3: Text and Image: Woman Lost

This third part of the course develops a body of work that creatively explores the use of text and image, based on material from a series of visits to Cornwall. The various projects explore my personal responses to place, and the interactions between things I am seeing, reading and hearing at the time and my responses to the place itself. This more subjective approach to documentary underpins the more political ‘voice’ and approach to social and environmental documentary I explore with other people in Part 4: Audience: I Love Cambridge.

My starting point and underpinning theme was the work of Rebecca Solnit’s discussion about ‘getting lost’ and the need to open up and explore unfamiliar things without being afraid.

Losing things is about the familiar falling away. Getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing.

Rebecca Solnit ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’ 2005

Underpinning much of the work, particularly Teetotal Street and Love and Other Islands is a consideration of issues raised by Poynor in ‘First Things Next’ – how my work can raise questions about the way we live – our relationships and social and environmental responsibilities. In my graphic art images (in contrast to my professional work) the questions and/or potential solutions are rarely explicit. Although I myself have a reasonably clear value position from a socialist, feminist and environmentalist standpoint, I prefer the narratives of Shaun Tan and collages of John Baldessari which provoke the viewer to ask their own questions and reach their own (hopefully similar) conclusions to more overt ‘political clarity’.

I started with the somewhat vague intention responding to the very open brief to ‘initiate a self-directed project around an idea or theme that allows me to generate my own text and images’, Choosing something to do with Cornwall because that was where we were going on a number of holidays in 2019 so my partner could attend painting courses in St Ives. I quickly became completely overwhelmed and inspired by possible interesting topics that would clearly take me much longer than I had time for. So I decided to ‘jump in and begin to learn some new technical skills’, working through the projects and spontaneously responding to influences and ideas as they came up. Going down a number of apparently unrelated blind alleys on the way in the process that I have now turned into ideas for future in Part 5 and beyond.

As a result, my work on the various projects has been very exploratory in different directions and a bit disjointed. But this frequent shooting off in different directions has led I think to something much more interesting and with more depth than the initial ideas I had. And all the apparently disconnected projects have contributed in some way to the ideas and approach in the final assignment ‘Teetotal Street’. Though at the time of sending initially to my tutor, this still needs a lot more work after a break to bring together and polish for print or on-line format.

Project 3.1: Visual Dynamics: Lost on the Way to Zennor

This first project started with a small personal sketchbook from 5 days camping along the South West Coast path just above St Ives in Cornwall, started in March 2019 with further thoughts from a second holiday in July 2019. My approach is largely personal and experimental, following my mental responses and spontaneous interpretations of images and marks as they develop in front of me. The sketchbook is a ‘concertina compilation’ with pull-outs and add-ins from mixed media mark-making, personal reflections and quotations from reading, galleries and TV during my stay (Rebecca Solnitz, Huguette Caland exhibition at Tate St Ives, Brexit angst and climate change in the News), together with pencil sketches and photographs from walks. The course exercises led me to new, unplanned and imaginative outcomes that extend my creative process from Project 1.3 Creative Design Toolkit.

Orange 4 time motion sound

3.1.1 Orange: Visual Dynamics revisited

Orange starts on an optimistic note based on text by Huguette Caland.

Melancholy 3 just right

3.1.2 Lost in Blues: Maximum/ Minimum/’just right’

Creates a series of images in Procreate from cyanotypes and texts by Rebecca Solnit on the theme of ‘Blue’

Butterfly 3 Violence
Butterfly 3 Violence

3.1.3 Searching for Zennor: collages of the mind

Searching for Zennor gets darker in its examination of my personal psychological responses to place using photocollage and iPad montages from markmaking.

Project 3.2: Finding texts: Cornwall knowns and unknowns

This project asked me to identify a range of different kinds of texts as potential starting points to compare different types of text: stories, journalism, academic non-fiction, entertainment, factual text, dialogue or opinion, focusing on texts that I do not know. Then consider different ways of responding creatively to them and different types of question involved.

Continuing from my reading of Rebecca Solnitz, I took different texts about Cornwall that I had not read before: historical travelogues, folk tales, tourist information boards. Developing thumbnail images on my iPad, I look at different ways of using style and sequencing to produce different interpretations of a text and started to draft images in Procreate and Adobe mobile Aps. For this project I was asked to produce thumbnails only, but I am intending to develop some of these further as short on-line publications for my portfolio using my own text and different media.

3.2.1 Cornwall on a Sidesaddle

An extract from Celia Feinnes travel diary written between 1685-1712 covering her time in Cornwall. This is a factual text where I decided to use the full text laid on top of Procreate collages from found images and digital watercolour drawings.

This is the most complete series that I might develop further using extracts from her travels elsewhere in England.

The Lady and the Lantern

3.2.2 Fairies from the Dark

A series of three Cornish Folk Tales: ‘The Fairy Funeral’, ‘The Sands at Lelant and Phillack’ and ‘The Lady and the Lantern’ that I decided to illustrate with 3-5 black and white images using ink brushes developed in Procreate.

I want to develop these further with scraperboard illustrations, increasing the number of illustrations and cutting down the somewhat boring text to a series of one page comic cartoon narratives.

3.2.3 Island

This image/text sequence originated with a tourist information board in a St Ives car park about the history of Pendinas ‘the Island’, combined with reading on geology of the Cornish peninsula. Here the text is overlaid in Illustrator and integrated into images produced in Adobe Draw and Sketch.

I would like to develop this further as a short graphic novel and/or Flash cartoon.

Project 3.3 Developing Content: Love and Other Islands

Selecting from my own existing photographs of St Ives, I produce a series of image and text captions in Photoshop around the themes of love and relationships. My approach is mostly open-ended, sometimes humorous and sometimes more poignant about loss and loneliness.

Assignment 3: Teetotal Street

The final assignment piece ‘Teetotal Street’ uses photographs of a holiday flat where we stayed in St Ives in November 2019, just before the Brexit general election. It is a very personal response to my feelings of claustrophobia and helplessness at the time and doubts and dilemmas of trying to be a ‘responsible tourist’ amid all the social and environmental conflicts in St Ives. It draws visual inspiration from Richard MacGuire’s ‘Here’, Jonathon Miller’s ‘Nowhere in Particular’ and the work of Aaron Siskind, and brings together a lot of my earlier reading and visual experimentation in a way that considers more explicitly issues raised by Poynor in ‘First Things Next’.