4: Grand Arcade Cambridge: 10 faces of ‘Arcadia’

This project looks at different aspects of city life based on photographs and new sketches of the Grand Arcade, Cambridge, revisiting my work for Printmaking 2: Grand Arcade: Memories Revisited. This used a combination of linocut, collage and digital processing to create an imaginative image of my memories and associations the with Grand Arcade in Cambridge.

The revisiting here takes more of a socio-political documentary approach, aiming to
juxtapose comedy and poignancy in posing questions about some of the contradictions and challenges of the ‘ethical capitalism’ the Cambridge Grand Arcade represents. Paradoxically although there are security cameras all over the place photographing me and other visitors, photography by visitors is very strictly controlled. My recent correspondence asking for permission has so far had no response. The documentary will therefore use photographs taken earlier when I had permission for a photography project in 2012, collaging and digitally processing these with screen-prints and linocuts, informed by a life sketching and observation process at regular intervals in March/April 2019 to refine my questions and interpretation. It also draws on work of other artists, illustrators (particularly Tim Marrs and Gerald Scarfe) and photographers of ‘the City, and discussions of capitalist consumerism in works like Naomi Klein’s ‘No Logo’.

The project extends my work by selecting 10 different concepts around urban living and ethical consumerism suggested by my photography, collage and printmaking of the Grand Arcade. It then experiments with different perspectives presented in Project 1.3 My Creative Design Process.

On a technical level it continues to develop my skills in:

  • collage
  • photomontage in Photoshop and Procreate on iPad
  • drawing from photos and life reportage sketching
  • screenprinting

And looking at different ways of combining these into a creative workflow from visual experimentation to final image.

’10 faces of the Grand Arcade’: concepts

My photos and sketches suggested a number of themes and interpretations of life in the Grand Arcade.

On the positive side:

  • Light and promise of heaven: the architecture is really beautiful in sunlight, with its walkways and sitting places.
  • Glitz and colour of shopping, particularly at Christmas with its evocations of warmth and pre-Christmas energy and buzz
  • People – particularly women – enjoying themselves meeting and drinking coffee together and (as I occasionally did) enjoying the shopping.
  • Diversity and different cultures mixing
  • Promotion and funding of ethical causes

On the negative side:

  • Overpowering sexualised adverts making women feel inadequate
  • Fragmentation and alienation: escalators and walkways. So many places and shops it is easy to get lost.
  • Loneliness amid the bustle: people so small and some (like me during the cancer and on other occasions) very lonely and in the crowd, feeling insignificant
  • Male images and loneliness – more difficult for men, particularly older men to participate.
  • Surveillance and security

Light and promise of heaven

The architecture is really beautiful in sunlight, with its walkways and sitting places.

Glitz and colour of shopping,

particularly at Christmas with its evocations of warmth and pre-Christmas energy and buzz

Cafe People enjoying themselves meeting friends and drinking coffee together

People – particularly women – enjoying themselves meeting and drinking coffee together and (as I occasionally did) enjoying the shopping.

Diversity and different cultures mixing

Promotion and funding of ethical causes

Overpowering sexualised adverts making women feel inadequate

Fragmentation and alienation: escalators and walkways. So many places and shops it is easy to get lost.

Loneliness amid the bustle: people so small and some (like me during the cancer and on other occasions) very lonely and in the crowd, feeling insignificant

Male images and loneliness – more difficult for men, particularly older men to participate.

Surveillance and security

Meow Gallery: The gallery is empty.