Preparing for a 1-2-1 with my tutor (Week 17)

A recent Critical Research Journal (CRJ) post Looking back on what I have achieved and moving forward (Week 16) summarises progress on the Final Major Project to date:

https://wp.me/p9BvX0-Ph

I have been working over the past few weeks, since my last ‘meeting’ with my tutor in August, on various book layouts.  I have simplified the layout to a plain white background and reduced the size of the text.  I have produced two draft versions:

Draft 2: in this version I have tried combining images of the reeds and seascapes.  I have removed the words apart from an introductory piece at the beginning of each chapter:

https://www.flipsnack.com/775AEC6D75E/the-ephemeral-hiddenness-of-skye-alison-price-fhms4jpx2.html

Draft 3:  in this version I have experimented with combining black and white images and words from my portfolio from Sustainable Prospects with my latest work:

https://www.flipsnack.com/775AEC6D75E/the-ephemeral-hiddenness-of-skye-draft-3.html

I have also been refining my Statement of Intent/Artists Statement as follows:

The Ephemeral Hiddenness of Skye

 “The soul never thinks without a picture.” (Aristotle)

Focusing on detailed aspects of nature and spending time in the landscape allows me to reflect on my own inner life: the hurt and fracture – confronting the chaos of death and destruction during my time as a police photographer; the remnants and vulnerability of my youth and the solitude of adulthood when parents are gone. I use aspects of the natural world as metaphors for my feelings and emotions and use light and shade, luminosity and depth, shape and structure as a means of revealing the Skye that most visitors and locals fail to notice.

I am driven by a search for the ephemeral hiddenness of the Isle of Skye, and my photography seeks to capture its essence, rather than a simple visual and literal representation. I am not looking for the sublime and romantic depictions of the Island that so many photographers produce but a reflection of my personal experience of this beautiful part of north-west Scotland.

My work is informed by philosophers such as Jose Ortega y Gasset, Harman, Meillassoux and Heidegger and influenced by painters including J M W Turner and Claude Monet. Photographic influencers include Fay Godwin, Ori Gersht, Iain Serjeant and Awioska van der Molen.

Looking through the lens of my experience I see the sea, lochs, mountains and moors – these are Skye’s sensible properties.   It is not these I am seeking but those that transcend individual experience – the ‘otherness’ of its geography, the vulnerability of its ecology and its ephemeral hiddenness. I am searching for those passing moments, glimpses, transitory states when Skye reveals itself to me: its mystery, fragility and resilience – its essence. However, notwithstanding the various influences upon me, I seek to exploit the aesthetic voice of the camera by realising its fullest potential to capture what I would describe as the ‘eternal moment. In my view, unlike any other art form, the camera has the ability to translate, recognise and record the eternal moment. That is why I make my images in camera and do not subsequently seek to transform or idealise the reality of that moment through post-processing.

 

Looking back on what I have achieved and moving forward (Week 16)

As I reach the end of the first half of the Final Major Project (and with just under twelve weeks before I submit) I decided to review my Final Major Project Proposal, and in particular the Indicative Schedule, to assess my progress to date. I also wanted to consider how my plans might have changed and developed on the basis on my intensive period of contemplation in the landscape.

I spent seven weeks over July and August on the Isle of Skye.  During this period I produced a significant number of images, around 3,000, many experimental, and a number of multiple images combining to make one final image (in camera).

Ephemeral Reeds – Alison Price, September 2019
Multiple Exposure Reeds 50 – Alison Price, August 2019
Multiple Exposure Reeds 47 – Alison Price, August 2019

I developed various techniques to record the hiddenness of Skye: engaged in a re-photography project with old images of Skye; did a significant amount of contextual research about the representation of Skye and Scotland more generally; and improved my knowledge of painters such as J M W Turner and Claude Monet; had a three week exhibition on Skye at a prime gallery space, Gallery An Talla Dearg and visited four exhibitions – two in Edinburgh and two in London.

Untitled Film Stills – Cindy Sherman Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, 2019
Trees – Victoria Crowe Exhibition at Edinburgh Art Centre

I have also investigated various book formats and layouts and considered the installation options for my Exhibition at An Crubh in October.

