This second 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.
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
A subjective approach concerned with personal responses to what I am seeing, reading and hearing in a place is underpinned by a more political ‘voice’ and approach to social and environmental documentary that aims to provoke questions in the viewer – about the way we live – our relationships and social and environmental responsibilities.
Focusing on multi-layered aspects of ‘place’, the projects continue to develop my creative process and explore different ways of linking text and image.
Underpinning much of the work, particularly the final Assignment 3: ‘A Week in Teetotal Street’ Teetotal Street Project 2.3 Love and Other Islands is a consideration of issues raised by Poynor in ‘First Things Next’. 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’. See the evolution of my thinking on blog page:
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 collaged book for the final assignment ‘A Week in 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.
Unfortunately further documentary work with local people on location was interrupted by the COVID-19 restrictions and are now part of my work in the final Sustaining Your Practice module.
Small draft book of collaged photographs, illustrations and found text from a week in Teetotal Street in December 2019. (Scrolling pdf)TeetotalSt_bookWPspreads
Gallery of other selected images.
Further photo galleries of St Ives that revisit some of the earlier images that provide the background to the projects and assignment book can be found in Assignment 5.1.1 Shutterscapes II the photo galleries on my SMUGMUG portfolio page:
Project 2.1: 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.
Project 2.2: 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.
Collage takes things from here and there and puts them together. “Collage is when two things don’t go together too easily. If it’s right there’s a kind of tautness there that if you pull them apart any further it’ll snap. If you get them any closer it’ll be just flabby. But if you can get it just right it’s terrific.” John Baldessari
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 how people relate to each other, particularly on holiday. My approach is mostly open-ended, sometimes humorous and sometimes more poignant about loss and loneliness.
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’.
This third assignment ‘A Week in Teetotal Street’ produces a small graphic and text book based on a diary and 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’. To start to develop ways in which my work can provoke questions about the way we live – our relationships and social and environmental responsibilities.
This more subjective approach to documentary underpins the more political ‘voice’ and approach to social and environmental documentary I aim to explore explore with other people in taking my work on Cornwall forward in Sustaining Your Practice.
Further photo galleries of St Ives that revisit some of the earlier images that provide the background to this book can be found in the photo galleries on my SMUGMUG portfolio page: