This is the page for details of my own FMP work. For details of reading, writing, listening, investigations etc look here:
Sunday 16th June
In the past week I have had several online meetings: firstly a conversation with tutor Krishna Sheth, secondly with with my online tutor Stella, thirdly a workshop with acclaimed photobook designer Victoria Forrest, and fourthly a group critique with Gary McLeod. Here is a summary of those conversations.
Krishna gave me some input on how to organise my exhibition. We decided that the larger prints would be better framed (originally I was going to mount them all on foamboard). Different heights would work well, as a dramatic arrangement will catch the audience’s attention as they walk in to the area. As the audience will approach the images from two different directions (from the foyer to the auditorium, and from the auditorium to the foyer); the show needs to have impact from both aspects. The first few are crucial, as the aim is for people to stop and look.
It was the first meeting with Stella for a couple of months, and I was happy to report that all my pictures were finished and printed! We discussed titles, and the need for me to change a couple to keep them all focussed on the same era (mainly Bauhaus). Also we discussed the upcoming exhibition and the need to document everything – from feedback, great installation shots. The feedback is essential as that will be included in my CRoP. Stella looked at my website and wasn’t convinced about the photographs that were not montages. As they will be included in the exhibition, her suggestion was to wait and see what feedback I had about them before deciding to include them in my FMP assignment or not. Regarding the CRJ, she mentioned that it would be helpful to highlight the important bits, particularly how I reached any final decisions. I will have to justify the inclusion of the piece ‘Spring’ as she quite dislikes it. Already though I have had quite a bit of positive feedback about it so I should be able to reason quite well.
On Wednesday I presented my pdf that I had prepared for Victoria‘s workshop, ready for feedback. I specifically requested feedback on structure and format of the work, which will be sent to the 400 or so NMPAT alumni.
The Victoria Forrest workshop was very helpful. I had prepared my pdf without a lot of thought being given to page size, instead concentrating on content. Rather than copy out all of my notes here, I am including screenshots of my (untidy but meaningful) notes taken at the time:
It was of course also helpful to see peers’ presentations and I gained tips from their feedback too.
On Friday I was very happy part in Gary‘s guest critique. Right at the beginning of this MA he had given me feedback on my website design, so I asked him to look at it now (the FMP page). He was generous in his critique, and was very positive about it, describing them as wonderful images. Images that I wasn’t sure about (WiP 7&8), he thought jarred with the rest – but in a good way, because of their archival content – bringing context to the series and bring it up to date.
He thought that Blue Reconstruction (WiP1) and Spring (WiP6,) were my signature pieces; and referred to my pieces as ‘compositions’. They fit well together, with the ones that aren’t signature images allowing the viewer to breathe, with enough of a change between them all.
The image with the stars (poster) he thought was the one that didn’t fit well with the rest. Although it seemed resolved, because of the way its parts are pushed to the edge, it seems more surrealist in nature, and as if it is part of my future, rather than current work.
We talked about the exhibition space. Gary liked the idea of music stands, and my suggestion of stand lights; but not of easels. He imagined the stands being arranged like an orchestra, in a space where the audience could weave in and out, in between them to look at the photos. He asked me to imagine the Turbine Hall being filled with hundreds of music stands at different heights, all holding an image. This has made me completely rethink how I arrange my exhibition, so that the space seems less flat and more interactive, and now have a much clearer idea of how I can be more creative with the design. He also suggested waiting until dark, turning the theatre lights off, the stand lights on, and taking an installation shot, and to consider ideas to make the spaces look more photogenic (an excellent point as there will be quite a bit of distraction on the wall behind my images). It’s important to make my documentation as eye catching as possible. Installation shots where possible should not include people.
Finally, Gary was clear that he thought my ‘straight out of the camera’ shots should be included in my FMP, as they ground the work and allow it to flourish. They allow the eye to rest in between the montages, and allow a return to the world of photography, which is where the images are all coming from (the others are more painterly). A suggestion was to have these images at a smaller size than the montages, to really draw the audience in so they have to get closer to look.
Tasks I have been working on this week include:
- Finishing the mock-up pdf for Victoria’s workshop
- Starting to formulate ideas for my CRoP
- The Moo postcards arrived, I am very pleased with the results and wish I had had all my designs printed instead of 10.
- I purchased 4 easels for display
- Not happy with the comments book that I ordered, I purchased a blank book for comments – I’d like people to be creative in it, much like my exhibition!
- Having decided to frame four prints, I visited the local framing shop to get the process started.
- I purchased a book by Creativehub (through Printspace) ‘Selling art online 2019. It was a free book, and although my intention is not presently to sell art online, it does have good marketing tips in general; which has spurred me on into increasing my Instagram and facebook posts, for example.
- I made a book dummy. The initial idea was to have a book of outtakes – the ones that didn’t make the final selection, but I decided in the end to make it about the core, the heart of NMPAT – so aside from the front cover, there were no montages. I took the shape from the Café Royal photobook series. These small publications bear no text, but are narrative in style. This is what I aimed to achieve with my book. The only text was the title (Hub nub – nub being the centre of something), my name; and a very brief description on the back and my contact details. I have plans for this book…more to follow!