Gallery An Talla Dearg at Eilean Iarmain, Isle of Skye – Alison Price, June 2019
Wider Gallery View, Essence of Skye Exhibition – Alison Price, June 2019
Gallery Visitors – Essence of Skye Exhibition, Alison Price, June 2019

In terms of making images, it has to be said that the weather was not kind to me and whilst a friend of mine says that there is no such thing as “bad light” I had many days on Skye when it came very close!  Not only that, but the still, dull days and white skies combined with relatively warm conditions led to large swarms of midges thwarting my efforts.  Even with an Alaskan mosquito hat and net, they followed me everywhere and on many occasions got inside the net causing me significant distress.  But I persevered in spite of being bitten mercilessly and on occasion being chased and followed back to my car.  Of course, my choice of locations – beside a loch, next to a bog and on the shore in long grass contributed to my fate.

So far, I have had four tutors review my images and my early book layouts and have attended two Group Critiques. I engage regularly with my  Critical Research Journal (CRJ) followers to gain feedback on my work as it is produced.

Book Mock Up Version 2 – Alison Price – Cover Page

In addition, I have contributed at least three posts per week to my CRJ recording my progress and charting my journey through reflective pieces.

Whilst I am happy with progress I do feel there is more to do than I have achieved to date and that as the weeks go by I become more anxious about the outstanding tasks.

As far as outputs are concerned I will have had two exhibitions on Skye, I plan to produce an indicative electronic book, complete work on my new website and produce a film about my work.  I still harbour a wish to put together a photographic coaching model although my tutors have suggested this is something to work on post MA rather than at this point.  I know it is all too easy to try to do too much and not do it as well as producing a smaller number of high quality outputs.

 

Drive (Week 16)

Following on from my recent post entitled When the Best is not Enough https://wp.me/p9BvX0-OS  I received a comment from one of my followers, friend and colleague, Claire Taylor, one of the best female cricketers  in the world, before retiring in 2011.

She shared her thoughts on motivation along with recommending a book entitled Drive:  The surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel H Pink.  I ordered a copy which dropped through the door over the weekend.  Pink’s three elements are autonomy, mastery and purpose.  He divides those who display Type X and Type I behaviour – the former’s behaviour being driven by extrinsic desires, while the latter by intrinsic ones.  Pink suggests that in order to be successful, personally and organisationally, we need to shift from Type X to Type I and he reassures us that all Type X’s can shift to Type I behaviours – which is reassuring.   I believe that my motivations are currently a mix of Type X and Type I (but predominantly X).  I have very much enjoyed the process of doing the MA, reading about photographers, critical theory and experimenting with my practice – I have enjoyed the journey but, with the Final Major Project looming large in my conscious and sub-conscious, I want to do well.  So, at this critical time, what will help me. Pink suggests it is mastery I need to focus on which is a source of success in the long-term.  He describes Type I people as follows:

“They’re working hard and persisting through difficulties because of their internal desire to control their lives, learn about their world, and accomplish something that endures.” (Pink 2010:79).

Type I behaviour requires three nutrients:  autonomy, mastery and purpose.  Pink argues that this is confirmed by science.  So, we can either continue on the path of old habits (the carrot and stick approach) or we can forge a path to a better and more resilient self – self direction.

Autonomy

Pink describes ROWE – a results-only work environment introduced by Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson, two former executives from Best Buy.  In a ROW organisation people can work when they want to, attend if they wish – all that is required is they get the work done.  It was initially introduced as a trial but after a difficult adjustment period productivity rose and stress declined.  As a result it became a ROWE on a permanent basis.  As far as the individuals were concerned they were focused on getting the job done rather than worrying about who was in, who was working and who was sloping off early.

Management is more about awakening a sense of autonomy rather than control.  As Tom Kelley, General Manager of IDEO said:

“The ultimate freedom for creative groups is the freedom to experiment with new ideas.  Some skeptics insist that innovation is expensive.  In the long run, innovation is cheap.  Mediocrity is expensive – and autonomy can be the antidote.” (Kelley in Pink 2010:91).

Autonomy can be over the task, time, technique or team and individuals enjoy and thrive on autonomy of different aspects of their role.

Mastery

Pink argues that whilst control-based management leads to compliance, autonomy leads to engagement which in turn leads to a desire to improve – mastery.

Claire Taylor in her comment suggested that mastery was important for her in her cricketing career and Sebastian Coe says something similar:

“Throughout my athletics career, the overall goals was always to be a better athlete than I was at that moment – whether next week, next month or next year.  The improvement was the goal.  The medal was simply the ultimate reward for achieving that goal.” (Coe in Pink 2010:114).

