Zemni Illustration

I am a photographer, printmaker and illustrator based in Cambridge, UK.

Image-making is my way of exploring and experiencing life and discovering new ways of looking at things. Some of my work is political. Some emotionally dark. Other more ‘fun’ work aims to help myself and others ‘look on the bright side of life’.

 I work in a range of media. The basis is generally photography or sketching and painting in natural media or on my iPad. These images may then be combined and further developed in different printmaking media, digital software or collage. Some of my work is more experimental and abstract, exploring the range of intentional and accidental effects that can be achieved in different media.

Much of my work has been around journeys and social and political issues in Africa and Asia connected to my professional work as consultant in participatory development. My current work increasingly focuses on issues nearer to home – the social and environmental challenges we face and my own place within that. Alongside my own artistic practice I hope to support processes for collaborative art, photography, video and web communications as part of peoples’ own documentation of their lives, building on my participatory work overseas.

About this blog

Zemni Illustration blog brings together my work, research and thoughts for Open College of the Arts Visual Communications level 3 module: Advanced Practice. The issue of Brexit has loomed over the whole period of my work on this module. As my own sense of identity has always been ‘global European’, the thought of suddenly becoming narrowly ‘English’ or even ‘British’ fills me with claustrophobic dread. Particularly at a time in my life when health issues restrict my travel beyond Europe. My work on this blog is an attempt to reconnect with some of the more beautiful, funny and light-hearted aspects of Britain, as well as dealing implicitly or explicitly with some of the serious social and environmental issues we face.

Much of the work is concerned with ideas of ‘Place’. Whether image-making is based on illustration or photography or even where the aim is ‘objective documentary’, many choices are made in terms of what is communicated and how image design and technical aspects of the particular medium can enhance that communication. I aim to pose some serious questions about our lives in England, our use of the environment and the ways in which we relate to each other – posing the same questions here as in my international work.

1: Voice

Assignment 1 starts to looks in more detail at my practice and explore what might be meant by my distinctive ‘Zemni Voice’. How a socio-political approach to reportage, landscape and life sketching might link to or complement the more ‘fun’ aspects of the work I want to do.

2: Edit and Amend: Landscapes of Place

Assignment 2 ‘Landscapes of Place’ revisits earlier work and develops new work around the idea of ‘landscape’ and ‘landscaping’. It focuses on developing my skills in digital photographic software to produce photographic images in their own right, and also as the basis for further development in printmaking media like photo-screen, photo-lithography, cyanotype and gelli-plate transfer. It also starts to look at issues in creating documentary narratives in the form of photo books and on-line web galleries and slideshows.

2.1 Edit: Bridge

A3 Photoscreen prints. Click on any image to see carousel with details.

‘Bridge’ revisits a stone lithography print from Printmaking 2 Project 1.1 ‘Natural Landscapes’ that asked me to explore the contrasting forms and shapes of natural as compared to human/urban landscape. Although tutors considered it a good print technically, it is too ‘picturesque’. I wanted to revisit and extend this project through combining and contrast natural and human landscape elements in the context of discussions around psycho-geography and ‘Edgelands’. Using existing and new photographs of the A14 Road Bridge, I extend my technical skills to produce a series of five A3 photo-screen prints. In the process I developing a much bigger series of black and white documentary photographs in Lightroom and SilverFX, before selecting and processing the five prints in Photoshop for the printing plates. These images are further developed in a range of printmaking media, and combined with other images of the river as a photo book in Assignment 5.1.1 ‘River Reflections’.

2.2 Amend: Shutterscapes

This second part of Assignment 2 ‘Shutterscapes’ builds on the previous project, around the idea of ‘landscaping’ using existing and new images from my photo collection from Cornwall, East Anglia and Northern England. The brief is to focus on technical skills rather than ‘meaning’. My main aim is to further develop my photographic software editing skills to professional standard, linked to initial submissions to stock photography agencies and identification of further potential markets for higher end landscape photography. Inspired by other landscape photographers, I explore different styles of landscape photography and how these can be digitally replicated using Adobe Lightroom and different Nik FX components: Viveza, Color FX and Analog Pro as well as extending my skills in SilverFX to work with low quality jpg images for artistic effects. I then take some of the images into Photoshop to develop images for printmaking.