- The info sheet for the exhibition is finished and ready to be copied.
- I took the decision to enter Hub into a couple of competitions. The competition is high and I don’t expect to achieve any placings. However, there are things that will benefit me from entering, and these are:
a) one of the competitions provides written feedback from an industry professional; this will be useful when planning future entries
b) it has proved invaluable in forcing me to formulate the descriptions of my work coherently and succinctly. I will be able to re-use some of these in my CRoP (and other competitions I intend entering).
the colourful postcards arrived
Sunday 9th June
I’ve written on my Investigations page about exciting prospects to exhibit my work after the July show.
Since returning from holiday I have had a busy week planning for the exhibition. I have purchased four easels to compliment the music stands – on these I will place the largest and most eye catching images. Their height is adjustable (as with the music stands), and I hope that having my work at different levels will result in people wanting to stop and look. I have decided that these four images will be framed (with a narrow, black frame) – again to make them stand out. Also I have purchased:
- my prints! The first ones to arrive from Prinstspace were unfortunately damaged, they were very good at replacing them quickly with no quibble. They look great, and are a combination of Hahnemühle Pearl and Epsom semi-gloss )all gicleé prints).
a large white tablecloth for the trestle table
- a visitor’s book for comments
- small stands to put notices on etc
- 250 postcards from Moo (yet to arrive). I designed them with a selection of my images and will give them away when people write in the guest book. Also I’ll send out a few personal invites on them. It made financial sense to order this number – I can always use them next year in the Florida exhibition.
- foam board for mounting, and glue
- the table top music stands as mentioned before
I have almost finished creating an information sheet for display at the exhibition. It includes a thumbnail of all the images on display, with print details. There is a column to include price should anyone wish to purchase a print, but I am struggling to decide how to price my work.
The big task this week has been getting to grips with InDesign, and making a pdf to share at Victoria Forrest’s workshop this week. As yet I haven’t looked at the interactive aspects of the program, other than website and social media links I’m unsure how useful that aspect will be. Deciding on how much information to put in the pdf – as it will be sent to NMPAT’s alumni, they will be interested to see original photographs of the building etc, perhaps they will be less interested in the resulting art work? Also I’m keeping the text brief and to the point. Design wise I am looking forward to hearing what Victoria suggests. Getting used to this new program now is a good practice for when I create a pdf for my FMP assignment.
I have contacted the local newspaper in an attempt to gain some publicity, but as yet I have had no reply. I have emailed and sent a message on Instagram. This coming week I will telephone them.
Additionally I have designed a flier to post on Instagram and facebook. I realise that I need to increase my engagement on social media as the date approaches:
As evident here, the title of my series has been decided at Hub. NMPAT serves as a music hub in the local authority as well as neighbouring counties.
Most of my images now have titles. All of the titles are named after other artists (including one musician).
WiP#1 Blue Reconstruction. After Masumi Hayashi, whose Gila River Relocation Camp she describes as a ‘reconstruction of space’.
WiP#2 Poem. After Hannah Höch, whose work Poesie (poem) inspired my work through its design, colour and montage.
WiP#3 Vermillion. After Kandinsky who describes this colour as a particular shade of red.
WiP#4 On Orange. After Mary Martin’s ‘Perspex group on orange‘ with shape, colour and design similar to the early versions of my piece.
WiP#5 Violet Study. After Pierre Schaeffer who was the founder of Musique Concrète. He recorded every day sounds, cut and spliced them to create a new, abstract sound. My montages have visual characteristics of this. He created studies, one of which was titled Étude Violette. There are subtle violet shades in my image.
WiP#6 Spring. After Johannes Itten (because of his use of colour in his work of the same title) and Moholy-Nagy (the structure of the image).
WiP#9 Colour Scheme. After the colour schemes designed for the Bauhaus interior by Hinnerk Scheper.
WiP#10 Ceiling panels and oboe. After Kazimir Malevich, and his fusion of musical instruments with unusual objects as in Cow and Violin
WiP#11 Poster. after an exhibition poster designed by Joost Schmidt.
WiP#12 Meeting. After Marianne Brandt (her metal lampshade reminiscent of the tin can in my work, which she titles ME (meaning metal workshop) and the first two letters of ‘meeting’; )and Johannes Itten (his work of the same title and the way his colours fold into one another in wheels)
Tuesday 21st May
After work on the 14th May I had a meeting at the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton with their Front of House staff, and a member of staff from NMPAT, with a view to finalising space details for my exhibition during the Gala weekend. I took photos and a quick video with my iPhone so I could remember details later:
This is the area where my images will be displayed. This is the main foyer area, audiences will walk along here to the shop, and into the auditorium. There is a permanent display on the walls, which I have been told audiences tend to walk straight past. My images will be displayed in front of them and I’m currently planning this. There will be 6 square tables that I can use as well as a trestle table. Probably I will stand one image on each table and three on the trestle. There are shelves behind that I can use if needs be but I think my images will look lost there with the bigger ones behind on the wall. Additionally there are a couple of round tables that I can use for details about my work. (I have added Adobe InDesign to my Creative Cloud plan, and need to learn to use it for these purposes).
