at ideas of ‘Englishness’ – bearing in mind the context of Brexit and the international nature of St Ives tourism.