Category Archives: Context

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/

 

 

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

 

2. The Pool and Albury in the 19th Century

Further Historical and Literary Background

After my first visit to the Pool I researched further. Albury History Society has a wonderful website with links to much fascinating information about the Village, its history and connections with famous people including visitations by William Cobbett (1763-1835) who was born in Farnham, Surrey. He had an adventurous life and strong political views, becoming a passionate Radical.  Cobbett wrote a weekly Political Register (1802-35), books and election speeches and had a deep sympathy for agricultural workers – supporting and working for the Great Reform Bill and standing for Parliament in 1832. He is probably best known for his book Rural Rides (1830) during which he took a keen interest in gardens, farms, vegetables, and all facets of rural life. On November 30th  1822 he visited the residence of Mr Drummond, the owner of Albury Park, and was allowed to see the gardens, being very impressed by its layout including ‘a spring coming out of the hill’ ( 2001:65), although much less impressed by the uses the water was put to on its further journey and the perversion of the valley, “ [ …] in carrying into execution two of the most damnable inventions that ever sprung from the minds of man under the influence of the devil! Namely the making of gunpowderand of bank-notes!”

I doubt Cobbett would have come across Martin Tupper who would have been a child at the time.

Martin Farquhar Tupper (1810-1889)

Tupper was born in London and later lived (and died) in Albury parish.  Summary information can be found in Wikipedia (of course) . It seems that he was a man of many and varied interests – poetry, literature, music and history although, apparently, not to a high standard.  According to Wikipedia, Tupper vanished into obscurity, despite the words on his gravestone in Albury churchyard: “Although he is dead, he will speak”. I disagree with this because Tupper wrote a book in 1858 that had quite an effect on both Albury and the Pool.

This was a biographical novel regarding Stephen Langton (c.1150 – July 1228). Langton was a Cardinal of the English Roman Catholic Church, being Archbishop of Canterbury between 1207 and his death.  The dispute between King John of England and Pope Innocent III over his election was a major factor in the crisis which produced Magna Carta in 1215.

I actually have two old copies of this book – the twenty-first and twenty-second editions, because I have an idea to create an altered book at some point. A copy of it can also be accessed on-line.  In his preface to the twenty-second edition Tupper writes:-

 My objects in writing “Stephan Langton” were, first, to add a new interest to Albury and its neighbourhood, by representing truly and historically our aspects in the reign of King John; next to bring to modern memory the grand character of a great and good Archbishop who long antedated Luther in his opposition to Popery, and who stood up for English freedom, culminating in Magna Charta, many centuries before these our latter days.

Tupper gives a list of all the reference books he has used, referring to, “ […]  more than twenty historical characters honestly (as I think) depicted; and some fifteen ideal ones fairly enough invented as accessories”. Also stating that, for etymological and archaeological reasons, he preferred Stephan to the commoner Stephen as it is nearer to the Greek and spelt so in historical records. I won’t go into detail on the book especially as it can be accessed on-line here , but, basically Tupper aimed to link Stephen Langton strongly with his own neighbourhood and prove the treachery of King John.  As part of this he weaves in the story of Hal the woodcutter and his motherless children, including the two older ones Tetbert and Emma. (pp 55-62 and 65-72).

This video will give a little 13thCentury atmosphere.

Tupper paints a picture of Emma as the ‘nut-brown maid, with ruddy cheeks and coal-black eyes and hair” admired by many who meet her.  News of her beauty soon comes to two of Prince John’s attendants who then lead the Prince to Hals’ well to, “taste a cup of innocent cold water at the hands of the forest Diana’. He then describes the clear lakelet within a mile.

“Whatever then be its origin, there still exists in wonderful calm beauty our “Silent Pool” – with its deep, clear water and large trout; the water being some twenty feet deep in the centre – “perhaps in those troglodytic times, our mole-like ancestors unexpectedly tapped a strong spring which overwhelmed them and inundated all their little world”.  Emma often bathed there; one of the attendants finds this out and informs the Prince who then finds her in the pool. He prevents her from reaching her clothes; Emma goes deeper in into the deeper centre of the pool and drowns, whilst the Prince rides off and leaves her. Tetbert, who had followed on, tries to save her but he also drowns – “and you may see the trout shoaling among the still green weeds around that naked rave-haired Sabrina, and her poor drowned brother in his cow-skin tunic”.

