Assignment 4: You Are Here – Aldeburgh by the Sea

Creatively explore the statement ‘you are here’. Produce either a short self-published fanzine, graphic novel or artist’s

book; an on-line interactive experience; a piece of street art; or an illustrative object.

This is a very open brief, so it allows you plenty of room for exploration and creativity. ‘You are here’ can suggest a site-specific approach, an historical perspective, or you could be philosophical or humorous or both! Remember it’s an illustration project so, whatever you decide to do, make sure it focuses on developing your illustrative work in some way.

Set of 10 to 20 digital postcards

Overall assessment

First Ideas

For this Assignment I started with a lot of ideas. Initially I thought of using material from my work and travel in Ethiopia, but as my ideas for this developed, I decided that complex development and political issues were best dealt with in more depth for Assignment 5. 

In the end – following my work on other projects in this part, I decided to continue work with material on Aldeburgh. New material was collected during a holiday in the Aldeburgh festival 9th June to 17th June 2017, but supplemented where necessary with some of the earlier sketches from Part 2 of this course.

Music festival JUNE 2016

Aldeburgh has many festivals during the year to attract the tourists out of London and nearby towns like Colchester. The first one we went to was an arts and music festival with events on the beach. This was only for a day, so I was not able to sketch that much. Also I think there may be Copyright issues sketching other peoples’ art. But these glass icicle posts and the way they were wired to produce sound music was beautiful – also the piano playing on the beach. This image would make a very interesting surrealist painting – cross between Hopper and de Chirico.

Initially I left the type of output open – aiming if possible for multiple media – a set of postcards/print items, a small Blurb book and an on-line experience with soundtrack.

I wanted to explore different ways of thinking about ‘You Are Here’:

  • What is meant by ‘here’ – given that all locations change over time – through history leaving and removing layers, with the seasons and even the weather, sounds and people from minute to minute. 
  • Who is referred to as ‘you’ – different people from the past? artists and writers who have been here and contributed their thoughts and perceptions of the place? a friend? a voyeur or the state always watching? 
  • What is meant by ‘are’? is this physical? stream of consciousness musing? imagination?

With many cross-cutting themes and permutations of the above.

I read books about Aldeburgh and visited Aldeburgh museum for a historical perspective, including The Borough a poem about Aldeburgh by George Crabbe (1754-1832) which described the poverty and hardship in the fishing town at the time, and his poem Peter Grimes. I also listened to music from the opera Peter Grimes by Benjamin Britten, particularly the four seas interlude which forms part of the music festival.

I also researched the way different Aldeburgh and Suffolk-based artists had represented the town: see Aldeburgh inspiration and styles of artists whose landscape work evoked the types of feelings I have in Aldeburgh:

A secondary element I wanted to explore to take forward techniques I had started to develop in Part 2 of this course was the use of my iPad to record and sketch, take photos and video that can be used later, and particularly to significantly widen the styles and effects I am able to achieve. In order to develop the best way of incorporating it into my documentary workflow. Particularly for situations where sketching on the spot is difficult and/or to give me a wiser range of options when it is not easy to take different media with me.

In practice I found sketching on the spot in Procreate more cumbersome that using a pencil – June was a heatwave. Although I have a rucksack stool, interesting sitting places were rather limited as I had to be careful not to get sunburnt. There was a lot of glare on the iPad screen and I had issues with my glasses and eyes switching my view from things in bright sunlight to drawing sitting in the shade.  I decided this was something I would need to practice much more over time (eg as I review my work in Part 2 for assessment) and in shadier conditions.

I did do some sketches though, and developed sets of pencil, ink and wash brushes that are better adapted to my way of working than the generic brushes – mainly altering the levels of sensitivity so that some brushes are fixed size and opacity to give greater consistency while others are sensitive to pressure and tilt – and RSI friendly through not requiring too much pressure. I found the iPad useful because I could first sketch the environment eg a bench, then do quick sketches of people on different layers as they can and went – a technique well worth developing further. In this way I can be free to make mistakes and just get things down.

But wanting to capture as much as possible in the short time I had on holiday, I found it much easier, and productive, to take photos I found interesting, then sit nearby and combine work with photos and observation to explore different painting styles. I also wanted to pushing the potential of Procreate as a digital medium with its brushes, layering, distortions, transparency and blend modes to do things not easy or even possible in analogue media. See Procreate Techniques

Preparatory series

from older photographs and sketches

Series 1 The Wave day 1 sunday
Inspired by Maggie Hambling and other texture experiments

Series 2 cloud and wind day 2 monday
Drawing as lines of discovery. Sheltering from the storm.

Series 3 history day 3 tuesday
Churchyard. Moot house. Witches.

Series 4 who knows where the time goes. Day 4 wed

Series 5 boats and tractors day 4 thursday
Bastardy signs and traces.

Series 6 town 

Series 7
Dawn

Dancing dog