Claire also mentions flow.  In flow, goals are clear and feedback is immediate.  In flow the challenge is achievable – not too easy but not so difficult.  In flow, we live in the moment, feel in control and engage completely.  Flow is one aspect of working towards mastery.

Our mindset is another.  There are those who subscribe to what Dweck, a Psychology Professor at Stanford calls “entity theory” that intelligence is finite and cannot be improved or “incremental theory” where intelligence is something that can be increased.  Only one heads to mastery – incremental theory.  The goal is to learn and become better about something you care about.  However, mastery is not without pain, and those of us that choose this path will experience a great deal of work often without short-term improvements, with few moments of flow.  But, efforts give meaning to life but one must be willing to work for it.

Purpose

Purpose provides the third leg of the tripod to autonomy and mastery!  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist argues that:

“Purpose provides activation energy for living.” (Csikszentmihalyi in Pink 2010:134).

Pink talks of those attaining the age of 60, questioning the purpose of their lives, looking back and moving forward.  I can confirm this is the case as I turned 60 earlier this year.  So now is the time to think about purpose again.  The science shows us that the secret to achievement and high performance is in a desire to direct our own lives, to increase our abilities, and to live a life of purpose howsoever we determine that might be.

I have found Pink’s book very interesting.  It has questioned many of the management theories I was taught during my MBA and especially those around motivation.  It is interesting to consider these terms from a scientific base rather than, I guess, a social science perspective.  I am a product of the life and career I have had and now it is time to take a fresh look at how I move forward with autonomy, mastery and purpose in my life.  Pink provides some help in developing nine strategies for doing this.  More on this next week.

References

Pink, Daniel H. 2010. Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us. Edinburgh.  Canongate Books.

 

Guest Lectures on Publication (Week 16)

While browsing the Falmouth website I realised there were a few Guest Lectures that I had not seen about “Publication”.  I had a look at those by the photographer Sarah Davidmann and two by the Editor of Photomonitor, Christiane Monarchi.  I found them all really interesting for different reasons.

The work “Ken. To be destroyed.” by Sarah Davidmann was a poignant project following the discovery of two sets of letters written by two sisters Audrey and Hazel and by husband and wife Hazel and Ken.  The title for the project is taken from the writing on the brown packaging in which Sarah and her family found the letters.  The letters revealed that Ken was transgender.  Ken and Hazel married in 1954 and Hazel discovered Ken was transgender in 1958.  The letters were supportive and non-judgmental.  The letters and the family albums survived a number of house moves.  Ken took many photographs of his wife Hazel who was a glamorous woman.  Ken in turn connected with the images of Hazel – allowing him, through Hazel, to be himself.  Ken was a woman at home and outside the home was a man.  Sarah’s work was exhibited at the London College of Communication and she also produced an accompanying book:

Ken to be destroyed – Sarah Davidmann, London College of Communication Exhibition (screenshot from Guest Lecture for Falmouth University)

Many of the images are scanned (some very large) collages made from teared prints that Sarah recreated, and hand-coloured on black and white prints.  She also produced fictional photographs such as the ones below with Ken depicted as a woman:

Image created by Sarah Davidmann with Ken depicted as a woman (middle) – Sarah Davidmann (screenshot from Guest Lecture for Falmouth University)
Image created by Sarah Davidmann with Ken depicted as a woman – Sarah Davidmann (screenshot from Guest Lecture for Falmouth University)

Sarah’s work is fascinating in terms of the family story attempting to come to terms with the challenges of transgender in an era where little support was in place.  She spoke about the fact that family albums and memorabilia often edit out the transgenderism within their families.  I was particularly struck by the poignant way in which Sarah recounted her family’s story and how moved she was by Ken’s life and story.

I then watched the two presentations by Christiane Monarchi, founding editor of Photomonitor.

Photomonitor website – Editor Christiane Monarchi

She set up the on-line platform in 2011 – a magazine covering the UK and Ireland.  After five years the magazine has over 200 contributors and 6,000 visitors per month.  She referred to previous magazines no longer in print such as pluk, Portfolio Magazine and Artlyst, none of which comprehensively covered her vision of information, articles, exhibition lists, reviews across the UK and Ireland (with a number choosing a more international coverage and audience).  It is a hugely useful resource and includes exhibitions on photography being held right across the UK.  The business model is that organisations and individuals pay for the listings on the website and the revenue from this pays for the features.  Christiane spoke about her wish to review lesser known books, self-published books and to list small galleries where people can see photography.  My sense was that she was wanting to make photography more accessible to everyone.