In his autobiography (1886) Tupper wrote:-

One curious matter is that my ideal scenes have taken such a hold upon my neighbourhood that streams of tourists come constantly through Albury to visit “The Silent Pool” and other sites of scenes invented by me, and have thereby enriched our village inn and the flymen, as well as given to us a new sort of fame” (Loc 2144/6136).

Thereafter, the Pool became generally known as “The Silent Pool” and was said to be a favourite of Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Artists

The artist Helen Allingham visited Albury in the Summer of 1878 and one off her Watercolours was titled “By the Silent Pool” – picturing the cottage which lies just before the entrance. It can be seen on this website, although you have to scroll quite a way down.

Below is an 1888 Sketch of Silent Pool by the artist Lewis Pinhorn Wood

(Wikimedia Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Silent_Pool,_Albury,_Surrey_%281888%29_by_Lewis_Pinhorn_Wood.jpg)

____________________________________________________________

My next post will concern Photographers and Postcards in the 20thCentury.

References

Cobbett, W. (1830) Rural Rides. London: 2001 Penguin Books Ltd

Rideout E.H. & Brown, K.A. (1980) Curious Albury

Tupper, M. F. (1858) Stephan Langton Or The Days of King John22ndEdition. Guildford: Biddles Ltd.

Tupper, M.F. (1886) Biography:My Life As An Author. Kindle Edition

http://www.alburyhistory.org.uk

http://www.alburyhistory.org.uk/attachments/File/surreyarch093_001-147_poulton.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Farquhar_Tupper

 

 

 

Context – 1. Photographers

 Several photographers came immediately to mind.  These are my main influences and I will add others as I explore the Pool.

Jem Southam

Jem Southam, often photographs the same locations over long periods, using a large format camera to record transitions through time.  His work is already on my list for Assignment 6 and, also provides an excellent reference point for my current Assignment.  During 2002/3 he created some wonderful imagers of a pool constructed by the painter Michael Garton in the ancient woodlands of Stoke Woods in the south-west of England. Garton had constructed this pond where a tree had fallen across a stream and tended it secretly. Jem Southam came across both one day and began to take pictures of the pool.  They capture both the transitions in the woodland and the way in which the traces of Michael Garton’s presence gradually disappear as illness prevents him from working. I am enchanted by the images – see here  .  Michael’s Garton’s paintings can be seen here .  Jem Southam also recently returned to Painters Pool

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvlfoingKr-/

John Gossage

John Gossage found the pond of “The Pond” in 1982 whilst commuting to work.   I originally wrote about it here   This is a pond within an unromantic urban environment, on the edge of a city, and you follow his walk around it as you read his book  . The pond itself is of little importance. “It could not be further from the pond of literary precedent, Henry David Thoreau’s serene and pensive Walden, but in binding these bodies of water together in name, Gossage made a claim for their equal importance” (Preface 2010).  To remind myself – 52 black and white photographs taken during a walk around a derelict pond behind a shopping centre. Gossage shows us both the natural landscape and the rubbish left behind by people with no attempt to ‘tidy’ what he sees for the camera.   Robert Adams wrote about the book here and his view is that Gossage’s focus was on the reassurances of “nature’s simplicities”. Given that the photographs are black and white, and this is an urban pond, why does it interest me? Well, apart from the fact that it’s considered to be a classic, it’s also an exemplar of how to structure a photo book and how he directs our view.

https://youtu.be/_X8-S89aCkA

We open the book to a three page fold-out of the same scene on different occasions, I think, although it’s not easy to tell through the tangle of spindly tree trunks and scrub. There is then a preface by Toby Jurovics, Curator of Photography at the Simthsonian American Art Museum (to whom Gossage donated a set of prints). Jurovics explains, “The Pond was intentionally written, with a carefully constructed beginning, middle, and end meant to be viewed in an order that could not be broken”. The preface is followed by a series of one photograph per page to begin with as we follow Gossage on his walk,  until you get to a two page spread – presumably a choice is to be made of direction and thus the walk continues.

The book was first published in 1985 and it wasn’t until 2010 that the complete sequence of his images appeared on a museum wall.