I have purchased nine table-top music stands to hold my A3 images on the tables. To display the A2 images I hope to borrow full size music stands from work. The height of these can be adjusted. The images once printed will be mounted onto foam board, not framed due to their complexity – a border might look messy. I will have to consider whether the boards will need attaching semi-permanently to the stands, as the theatre is a public building and anyone can wander in and out – there is only security during the shows.
The Gala weekend is on the 6th and 7th of July, and I am able to set it up on the evening of Friday 5th, after the evening show has started at 7.30pm. (Not NMPAT related). I’ll take it down on the evening of Sunday the 7th after the audiences have gone in for the final NMPAT concert.
Also during the last week I ordered and received four test strips from Printspace and was pleased with the quality and vibrant colour. I can’t yet decide between two papers for final printing. All my images are finished, sized and ready for printing. As I’m about to go away for just over a week, I won’t order them until I get back at the beginning of June.
Friday 10th May
Today was our fourth student led peer review. It’s so helpful to see how other’s work is coming along and to share our journey. A couple of students in the webinar are only just making their first images – due to experimental and preparatory processes – so it was great to see how things are working out for them. There is so much talent in the group and many diverse practices – each one is unique.
As I had shared my images last week, today I asked for thoughts on how to present them at exhibition. This is proving difficult to conceptualise when details of the gallery space are still unknown to me; I have a meeting regarding this at Derngate on Tuesday and although I anticipate there not being a lot of flexibility or latitude given the prominence of the venue. But going with a clear plan of what I want my images to look like is vital. So, we discussed framing and without exception everyone agreed that frameless would work best due to the complexity of the images themselves.
Options include printing onto perspex, diasec, metal, or printing as planned and mounting on foam board. There is investigating to be done! On the printing side of things I have this week also looked at prices for printing from four services. I present my findings below:
I have used Peak imaging before and been happy with the prints and service. However Printspace have more archival papers to choose from. Additionally I saw examples of their print in a recent exhibition I visited and they come recommended. I purchased for £9 plus p&p a sample pack of 12 papers and have two that I think will suit the complexities of colour in my images. They will print test strips and this will be something I will organise over the next few days.
For the past week my images have been spread out on the table, shuffling them around from time to time as I started to see which ones worked well together. Today I moved them to a wall. During a recent guest lecturer group critique I was advised to have them displayed at different view points.
The photos in the main part of this image are the ones I intend to exhibit. the others (right, and bottom) are also to be included in the pdf.
Also this week I started to look into making an e-book. Initially I asked for recommendations from a Falmouth photo facebook group, and then looked online at them and others. Blurb seemed popular and I recall looking at them last year in the Surfaces and Strategies module. The same frustrations returned as the necessary ‘book wright’ app took me round in circles as I tried to navigate how to make an ebook. Having found my way through it (and still unsure whether I was making a physical book or a digital one) the process of actually making it seemed overly complicated for the purpose I needed it for. The next decision was to reconsider why I wanted / needed to make a digital photo book. The answer was so that the alumni could download it as a momento of the 50th anniversary. There was never a plan to make this a commercial venture yet neither did I want it to be available for anyone outside the organisation to be able to download free of charge. What would I gain from making an ebook? I had signed up for Victoria Forrest’s workshop and was looking forward to an expert critique of the pdf I would have had to produce in advance. Other than that, possible dissemination of my work, made less likely if I had to put a price on it. I decided to email our module leader to question my eligibility for the workshop, should I not make a book, and she clarified that a smaller proposed publication would be valid. After weighing up all my options I decided to produce a professional pdf. This could be emailed to all alumni members free of charge, and I could also use it as a promotion for my work. I’ve started work on it so that I can show it during the workshop in early June.
Monday 6th May
During the week I continued to develop WiP12b, there are now some subtle additions to the yellow circle which makes it blend better with the rest of the image:
The centrepiece of WiP12b
Additionally I have also added a few subtle changes to WiP6 to give it more context. some musical notes and a small piece of archival text has been added. The text refers to the first concert given by the band in 1969.
Part of WiP6 showing text and music (and another spring)
Over this Bank Holiday weekend I had my images printed in 8×6 size by the local camera shop, enabling me to spread them and start editing for the exhibition and ebook. Although there isn’t the same urgency for the ebook (I can finalise this after the exhibition), at the beginning of June I’ll be taking part in the Victoria Forrest workshop – and for this all participants need to have prepared a pdf of their proposed book in advance. Given that I’ll be away for half term week at the end of May, this needs to be organised within the next fortnight.
Spreading them all out in categories: collage, instruments and rooms, archives
Starting to pair them – the reds and light running through these two images work well together (images only partially shown here)
Two collages were a little different to the rest and I wasn’t sure how they would work in the set. But placing them side by side enabled me to see that they work really well together due to the themes of music, shape and colour running through them. (Only part of each image is shown here)
Saturday 27th April
WiP#12 is undergoing dramatic transformations. Seeing how different the piece was to the other images was the turning point for me to decide to create a digital montage on top of the original. A major inspiration for this development is the meeting by Itten. I discuss this in more detail on my Investigations page here:, but basically I attempt to capture convergent clockwise and anticlockwise movements, led by the cello head and its shadow in the centre of the piece. There is still more work to do in this respect. Other major additions are the manuscript paper and the window from the instrument store cupboard. I refer to the inclusion of the tin can in my writings about Brandt on the Investigations page too.
I think WiP#11 is almost finished. Recently I have added the view from one of the sindows into the door window, and the part that looks like a shaft of light coming from the left is from my photo of the Sousophone.
Monday 22nd April
This week further work on WiP#11 and WiP#12 has continued. A student – led catch up webinar on Friday confirmed my own thoughts about no.12: it really isn’t in keeping with any of my other work. Comments about this piece were sparse! So many hours were spent on this piece, from the initial photographs and scans, their printing, cutting, collaging, wire bending and painting – but the time spent on work goes little way in contributing to the overall meaning to the piece. And my images do have meaning – they may be abstract but music, music-makers, building, colour, shape and form are all integral to my work being defined for what it is – and somehow in amongst all its busyness, WiP#12 loses its identity.
However, this piece is not going to be lost – instead my current plan is to adapt it. As it stands it’s a physical collage – the photograph of it will now form the background for a digital montage. Work has started but it’s in its infancy.
Very much on my mind is the title of this body of work. I wish to have something that is stand-alone (ie not mentioning NMPAT). The reasoning here is to allow for the possibility of the work being shown elsewhere, afterwards – for an audience which is not associated with Northamptonshire’s music service. As it progresses the influence of the Bauhaus becomes more apparent and so it seems fitting to make some connection between its centenary and the 50th anniversary of NMPAT. It struck me that just as it was starting in 1969, the Bauhaus had its 50th anniversary. So some kind of interplay between the numbers 50 and 100 is a possibility. Half time, halved the time, time halved are initial ideas but probably not quite right yet. (Time, as a musical element seems apt too).
Thoughts come to me in the middle of the night, and one idea I had for a name a few weeks ago (and rejected on grounds of negativity) has returned: Not just a building. Printed on one of the archive programme notes (see image further down this page) that I found is this:
“The Northamptonshire Music School is not just a building in Northampton, it includes 13 centres the county making music available as widely as possible….”
I used the words ‘not just a building’ in my recent collage (WiP12). I had rejected the idea initially as starting the title with the word not seemed too negative. Having changed my mind about this (not just implies more than or something that is more than the sum of its parts) – and therefore actually has a positive connotation. Additionally, Bauhaus is the German word for ‘building house’. It seems therefore appropriate to have Not just a building as at least a work-in-progress title.
Sunday 14th April
Over the last fortnight I have been working on three pieces:
I lost track of how many hours / days the above image took to make! the background is the ceiling of one of the large NMPAT halls (beige in reality). Presently I am happy with the way it’s turned out (after erasing ‘turn page’ which I had placed near the top right and looked out of place).
WiP #11 is not finished, the centre has still to be worked on. The background is a blue blind from one of the rooms, towards the top it is lighter as the sun peeped through. This piece has both the inside and the outside visible, and again shows the ‘fabric’ of the building. The part that I’m not sure about is the three stars to the bottom right. Its purpose is to include and therefore represent the pre-school section of the building so it has a reason which is not necessarily aesthetic.
In an effort to create a piece with movement, I spent the first week of the Easter school holiday creating the physical collage (as opposed to digital) WiP12. Instead of making C-type prints I printed the archive images on fine art archival paper, to give them greater authenticity. Starting with the scroll as the central piece I cut manuscript paper to the shape of the shadows, cut it out and slightly rolled the paper to give the impression of a scroll.
For this piece I included a few photos from the archive. The oldest ones were undated. To the bottom left of the finished work is the image shown below, which I cut out and folded as the original would have been in its card folder. Sticking the back to the work, the sides folded forwards – I then stuck a small mirror to the left fold. Mirroring was a playful technique I used in Informing Contexts in order to create repetition or illusion. In this case it mirrored aspects of the work in situ. Just to the left of it can be seen part of Martin Chateris’ signature – as the Queen’s Assistant Private Secretary in 1969 he wrote to the leader of the new Music School.
photo from the archives (left), and letter from Martin Chateris (right)
The third method of introducing movement was to use wire to create musical shapes and words. The words ‘Not just a building’ taken from a document scan of an early programme note seemed appropriate and poignant:
Also included in the collage were two stencils I made from photos I had taken. In one case the stencil was painted, and in the other I used it to make a wire shape of the tubular bells pedal. Images below show the work in progress:
Once the piece was finished I hung it up outside so that I could photograph it in natural light.
The final stage was to crop it to remove the brick.
Currently I am leaving the work alone for a while – I’ll return to it and assess its success at a later date.
On the 1st April I had an after work meeting with the CE of NMPAT to show him my work so far. I took with me the art book (as per the video on the 31st March blog entry). He was enthusiastic about the work and was able to identify most abstract parts of images that even I had forgotten what their source was! At the end of the viewing we discussed how the work would be exhibited; and he confirmed an earlier suggestion that the Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton during the Gala weekend of July 2nd-3rd would be ideal. For me this would be a huge opportunity (especially as it’s my first live exhibition); as the audience over the weekend is potentially huge with the large alumni orchestra performing on the Saturday night. We left it that he would consider who the best person at the Derngate would be to contact.
