I’m quite satisfied with what I’ve achieved on A5 and excited about what it might lead to in future work. Every so often a piece of work coalesces absolutely with who I am, what I think and what I make (like the pregnancy tests and the Lacock Abbey polaroids in EYV and the self portraits on C&N), and this assignment feels like another solid step on my learning journey. I did change direction on A5 from the initial work with pink in my archive. I don’t regret that and feel as if I’ve finished A5 with two strong candidates for further development (I suspect that I will return to the pink project when I reach Digital Image & Culture on Level 2).
I was thrilled with the continuity that I’ve found, the way that the initial inspiration from Fox Talbot’s salt lace prints has filtered into my own work and gradually developed via experimentations with both subject and media into something that is undoubtedly my work, undoubtedly paying tribute to Fox Talbot whilst being firmly contextualised in the present day. I have worked with my underwear and used underwear from Ebay allowing me to use objects that are familiar and everyday to many of us yet because of their extremely personal and intimate nature they still have something of the other, the exotic about them. The use of alternate processes – photograms in this case – also feels true to my practice and has allowed me to explore 1:1 scale, something that normally photography doesn’t do because it’s constrained by online storage or paper size. To see this evolution of an idea over about 18 months is very satisfying indeed.
I have been working on extending my peer networking and have had some very helpful feedback by engaging with the Thames Valley and South West regional groups as well as the Critique threads and the Forum Live Hangouts on the OCA site. The peer collective that I am part of has encouraged me too, and a small concertina style book of test photograms has been submitted for the OCA Showcase exhibition in London at the end of October.
Demonstration of technical and visual skills
While on C&N I have completed three days of dark room training and started to build a relationship with a local commercial darkroom. I’ve also been working more with film photography although this is less apparent from my blog. I therefore feel that my technical skills are becoming broader and developing outside of the digital arena. This assignment probably counts as still life or straight reproduction in visual terms. Precision is an area that I still struggle with, and there is much room for me to improve significantly. Checking the edges of the frame when I’m in the dark, and can’t easily locate the edge of the “frame” is proving to be something of a challenge. I can also improve the location of the object within the frame and the way it actually sits on the paper.
Quality of outcome
I’m happy with how the work has turned out. People engage with it, it looks both familiar and alien at the same time. Yes, I would love it to be neater at the edges and better laid out in some cases, but I can do that on the next darkroom session and book time with the darkroom owner to learn more about managing the layout without borders.
Demonstration of creativity
I’m happy with this too. I have been wanting to make work that combines both lace and Fox Talbot for a long time and feel slightly more creatively at peace as a result of this assignment. I showed what I wanted to show, how I wanted to show it. I explored photograms, I explored materials, I explored bits of ebay where I’d never ventured. The work is absolutely mine in its combination of the familiar, the intimate, and its physical presentation. I am still considering the final presentation for assessment but think it will be prints in an Ilford paper box, separated by either glassine sheets or textured interleaving paper.
Context was interesting to put together. I am conscious that I have skated over the top of many of the creative pioneers of photograms. There are just so many of them. I have tried to keep my summary relevant. I would love to reference feminist work made using photograms but there doesn’t seem to be much out there – it is similar to the Gorilla Girls observation that art is far more likely to feature naked women than to be made by women.
I’m also aware that this work sits firmly within at least two contexts though most viewers will identify more with one than the other. One context is the Fox Talbot lace photogram context – making an image of lace using a much older technology. The other context embraces second hand underwear, eBay, size issues because the items are shown at real size, inevitably much larger than we expect, and feminist issues around size, what we wear, what we are expected to wear, what is sold to us, sexuality and functionality in underwear and so on. It is perhaps understandable that it’s not that straightforward to find practitioners whose work embraces feminism/Fox Talbot/photograms all within a single series.
Note to self – move last paragraph to context post.