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 quite 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 combining drawing, different printmaking media, photography, collage, painting and digital media. Some of my work is experimental, exploring the range of effects that can be achieved in different media in response to a wide range of briefs.

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 international development. My current work increasingly focuses on issues nearer to home – the social and environmental challenges we face. Alongside my own artistic practice I support processes for collaborative art, photography, video and web communications as part of peoples’ own documentation of their lives.

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 (June 2019)

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 media to produce photographic images in their own right, and also as the basis for further development in printmaking and illustration. I experiment with different image-making approaches presented in Project 1.3 Creatively Exploring my Process.

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.

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: Tales from the Edge (October 2019)

Assignment 3 takes a more imaginative approach to landscape and different visual ways of combining text and image to produce a body of work that questions established ways of seeing and thinking. Based on black and white photographs and sketches from walks, I produce an ‘edgy’ body of work with underpinning themes of violence from a feminist and environmentalist perspective. I work in different black and white media: ink, scraper-board and kitchen lithography, combining these with Photoshop and Illustrator to explore the different effects and moods that their distinctive types of line, shape and texture can produce. look at a range of ways of integrating text and image

  • 3.1 Moot Tales revisited revisits texture images from Aldeburgh used in Illustration 2 ‘From the Edge’ to explore new feminist meanings and narratives.
  • 3.2 Finding texts: Walking through the Looking Glass takes a selection of walk guides, history texts and poems from Alice Through the Looking Glass and develops a series of thumbnail ink and iPad sketches.
  • 3.3 Developing content: Tree Talk uses photographs or tree shapes and textures to produce a series of humorous or thought-provoking images about relationships – also about our relationship with trees and environment.
  • Assignment 3: Jabberwocky revisits a short 6 page image and text project from Book Design 3.2 Jabberwocky to produce a much more extensive body of darker feminist work, including an on-line experience in After Effects, around themes of violence, masculinity and conquering fear, building on the above.

4: Audience: Zemni’s Cambridge (March 2020)

Assignment 4 focuses on developing my artistic voice in relation to different types of audience. It is the beginnings of a financially necessary step towards finding different markets for my work in the longer term. Particularly as health concerns are starting to limit my travel. It explores how different aspects of both my ‘fun’ and more critical work in the UK can be presented for a range of different audiences, markets and social networks at home and internationally.

I am planning to take forward up to four bodies of work building on earlier projects and images that I think might have a potential local or wider audience and market:

  • 4.1 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
  • 4.2 ‘Arcadia recycled’: collage, photomontage and prints taking forward work from Printmaking 2 from a more socio-political perspective.
  • 4.3 Cambridge Life: sketches and cartoons from life using iPad and natural media building on life sketches of cafe’s and recreational activities in Cambridge.
  • 4.4 Cambridge Seasons: photographs, prints and paintings building on work on seasons for Printmaking 1 and 2 and Illustration 2: Spirit of Place.

5: Presenting my work: This England (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.

Project 5.2 then extends my photographic work across a range of audience-responsive formats :  photobook documentaries, fine art and documentary print making, cards and on-line animated and interactive experiences. Depending on initial audience feedback, I envisage new work on:

  • 5.2.1 Penwith: artist sketchbooks from St Ives and Penwith fishing and mining areas with Photobook and/or on-line experience on mining 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.
  • 5.2.2 Suffolk Edges: photobook ‘A British Day Out’ on Orford Ness incollaboration with National Trust? and further sketchbook work of tourism in Aldeburgh
  • 5.2.3 Norfolk by the Sea: Martin Parr-style photobook of seaside towns in winter and cards around social and environmental issues, particularly fragility of the coastline.
  • 5.2.4 Going North: on-line animated photo experiences and documentary prints in different printmaking media with new work on social and environmental issues including textile and mining industries.

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.