The following day we had a FMP group crit – and with only two students present we had more time to talk and get critical feedback from the tutor. It was the first time she had seen any of my FMP work and it had a positive reception. Mentioning the idea of diptychs, she thought this was a good idea and mentioned a few pieces that would work well together: an original photograph next to a collage, looking at the way colours and symmetry worked together. Although she wasn’t sure how many pieces we needed to submit for FMP, she felt that ten sets of two would be a good number. Reassuringly, she thought I had four or five sets already; and that it was looking like a really strong set of images. Another strength was to see the fabric of the building, and in particular the ‘door / glass panel on white’.
Her suggestion was to get a set of ten and then start to sequence, by printing out on plain paper, place on the floor (look downwards) and see what works with what. Then do the same thing on a wall, and look at them from different angles. Time wise, she thought mid-May would be the time to stop creating new work and start the sequencing process, and that this would be a good time to contact her if I wanted her opinion on my work.
On the 8th April I returned to NMPAT to re-shoot some of the archives. (Previously I had scanned documents and now, following recent conversations with tutors, I wanted archival images as photographs rather than scans. On arrival, I carried some of the archives back down the Victorian staircase into a well-lit room, where I set up a mini-studio. Knowing that inside lighting is not one of my strengths I made sure to shoot in RAW so that I could adjust white balance later. Whilst there the CE introduced me to a colleague whose role is fundraising – as the person who would liaise with the Derngate re me showing my work there during the Gala weekend. She asked me for details regarding output / size etc, although at this stage it really is too early for me to be precise. I anticipate there being around 20 images, of A3 size.
On the 9th April I had another 1:1 with my online tutor. She was less convinced by the idea of diptychs as each piece works as a stand – alone. Instead, she thought I could look at ways of displaying it, for example as a sculpture installation or hanging a mobile in front of it – to give the pieces movement. We discussed use of wire, tracing shapes, laser jet printing, paint and stencils. She recommended that I look at the earlier work of Sara VanDerBeek and Alexander Calder.
Points that I have taken from all of the above are:
- Be receptive to new ideas, whilst maintaining my own focus and identity
- Stand up for my work and be able to justify the choices I make
Sunday 31st March
This is a mock up (not a dummy book), of my work in progress to take to my meeting at NMPAT tomorrow. I’m happy with my larger pieces and most of the square pieces too. The archive scans aren’t working as they are, I need to revisit and rephotograph, perhaps use a camera intead of a scanner. For now I have placed them in the mock up, more to demonstrate how images might be exhibited alongside each other, thinking about colour schemes as well as shape and form. Before placing the images in the book I spent quite some time over the last few days placing them in different orders, working out the edit:
Also this week the images themselves have been developed…
WiP #9. New work, with an emphasis on palimpsest.
WiP #5. Updated.
Not being happy with the print I sharpened up the bottom of the white hook, and added more percussion; as well as ‘acciaccaturas’ to the right of the image. It’s also been cropped a little.
WiP #7. Updated.
Introducing the triplet in the centre, archival fragments and other photographs taken on site.
WiP #6 continues to spark debate, with it appealing to some people I’ve shown it to, and not others. I am able to give reasons for all of my choices in this image so for now it’s still one to include. However I may crop it more tightly.
On Wednesday I was fortunate to be able to have a 1:1 with our Module leader, as I have been unable to make any of her lunch time group critiques. Points made:
a) Continue to look at the work of Sophie Calle and Sara Davidmann, particularly their use of the archive
b) Consider presenting work in diptychs or triptychs – eg, on of my images with an archival photograph
c) Make sure I know what I am trying to say and how to say it
d) Keep it simple – don’t over-design (don’t put everything into one image)
e) How will all my images work together?
f) There is a Victoria Forrest workshop coming up in June, I will have to apply (once it’s been announced). Application via pdf
g) Audio – could work on my website (test it out here)
h) Look at typology
Monday 25th March
Putting previous work into context
As I work through this FMP I see more and more just how much previous modules have influenced my practice; starting with the old appropriated postcards in Positions and Practice, the way I destructed and collaged them, and looked at the work of Hannah Hoch, John Steizeger and the Dada movement. In Informing Contexts I used vintage found photographs – cutting and placing them inside vintage cameras to re-photograph them in a different context. In Surfaces and Strategies I moved to the family album (again vintage). I considered surrealist art work as well as different methods of experimentation including a book dummy (something which I have found myself doing again this week). That module brought me to different strategies, filling in gaps in the family album with my own, including some self portraits. Finally, Sustainable Prospects was again based on a found vintage photo album, with collaborative geneology research informing my work as I again replaced missing photographs with my own. However this time macro work was also included as I looked closely at the tears and damage to the pages themselves.
To summise, all of my MA Work in Progress to date has included collage of some kind, with latter work also including myself within the image (eg the self portraits). Additionally archival material and research has been integral to my practice throughout the course. In this FMP module collage remains central to the work alongside archive research. Although there will be no self portraits this time, my intention to include audio with the images means that there will be an opportunity for me to use my own voice in amongst the voices of others. The audio in itself will be a collage of sorts as archival records will be read, dissected, layered and rearranged. The decision to have music as the foundation for this work comes from discussions with an online tutor in a previous module who always thought this would be a good way to go. Seeing the potential for a relevant and exciting project this summer, I was enthusiastic about beginning it. As if coming full circle I have found myself going back to the Dada artists as well as Bauhaus and just recently the work of Malevich.
Last Tuesday I had a 1:1 tutorial flowed by a group critique. Both were beneficial, enabling me to think along different lines, confirmation of what was going well and what wasn’t. As it happens, both tutors had different ideas (as would be expected), this time they were quite radically opposing. There are no complaints from me in this respect, it’s invaluable to get as many different professional opinions, insights and expertise as possible.
My online tutor and I discussed titles for the pieces, reflecting on the work I’ve been looking at of Kandinsky’s I noted that he tended to use letters and numbers as titles. Other thoughts included musical textures, musical expressions, Italian terms, ‘borrowing’ or appropriating a title, and language used on musical scores. Consequently I continue to give this much thought, looking at some of the scores I scanned at NMAPT and refreshing my memory on Italian (and German) terms. As yet there are no answers but it’s an ongoing issue.
We also looked at my Work in Progress, there appeared to be quite a lot of positivity about how the work was looking, with the exception of WiP #6 which I thought to be stronger than it is. With dark green as the background colour, I had read about Kandinsky’s thoughts on different shades of green and related it to a ‘pastoral’ (countryside) shade rather than his ‘sickly’ green. However my tutor was not convinced by the colour, explaining that it can sometimes be associated with evil, and this, coupled with some of the objects in the image (the fabric blind) gave it a sinister look. Clearly this needs rectifying and so since then I’ve been working on alternative ways to present the central structure – which in itself I wish to keep as I used a painting by Moholy-Nagy as inspiration for it.
We talked about the negative space in some of the images, but this is something that I am well aware of and have plans to fill – none of the images are yet complete. She also suggested that I consider using repetition.
In my evening critique discussion, the tutor was very enthusiastic about WiP #2 , particularly the subtle use of text in the background. The reference to Germany and the collage made him think of Hannah Hoch too. He suggested that I do more of this type of work and that I could implant political comments within the text (to do with the recent and ongoing demise of music education). Although I responded favourably to this idea and could imagine me doing this, I have decided that now is not the right time as it would be at direct odds with the celebratory aspect of the work. Having two versions – one for the exhibition and another one was one suggestion but realistically time is going to be too much of a pressure for me. It is definitely something I could and may well consider in the future though in my collage work.
This week I have put a lot of hours into my practical work in preparation for my meeting with the Chief Executive of NMPAT next week. Each collage image takes a good deal of time and I’m conscious that I need to have enough to show. As I intend to also show some unedited photographs in my e-photobook I chose and printed number of them, and am in the process of editing the order that they could be placed within the photobook. This has led my thought process in a different direction which is to consider having three slim books within a folder. The three books would comprise of a) the original photographs b) the resultant images I make, and c) scans of original archival documents. If not three separate books, then three chapters. Today I was listening to a documentary about Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band and was reminded that ‘A Day in the Life’ is a fusion of two separate songs, one by Lennon and the other by McCartney. The middle McCartney section is hugely different in style to the outer Lennon sections and has given me the idea of having the middle book or chapter being the one which is more dissonant to the other two, as per the abc above.
Meanwhile I’ve been working on WiP #5. Featuring percussion instruments there is an emphasis on pedal notes (the duality of pedal of an instrument as well as pedal meaning repeated note). The two smaller lilac shapes to the right are also supposed to represent notation. Still more is needed in this image.
I continue to work on WiP #1, not quite enough to show it again here yet. Over the weekend the collage below was put together, printing, cutting and sticking pieces of scanned documents – although I haven’t decided on a plan for this yet:
Sunday 17th March
This week I have spent a ot more time than usual working on one piece; adding to my #WiP 2. The works is coming together as I read more about the Bauhaus, and especially examine the structure of the piece below by Kandinsky. This image of mine is very much work in progress – there’s still more to add. Interestingly, as I add Kandinsky’s painting below, I notice the title – Violet. Although the colour in the centre of the wheel it is almost missed due to the abundant detailed form especially to its right. He talks about this colour, describing it as the ‘passive element of the blue in red‘ (p36). Conversely I would describe violet as the passive element of the red in blue. He talks about blue as ‘concentric’ moving in on itself, ‘draws away from the spectator’, while yellow spreads out in an excentric motion towards the spectator.. Red is a motion within itself, inbetween yellow and blue (p36). Looking at my image here, there is a strong emphasis on red / orange / yellow; Kandinsky might describe it as an excentric movement towards the spectator. What, then, of the green on the right? He describes green as ‘motionless…restful…passive’ (p38). Is this problematic for the image? I don’t think so, as the eye, when drawn to that section can be still – most movement is to its left, as if being repelled from it. However this does need more careful consideration.
Fig. 4: Kandinsky, 1923. Violet, colour lithograph
Tuesday 12th March
As I still try to find my way with the types of final images I want to create, I find myself having more new ideas. Naturally, but frustratingly these ideas evolve slowly as my work develops.
