Writing is magical – it transports us. As you sit ready to write this exercise, close your eyes for just a moment. Recall the last time you were out in the elements. Feel the wind, snow or pounding rain on your face, the chill in your bones. Open your eyes when you’re ready to write about this. Stay in the moment as you write.
The sky was bright, though it was cloudy. I expect the cloud must have been thin and the sunning burning bright behind it.
I sought out the winter flowering blossom. It brings a tear to my eye to think of it. It’s my beacon of hope. I’ve nearly survived this winter. I took out my phone, I had to take a photo, a momento of my being beggining to leave its dark winter home. I give thanks to a god that I don’t believe in. The signs of spring mean so much to me.
I heard the flutter of wings and turned my heard sharply, in time to catch a flock of pigeons urgently seeking flight. A predator must be around. Alas, its only a Magpie, no majestic Sparrow hawk for my mind to marvel at. There are people at the bus stop so I secretly salute the bird, with the saying “hello Mr Magpie, how are you and your family.” I realise there is only a single bird, “one for sorrow”, the words are an arrow to my heart, but I can’t stop the thoughts and fears arising. Suddenly a second bird appears, “two for joy”. I breath a sigh of relief. They briefly circle the tree then land. I notice one of them is preening small twigs. They’re forming a nest. Spring, another sign of spring. Yes. How marvelous.
Unfortunately most of my photos from my trip to Walthamstow Wetlands (back in the summer) were of poor quality. My viewing point, and the time of day that I visited, meant that the contrast was too strong, leaving deep shadows. I’m particularly disappointed that I didn’t get a decent photo of the little grebe. I must pay the Wetlands another visit.
Firstly, I would like to say that I am going to stick with the title “Some Emotional States Of My Anorexia And Strengths Of Recovery”. Initially I had some reservations about the length of the title, but I find that its appropriate as an anchor to the work which I have produced.
I would like to thank my tutor Jayne Taylor for the level and quality of feedback and interaction that I have received from her throughout the course. I would also like to thank the Open College of the Arts for the standard of the coursework, and for their excellent support and kindness with regards to the difficulties that I have experienced with my health, and the impact which this has had on my ability to study. If you are considering studying any of the creative arts, at foundation or undergraduate level then I would highly recommend the Open College of the Arts. You will not be disappointed. Although the OCA is based in the UK, they also accept international student. All of the courses are open/distance learning. Please check out their website here for further information.
There a few points that I would like to comment upon
“It was very significant that you allowed the strong autobiographical themes to emerge through your work, and the leap forward can be seen through your assignment output across the course. You’ve worked incredibly hard and have put a lot of time and energy into your work, and this is all very evident here – well done indeed.”
The coursework leading up to assignment three was a turning point for me. It was during this section that I began to explore how I could use photography to explore and express my experience of life. The course material gave me the opportunity to try the exercises in the style of different photographers, and I was able to create a mini photobook called A Hermits Journey, and a sequence called Sick of Bulimia. I gave of myself in both of these pieces of work, and A Hermits Journey was featured in WordPress Discover and received over 1,000 hits.
There were many bullet points relating to Jaynes perspective of the of my assignment in which she draws out my methodology and how thorough I have been with my preparation and progress. But I would like to comment upon this
“The use of your own self-portraits in the work shows immense growth in your confidence, both personally and as an artist, and this is heartening to see.”
For me to use self-portraits is a scary experience. I have been working up to this over the past two years, gradually taking more steps from using my shadow, the use of face masks, and now revealing my face. My reticence to present and exhibit this piece of work, but I do aim to exhibit my work, I have a gallery in mind, and I am going to need Jaynes advice on how to approach them. I believe in the quality of the expression and technique, and this work deserves exhibition. I am worth it, despite my fears of showing my face.
“You had some reservations about how to make the embroidered snake have the same visual impact as the other works – hopefully the Google image search we did has helped you see how a stronger silhouette might be all that’s needed to make this work. The important thing is to keep looking until you find an image you feel enthusiastic about working with. The snake image seems to have special significance, being linked to medicine and alluding to the transition from sickness into health – so take your time and enjoy it! (Might a gold thread work here, as a kind of alchemical effect, maybe?)”
In Native American Shamanism, the rattlesnake, called Utsonati, symbolises medicine, which I interoperate as turning poison into medicine. It would have made an excellent finale to the series. However, all of the embroidered animals so far have been flying animals, and I think it’s important to provide visual consistency, and the snake would offset this. So, I am considering embroidering a stalk onto the final portrait, with the stalk symbolising new life, and recovery from an eating disorder is in many ways developing a new life.
“Good documentation of your process all the way through. Nothing to add, except to say that the process is as important as the end result, especially while studying, so this is an excellent practice to maintain.”
The process is the most important part for me, and I love how an idea can change, alter and develop given time and space. During this assignment I have rarely embroidered for more than two hours per day, and I have had a break after the first hour, often a few hours before returning to the embroidery. When I begin to sew in the morning, I spend time looking at the developing artwork before stitching, and looking at the guide photo. I thoroughly look and see what I am producing. Without the seeing the quality of what I am producing would be diminished. Working more than a couple of hours per day would be unwise for the same reasons, because the level of focus upon the embroidery becomes too narrow and fixed.
The research was also important to me, and I have tried this exercise using three different styles, two of which have been a permitted collaboration which makes use of Laura Letinsky’s series Ill Form and Void Full. Although I have decided not to use them for this assignment, I will show them here at some point in the future. My research was thorough for this assignment and included exploring other photographers who work with hand stitching on photography, shamanism and the use of masks.
My ideas and research can be viewed hereas well as here.
Throughout this assignment I have recorded how my ideas have been refined as well as reporting on my progress and the processes. When I view fellow students work, I love to see the process of how they make photography, from the initial idea to the end result, which is often reworked. I have also had the opportunity to receive feedback on my progress from fellow students at the OCA London Regional group.
I have to be honest and say that I am proud of how much effort I have put into this assignment, and amazed at what I am producing. I did not expect this when I began this assignment. My sole aim was to see if I could develop a new technique to carry forward into the undergraduate degree in photography, and I was willing for this assignment to be a failure. It has been entirely the opposite.