3: Text and Image: In Arcadia ego

Based on photographs, collage, printmaking and sketchbooks from life I produce a body of work around feminist critiques of consumerism and global capitalism.

4: Audience: This England (March 2020)

Assignment 4 focuses on developing my artistic voice in relation to different types of audience, starting with an on-line social network discussion of peoples’ visions of ‘England’ in the light of Brexit. Based on existing and new photographs and Sketchbooks of Peak District, Lake District and Cornwall. Focusing on black and white and/or limited palette images (?? contrasting with colour in Assignments 3 and 5.1), it extends my photographic work across a range of audience-responsive formats:  photobook documentaries and on-line animated and interactive experiences. Depending on initial audience feedback, I envisage four inter-linked but contrasting bodies of work:

  • 4.1 Lake District Sublime an on-line After Effects presentation of photographs of Lake District showing a much more dramatic black and white, limited pallet experience.
  • 4.2 Dark Peak White Peak: a series of walking guides of Crowden, Hagg Wood and Ashbourne in Peak District, produced as e-books with illustrations in different printmaking media??
  • 4.3 Penwith Black and White: black and white photographs and/or ink/print sketchbooks from Penwith mining areas as Photobook and/or on-line experience in collaboration with National Trust?. With selected images produced as documentary prints in different printmaking media focusing on the fragility of local livelihoods and the environment.
  • 4.4 St Ives by the Sea: black and white documentary photobook about St Ives based on photographs from a holiday in November 2019.

In addition to the black and white photography, depending on audience feedback, I develop some of the images as fine art colour photographs, screen prints and possibly paintings.

5: Presenting my work: Edges revisited (September 2020)

This final Assignment will focus on the idea of ‘This England’, extending my work on Assignment 2.2 Shutterscapes in the light of my work on text and audience from Assignments 2 and 3. In Project 5.1 I review and finalise work from previous assignments, including addition of new photographs and further work for Shutterscape galleries.

As well as finalising outputs from Assignments 3 and 4, I am planning to take forward three main bodies of work from Assignment 2 that I think might have a potential local or wider audience and market:

  • 5.1.1 River Reflections: taking forward my work on Project 2.1 Bridge to produce a photo-book and series of fine art photographs and prints in different print-making media that are likely to have a local Cambridge market.
  • 5.1.2 ‘A Very British Day Out’ on Orford Ness in collaboration with National Trust and local people.
  • 5.1.3 Norfolk by the Sea Martin Parr-style colour photobook of seaside towns in winter around social and environmental issues, particularly fragility of the coastline and lack of employment.

I am also planning a new set of work: Tales from the Edge as a series of short imaginative documentary pieces animated in After Effects and/or Adobe Animate:

  • 5.2.1 Moot Tales based on texture stories from Aldeburgh produced for Illustration 2: On the Edge
  • 5.2.2 Jabberwocky based on photographs from Hagg Wood in Peak District, reworking an ‘edgy’ 6-page Image and Text exercise from Book Design 1.
  • 5.2.3 The Island based on new sketchbook work from St Ives.

These final projects will update my Printmaking blog and professional Zemni Images website upload video to a new Zemni You Tube or Vimeo channel.

Other blogs and websites

This Advanced Practice module complements other more political work based on my professional work in international development that is developed in other modules for this degree. This blog complements and links to my other blogs and websites:

  • Zemni Images blog a portfolio site that showcases the best work from my previous and current Visual Communications courses.
  • Visual Communication for Development  looking at issues in my professional work in international development  for the OCA Visual  Research course.
  • Zemni Printmaking being developed and updated from my OCA printmaking courses.
  • Zemni Photography from OCA photography courses I tool as a leisure student
  • Zemni Images professional website that houses high resolution images of my Visual Communications portfolios and my photography portfolios and archives.
  • Gamechange Network consultancy blog that houses and links outputs from the different projects and partners I have worked with.