 

Keith Carter

Keith Carter’s work has always appealed to me as he has ranged between his familiar home environment and the inner world of dreams and imagination – between colour and monochrome – to reflect hidden meanings which reside in the real world. He has recently produced a new body of work To Build An Ark which explores the dangers of climate change and loss of habitat. “In my leaky Noahs Ark unpredictable, disturbing and occasionally rapturous new inhabitants coexist. I have used color palettes and patinas inspired by the golden age of Dutch and Italian painters to instinctively document an evolving landscape exquisite even in its chaos !  His subjects emerge or gaze from a misty-hued landscape and one is of Walden Pond (2015) . A contrast to John Goss’s “Pond” with its unflinching gaze on the ‘edge’ of the urban and a return (or is it a retreat) to Romanticism. You Tube has an interesting interview with him on “The Art of Photography”  Channel and it can be found under “Keith Carter: The Artist Series” (pub. 26 July 2017).

Esther Teichmann

I wrote about Ester Teichmann’s work here as her work was one of my influences for the experiments I did with layering, using the backdrops of river, fountain and water cascade .  Esther Teichmann   works with both photography and film and her practice looks at the relationship between loss, desire and the imaginary. In the video below she refers to ‘in-betweenness’ which also makes me think of the way in which she uses photography as a portal into another world.  The words ‘liminal’ and ‘threshold’ also come to mind.  Teichmann also refers to how she often begins with writing and short stories and also working in collaboration with other artists in different subject areas.

I have the catalogue for Lulled into Believing,  an Exhibition she held with Henrietta Simson in 2009 – a dialogue between them and between painting and photography. “It is emotionally ambivalent; you’re not quite sure whether this ‘believing’ is a space of deception, a secure space or indeed under threat.  It remains unclear exactly who has been ‘lulled’ into believing”.  Subjects are photographed against painted back-drops or appear in misty blueness.  The limited edition book accompanying her Exhibition Fractal Scars, Salt Water and Tears  (2014) has an original cyanotype cover with a short story in its centre – combining two of my interests.

Noemie Goudal

Noemie Goudal  questions the potential of photography and film, reconstructing their layers as in Les Meconiques (2016),  and through landscape installations as in Haven Her Body Was  (2012)   where she ‘constructed’ a fabric Cascade and a ‘promenade’ backdrop.  Goudal wrote about narrative and story telling here . Two sentences particularly struck me:-

Indeed, the mise en scene photograph, or what has been recently named the Photographic Tableau, is a constructed image which often blends reality with fictional elements and transports the viewer into a parallel realm which plays with the viewer’s imagination.

 Additionally, through the process of the story, the viewer composes his own mental images, recreating a separate sphere constructed in between a shared reality and an imaginary world

 Susan DergesI’m interested in alternative/cameraless photography as I’ve written previously and Susan Derges works with water, using sheets of photographic paper in rivers, and using a flashlight and moonlight to create the exposure. For me, the images she creates are liquid, flowing, and full of mystery, very much concerned with the threshold between nature and contemplation. I don’t think I could hope to emulate the images she produces, in the sense that her process isn’t made clear, but it might be possible to evoke the atmosphere she creates.

The video below relates to Shadow Catchers an Exhibition displayed at the V&A between October 2010 and February 2011 and she points towards all the different ways in which water can be used as metaphor.

 

 

The book Elemental (2010), which I have,  gathers together all of her series to that time, together with key texts and the chronological sequence is grouped according to the four elements and the transitions between them .

 

References

Derges, S (2010) Elemental. Germany: Steidl

Gossage, J. (1985, 2010) The Pond. (2nded) NY: Aperture Foundation

Simpson, H and Teichmann, E (2009) Lulled into Believing. London: Man & Eve

https://aperture.org/shop/john-gossage-the-pond-book/

https://michael-garton.com

http://noemiegoudal.com

http://www.americansuburbx.com/2013/02/john-gossage-john-gossages-the-pond-1986.html

http://www.britishphotography.org/artists/13645/e/1686/jem-southam-jem-southam-the-painters-pool

http://www.estherteichmann.com/

http://www.susanderges.co.uk

https://www.keithcarterphotographs.com/to-build-an-ark#!