Image and text
|Research||Context and Critical Analysis||Development||Initial Submission|
|Tutor Feedback||Reflection||Rework||Final Submission|
The structure of this assignment was to try and make a body of work around the loss of my Mum and Dad, as previously mentioned I found myself having very strong emotional reactions to specific places and objects which had strong memories linked to my Mum and or my Dad, I found an article in Psychology today that made reference to this phenomenon (Lamia Ph.D, 2017).
This set of ideas both the very personal and emotional reactions to places and the reference in Lamia’s work seemed to resonate with the idea of people having an identity in a place. The locations that made the strongest impact had a very strong connection to one or other of my parents and a long set of memories associated with them too. It became most apparent when I was clearing out my Dads workshop and setting up a photographic table in there that I would get an overwhelming surge of emotion often reducing me to tears. These places were a huge part of their identity in my memory.
This started the idea of making work based on loss and making it very personal, I realize there is a danger of sinking into my own personal semiosphere and making work that is so personal that no one understands it, and to that end I will attempt here in the development section to explain the reasoning behind some of the locations, looking back at the work I think they work without to much explanation but I also know they will be far more impactful to me and to my family than to the complete stranger.
Let me step back first and try in response to my Tutor Keith and connect a few dots to the research and how it drew together in this work.
There were four main influences on this work:
- Kirsty Mitchell whose work Nocturne and Wonderland are two very different approaches to mourning the loss of her mother
- My Tutor from TAOP was Sharon Boothroyd her work with text and image
- The process of redacting in war
- Finally the image of the image of the defaced book (Gray, 2017) I found really mesmerising, there was something powerful about burning the text out of the book it was final and seemed like something done either in anger or grief, though the pattern left was oddly beautiful.
As described in the critical analysis these four elements left me wanting to make images of places that were strong in emotion when connecting with either my Mum my Dad or both, further I wanted to use a form of redaction to express the void left behind by them and to mark their absence from an image that should contain them.
I started out looking for a text to base the project on but soon realised that for it to have the personal emotional reaction it needed I would have to come at it the other way around I knew what I wanted to do and I needed a text to base the images on. At this point I had not worked out what the images would be of or how the redaction would work I was looking for some words about the void of loss. I had decided that I would use Sharons lead in ” If you get Married Again Will You Still Love Me” which uses that single phrase to encompass the entire body of work.
Let me aside here for a moment, I think its important to understand that this body of work was the first one I understood and connected with, this was one of those epiphany’s that you get looking at an image that suddenly makes sense, it was the father and daughter sitting in a cafe with a burger looking to opposite corners of the room. Looking at this I understood why she shot that under the title of the series.
Coming back to my project I wanted like Sharon to have a single text that underpinned the entire body of this project. I also had loved the work of Kirsty Mitchell, her Nocturne project was a dark emotional response to her Mothers illness and subsequent death it reflected for me much of the grief and disrepair of loss, later she mad Wonderland which was also driven by the loss of her mum but instead shouts with joy for the life of her mother and celebrates the things that were so good in their relationship especially her love of books and storytelling. This pushed me towards the idea of expressing loss and is in some small way a channel to let go of some of this grief. I gave some examples of the texts I found in the context & critical analysis section but eventually I reasoned that writing a text of my own that expressed the deep feelings I had for this project was in the end the only way to make this really personal and I sat and wrote:
There are places that remind me of them, somehow there seems to be a void or vacuum in that place where their existence has ceased to be. It leaves a hollow place somewhere inside of me.
– Stephen Barney
I cant even begin to tell you how many tears this work drew from me but those words summed up the whole project.
My next challenge was to source a series of locations and objects that would fit the work.
- My Dads pillar drill was the first and the most obvious location as it had been moving this that triggered the body of work, my Dad built the workshop in the early 1980’s an earned a living from it for many years, it once was an engineering shop with lots of machinery, later he converted it to woodworking and in the end did all sorts of practical things in there. The pillar drill has been part of it from the beginning and I have many memories of him doing endless repetitive operations on it as he systematically devised processes for doing the work more and more efficiently.
- His work bench was the next one for me as so many things were created by his hands there.
- I found the greenhouse next which was built by Dad who loved to grow tomatoes melons and all sorts in there, it also holds memories of Mum who was a flower arranger and loved the garden which was created to yeald wonderful foliage for her art.
- Next can the rockery, though it has not been a rockery for many years thats what we all call it, over grown now she has gone it is a glorious spray of red flowers, when kept tidy this bed contains some wonderful specimens all collected by Mum over the years, sadly none of us are very keen gardeners now and it has gone wild she would be quite cross with me but she would have been over joyed at the spray of colour there at the moment.
- I next thought of the entrance to the shed and the covered wood pile outside that holds Dads bike in a hidden little shed. I helped Dad build this workshop I had just left school and we mixed concrete dug footings and erected the shed together, I did not appreciate then how much he enjoyed the help and company of his only son and only later can I comprehend what that is like as father of two myself.
- Next was the BBQ sitting in the garden, now this BBQ is new since ad died but, it triggers the memories of the first BBQ we got and how we would all gather in the garden to eat burned sausages
- The I saw the hose reel and passage to the from this had such a strong connection to Mum who loved her garden I see her on her knees weeding using the hose to keep everything alive and the door to the kitchen which was Mum’s special domain
- I took a shot of the kitchen because my Grandmother was Austrian and taught my Mum too cook, she was so good at it that the kitchen seemed an appropriate way to remember all those steaming dishes and the best apple pie ever made
- The front door to the house and Mum’s special rose with such a fantastic sent was synonymous with both Mum for the garden and also the step that killed Dad, I say it killed him thats not really true but he fell backwards on that step and hurt his back, he was stuck in hospital for too long and caught pneumonia which killed him. Many painful memories here and much bitterness at the treatment he got in hospital but never the less this shot is powerful for me.
- His arm chair where as he got older he spent many hours reading his books and nodding off to sleep, this epitomizes the last years of his life.
- Lastly the garden chairs, Dad bought two iron cast chairs for the garden because the plastic ones you can buy fail if the get frozen and he did not want either of them hurt this image was a nice way to bring them both together and is the only shot of them both
I set about taking the images, I had a list of other ideas but the ones listed above were the ones that worked best for me, I took each shot fraqming it imagining that they were in the picture which later made the redaction easier as there was always space to do the redacting.
I took the images into photoshop and tried to put the redaction in using a black shape, the first one looked like this:
I was not sure about the straight edges and by discussing it with other members of the TV Group I decided to try a more felt pen look and made this in photoshop:
I decided that although I liked the black and white I felt it needed the vibrance and colour especially in some of the other shots. It was then that I found the defaced book and the revelation of having a burned hole gripped me, as a photoshop wiz my first instinct was to create it in photoshop, however, it was not authentic enough and the thought of actually burning holes in the pictures and re scanning the image felt like a much more authentic hands on way to behave and is more in keeping with the behavior of others in my group.
So I perfected a process of cutting a hole and burning the edges with a lighter, the first one i cut the hole with a soldering iron then burned the edges but this was just a waste of time and the cut and burn produced better results. I did the first one and had a horrible reaction to the smoke which seemed to be quite toxic so I went for a saftey first approach and did the rest with a respirator :
This proved very successful and I continued on to complete the rest: