Category Archives: Assignment 3

The Silent Pool – final Version of Assignment 3

I revisited tutor feedback and created A3 contact sheets of original choices and tutor suggested alternatives to compare.

I took on board comments from tutor with regard to technical choices and noted reasons for exclusion of certain ones such as composition, what was in the frame, and similar images.

I also excluded the ones my tutor thought were over exposed others where the tones did not fit, such as image 6463, a tranquil image but it stood out with the heavier tones.  I also excluded the tree roots, 3442 which didn’t fit with the other images. This left me with 12 images. Contact sheet below:-

I reviewed my idea of an Unbound book  (as seen before on Shona Grant’s website) alongside a photobook by Sandra Kantanen, “More Landscapes” – a beautiful book of japanese style large photographs with a pale blue cover and an inset glossy photograph with a gold embossed title.  I decided the idea of an unbound book would definitely fit as my intention with Assignment 3 was to evoke an atmosphere – the liminal space of the Pool (see my notes on Liminal Spaces here  where I compare the concept with the space of the Silent Pool. https://wordpress.com/view/catherinebankslnd.wordpress.com    . Neither page numbers nor captions seemed necessary, therefore a loose collection  would allow the viewer to create their own impression of the Pool. I would need book covers and spine roughly the size and shape of a box to hold around 14 A4 photographs

I printed trial images on different papers at small sizes for economy – Hahnemuhle rice paper, permajet platininum etching, Ilford Galerie pearl . The rice paper had a lovely, delicate texture but it was too thin to be loose and handled.  The platinum etching paper was much more substantial but seemed to absorb too much ink. The Ilford Galerie paper held the ink well on the surface, a slight sheen well suited to a ‘watery’ subject and enough thickness for handling.

I emailed local bookbinder Meg Green of someoddpages.com  having worked with her before – lessons and private work; and gave her the approximate size of the structure I was thinking of and some jpegs of the images.  Options were for her to provide the materials so that I could create a handmade structure or for her to do this for me.  We arranged a time to meet in her garden (so we could remain socially distant) to discuss.  I took print samples with me so that we could colour match book cover material with colours in photographs – green of vegetations and the changing colours of the pool –  also some hand-made paper embedded with plant material that I thought might be appropriate for the inner holding flap at the right size.

Meg showed me samples of bookcloths, silk, bookcloth, broadcloth similar to buckrum but with mark resistant coating. We looked at the textures and colours – various shades of green, blue, deep yellow, violet.  Eventually I chose a cerulean buckram-like cloth. Meg had some lightweight off-white/unbleached lokta paper, which is semi-transparent and with a delicate appearance whilst holding some stiffness, and slightly more beige material which could suit as the inner ‘holding’ flap for the photographs.  I chose the lokta paper as it worked really well against the cerulean blue of the cloth, provided a contrast of textures and also complemented the ethereal nature of Silent Pool. Due to  transparency of the lokta paper an extra white inner lining would be needed to prevent the grey of the book-board showing through as the photographs were removed from the covers.

 

I’m pleased that I was able to see this project through to a final presentation.

 

 

 

Response to Tutor Feedback on Assignment 3

 My tutor provided written feedback for this assignment.  As previously, she has commented on both Assignment 3 and the ongoing Assignment 6 Transitions Assignment so I will address each of those in separate posts.

Feedback on Assignment 3

Here are some extracts, with my comments in blue italics:-

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Quality of Outcome, Demonstration
of Creativity

The edit

From the outset it is clear you are very attracted to this site and have enjoyed making this
work. There are some successful images here but I think you could re-think the edit somewhat
to really tighten it visually, to emphasize conceptual ideas and connotations. For example, the
algae and the apparent density of the water is a really interesting visual quality to this
pond/lake – it could be the time of year, but either way it is fascinating, the way it glows and
reflects surrounding foliage seems unusual – that level of abstraction… this to me conjures up
ideas of the surreal, phenomenological, ghostly, and mysterious goings on which you talk
about when researching its history. Also it focuses the viewer on the texture and tone of the
water, especially when set behind foreground foliage – allowing for contrast and shift in depth
through the image – we’re able to gaze into it and imagine what lies or laid beneath, it almost
has a hypnotic quality too which I think serves your subject very well. We’re able to compare
the real and the reflected, which is very engaging.

I was very pleased to read this as it shows that I was meeting my aims for this Assignment. The reflections are unusual which is why I was so attracted to the water and I have worked on the premise that it has always had this quality. I’ve also discovered additional reference material.

In the rest of this section my tutor provides a detailed analysis of my choices – the majority of which are approved but replacements are suggested for some of them (I have to acknowledge that with a couple of them I was aware there could be a problem with over-exposure but hung onto them!) and I will deal with this in a separate blog post. I had been concerned about including too many similar images, but my tutor actually suggested more images which show the algae and the light on the water. This just goes to show me that if I think I’m taking a risk with an edit then it could be a good idea to be even bolder about it.

Presentation

It’s great to see the reflection post for the assignment, your presentation section discusses the
approach you will explore, including titles and captions. It is important to use your assignment
from your tutor before preparing for assessment. These kinds of decisions take a surprising
amount of trial and error and are all part of the core creative process.

I certainly found it useful doing this in more detail as it will be an aide-memoire at a future date.

