Work in Progress – FMP

Diary date: Thursday 21st February 2019

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.

Yours sincerely

Martin Charteris

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.

Diary date: Tuesday 5th February 2019

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.