The second part of Christiane’s talk was about working with galleries and entering photography competitions which was very practical and helpful.  She spoke about object quality and the continuum from a low-cost production value model to a handcrafted object.  She also talked about the longevity of an object and the expectations of galleries in this respect.  I found her comments on editions and pricing very helpful as I am starting to sell my work.  She suggested that the trend in the market is for photographers to produce very small edition runs (10 or less) with differential pricing (1-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10) as numbers available reduce.  She suggested that a way to start was to price prints low, attract collectors and “give yourself room to grow”.  The last of the edition and/or the artists proof would have a higher price.  She encouraged us to ensure we had a one-page Artists Statement with a series of work statements describing particular projects whereas our CV should only live on-line.  She also suggested that “exchange of writing” within the student peer group may be helpful.

She encouraged us to enter photography competitions because even though we may not win its gives exposure to our work.  She also suggested that an exhibition with an accompanying book was a good idea.  Also, self-publishing a small book or zine and giving it away.

I found both parts of Christiane’s presentation very helpful as I start to think about developing my photography post MA.

 

 

When the Best is not Enough (Week 15)

Lots of my efforts this week have been about doing.  Printing my Exhibition images ready for mounting and framing, deciding on Installation Plans, acquiring a Paypal payment machine, finalising work on my new blog site and ordering business cards and greetings cards for the Exhibition.

I have had some sleepless nights as my brain continues to whir about the decisions I have already made, outputs for my Final Major Project and particularly alternative installation plans and the layout of my e-book.  As always my ability to grasp new applications and software relevant to the delivery of my Final Major Project continue to cause anxiety even though by most people’s standards I might be considered pretty good.

This led my husband to give me an article from New Scientist to read entitled When the best is not enough: An epidemic of perfectionism is sweeping across the world that has alarming implications for our mental health, finds Helen Thomson.

The image of the swan gliding across the water with feet paddling furiously underneath applies to me.

I have learnt over the years to keep my feelings and emotions under wraps and in my working life never to reveal them.  I remember many occasions in high stress, large committee situations where I was expected to field many difficult and convoluted questions in a very public forum.  I also remember a colleague of mine, following one of these occasions, congratulating me on my performance and the way I had not let my true feelings show, even given the futility and motivations for the questioning and challenges.  I had stuck to my guns but I remember thinking I might have looked formidable but I was crying inside.  And that was the way I managed with very senior, and very clever academics in universities for thirty five years.

The article in New Scientist reflects on some case studies of perfectionism.  One of them is a Master’s student from Florida State University, Jonathan Stern.  I related very much to his view:

“On the outside you’re winning, but you’re giving yourself the hardest time inside.  I always felt I could do better.” (Stern in Thomson, 2019:36).

There is even a Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale developed over thirty years ago with 45 statements – participants are asked to rank to what extent they agree with statements such as “I strive to be the best at everything I do.”  The Scale then categorises individuals between three different kinds of perfectionism:

“Self-oriented” perfectionists – setting high goals in their work and relationships

“Other-oriented” perfectionists – high expectations of others and

“Socially-prescribed” perfectionists – feel pressure and approval from others to be perfect.

From my perspective I think I have tendencies to all three of these but mostly in terms of “self-oriented”perfectionism.  I continuously give myself a hard time, always know I could do so much better and compare myself with others to legitimise that feeling.  Consequently, my self-esteem takes a continual battering.  I find it difficult to accept compliments and praise and often question the motivation of the person giving it!  The better I do the higher my expectations get.

Not surprisingly, the article refers to the likely health problems of being a perfectionist but its also questions the possible benefits of maintaining exacting standards.  It is the case the perfectionists often achieve academically and in their careers however this success can come at significant personal cost.  So where is this leading?

The article concludes by claiming that good is good enough and that we should praise our efforts rather than our outcomes.  This makes sense because personally once one task has been achieved successfully I just move onto the next one!  The salutary final piece of advice is:

“If you want to be happy and healthy for 80-plus years then you have to focus on what you gained from an experience, rather than what grade you achieved.” 

Important advice as we close in on our Final Major Project!!

References

Thomson, Helen. 2019. When the Best is not enough.” in New Scientist, 17 August 2019.

