Assignment 2.2 Suffolk Edges: Aldeburgh and Orford

From Illustration 2 Assignments 2 and 4. But mostly from new sketches and paintings on iPad, and fine art prints.

Diary

Based on a diary, photographs and sketches from Aldeburgh, June 2017. This evolved from a ‘stream of consciousness’ iPad sketching idea to a much more reflective process of including iPad manipulation of found images to create narratives reflecting issues, history and folklore of Aldeburgh. These were compiled as an interactive webpage on the professional photography and illustration website I am developing: http://www.zemniimages.com/Illustration/From-the-Edge.

Assignment 4: Wish You were Here

Assignment 2.2 is the second body of work in a series of live projects around the theme ‘Wish You Were Here’. These look further at issues in ‘home documentary’ around ‘Landscaping Britain’.

Orford is a really atmospheric ‘dystopian/urbex tourism’ National Trust property that used to be a nuclear and weapons research place. Still linked to the nuclear industry. It has distinctive wildlife/landscape and is on a very unstable spit of land currently under threat of disappearing into the sea. So there is a local funding campaign. Conflict between fishing and NT EU funding on signage. Somewhere I can go for the day from Cambridge throughout the year.

This first body of work focuses on Orford in Suffolk, East Anglia. It focuses on development of my skills in:

  • photography editing two series of late autumn photographs taken in October 2019, as quality black and white/ colour photographs using Lightroom and NikFX.
  • printmaking – photolithography and drypoint
  • scraperboard
  • ink and watercolour
  • video experiences in Adobe Animate and/or After effects and/or Adobe Premiere

Looking at the different effects of different media on the way the images are perceived.

I decided to base this assignment on a week’s holiday in June 2017 at the time of the Aldeburgh music festival. The main linking narrative was a diary of my thoughts over the 7 days, exploring a number of questions:

  • 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.

The work itself went through many stages after the holiday as my ideas, and also iPad skills, developed around these questions. It evolved from ‘Aldeburgh reality’ into a journey of imaginative and artistic exploration, often using found textures and images to create stories around the place.

Based on a diary, photographs and sketches from Aldeburgh, June 2017. This evolved from a ‘stream of consciousness’ iPad sketching idea to a much more reflective process of including iPad manipulation of found images to create narratives reflecting issues, history and folklore of Aldeburgh. These were compiled as an interactive webpage on the professional photography and illustration website I am developing: http://www.zemniimages.com/Illustration/From-the-Edge.

On the Edge

My overwhelming inspiration on this first day was the visit to the Maggi Hambling exhibition ‘On the Edge’ at the Peter Peer’s gallery.
Aldeburgh itself is ‘on the edge’ in a number of ways:

  • the extreme vulnerability to the encroachment of the sea that has halved the land originally occupied in Aldeburgh and nearby Thorpeness and Orford – currently generally held at bay with barriers and groynes, but threatened in the longer term by global warming.
  • to the North the skyline is dominated by Sizewell nuclear power station – with periodic leaks though none so far serious.

The holiday was just after the June general election. Radio discussions on election fall out were playing on a popular mood of shock and uncertainty, reinforcing feelings of anxiety from Hambling’s Edge.

Development of the images

The images themselves were made from sharp rusty edges of ageing tractors used to pull the fishing boats.

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Over the Edge

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Born of volcanic rust

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Raven

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Sunday 11th June diary

Arrived late on Saturday 10th June, camp and eat.
Sunday morning:
Sun and cloud. 18/19c Windy. 18/19.
Smell of mown grass.
Cuckoos in the morning.
Walk into town in the morning. See Maggi Hambling‘s Edge Exhibition and Walls of Water.

Edge is more political than much of her earlier work on the sea, dealing with the refugee crisis, battle for Aleppo and global warming.

It is called Edge because I feel we are ‘on the edge’. There is a fragility to our existence – both ours and the planet and these works attempt to address that and strike up a dialogue with whoever is looking at them.

The paintings are large, with characteristic dramatic swirls of texture, that then on further looking show fine detail – people, remains of buildings and boats caught up in the chaos. The global warming paintings have a lot of gold, echoing renaissance paintings – but gold is now a reference to greed.
See: article by Andrew Clarke: Maggi Hambling creates new show about life on the edge
At the same exhibition were also the Walls of Water paintings I had seen before. And a selection of her books on sale.

Band on beach. Acoustic guitar. But not many people. Town feels quite empty.
On the walk back for lunch I do video and photos of sea.

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Wave Video
Back in the van in the afternoon I did some iPad experiments inspired by Hambling’s Edge and waves. Exploring oil painting brushes, transparency lock and compositing to produce different textures. Trying to capture some of the drama and anger of the Edge.
I also looked at looked at some books of illustration I had brought with me for some ideas on how I might structure a book on Aldeburgh:

  • Olivia Lomenech Gill ‘Where My Wellies Take Me’ a book my daughter had bought me for Xmas. An advert for her exhibition ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was in the supermarket. I wanted to study her style – multilayered paint and mixed media on top with white gouache, erasing, often on brown paper. Pencil sketching and very good drawing. Use of muted colours. Lots of humour.
  • Tessa Newcomb ‘Paris’. Oil illustrations with cut out and exaggeration of shapes. Use complementary colours in overpainting. I was also interested in how she combined text and image.

I then did some further experiments in Procreate with a more patterned and delicate feel.

Wind dies down at sunset. Fans of sunlight in the sky. Then cloud again.
Walk along the beach to Thorpeness. Areas of beach fenced off to protect the plants.
Some semblance of calm.
Radio discussions on election fall out. Feelings of uncertainty. This re-ignites feelings of anxiety from Hambling’s Edge.

Further development

Back home I printed out the photos and did some mixed media experiments in my sketchbook.
I also revisited the Procreate images as part of experimentation with ArtRage and did a new series of images inspired by Edge.

Pixelmator images from nets

Note: the ideas for this are from the Thursday, but in terms of narrative for the work as a whole, I decided to swap this section to come after The Wild Man. As an attempt to get out of entanglement – and towards the final Kunst Macht Frei.