Assignment One

The Brief; You already have a body of work – congratulations!

Get out all the work you’ve done in Part One and read through it carefully. This will include:

  • The work you’ve done for the exercises in projects 1 to 4
  • All your extra freewrites
  • Your notebook work

Choose two or three pieces of work from this. They don’t all have to be the same length but they should be the pieces that resonate with you the most.

You don’t have to write a story, a poem, or any specific form for this assignment. You just have to show your tutor your writing – what you’ve already been doing.. If your writing by hand, you now need to transfer your work to a Word Document or similar. Submit approximately 1,000 words for this assignment. Use the word count facility to check how long your pieces are. Use the spellcheck too (but with care, as it can substitute a completely different word from the one you intended!). If your chosen pieces don’t make 1,000 words, you now have the choice of extending them. Only do this if you have some good ideas though. Otherwise, include a fourth piece to make up the word count.

Submit your work as soon as you have a fair copy. You may be surprised at the words of encouragement you receive, even if you thought your piece was not all that good.

Sophie Lives, from exercise 1.3

Sophie was horrified with the reality that she was in A and E and having to wait for a psychiatric assessment, she felt ashamed of herself and guilty for wasting so much of the doctors and nurses time. She had thoughts that other people were seriously ill and that they needed the medical attention that she had taken away from them. Waiting for the psychiatrist was daunting, seconds seemed to drag by. All she could do was think. She had never tried to end her life before, despite thoughts of this being a constant companion for many years. How could she explain what she had done, or the harm that she had suffered at the hands of Mark. Initially she hadn’t considered it to be domestic abuse, like thousands of other women she had always believed Mark’s words about how useless and pathetic she was, and how he had to put up with her failings. Deep in her core she knew he was right, and these beliefs were so intense tonight. Only a failure of a human being would try to end their own life. She knew the psychiatrist would judge her and believe it was all her fault.

Winter is a Bastard, from exercise 1.6

Spring is most definitely in the air despite the periods of relentless rain. Crocus and daffodils are pushing their necks out of the ground, and they are adding glorious pockets of colour to my days. Such joy. My mood is improving slowly but surely, I’m isolating less, and I’m having more clarity of thought. Gratitude is what I’m feeling as I write this short piece of freewriting (I adore freewriting, it’s shown me that I do have lots to write).

But winter is a bastard, an effing c of a nightmare that I often struggle to get through!

This year my mood dropped at the end of December, and my thoughts darkened. I began to obsess about suicide, and I researched methods on the Internet, and purchased some pills which I believed would end my life.

Motivation and pleasure from activities deserted me and I felt hopeless. Situations which involved close contact with others was a struggle and I avoided people. Ultimately I was overwhelmed and tried yet again to take my life. Disappointed that I didn’t succeed, but the disappointment that I tried to end my life pushed me into accepting help. I’m now attending a therapeutic day unit. It’s a short term program for a few weeks, enough to get me through until I am able to keep myself occupied and productive.

My energy always improves in the spring. If only I could hold back the self destruction long enough to get me through to the lighter, brighter and warmer days.

My thoughts are much clearer now, and I am enjoying my studies. I had my coursework for over a month before I could even open the folder. Eventually I realised I had to just begin the first exercise, I couldn’t wait until my motivation returned, I had to simply take action without expectation. I’m so grateful that I did because I find it has brought joy and satisfaction into my daily life.

I’m looking out for signs of spring now. I’m not waiting for motivation I’m acting as if I’m motivated, and I’m finding signs of spring right now. Recovery is action. Hope is important but I can’t hope my way into feeling better, I have to put the effort into hunting for joy and gratitude.

Rabbit Hide and Seek, from exercise 1.6

I was running through a dark forest when

A rabbit did appear

A ball of white cute fluffyness

I’m sure his look was queer

He bounded right up too my feet

And then he looked at me

And beckoned me to follow him

And hid behind a tree

“I can’t play hide and seek with you”

I really don’t have time”

His face became so sorrowfull

I said “oh dear, yes, fine”

So we played a little game or two

The rabbit he did win

I thanked him for the game we played

And his smile became a grin

Book Review – The Shepherds Crown

Terry Pratchet wrote The Shepherd’s Crown whilst he was dying, and fittingly one of his most loved characters, Granny Weatherwax died at the beggining of the story.

Her death left a gap in the barrier between Discworld and the land which the elves live. She past her cottage and roles as lead witch to Tiffany Aching.

The elf Queen, Nightshade, has her wings torn off and is thrown out of the elf kingdom by Peaseblossom. He did this because he felt that Nightshade had become to soft on goblins, and that she should be organising an attempt to take over Discworld now that the barriers were weaker.

Tiffany struggles with meeting her duties in Lance and on the Chalk. The Nac Nac Feegles live on the Chalk, and they also have a duty to look out for Tiffany. Nac Nac Feegles are blue, 7 inches tall, and they speak with a Scottish accent. They love to drink and fight.

The Nac Nac Feegles reluctantly agree to Tiffany’s request for them to guard Nightshade, who Tiffany refuses to kill because she is injured. She hopes to convert the elf Queen to understanding humanity and developing a cooperative attitude rather than a hostile one.

Meanwhile, Geoffrey, who left home due to bullying  from his father, wishes to become a witch under Tiffany”s guidance.

As the elves begin to prepare for war Tiffany calls all of the witches together to prepare to defend Discworld and banish the elves forever. Geoffrey unites the local men and they develop weapons to prepare for the war. Elves are harmed my metal, so they build a catapult and gather scraps of iron to fling at the elves.

As Geoffrey and the men defend Lancre, Tiffany, the witches and the Nac Mac Feegles defend the chalk. At the start of the war Peaseblossom kills Nightshade, but the are ultimately beaten when the King of the elves turns up, and overthrows Peaseblossom.

All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The characters were believable and my imagination was gripped throughout. I could picture the different people and events in my mind. There were moments of laughter, excitement, compassion, sadness and dislike. I love the humour in Pratchet’s writing.

Pratchet, T; 2016; The Shepherd’s Crown; London; Corgi books.

Richard Keys

Richard516716

Assignment 1

 

 

Early Reflections On My Writing

The coursework arrived at my door around a month ago, and I felt no motivation to begin. Partly because my mental health is poor, but also because Studying for a degree in Photography was my first choice.

It took a lot of effort to open the coursework and read through the handbook and first chapter of the coursework.

However, a week in and I’m feeling entirely different about writing. I love having prompts for writing, they have worked really well for me. I’m feeling quite excited about having written several short pieces, and also about studying. I enjoy studying, the way it makes me think, contemplate and act. I work really hard to manage my mental health, sometimes it’s such a struggle, and my focus is on distraction. Writing hadn’t felt like this, it’s tapped into my creative resources, and I’ve felt proud, I’ve achieved something.

One exercise that I found difficult was Passion – Exercise 1.4. Writing about what I felt angry with was difficult. I couldn’t put my thoughts into words, and I found it hard to write off of the top of my head, without seeking academic research to write an essay on racism. Yet, I know that writing an essay and using primary and secondary resources to put an article together is well within my ability. What’s more there is a lot of research material available on this subject.

The piece of writing that I’m most pleased with is Sophie Lives – Exercise 1.3. Interestingly, I didn’t follow the brief, but the brief sparked my imagination. Although the writing was fictional and not my exact experiences, I have woken up following a failed suicide attempt feeling bereft. What’s more, I can see that there is potential to use this brief piece of writing to develop a short story or perhaps a novel. I have no idea as to how to develop this, it feels quite daunting to turn this into a larger piece of writing, but I did make some notes.

  • Sophie is a victim of domestic violence
  • Partner got her hooked on methadone to control her (back story)
  • Back story to be told via flashbacks
  • Forward story of recovery
  • Research literature and read novels about domestic abuse
  • IDAS

These are just initial ideas that have come to mind. There is a story waiting to be unlocked. My experiences are also a resource to draw upon, especially in relation to the feelings and thoughts associated with them. My personal experiences will help to develop the character of Sophie.

Reading is clearly an important aspect of creative writing. I’m reading most days, not perhaps as much as I could, but reading is s joy. It’s interesting to realise that there are so many words which I only have a vague understanding of. I always thought that I was highly articulate. I don’t have as broad a knowledge of words as I first thought.

Changing Perspective – Kneeling Whilst Making Photo’s

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

Walking with a crutch provided me with the opportunity to experiment with perspective. I can balance and keep the weight off my right heel, but what do I then do with the crutch? It’s made it hard to make photo’s unless I put the crutch down on the floor and kneel down. With this being the case I thought I’d make the most of it and explore what I could learn from the altered perspective.

When standing to take a photo, the head is generally pointing slightly down towards the horizon. From this viewpoint the sky takes up a third of the photo and the land takes two thirds of the space. When kneeling, the eye is looking up towards the horizon and reverses the sky to land ratio as below.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

Usually this doesn’t work and detracts from the subject, the land. However, the above photo is balanced. The line of the boats mast balances the geometry and breaks the photo up. It would have been a better photo if the sailing boats had been further to the left, they would have made a nice subject.

In a narrow street, this new perspective makes the street appear narrower, but brings the buildings in closer to the centre, which could be good to highlight city lines, or to add an emotional tension (being followed on a dark night/a chase scene), especially when a short focal length is used.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

But, with a spacious foreground, a clear line through the image becomes prominent.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

In the wide open space of a Victoria train station the lines of the metalwork are heightened, and the spaciousness can emphasise the activity of the people. I like this shot.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

My favourite of the series comes next.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

OK, so the photo needs to be retaken without the people in the red and orange shirts. Putting that to the side I’ve found a real lesson for bringing the best out of a subject. The lower horizon provides more space in the sky, and this works well with the neutral foreground. And voila – the subject is what my eye looks at. I’m drawn to look closer at the detail. I love it.

Kneeling behind the prominade fence in the next scene creates layers of activity. Not the greatest of photos though. It would work better with a yacht on the sea, the eye needs a point of focus, but the layering works well.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

And finally, I don’t know if this was related to kneeling down and thereby being in a more submissive stance, or not, but I felt more confidence in making Street photography whilst I was in Brighton. Regardless of the reason, or lack thereof, it was fun to take photos of people.

Brighton - An Unexpected Journey

The Plan, And Personal Projects

The Plan is simple. I’m taking a break between Foundations in Photography and the undergraduate BA in Photography. I will resume my studies in January. Study is so good for my mental health that I have considered enrolling immediately on the degree, but I also don’t feel that’s right just now.

I haven’t read photography books for some time, so I have reintroduced this progress. I don’t particularly enjoy reading these texts, but my practice does benefit from it.

qrf

My personal projects are important for my development. I have started to photo the London underground stations, both inside and out. The inside is a plain photo of the sign and surround, and I’m trying to capture points of interest outside of the tube station (not always possible as some of the surrounds are dull. My intent is to do this for the whole 270 tube stations, and I want to capture the mundane commute, but also include points of peace or joy along the route. I’m considering producing a poster size map of the London underground system and making a collage using 3 inch by 2 inch photos to present this series. The following two photos are the inside and outside of Charing Cross.

Charing Cross 1

Charing Cross 2

I’m aware that photographing a square mile will be an aspect of Express Your Vision, which is the first module of the degree, and I intend to use London’s Square Mile for this.

Today I am photographing my trip to Brighton from the perspective of me kneeling down. I simply want to try a new perspective with my photography and to document a simple journey. Love, peace and joy to you all on this beautiful Sunday.

qrf

Assignment Five – Refining My Idea

I’ll be making my own portrait with 6 different emotional expressions relating to my eating disorder. Justaposing them with 6 different photos from Ill Form and Void Full (Laura Letinsky).

Both photos will be placed side by side on a white surface, with a white backdrop. The surface will become a space in which I will place a piece of fruit, or other food which will match that from Letinsky’s art. The photos will then be squashed, twisted, torn or altered in some way. I’ll then photograph the still life I’ve made and then stitch onto the final photo.

 

The stitching will be done in a manner that uses shape and colour to emphasise the emotional expression.

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Annie Leibovitz – Masterclass – Lesson One – Portrait

A precious gift that I recieved for Christmas, from a dear friend, was a subscription to an Annie Leibovitz Masterclass.

Masterclass is an app that provides master-classes by people who are world renowned in their field, it can be optained on Google Play Store and the Apple Store.

Lesson 1

There are a few points that I’m taking away. Which I’ll bullet point below. But the most interesting point was a question one of her students asked. It was raised in relation to to photo-journalism, but I think it applies to all genres of photography. “Where is the line?” I photographed an act of self harm for part four of my coursework and in assignment four, and it was necessary for me to question was my photography relevant, necessary and provided in context. Ultimately this is a personal question and each photographers answer is subjective. It’s of note that Leibovitz says this question is ongoing for photographers.