 

 

Installations Plans, Exhibitions, Budgets and Framers (Week 15)

This week has been a ‘doing’ week and my head has been filled with installation plans for my Exhibition at An Crubh from 20-26 October 2019: choosing the images (not just in terms of necessarily being the best photographs but more about how they will work together as a series of panels of images) and deciding on the final image and overall frame size in consultation with the framer.    I have six large panels to fill 4 foot by 8 foot that will be placed by a wall near to the entrance and adjacent to the very busy cafe area. I have been drawing various different panel layouts but have finally settled on this option:

Installation Plan for An Crubh Exhibition – 20-26 October 2019 – Alison Price
Installation Plan for An Crubh Exhibition – 20-26 October 2019 – Alison Price

I have changed my mind a number of times and found it difficult to visualise the size of the images against the space I have available, but the key decision points are as follows:

  1. I wanted to place large images on the panels facing the main entrance (1, 3 and 5) to catch people’s eye.

2. I wanted to make sure the panel’s were sufficiently covered but allowing enough space for the images to ‘breathe’.  The panels allow flexibility and precision in the hanging plan I can achieve as they have holes where I can place hanging hooks.

3.  I printed my images on a number of different papers to determine which produced the best print for my purposes – I tried Fotospeed Cotton 300, Ilford Gloss and Fotospeed PF Lustre.  I was pretty sure I did not want to use a matt paper and the test prints proved this theory with the PF Lustre paper giving a much crisper and luminous outcome.

4. I needed to take account of using tables to display greetings card and mounted prints for sale.  I intend to set these up adjacent to the first panel so I am able to greet and talk to my visitors about my work before they start looking at the images.

5.  One of the other things that I have been working on this week has been budgeting and how to ensure that I develop my inventory stock available for exhibitions but, at the same time, not holding more stock than I can reasonably hope to sell (or store!).  I decided on the mix of 40 x 40cm and 60 x 60cm framed images with my budget in mind. Larger images would require the services of an external printer.  I am able to print up to A2 size images on my Epson printer.  This decision was also driven by a need to allow my framers time to produce what is, for them, a large order.  I have now placed an order for 4 x 60 x 60cm framed prints, 10 x 40 x 40cm framed prints and 20 mounted images.  This is in addition to the 10 x 40 x 40cm framed images and 10 mounted images I already have in Skye.  So, in total for the Exhibition I will have 4 large framed images, 20 smaller framed images and 30 mounted but unframed images.

I have also decided which images will be displayed on which panels.  I am not able to show all of these in this Journal as some of my framed images are in Skye ready for the Exhibition.  Apologies for the quality but they are for indicative purposes only:

An Crubh Exhibition – October 2019 – Panel 1 Mock up – Alison Price, September 2019
An Crubh Exhibition – October 2019 – Panel 3 Mock up – Alison Price, September 2019
An Crubh Exhibition – October 2019 – Panel 6 Mock up, September 2019

I have a number of things to follow up this week:

6. Take all images to the framers for mounting and printing

7. Investigate electronic payment methods.

8. Finalising my ‘Artist’s Statement’ and ‘My Story -About the Photographer’ text

Robert Frank (1924-2019) (Week 15)

Robert Frank passed away recently so it seems fitting to start this post with one of his images of a funeral in Paris taken in 1951:

Funeral, Paris – Robert Frank. 1951

This image comes from Black and White and Things (1952).  Three copies of this handmade book were produced by Frank, one of which he gifted to Edward Steichen (the MoMA’s Director of the Department of Photography at that time).  It is spiral-bound, almost square and has a simple, austere black cover with Black and White and Things written in white.  The inscription reads:

“With much respect/gratitude/to Mr Steichen/R Frank/Paris, Novembre 1952.” (Frank 1952).

(Steichen had provided Frank with his first museum exposure at the MoMA in 1950 in a group show Photographs by 51 Photographers.) 

The book consisted of 34 gelatin silver prints grouped under the three headings of the title.  It was many years later before The Americans was published Frank then turning from still photography to film.

Frank’s image above has an impressionist’s aesthetic with rain drops over the umbrellas.  It is incredibly dark but the luminosity provides a sense of hope too.

Frank abandoned stills photography in the late 1950s in favour of film making and his return to the still form in the 1970s signalled a change in his approach and image making.  His work was more creative and he used a number of manipulative techniques such as scratching or painting on the negative, collaging and creating montages.  His photographs resembled film sequences or storyboards with implied narratives and the use of written text providing a commentary to his work.