As the organisation’s first concert was held in 1969 at the school that I work in, I thought it would be a clever idea to check the school’s own archives to see if there was any record of it. Knowing that there was a room of archives (I had used them for the school’s 60th anniversary celebrations); my discovery today that the archives have since been disposed of was considerably shocking.
Another route I will follow is whether I can soiurce any artefacts from the stage itself, which having been intitu since the 1950s is going to be ripped out later this year to make room for a largher dining hall. The irony of this happening in 2019 coinciding with 50 years since the 1st NMAPT concert was held there is stark. So as there are no archives perhaps there is a possibility of me obtaining a small part of the stage (it has wooden flooring, stage curtains etc) to use as a prop or installation with my work. Of course this will depend on timing, as yet the date for the removal of the stage hasn’t been announced. Either way I will take photos of the stage, to potentially include in my exhibition. I’m also planning to print some of my archival scans from NMPAT and include these as exhibits.
Audio is an almost definite for me now, and I’m making plans on how this would work. Peripatetic teachers that visit my school could be recorded reading quotes from NMPAT’s archives on the stage; and also I would record sounds from within the NMPAT building itself. Fragments of these recordings would be mixed with fragments from CDS of summer tours. In this way, the audio would be a type of collage in the same way that my images are.
This past week I’ve carried on experimenting with image – making. As before, they are all in their early stages.
This one is unsuccesful, colour-wise. I liken it to Kandinsky’s description of ‘sickly green’.
WiP #5 has potential, a new colour needs introducing on the right; and whilst the original intention was to keep the shapes ‘soft’, I now think that including an object with a harder edge should be considered.
Fig 3: Moholy-Nagy, 1923. Z IV , oil on canvas
WiP #6 was made after seeing the Moholy-Nagy painting in a book about the Bauhaus. This time the green background works well, more in keeping with the ‘restful’ green Kandinsky describes. The shapes are a direct reference to Figure 3. The red square was added last, red being opposite green in Kandinsky’s colour wheel. It serves to break the ‘pastoral’ colours and provide a link / theme / leitmotif to my other images, in which warm reds definitely feature. As with the others, it’s not yet complete and I’m thinking of a softer shape, with a warm colour towards the bottom right of the image.
Finally, after printing WiP #1 to be able to see it on a larger scale, I made some alterations as parts on the right lacked clarity.
Tuesday 5th March
This is a piece in its infancy. I can’t decide whether I like it or not. As yet it has no musicality to it, the intention is to add something from the brass family. Really I should be reading more about Kandinsky’s work and his writings before I go much further as I would like the colours I choose to be representative of something, something which I’ve not yet discovered,
Saturday 2nd March
I have been reading and watching guest lectures this week, and looking for inspiration – although enjoying my work it feels as if it could soon become monotonous unless I look for new ways of developing it. Currently I have the idea of including audio and am considering how / what / why / when to do this. There seems to be no guidance on the number of images we need to produce, and right now it seems the best way for me is to have fewer images at the exhibition than previously thought, but present it with audio; and to have a larger body of work for the e-photobook. So far I have two other works in progress, neither of which are complete:
WiP #Red (#3)
Red will have some edits – I’m unsure about the text (taken from archival records) in the bracket shape – this may go – and also some of the geometry isn’t quite working. The salmon pink rectangle within and outside the white window is at odds with the other lines. Initially the intention had been to create a triangle just to the left of the window, but its positioning looks clumsy and ill placed. I’ll rework this.
Still in its infancy, WiP #2 is a collage words and phrases from archival material, a room at NMPAT, and part of a percussion instrument. I printed scans of the archives, cut them up, glued them onto paper, rescanned then added the other images. Seeing this in itself as a base layer I have yet to decide what the next edit will look like; but I will need to straighten it a little.
Thursday 21st February
Since the last entry I have visited NMPAT four more times, and now hopefully have enough photographs and scans for me to work with.
In the 1:1 with my tutor (12/2/19), we discussed the use of window views in my work; as I had changed my mind again and incorporated the photo (window#1) into an image:
Instead of finding it irrelevant or unnecessary, my tutor thought than outward perspective might not be a bad thing, and as the architecture is there, visible in the rooms, to let it play its role. This is reassuring as for me, the added perspective brings depth and dimension to the image as well as grounding it in a particular space.
In the 1:1 we spoke about trying out different options to see which worked best. My aim is to create images that speak musically – ideally the audience should be able to imagine what my pictures sound like; and notice variants in texture and timbre. All of the elements in #WiP1 were taken at NMAPT, the background colours taken from walls or soft furnishings.
Stella said that she saw potential in my image, that it could be interesting, and to look at the Modernism, and more specifically the Bauhaus movement and the work of Kandinsky – as their use of form and colour could be relevant to my work. Following this discussion I managed to order two books on just this, for under £10.
Other practitioners whose work I intend to look at are Emmiline de Mooij, Shirana Shabazi, and Jessica Eaton.
Another book concerning synesthesia is on my reading list as I am keen to explore how one sense may be heightened after the experience of another.
Back to my NMPAT visits… Having now been on five shoots there, I am happy that I have enough material to work with. I’ve been thorough with my work flow, categorising the jpeg and RAW files and the archive scans. With so much work being involved and working to a strict time scale, everything is backed up three times.
Probably the most fascinating was the visit to the archives; with lots of documents from the 70s and 80s of interest. As the typewritten letters became replaced by word-processed ones, they somehow became less interesting. The early ones were more personal in style and much less perfect. I attribute this to both the new technology allowing for mistakes to be easily corrected; and the growth of the organisation from a fairly small low-key one to the size it is today.
I was most interested in any archival material from 1969 (the year the Music Service started); but none of the staff I spoke to were aware of anything. So when the letter from Balmoral Castle dated 1969 caught my eye, I was delighted. It read:
Dear Mr Tyler
Thank you for your letter of 1st October.
The Queen is interested to learn of the formation, in the County of Northamptonshire, of the County Youth Brass Band and wishes it all possible good luck.
After a Google search I’ve discovered that Martin Charteris (Lieutenant-Colonel the Right Honourable Lord Charteris of Amisfield) was Princess Elizabeth’s Private Secretary from 1950; then after her ascension to the throne he became her Assistant Private Secretary under sir Michael Adeane. Mr Tyler was the founder of the County Youth Brass Band, the initial group which then grew in to the Music Service in the 1970s. Tyler was the first Head of Service.
There was also a small hand written note with details of their first concert (which was very coincidentally held in the hall of my current school). On the reverse was written the price of various take – away options (fish & chips, pie & chips etc) in shillings and pence. A fantastic find for my work!
More generally, I see the archives as providing me with history, humour (Unfortunately, it has been necessary to change the programme for this evening, due to the fact that only one trombone player (named) made an application to attend this course…it is, of course, quite impossible to perform the Tchaikovsky Symphony no.6 with only one trombone…), text to use in my images as well as colour (old letters were printed on varying shades of lemon, yellow, orange, green, blue, pink and lilac). One difficulty that I foresee is how to introduce the humour without ruining or altering the ambiance of the work.
As an experiment I’ll print some of these scanned letters and start cutting them up.
Tuesday 5th February
Last Thursday was my first photo shoot at Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT). Arriving with two cameras, three lenses, enough batteries and cards to last me all day, and a map of the building, I was more than prepared for the day, and had planned to photograph instruments and teaching rooms. It was a euphorically cold, frosty and sunny day which unfortunately was enough to distract me from the task in hand.
The extent of this distraction wasn’t evident until at later at home when the files were uploaded onto my computer; and I realised that I had taken just as many unnecessary photos of views and reflections from the windows, than I had instruments and rooms.
Losing focus resulted in time being wasted, both at the shoot and afterwards, as it took far longer to sort, categorise and delete unnecessary images. Naturally, this also led to me having fewer images of what I needed.
A couple of days before this visit, I’d had my first tutor 1:1, in which she gave me feedback on my PK presentation. Wanting to experiment further with the types of images she thought were the most interesting I tried some manipulation processes on the middle photo (above), taken on this first shoot:
This is an experiment still in progress. I’m not sure whether the inclusion of the wooden wall behind is a hindrance to the double bass. The area to the right and above have been deliberately been left empty, for something to be added – potentially a block of colour.
In the break between the last module and the start of FMP, my work had taken an experimental turn, taking photos of musical instruments at school and experimenting by adding geometric shapes and bold colours. Bluntly, I had become a little jaded with the direction of some of my recent work, and was feeling restricted by its potential. At the same time, it was important to me to keep hold of the parts that I had enjoyed working with and didn’t want to lose – namely archival records, found photography, memorabilia, and memory. This, I plan to keep integral to my FMP, albeit with a new subject. There will be no more discarded vintage family albums, geneology research or self-portraiture in this project. Below is an outline of the beginnings of my new ideas.
NMPAT is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. This service (formerly called ‘Northamptonshire Music Service’ is well known to me, both professionally and personally. As youngsters, my own children had instrumental lessons at school through visiting peripatetic teachers from the service. Since working as a music teacher myself for the past 15 or so years, I’ve had weekly contact with many of the service’s teaching staff. These teachers are remarkable – each visiting up to 15 schools per week throughout the county, followed by lessons at NMPAT in the centre of Northampton. Sometimes the rooms in schools that they are given to teach in are the smallest imaginable – often with little light, graffitied walls and a beaten-up piano. Yet, somehow, the music that emanates from within those four walls is often beautiful, a sound that can only be achieved by hard work, practice and determination (on the part of both teacher and student). I am awe-struck by what is achieved in these spaces. (It must be mentioned here, that within NMPAT’s headquarters, the rooms and spaces are a different story – beautifully decorated and furnished, lovingly kept, with acoustics well considered.)
At the beginning of January I approached the Chief Executive of NMPAT to ask if it would be possible for me to photograph the rooms, instruments and archives at NMPAT, to coincide with its 50th anniversary, with the potential of being able to show my work during a celebratory performance. To my delight, he offered to meet me, and gave me a tour of the magnificent building, including teaching spaces, instrument stores, and archives. This was more than I could have hoped for. He also gave me permission to photograph any of the above (apart from anything relating to finance). I had already stated that people were not going to feature in my work, and as I’ll be visiting during the working day there will not be any children present.
And so my project begins, I have lots of ideas but still more experimenting to do first.