Coursework:

Demonstration of technical and Visual Skills, Demonstration of Creativity

Comments here mainly relate to Assignment 6 and I will address these in a separate blog post, although advice to stick to one lens on a project is a good one to follow (I had referred to using a tilt-shift lens during my work on Assignment 6 and how this gave the photographs a different ‘look’ as this prime lens has a different effect.)  which is an ongoing project, except for:-

 Exercises:

Ex 3.3 stands out as an example of you engaging deeply with the materials and sources
provided. You introduce relevant independent research (Handful of Dust exhibition) to counter
and shape your opinion. You also conclude in an objective and open manner, seeing multiple
sides of the debate.

This is helpful feedback and provides a useful pointer towards Assignment 4 the Critical Review in terms of the use of relevant research to counter and shape my opinion and being objective.

Research

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

For this assignment you have undertaken a significant amount of research – from investigating
the site itself, it’s history and associated images, literature and ephemera to reading theory
around the land and the subject of ‘spaces and places’ and visual research, looking into the
likes of Naomie Goudal, Esther Teichmann and revisiting John Gossage’s The Pond. You should
really be proud with the breadth of this work Catherine. Though this is fantastic, your reflection
on photographic work here tends to offer an overview of the photographer’s general approach
(useful but make sure that you pull images as illustration and deconstruct them, just like you would a quote).

I thought I’d got the hang of reflecting on photographic work this time and being as succinct as possible as one of the areas for development for Assignment 2 was to try to keep the write-up concise.  For Assignment 3 I divided contextual research into several sections (see below) and my draft for the section on photographic work was longer – for example I went into more detail in the way that John Gossage had set out the layout for his book – but I cut it down.  Using actual images is more complicated due to copyright issues and the time needed to gain approval for use. This will be less of an issue for Assignment 6 as it spreads over a longer time period.

Learning Log

Context, reflective thinking, critical thinking, analysis

There is lengthy documentation of your process here Catherine, which is great to see. All posts
show that a lot of effort and consideration has gone into the making of your final work. The
reflection on your Thames Valley Group meeting was particularly well structured (perhaps a
little long at the start), recording what you took to the meeting, the ideas you were grappling
with and your feedback and critique is well documented, using images as illustration. It was
useful to break up the different posts as you have, this allows you to go into detail without
things becoming unwieldy and hard to follow.

I’m pleased that my idea of breaking up the different posts gained approval so, with that in mind, perhaps there’s now more leeway to go into more detail on photographic work.  Regarding the comment on the start of my reflection on Thames Valley group meeting being ‘a little long’, I’m not sure I agree with that. My reflecting on the use of text, led me on to thinking about explanation (of which there often seems to be a lot now in relation to concept) and that’s why I decided on the mini-experiment.

Suggested reading/viewing

Context

The Heath – Andy Sewell, (re:A6) critique both the work and the design of the book, if considering book formats for assessment

Tessa Bunney – http://www.tessabunney.co.uk/project/farmerflorist/ The way Tessa publishes her projects and introduces them, how she uses different types of images to tell her stories and her way of representing communities who work with the land

I think you’d also enjoy reading about one or two of the films of Margaret Tait, especially The Drift Back and Land Makar, in relation to looking at how people live and work with the land and her exploration of the land around her. https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/newsbfi/lists/remembering-film-poet-margaret-tait

I think the suggested reading mainly applies to Assignment 6 – although Tessa Bunney’s work could be a useful reference if I decided to do more documentary style work on the Artisan sites around Silent Pool.

Summary

 

I have addressed Areas for Development in my responses above (I hope) but the summary is a good aide-memoire.

I’m particularly pleased on the ‘Strengths’ feedback and had certainly made efforts to streamline the historical research for focus and relevance and to make sure I documented the printing process and presentation ideas. I know that I can gain feedback on my prints from meeting of Thames Valley group when our attending tutor is present but still think it would be a good idea at some point for my tutor to actually see prints.

Reflection on Assignment 3

Reflection on Assignment 3 prior to Tutor Feedback

I’ve already reflected on the editing process as I documented it but I thought it would be helpful to think more about the references I used, potential presentation strategies and what next.

Photographer references – original and subsequent?

Original 

In his project Painters Pool Jem Southam actively referenced the work of Mike Garton, the painter and his friend who was driven artistically by a determination to try to render, through the act of painting, complex visual and spatial fields perceived by immersion in this dense woodland,  My subject was a pool, overtaken to some extent by ‘commerce’ yet still retaining, for me, a fascination to look, to gaze to imagine what it might have been like centuries ago. Before men took possession of it. Garton actually created a pond from a stream that had been partially blocked by a stream. Garton made a dam from the tree, e-directed the stream and dug out a shallow pool which he quietly maintained for many years.  He rarely painted it until just before he died.

Southam wanted to see how the photographic medium might be used to deal with a similar set of concerns. Whilst doing so, over time, he also documented the growing ‘absence’ of Mike Garton’s presence. Southam’s camera peered through trees at the pool, saw it through the seasons as trees grew, shed leaves, changed colour in Autumn. I’m aware that I also have a tendency towards peering through trees with my camera.

John Gossage is one of the New Topographics photographers. His approach is quite downbeat in portraying reality yet evocative in portraying the edges between woodland (almost scrubland) left to creep its way back to nature and the outreaches of urban sprawl.  In his book he directs our view in a certain way – as I have attempted in my own sequence – but leaves us to form our own opinions on what we see.  Gossage’s “The Pool” has been described as a foil to Walden’s pool.  There are several definitions of ‘foil’, but I’m assuming that, in this case, it means something associated with another to provide a marked contrast – something like an ‘anti’ referencing then.  I can’t find anywhere that states that Gossage intended to do this but I’m guessing he probably did because the intention of New Topographics was to challenge the Picturesque (see here)

Thinking of the Picturesque takes me to Keith Carter who also referenced Walden’s Pool.  The more I looked at Carter’s image the more I could see the similarity with some of the coloured postcards  I had collected whilst working on Assignment 3. These were more idealised than some of the monochrome ones – or is it just the colour that makes them ‘pretty’ and more picturesque.  I felt concerned that my images would be too picturesque which was why I was so determined to find a different approach.

I played around with the inspiration from the work of Esther Teichmann and Noemie Goudal. I’m not a painter and so my route towards Teichmann was to experiment with a composite. I think I probably should have persevered more as a way to layer fictive past and present but know that I prioritised and chose a more nuanced approach.  Goudal’s work, again, concerns layering reality with fiction and she uses installation in the landscape to achieve this. My interest in her work led me to have an image printed on fabric and I haven’t yet let go of the idea of creating something pondlike for myself, or a hanging background, as I do like the effect.

Alternative photography

As I’ve written before, I’m very interested in this.  Many of my experiments are on my Instagram page which I use as a place for them. Somehow or other, though, I never really to get to use them in an actual Assignment.  Cyanotypes might have been a good approach and, again, I haven’t let go of the idea of wet-cyanotypes but the main problem for me is that cyanotypes are a very different shade of blue from the blue of Silent Pool. I’m not going to say it’s time wasted because it isn’t as the experiments do help me to think in a different way. Perhaps this allows my imagination to just take over and lead me somewhere else.  Which it did – to go gain further inspiration from other artists and photographers.

Other artists 

Widening my explorations really did work for me because through doing so I was able to clarify an approach that might suit my aim. I wanted my images to be impressionistic of Silent Pool whilst still retaining recognisable features in the series itself. I’m becoming more and more aware of the varieties of repetition in artists’ work whether photographing the same sites through the seasons – showing the effects of time and nature – or adding layers of paint to portray shifting effects.  Clare Wilson’s work encouraged me to photograph Silent Pool in ways that showed more subtle changes of light and reflection in its waters.  Of course, I had to choose between images for the series, but I hope I was able portray the changes without the images together seeming repetitious.

I did feel that I was taking a risk in trying something different but gained reassurance from seeking peer feedback at both a meeting of  OCA Thames Valley Group    and also recently in a Hangout with “Bridge” a recently formed group. “Bridge” was created by fellow student Anna Goodchild, with the aim of supporting students who are near the end of their Course or have graduated to continue to maintain a supportive network. Anna commented that to photograph ‘silence’ is a challenge and how my project has given ‘Silent Pool” a voice.

Historical context

This was important, firstly because it situated Silent Pool through time and, secondly, because this showed me how I’m linking themes.  Similar to Assignment 2 and the Basingstoke Canal, the story of the pool concerns the way in which man has harnessed natural resources originally for commercial gain and then how this changed through time. I was actually able to imagine the real events as they occurred and also gain insight into Martin Farquhar Tupper who must have been quite an unusual person. Looking at the postcards was very useful as well in enlarging my understanding of those early photographers who saw opportunities there as well as linking them with Coursework and views on the picturesque.

I’m also pleased that I didn’t get too absorbed in the research even though I enjoyed it.  It was an aid to my photography work as opposed to taking it over. However, I would like to spend more time reflecting on ‘magical thinking’ or, perhaps, ‘suspension of disbelief’, because this plays such a large part in our lives even now. I’m still surprised, although impressed, at the way in which Martin Tupper got people to ‘believe’ in his story even though its literary quality was poor plus they knew the story wasn’t true.

One thing I didn’t do

My tutor suggested I could use a model and portray the story.  I wasn’t too certain about that – given that the story is fiction, melodramatic and essentially about what could be termed as manslaughter.  If I did then Tom Hunter’s work would be an obvious reference point. There is a sequence there – Thomas Hardy utilised stories in newspapers for his novels and Tom Hunter referenced both aspects. Alternatively, I could reconsider using a model but in a different way – something like Helen Sear’s work in Company of Trees (2015) (video on Vimeo).  Remembering as well that Sear also created a video installation of Pond (2011)  and on You Tube.  Maybe that would be too ambitious at the moment though.

Presentation

At the moment I have a series of photographs, sequenced in a specific way. They could be individually printed and exhibited, again with the sequencing in a particular way. Should there be captions and/or titles? What about a photo book?  If so, I’m thinking of something handmade rather than printed – again there’s the questions of captions/titles and also whether other information should be included.  Some historical information could be appropriate. I’ve noted that Jem Southam used captions followed by the date/s in his book of the Painter’s Pool.  John Gossage has no captions to the photographs in his book, but it does have an introduction and essay.

I would like to do more with the postcards – they’re such a good resource. Should I do a layered sequence with my own images? I could also create my own Postcards, even ‘stamps’, although I did that for my final Assignment of Digital Image & Culture with photographs of my Second Life self.  I wouldn’t want to be seen as repetitious.

I still have that hankering for something on fabric.

