Assignment 4.2: ‘Arcadia’ (October 2020)

I want to explore different styles and techniques. Following the priorities indicated in my personal statement I will focus on:

  • development of a more dynamic pencil, ink, crayon and wash style drawing from life, based on illustrators and cartoonists like Gerald Scarfe and Ronald Searle and masters of crayon drawing like Raymond Briggs.
  • screenprint and photolithography inspired by the work of Robert Rauschenberg and Martin O’Neill
  • oil pastel and pastel combinations in more ‘angry’ styles of artists like Basquiat
  • ways of producing multilayered digital images on iPad and/or in Photoshop from  drawings and prints as well as photographs – inspired by the style of Tim Marrs
  • further experimentation with atmospheric gouache effects eg incorporating gum arabic, washing out etc.

At the same time, I am also very interested in the ways that style and technique affect the interpretations given to texts.

In terms of content I want to look at what might be meant by ‘alternative documentary’, using material on Cambridge where I live. It explores how an ‘Us Too’ Zemni vision affects how I would approach briefs to produce entertaining images and picturesque prints for the thriving and diverse commercial tourist market in Cambridge and beyond. Linking with my interest in ‘feminist gaze’, it considers what difference my gender might make to what I see, what I drawn and how I draw it.  I am also interested in the role of individual subjective perspectives, perception and imagination in ‘documenting’ reality and communicating a message and how ‘real’ and ‘fake/imagined’ can be visually combined or distinguished. As part of this project I will revisit some ideas that I started to develop in:

  • Printmaking 2: Grand Arcade: Memories revisited: My photographs, together with new sketches, screenprints etc, would lend themselves very well to my own version of a ‘Tim Marrs’ style. My revisiting would take more of a socio-political documentary approach based on ‘objective’ photographs, collaging and digitally processing these to pose questions about some of the contradictions and challenges of the ‘ethical capitalism’ the Cambridge Grand Arcade represents. The composite images will juxtapose comedy and poignancy in depicting experiences of urban living, drawing on ‘First Things First’ debates, work of other artists, illustrators and photographers of ‘the City, and discussions of capitalist consumerism in works like Naomi Klein’s ‘No Logo’.
  • Illustration 2: Cambridge: Spirit of Place  with more tourist images of people and historic sites. Here I would experiment with  cartooning traditions and drawing styles of illustrators like Scarfe, Searle, Briggs, Gottardo, Tessa Newcomb, Olivia Lomenech Gill and selected Cambridge illustrators, linking with illustrators in the Cambridge Urban sketchers group.

This assignment will build on my collage work from Project 2.1 Oromia and focus on developing the range of technical skills, and how they might be combined in a coherent ‘approach’ and ‘style’ for documentary elsewhere. I am hoping that selections from the work, or further extended and developed in collaboration with a Cambridge tour guide friend and on-line discussion as annotated cards and/or a short book or books on life in Cambridge in Assignment 5 

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