  • You cannot capture an individual with one photo
  • To capture different aspects of personality more than one photo is required
  • It’s beneficial to return to work with an individual in a new setting at a different time (months or years apart
  • A series created in such manner reveals more about a person than a single shoot could do
  • Take lots of photos and regularly
  • It takes years to learn how to see
  • Keep photos that you’re not initially drawn too, your perspective may change over time

Elf Portrait

btf

btfmdn

 

Assignment 5 – Why Embroider Over Photographs?

Coming to the end of Foundations In Photography with the Open College of the Arts, I find myself in a position in which I want to prepare myself to study for a BA in Photography. Assignment 4 can definitely be the basis for a further body of work, probably by using masks or embroidering on top of photographs to represent aspects of self, especially those hidden repressed aspects. Sewing over the top of my own face was successful, if painful for me to view.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Staged photography and still life, and found a means of being authentic with these genres.

I’m very keen to explore these themes further, and I believe that sewing on a photograph provides an additional means to enhance or hide emotion and mood. It also means that I can distort my images and create harmonious fine art photography or to create visual and emotional discord and discomfort.

I’m going to use assignment 5 as a stepping stone to develop a secondary skill, and so that I can use photos as the basis of mixed media art.

Concept In Photography? Not In This Example!!! But Most Definitely In This

Brief:- You may think conceptual art has to be motivated by a cerebral idea, but often it’s not. It’s more to do with hunches and entering a process where you don’t really know what the outcome will be and you take photographs that attempt to document that process. For example, what would it be like to spend a week living on a boat? What would it be like to dress differently and out of character? Such ‘ideas’ are not necessarily ‘visual’ but the clearly have visual potential. They also bring up notions that you may not have thought about when approaching a photographic project: what ‘home’ and ‘appearances’ mean.

Maria Kapejeva, One Month. Maria Kapejeva’s diptych above shows two portraits of the same person; the first was taken on the subjects arrival in India, and the second was taken a month later. What do these say about the country’s influence on this young man? Maria Kapejeva based her work on a concept about change over time. The young man appears to have been influenced by his time in india – as if he has matured. It’s very subtle, but you register the change in his clothes, facial expression and posture.

Umm – bollocks. Such a weak example of concept in photography. He may have travelled with those clothes, we all sit differently many times each day, and a suntan alters the appearance of our skin. Yes he may have been influenced by his time in India, in fact it is highly probable that he has, but this diptych is a very poor way of highlighting any possible influences. To infer that it does is misguided. I’m feeling let down by this shoddy example.

To see a great example of concept in photography I suggest seeing the recent work of OCA photography degree student Sarah Andrews (see here for the process) and (see here for the results).

Sarah has explored the concept of ageing and dying with photography from the natural world in Autumn, and her process involved exploring the photos with people who have life limiting conditions. This is how to explore conceptual ideas witb photography

 

Excited About Assignment Four – Self-Harm – Sorry (Again)

I can hardly contain myself. I’ve developed an idea for Assignment Four – Responding To A Theme. It means I get to make use of photos in a physical form. I have set the theme as self-love and self-harm. Three photos upon the theme of self-love and three on self-harm. I’m going to over stitch one photo from each theme, similar to Gerhard Richter and his over painting. I’m then going to cut each photo into 16 squares which will then be stuck into a Rubik’s cube. Self-harm and self-love are not binary concepts, they over lap and mix into each other. Playing with the cube is to explore ones own psyche and to consider how one relates to ones self (hmmm not sure of the use of the word one in this context).

This may seem “fucking mental”, my own words about what I have done. To follow my chosen theme I have self harmed. I’ve cut myself for the first time in two years. Self harm is a part of my own experience. There was a period of my life in which I self harmed every day for 8 years. Self-harming again after two years abstinence is extreme, but I’m pleased with the photos I’ve made. More than this though, I’m pleased to be exploring the concept of the relationship with self.

The concept is good, let’s see how the execution turns out.

I’m struggling to keep up with everyone’s blogs. I apologise, but I’m also aware that I must focus on my eating disorder recovery. I attend at least one self help meeting each day, and talk to others in recovery everyday. I’m recovering, I’m getting there, it’s much harder than I ever imagined. My emotions are chaotic and inconsistent. But I’m eating what I meant to, when I’m meant too.

Sending you all love and good vibes.