Looking ahead

In terms of continuing themes, as I’ve referred to above, I know I’m interested in layers of time and how Culture operates with us.  In a sense the water of Silent Pool was acting as a mirror for this in reflecting it back and also as a window to gaze through and reflect on history and also borders, edges, liminal spaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submission: Assignment 3 – Spaces to Places

The Silent Pool

Introduction

In my beginning thoughts on this topic I made reference to several views on the way in which ‘spaces’ become ‘places’. I agree with Liz Wells that “history turns space into place”.  The way that nature is viewed is mediated by the culture within which we live at any point in time. I also think that naming a space makes it into a place by acknowledging its existence, and also that the name itself has connotations that may differ for individuals.  The name ‘Silent Pool’ certainly attracted me towards visiting it.

My approach to this Assignment has been very much an action/reflection cycle. The name attracted me first with a very brief search on some information about it, followed by a continuing process of visit, reflection and further research as the Pool wove its blue waters, and history around me.

I haven’t yet found a very early history of the Pool, although I’d like to imagine it could have been a sacred site in early days and then, possibly, a resting point for pilgrims on the Pilgrims Way. The known history of the Pool represents the way in which men have continually harnessed natural resources for their own purposes. Another man, Martin Farquhar Tupper, also claimed the Pool for his own purposes, giving it a new name of the Silent Pool and weaving his own melodrama around it. To me, his story is very much an example of a male literary ‘gaze’. It is quite a banal story really but, surprisingly, attracted visitors to the Pool – much to Tupper’s surprised delight – as well as the attention of the newly burgeoning tourist postcard trade.

I became quite absorbed in this Assignment, absorbing the atmosphere of the pool and discovering its history and current uses. I aimed to be concise in summarising my research and think I have achieved this.  I am pleased that the theme of both ‘water’ and the way in which men take ownership/possession of nature links with Assignment 2.

Editing choices

There were several ways I could have approached this assignment but my fascination with it decided me to focus on creating a series which might evoke the essence of Silent Pool – the aura it has which attracts people to spent quite some time just standing there and gazing upon it.  Seeking feedback from fellow students was extremely helpful in checking that I was more or less on the right course towards achieving my aim.

I wrote here concerning experiments with a composite, anthotypes and cyanotypes and have also recently created two lumen prints.  At the moment I don’t think that alternative processes fit with my approach although I will continue to experiment anyway for my own personal development and interest. I would like to have used the composite image.

If I did I would place this as fourth in the sequence but, given the ending of the story, it would need at least one more composite image for balance I think.

I have worked with contact sheets throughout and documented the process.  My chosen images for submission are below; there are fourteen at the moment rather than twelve but I know that tutor feedback will help me with more editing. I have already printed some of the images for my mini-experiment at the OCA Thames Valley Group meeting  earlier this month, including prints on fabric which I could possibly use as a presentation method at some point.     I used permajet titanium lustre paper for the prints on photo paper and its slight sheen and metallic effect worked well. The sequence I worked for the chosen images is entrance (1,2), first views (3,4), immersion (5, 6, 7), gaze withdrawing (8, 9) stepping out from the pool (10) through the wooded surroundings (11, 12) and walking away (13, 14). The contact sheet below helped me to check that my colour matching is reasonable.

Final Selection of Individual images in sequence:-

 

I hope the photographs I have chosen give a sense of both my own experience of it and of what it might like for someone else to experience it.

Overall Edit – Process

In separate, earlier posts  I described my initial selections for each visit. These were based on quality and composition and, in the case of the Second visit I had separated out the three areas in the location, see here .

A fellow student,  in commenting on my post on my third visit had written , For me the pool with reflections have the feel of a set, and also convey some of the magic you mentioned in one of the posts. But the details and how it relates to the surrounding area are perhaps what help define it as a place.

I thought this was a very helpful and timely comment to make me check my focus and re-define the meaning of ‘place’ for me. I’m interested in the fact that whilst I see the Artisan buildings as separate from Silent Pool, even though at least one of them depends on it for its water, I do incline towards linking the Pool with Sherbourne Pond, which it gave birth to as it were.  However, one part of the pond relates more to Silent Pool due to the inflow from it, whilst the other part relates to the brook which receives its outflow. I’m probably getting too much into semantics here so will leave it at that for now.  just in case, I have gathered together the images from all three visits I which relate to Sherbourne pond and the brook .

For the time being I have set them aside as I have those from visits to the Distillery.

I then made a selection (the third) from all three visits which totalled 48 images.

These relate to the walk to Silent Pool; the Pool; its outflow to Sherbourne pond; my walk around the area surrounding the Pool and the walk back.

I then printed those Contact Sheets, and cut them into separate images so that I could move them around, see how they relate to each other and also identify duplicates from different dates to choose between them. I also extracted flower photographs – to begin with I thought they added a separate interest and, perhaps, some punctuation in the series but my choices are limited to ‘up to twelve, so I have to be ruthless!

 

This work has left me with 25 images as my fourth selection. I’ve left in the images of the closed gate to the source point of Silent Pools and also the one of the old tree and its roots because they do represent boundaries, possession and survival.  I’m not sure they fit into the series photographically but I can decide when I make the final selection.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Mini-experiment at Thames Valley Group Meeting – Process

 

Reviewing Progress so far: A few thoughts/Ideas

I’ve written before about my efforts to find the right photographic approach to Silent Pool. I’d also been jotting down ideas for presentation, including the use of text – something I’ve written about previously, here  and here . Joel Colberg wrote an interesting piece about the role of text alongside photography in January 2018. His view was that one has to look at what the two do together, but this approach didn’t seem to him to be very common in photography. “Here, photographs are almost always taken as being in the driver’s seat, with text riding shotgun (at best).” He also refers to captions in photojournalism and documentary photography incorporating, “[… ] often very elaborate pieces of text that, however, often are produced by a different author and that usually almost lead a life of their own.” This contrasts with fine-art photography where images might not even have titles. Colberg queries this, wondering why omit text when it could elevate the work beyond what the pictures are able to do. To me that’s a very interesting question because I sometimes think along the reverse – at what point do the photographs become mere illustrations to a narrative?  For me, this is compounded by the fact that, in this student world, we’re expected to write a fair amount ‘about’ our photography plus we have a lot of discussion about captions and placement of text. Having looked at different ways in which some photographers use text Colberg recognises that there isn’t a single model of how pictures and text work together so this has to be figured out in each particular case – how will one inform the other?

This came home to me at a recent visit to Moving The Image,  an Exhibition at Camberwell Space, London.  When we walked into the Exhibition space it struck me as light and spacious but sparse – really minimal.  I then realised that there were no captions or titles, no pieces of information informing me about the photographer or the work.  This meant I had to spend quite some time looking at the work and trying to comprehend what it was all about in some cases; which was a good thing.  It turned out there was actually a list of works handout , with a diagram as to where they were – numbered in such a way that you didn’t follow an organic flow with it. There was also a printed pamphlet containing a quite lengthy essay by the curator, Duncan Wooldridge, with references to the pieces of work and photographs of some of them. I felt pleased I hadn’t known about them to begin with because the lack provided some additional learning and realisation.

My anxiety about my Silent Pool photographs and thoughts on text and image came to a head when I was in bed, unable to sleep, the night before the OCA Thames Valley Group meeting. What if I could do a mini experiment to test out my work; how would I go about it? Eventually I worked out a possible process in my head.  I could present some of the photographs without any explanation other than they were part of the Assignment, give group members a card each and ask them to write words or a brief sentence on anything that came to mind when looking. It would be the images themselves that spoke rather than explanatory text. Next I would tell them about Silent Pool, its history, the story by Martin Tupper and the Distillery and ask  if there was any point at which each of them became more interested in the photographs.  I did manage to get some sleep after that but got up early and printed off some of the photographs at A4 size. I used  Permajet Titanium Lustre paper for most of them as I thought this would be appropriate for photographs of water as it has a slight texture and metallic sheen. Otherwise I used Epson traditional photo-paper which is quite a heavy paper and with a slight satin sheen. I included a photograph of tree roots – kind of like a wild card but it reminded me of hanging on, clinging to the roots of something, existing over time – and also a composite image of the pool and a girl leaning over it.  The girl was from a copyright- free Victorian painting but I had distorted her figure slightly so that she leaned over further and also added a reflection.

Thames Valley Group Meeting – 18th May 2019

There were seven of us, slightly less than usual but good too as it meant we each had more time for presentation.  I presented the Silent Pool images and went through the process of my mini experiment as planned. These are the images I chose:-

 

After cards were written, I narrated all the events and story of the Pool then, during the following discussion, I also showed some small fabric prints.  I had been thinking about the work of Noemie Goudal, and her installation of a fabric waterfall and played with the idea of something similar as a small installation. I used Contrado for the printing as I had used them previously for the mini-project I collaborated on with Dawn.  I chose satin for one and crushed velvet for the other:

 

Dawn kindly made notes for me on points that arose during the discussion, which was so helpful because it enabled me to listen and concentrate on what people were saying.

Peer Feedback:

Cards

 

Discussion Notes

  • Looked at images individually and then interested when they were all together – before the Pool (history etc?)
  • Thought of word ‘silent’ then it looks like Silent Pool
  • Myth – a story of warning people
  • Reminds me of another story where a girl goes in a pool, goes round and round and drowns – Mill on the Floss?
  • Looks like a peaceful and romantic place. Interesting how all the layers of story-telling have built on top.
  • Permanence and fluidity. When told story I felt it was not true. I’m just too cynical. Like the monasteries who invented relics to get people to visit.
  • Like King Arthur – nobody know who or where he was.
  • From romantic landscape to commercial merchandise
  • You could take the water into your own bottles and photograph them. Produce your own
  • To me it’s wondrous; the pure pool
  • Had different histories. I thought of above and below.
  • There’s something about woodland pools that are very attractive; innately attractive.
  • These images could have been evidence from a court case; they could be forensic evidence.
  • All these elements building around the same place
  • Addition of the figure (manipulated composite image) turns it into a Victorian landscape. Conceptually I’d like to see the outline of the painting to highlight the concept.

This was all such helpful feedback for me.  I was pleased that the images did mainly seem to evoke the sense of place I’d been trying to achieve. Interesting as well about the comments regarding from romantic landscape to commercial merchandise which is very much about how we harness, own and make money from them. This led to comments re the fabric prints, including that I could make tea towels as well as bottling some of the water in a bottle I designed.  Those are also useful in thinking about eventual presentation.

Many thanks to Dawn, Miriam, Richard, Kevin, Gerry and Michael for their feedback.

 

References

https://cphmag.com/pictures-text

https://www.arts.ac.uk/whats-on/moving-the-image-photography-and-its-actions

https://www.contrado.co.uk/fabrics

 

 

Third Visit – 13th May 2019

Third Visit – 13thMay 2109

I was awake very early this morning and decided this would be a good time to drive to Silent Pool. The roads were virtually empty as was the car park when I arrived.  I was alone, apart from a tractor in a field in the far distance past the vineyard.  There was no sign of the fish in the water and the air was still. I stayed mainly by the Pool although did walk up the track towards the ridge of the Downs and then into the thickets of trees at the side; hoping I might be able to see the source point of the Pool – the one hidden behind the fence. I could only see a hint of the water through the top branches of the trees below.   I took a few photographs of the cottage on the way back down and then drove back home as the traffic was beginning to build.

I took 97 photographs , making an initial selection of 70 and then a second selection of 43 – contact sheets below.

 

I will now be working with 118 from the three visits and know I will have to choose from several versions of the same view in some cases.

I think with some of them I have achieved the effect I wish to produce – not for the whole final series but for part of it. At this stage I’m not certain on my approach – do I cover both Silent Pool and Sherbourne Pond and their surroundings or concentrate on Silent Pool? I have also  taken photographs of small details like waterside flower and plants so will need to decide whether or not any of these should appear in the final selection.

4. Photographers who evoke space and place

I felt slightly despondent after my second visit to Silent Pool – the missing element in my photography, somehow not thinking I’d touched deeply enough on what makes it alluring.  I just surprised myself by using that last word, as if the Pool is an enticing woman.  This took me back to some reading I’d briefly done around pools, myths, legends, Roman and Romano-British settlements around Albury. Martin Tupper was a classical scholar so I’m guessing with his interest in the Romans, he would have read the Myth of Actaeon – the young hunter who accidentally witnessed the goddess Diana bathing in a grotto in a wooded valley (Ovid, Metamorphoses Book III)

Returning to the present, I decided to look for further inspiration from photographers.

Clare Wilson

I referred to Clare Wilson’s work here  . The colours in her work here remind me of the hazy colours of Silent Pool and the reflecting tree branches. The tones and hues resemble each other yet there is a difference within each piece on a closer look – shapes morph and colours advance and retreat which is very much like the way the reflections shift within the water. The light and movement on the water of the pool gives a painterly effect although the quality of light is different being more muted in Wilson’s work, whereas the water in the Pool shimmers.

Frances Seward

Frances Seward is a British fine Art Photographer who now creates abstract images in New Mexico. Her photography is a visual representation of the mind attempting to portray the solid evidence of the internal world, with inspiration from abstract expressionism as well as Asian artists as she explores a psychological journey into inner space. This minimalist photography employs reductionism, as well as phenomenological light and perception, to evoke psychological and emotional landscapes. She achieves this by using composite photographs with gauzy layers.  I can’t find mention of how she actually achieves the effecf – perhaps with intentional camera movement, I’m not sure. There is a peaceful energy about her images but maybe they are too indistinct for me.

Frances Smith

Frances Smith is an OCA graduate, based in Guernsey,  who describes herself as a Photographic artist. I looked at her series  “Sea Fever”,   which she describes as a visual metaphor of her personal relationship with the sea. Smith uses layers of colour similar to that of Frances Seward.

Andrew S. Gray

Gray is inspired by paintings of old English Masters and uses intentional camera movement, together with a variety of editing processes to create abstract landscape photography. Some of his images contain recognisable outlines – flowers, trees and cliffs for example, whilst others are a fusion of different colours and patterns

Valda Bailey

Valda Bailey originally trained as a painter but moved to photography. She uses in-camera multiple exposure and intentional camera movement to blur detail and create abstract shapes in the environment. Her images are more recognisable, almost like paintings but not quite. One of her series is “Lakeside” which very much appealed to me with its glinting ripples in water, reflections of trees, and soft colour contrast. Another series “The Woods Call With 1000 Voices”  reminded me somewhat of Helen Sear’s earlier work. I have experimented with double exposure in the past but it hadn’t occurred to me to attempt this for my current Assignment.

Bailey has also looked for approaches, such as Wabi Sabi, where the hand of the artist is more evident. She has Incorporated gold leaf into the finished print but, thinking that backing with gold leaf “only serves to drain the energy out of the print’, decided to print on glass after a lot of research.

Thoughts

I did feel less downcast after this further research and clearer that I want my images to have recognisable features whilst still being impressionistic of the mood of Silent Pool. I talked it over with my husband as well, agreeing with him that, given the time of year, it would also be better to time my next visit either in the very eary morning or early evening when the quality of light would be different.

References 

http://francesseward.com/explore/

http://ovid.lib.virginia.edu/trans/Metamorph3.htm

https://valdabailey.com

https://valdabailey.com/galleries/growing/woods/

https://valdabailey.com/galleries/water/lakeside/

https://www.clare-wilson.com

https://www.clare-wilson.com/gallery_552242.html

https://www.instagram.com/andrewsgray/

https://www.instagram.com/francesphotography/

 

 

Second Visit – 17th April 2019

Since my first visit last July I’d discovered more about the history of Silent Pool; it’s connection to Albury and the story of Emma and Prince John. Also, the vintage postcards had started to arrive from eBay and I was puzzled by a small building by the side of the pool which was no longer there.  What was it?   I also wanted to know more about the connection with the Silent Pool Distillery. The Distillery and other buildings are on the far side of the pool with an entrance road just after Silent Pool cottage.  I wondered if that was the cottage that Helen Allingham had painted.  I had also found several sites relating to the story and also some which mentioned that the pool and cottage are haunted by a ghost as hereHere is also a an online article based on a chapter in a book written by journalist, David Rose

That was my plan then – to discover more about Silent Pool and further explore its attraction for me.

The Gin Distillery had been closed on my first visit but the sign now said “Open”. There was some construction work going on as I walked up the entrance drive.  The first sign announced the forthcoming opening of Surrey Spice .  The second sign was for Norbury Blue Cheese Company , Surrey’s only cheese makers (closed today unfortunately) and then up the slope to Silent Pool Distillery buildings.   I received a lovely welcome from Veronique who was in charge that day. She told me how the distillery began in 2014 through the transformation of a group of dilapidated farm buildings and with a vision for a sustainable business producing quality artisan spirits and using a restored vintage wood-fired steam boiler to power a new hand-built copper still. I’ve written previously about the beautiful bottle and Veronique showed me how the golden motifs illustrate the 24 botanicals that are included in the creation of the gin and references to the story of the pool are also there. Veronique knows about the story and seemed sanguine regarding the fact that it isn’t true. She confirmed that the water for the gin and other spirits is pumped directly from the pool (I think probably from near the underground source which is in the side which is fenced-off.) The distillery maintains Silent Pool, including filling the pond with trout – a side effect of which means that if the trout show signs of illness then that’s an indication regarding the purity of the water.

The new constructions will also include a terrace at the back of the buildings, alongside Silent Pool and Sherbourne Pond so that people can sit by them and enjoy Silent Pool spirits, bread, cheese, curry, and also wine from Albury vineyard which is on the other side of the Pool. After speaking with Veronique (and buying a few souvenirs, I must admit) I then went into the small distillery whose back door overlooks the Pool and with steps down to its gate.  It was a very different feeling to look down onto the Pool rather than be right by it.

After saying my goodbye’s I walked back, past the construction work along the path between Sherbourne Pond and its outlet to Sherbourne Brook which overlooks the back of Silent Pool Cottage. Another path led me to Silent Pool again.  I spent some time taking photographs, attempting to get different views of the water through the wooden lattice of the fencing along one side. The pool was a slightly different colour from last time – maybe due to a different temperature that day.  I understand that Spring water is always the same temperature but presumably that’s before it comes out into the open and subject to outside conditions. One of the visitors was a man, with a dog, and he began talking with me. He told me that he first saw the pool forty-odd years ago when he moved into the area.  His recollection was that the Pool was much clearer then and you used to be able to walk all the way around it. He mentioned that the trout in it now are rainbow trout, not our native brown trout, and difficult to breed over here. I mentioned about the small building in the old postcards and he said he had a vague recollection of something being there in earlier years, but he couldn’t remember exactly and I didn’t want to pursue this line of enquiry in case I was putting ideas into his head.

My original intention had also been to visit Albury itself but, in the event, the main road through was too crowded with traffic to find anywhere to park so I decided to call it a day and go home.

The photographs

94 images taken.  I chose 65 to process in RAW initially, from which I chose 52 as a second selection. Contact sheets are below, and I have divided them between the Artisan Companies on the site; Silent Pool Cottage/Sherbourne Brook/Sherbourne Pond and Silent Pool, including the latter’s paths.  I am adopting this approach to separate Silent Pool and the entities to which it has given birth and it’s been a useful exercise.  I hadn’t taken as many as I thought of the Cottage and Sherbourne waters, although I had also done some videoing of them. I’m feeling more and more strongly that, firstly, I need to maintain my focus on Silent Pool, which is where it all began, and, secondly, another element is still missing somehow.

The words liminal, portals and paths keep coming to me as well as boundaries.  I’ve visited many large areas of water which have open access, but the Pool has fences around it and the source point is inaccessible. Is the Pool protected from people or vice versa?   The missing element, for me, is that connection with my instinctive response to Silent Pool; something I can’t quite name or grasp at present.  This is more than gazing, looking into or a sense of wonder.  it’s a felt connection with something more elemental and I am struggling with how to translate that into photographic imagery.  It isn’t a large Pool and it would be too easy to keep going there and basically taking the same photographs over and over again.  There could be an option of a Transitions over a year kind of project which would record seasonal changes but I’m already doing that elsewhere and, in any case, that doesn’t feel like the right approach for me.

 

References

https://silentpooldistillers.com/the-story/

https://www.norburyblue.co.uk

https://www.surreyspice.com/our-story/

3. 20th Century Photographers and Postcards

I had a brief look at postcards in general in Exercise 3.2  and one of the first actions I took, after deciding to base my Assignment around Silent Pool , was to search on eBay to see what old postcards I could find. I found plenty including a couple from Albury’s own photographer and postcard creator!

Some of them were postmarked and with hand-written messages.  What was interesting was that none of the messages mention a visit to Silent Pool or Albury.  It could be they were bought as a souvenir – perhaps in Albury or Guildford – and then used as a letter card; thus appearing to confirm Mary Warner Marien comments that notes jotted on postcards were “[… ] casual hellos, like e-mailed friendship cards” (2010:169).

I gave some thought about how to present these postcards here – chronology, similar scenes, individual photographers, division between messages/postmarks and unfranked.  I decided to divide by photographer and then known chronology or not.