Frank’s Trolley-New Orleans (1955) featured in The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film Photobook exhibition (2012) at the MoMA which explored the intersections between still and moving images, photograms and photomontages.

Trolley – New Orleans – Robert Frank. 1955

The image was part of The Americans (1958) and was the cover picture for the early editions of the book.  Frank had modelled his book on Walker Evans American Photographs (1938).  Ed Ruscha commented on The Americans as follows:

“Seeing THE AMERICANS in a college bookshop was a stunning, ground-trembling experience for me.  But I realized this man’s achievement could not be mined or imitated in any way, because he had already done it, sewn it up and gone home.  What I was left with was the vapors of his talent.  I had to make my own kind of art.  But wow!  THE AMERICANS!”

Perhaps unwittingly, Frank became the father of the snapshot aesthetic in the 1960s producing authentic images through a personal and off-hand style capturing the spontaneity of the photographic moment.

Frank understood the power of photographs as memorial evocation better than any.  He lost both of his children to untimely deaths and these tragedies shaped his work.  His daughter Andrea died in a plane crash at the age of 21 whilst still living with Frank at his home in Mabou.  This place served as somewhere to position her memory and rather than using grave markers he used other symbols in the landscape such as fence posts and telephone poles as recurring motifs in his work.  His film Life Dances on (1980) juxtaposes images of Andrea with footage of the Mabou coast.

Andrea, Mabou – Robert Frank. 1976-8

References

Gefter, P. 2019. Robert Frank Dies: Pivotal Documentary Photographer was 94.  New York. New York Times

Meister, S. 2019. Remembering Robert Frank (1924-2019). New York. Museum of Modern Art.

https://www.moma.org/magazine/articles/164 [accessed 15 September 2019]

 

 

Elemental by Melanie Collie (Week 14)

I have continued my search this week for examples of books that have interesting formats and presentation.  I purchased another book from Triplekite Books entitled Elemental by Melanie Collie.

Elemental by Melanie Collie, 2017

Her work is based in Cornwall and very much reflects the essence of this beautiful part of the world.  She says of her work:

“The projects within this book are an effort to capture the essence of change, of making and remaking, of time and tide and the stories they leave behind.  Images as moments of calm, in a perpetual flux.  It is down to us to slow down, observe, listen and respect the space we have, it was left for me, as I will leave it for others.”  (Collie 2017:3).

The book is again a square format but is larger than a previous book I have reviewed here Fragile by Valda Bailey – 24cm rather than 22cm.  Interestingly, the additional 2cm makes a difference to the look and feel of the book and for me the larger size works well.

The book has a first page written by Melanie about her project Elemental which is followed by a Foreword written by a photographer Paul Kenny about Collie’s work.  Then a further two paragraphs from Collie set to the side of a almost double page image.  The book has 64 pages.

The presentation of the images very interesting and varied.  As well as the square images set in a white border (about 3cm) there are also those that cover the whole page and sometimes mixed within the double page spread.  I find this presentation very aesthetically pleasing.  It provides variation for the viewer.  There is also a page with four images set within the size of the one image format.

Elemental by Melanie Collie, 2017
Elemental by Melanie Collie, 2017

There are some intentionally blank pages within the book which on the whole work however, I do not like the intentionally blank facing page which disappoints the viewer as there is no image to look at.

I have enjoyed reviewing this book and it has given me lots of ideas for the presentation of my book.  I like the larger square format, the varied presentation of images, and particularly the full page images with no border next to the traditional square images with border.

References

Collie, M. 2017. Elemental. Chicago: Triplekite Publishing.

Exhibition at An Crubh on the Isle of Skye (Week 14)

I am very excited about the opportunity to exhibit my most recent work at the wonderful An Crubh facility on the Isle of Skye in the busy half term week in October.  The facility is a prime location for artists and has a heavy footfall because of the co-located cafe, shop and post office.  It is very much a locally-managed and staffed venue providing space for the local community to meet, eat, exercise and engage in other community events.  This will be my first solo exhibition on the Island.

This is how An Crubh describes its own journey from a dream to a highly-successful community venue:

“Three things were at the top of the community’s wish list – a shop, a proper hall for activities, and a place to meet and socialise. Thus, the idea for An Crùbh was born.

The journey to build An Crùbh began in 2011. We received generous support from The Big Lottery Fund, The Coastal Communities Fund, Highland Council, The Robertson Trust, HIE, Fearann Eilean Iarmain, Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative Fundraising Group and architects WT Architecture. The Common Grazings Shareholders were also very generous in their support of the project.

The local community gave of their time and effort very generously. And at the beginning of 2016 the children of Camuscross and Duisdale cut the first sod.

The building that came out of that journey is a model for how small communities can develop and bring vibrancy to an area.” (An Crubh website 2019).

An Crubh, Isle of Skye – Photograph by W T Architecture
An Crubh, Isle of Skye – Photograph by W T Architecture
An Crubh, Isle of Skye – Photograph An Crubh
An Crubh, Isle of Skye – Photograph by W T Architecture
An Crubh, Isle of Skye – Photograph by W T Architecture

I have now started creating my installation plans and liaising with a printer and framer to produce my framed images in two sizes:  70 x 70cm and 40 x 40cm squares.  My intention is to exhibit my newly-created seascapes and reed photographs – all taken during my intensive “creating images” phase of my Final Major Project.  I see this as a significant opportunity to gain feedback from both visitors and local people on the Island.  I intend to systematically collect feedback through a comments book and being present throughout the exhibition to talk to visitors about my work.  I will also monitor footfall to gain a sense of the success of An Crubh as a venue for my work in the future.

I have lots to think about in terms of publicity, curating and editing my final images and getting the show on the road.  More on this next week.

References

An Crubh website.  Images. [Accessed on 10 September 2019].

More about the ‘Eternal Moment’ (Week 14)

Over the last three months I have been taking large numbers of images seeking to capture the ephemeral hiddenness of Skye. In doing so I have sought to extend the repertoire of my camera by testing a number of different techniques and taking inspiration from artists such as J M W Turner and Claude Monet.   What I am trying to capture in my photography is a glimpse of the depths of reality behind surface perception. It is a tortuous process that relies upon the conjunction of light and timing, and camera craft, to bring forward out of the moment that ineffable glimpse of the sublime that exists below the surface of our perception. I believe that with the camera one can break free from the chains of everyday existence to catch a glimpse of that which is ephemeral in its passing but, permanent in its reality.

The weather has hampered my efforts for over two weeks but in a brief moment yesterday when the clouds lifted and the water and plants emerged into sunlight I was able to take these two shots. I was pleased as again I had been able to capture some of the hiddenness I see (as I struggled to keep my camera and tripod still enough to take a shot!).

Ephemeral Reeds 54 – Alison Price, September 2019
Ephemeral Reeds 55 – Alison Price, September 2019

The assertion that my images might be captured anywhere and have no direct link to the Island confuses the world of perception with the reality that drives our experience of Skye. All anyone needs to know is that these images have been taken on the Isle of Skye in a small and rarely-travelled corner. With that they can realise the camera is revealing the inalienable reality of the whole Island – as it lies separated by ocean and climate from the mainland, with its own distinctive culture, customs and mythologies.

I hope that the viewer, in understanding the first photograph above can come to know Skye. You don’t need to know Skye to understand this photograph.

From an aesthetic perspective, I seek to exploit the voice of the camera realising it fullest potential to capture, what I have previously described as the ‘eternal moment’. Unlike any other art form, in my view, the camera has the ability to translate, recognise and record the eternal moment unlike any other instrument of expression.   That is why I am making these images in camera and not relying on post processing.

Although, I do not seek to criticise those who attempt to achieve this through the agency of Photoshop or other software, I believe that in following the post-processing path it is easy to change the camera into an analogue of the paintbrush or the stylus for which it is a poor substitute. It can also begin to work against what the camera has realised and potentially transforming the image into something that it was not. Our memories of a moment soon change, they become conceptualised within our framework of beliefs (and prejudices) about the world.   For me the original moment is most important. The only role that I place upon software is one of bringing the completed image within the camera to its full potential by the correction of the inherent deficiencies in digital processing.

Through the confluence of techniques and a large amount of testing, I have realised through the camera a vision of the moment that reflects so much of what I have described before. In looking at the first image above, if you stand back it appears blurred, lacking focus and the subject is hidden. However, when you focus upon any part of the image, the underlying reality emerges capturing your attention, holding it and then as your gaze moves on, it withdraws into the background from which it emerged.