Percy Lloyd, Albury

James Edward Percy Lloyd (known as Percy Lloyd) was born in 1865 in  Shere, Surrey and became Albury’s postmaster and village photographer. He came across printed postcards when he visited Germany in about 1900, became convinced that these could become a success in Britain and shared his idea with Frank Lasham, Guildford’s leading stationer and publisher of local guidebooks (Lasham also published Martin Tupper’s book).  Lasham eventually agreed after Lloyd said “Will you do it if I supply you 12,000 cards and charge you nothing until you’ve sold them all at a penny each?”.  Lloyd found a German printer of collotypes and his earliest known card was franked in August 1901 – well ahead of most British competition. His early output included delicately coloured tuppenny cards, hand-tinted by his wife, Lily, and Augusta Warren of Coomb End, Shere, and he also did some enhancement.

His studio with its one-time post office still stands in Church Lane, Albury and its wall clock now hangs in the village hall – at least it did in 2006 when this article appeared online   An interview with Percy Lloyd’s son can be heard here   (it’s quite long).

I didn’t know at the time of obtaining them but Lloyds postcards are quite sought after so I was lucky.  Neither of the two below have messages/are postmarked so dates are unknown. Both have a different treatment and the hand-tinting is quite obvious on the first one.

 

 

Francis Frith

Francis Frith was born in 1822 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire . He has been described as multi-talented, founding his photographic company in 1850, having already established a successful grocery business. His three pioneering expeditions to the Middle East established him as an outstanding pioneer photographer and the photographs he took were marketed as stereoscopic views. When he returned from his last expedition in 1860, he married and settled in Reigate, Surrey and set out to create a photographic record of Britain.  Frith soon employed a team of company photographers, working under his direction and to his specific standards. He firmly believed that photography was a work of art, being concerned to select viewpoints and lighting conditions that showed subjects to their advantage.  After Frith died in 1898 his sons continued his photographic record into the 20thCentury.

By 1902 the Post Office had approved the use of postcards with a divided back to enable address and message on one side and an illustration on the other and the Frith Company was the market leader in this field. Comprehensive information about the present Company and the Frith Archive can be found here

Four of these cards locate Silent Pool in Shere which is just down the main road from Albury. The post card of Percy Lloyd’s house is a glossy print, whereas the rest are matte, and I think the two coloured ones could be hand-tinted.

 

 

Individually named

 

From “Idle Moments” Series, stamped 1904.  All I can find that seems relevant is a reference to free postcards that were given away with a magazine of that name. This one is certainly quite thin card.

 

 

Postmarked 1917 and printed by the Photocrom Co. Ltd, London and Tunbridge Wells.  See here   which refers to the use of a Swiss photocrom process but with a softer and reduced palett (sic). The company’s Celesque series were printed in tricolor. See here as well   – a very useful site.

 

 

From the Pictograph Publishing Company – “Oilograph” – Beauty Spots of England Series. All I could find was a comment on a blog post  discussing chromolithographs – the comment stated that an oilograph is not the same as a chromolithograph, being a process that applies oil based paints to an image which has been created photographically. The postcard does look like a miniature oil painting

web.IWoolstoneBros.MG_8595

Woolstone Brothers postcard from the Milton Series – unposted. The Company used many different card types in many different techniques. This one looks like a glossy photography so maybe it was a “glossette”

Judges

Fred Judge was an English photographer who took photographs all over the British Isles. He was born in Wakefield but bought a shop in Hastings, with his brother, in 1902.  The brothers set up as photographers and photographic dealers under the name of Judge’s Photo Stores. There is a history of the Company here . Judge began producing postcards in 1903 to a very high artistic standard, having success with the Bromoil Process which gave his images , ‘ [….] their strongly impressionistic nature, rich in depth and tone”, enabling him to win many medals and hold one-man exhibitions in London, Washington, New York and Tokyo. The company he founded is still a family concern.

I found this one particularly interesting due to its abstract effect; without the caption it could be a photograph of anywhere. Unposted.

Publisher unknown

 

Postmarked 1903 and the earliest one. I was intrigued to see the sightseers gazing from the building at the side of the pool.  The reflections are excellent. Could this be an unlabelled early Judges’s postcard?

 

An interesting one of the cottage, with a glossy finish.  It looks as if the title has been scratched into the negative . Post-marked 1910

 

This is another intriguing one, impressionistic, glossy and with good contrast.  It has REAL PHOTO POST CARD printed on the back but no publisher’s name and it is unposted so difficult to hazard a guess at the date. The card is labelled “The Silent Pool, Albury” 84. S&W Series.I found a useful article here   . I looked again on eBay and there are other Real Photo Post Cards  with S&W Series by the title with an indication of around 1910 but no evidence for that.  The back of the car does look quite old though – grey and faded round the edges.

Review

I managed to obtain quite a variety of postcards and enjoyed the research.  It wasn’t until later that I discovered that Percy Lloyds’s postcards were less easy to come by so I was lucky there. The building by the side of the pool was obviously quite an attraction for photographers (and visitors probably). It’s no longer there – what could it be and where was it actually located?

 

References

Marien, M.W. (2010) Photography: A Cultural History3rdEdition.  London: Laurence King

http://www.metropostcard.com/publishersp1.html

http://www.metropostcard.com/guiderealphoto.html

http://www.metropostcard.com/publishersw.html

https://antiqueprintsblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/chromolithography.html

https://chadbourneantique.com/products/set-of-two-uk-photochrom-co-celesque-series-postcards-1920

https://web.archive.org/web/20090627091617/http://www.judges.co.uk/aboutUs.html

https://www.francisfrith.com/pages/frith-welcome