Work in progress / by Miranda Spendiff
A graphic line piece based on ‘Casa Estudio’ in Mexico City, house of Luis Barragán built in 1948 // By Miranda Spendiff / 15.11.17
The final show has come (16th June), and was filled with friends, family and others!. It was so amazing seeing my final work up on the walls and viewing the other work that other students had completed. The achievement of creating an exhibition space in itself was an amazing feeling, aswell as seeing how my work and skills have developed over the course of the year. Today i also received my final grade – Distinction!, which has just completely made everything i have done for this project worthwhile. Being lucky enough to study and develop in a creative environment has been such a exciting oppurtunity for me, helping me realise what i would like to move on to aswell as being able to recognise what excites me and keeps me going. Thanks to everyone who helped me realise the end project!! I hope for more exciting things to come..
15th – 26th May // Week 9&10
At the beginning of the 9th week, i had my completed shoots and found successful imagery, reflecting my interests and progression so far.
I began to plan what i needed to do in order to complete my final exhibition in time. I started the week with the clear idea of keeping my space simple and minimalistic, reflecting upon the area’s only and the spaces within the images. I had a group crit and a talk with a tutor about creating my book and selecting the final imagery. I concluded that i would include previous images from shoots earlier on in the project and combine them all to showcase the different locations all in one. I chose imagery from a number of locations, combining simple elements from each photograph to pair them together. I designed my book online on blurb, using the Bookwright tool, and kept the layout simple to reflect the imagery in a modern approach. I also included nouns on same pages, of simple descriptions of words commonly attached to the area’s of interest. I also decided on a final title for my project, naming the book ‘Turf – a collection of spaces’. What i really liked about this title was the images it instantly reflects, Greenery, shown through my search for beauty and nature within the shots, aswell as the representation of someone else’s space. When visiting the locations, i was always on someone else’s ‘turf’.
I began to also finalise my proposal, not rewriting it to much but adding bits of information, aswell as my statement and evaluation. This i documented through my journal, planning on what i need to include in the pieces of writing. As soon as the book arrived (thanks blurb), i put my selected 4 images in for printing and prepared the space by painting and cleaning the floors so it would be clean and ready for presentation. I chose 4 images that reflected the spaces i had visited in a compositional way, aswell as using my planning to choose 4 that worked together well. This allowed me to evaluate my area and see where each image would look best, aswell as constructing a shelf for my book with help from my tutor. Having two people help put the space up meant that i could see whether they were placed right and receive feedback. I really enjoyed this as it has helped me prepare for future exhibitions by analysing and being selective with what i wanted to show. I carried on evaluating and finished of sketchbooks, still drawing and exploring ideas. I played around with the idea of showing drawings of the images i had taken also, however decided that they work better with my sketchbook and development work.
After the last shoot i had completed, i realised that i work best when i am more spontaneous, therefore allowing myself to be free when working. I think this shows through my research styles and how my project has developed over the course of the FMP. On Monday and Tuesday (22nd and 23rd) i collected my imagery and placed them on the wall, with help from my tutor in preparation for the deadline. My aim was to completed my exhibition space by Wednesday, in order to focus on completing my written work, blog and review of my project. By Thursday i had completed the final parts of my exhibition space and also written up all final documents ready for Friday. Whilst writing the evaluation, i realised how far my idea had come and felt an enormous sense of achievement in how far i have come over the last year of the course, especially the FMP. It has been a really encouraging year for me, seeing all different works of art, taking in new knowledge and research and also developing my own ideas into a real project and exhibition. Everything i have learnt this year has really pushed and inspired me to work with my ideas and explore as much as possible, something i was not so confident in before. I am really happy with the final outcomes and definitely believe i can build upon the project in the future, hopefully showcasing new imagery and building upon my development further.
24th April – 5th May // Week 7&8
The two week buildup to the final show and exhibition is here, and after a successful easter break following book work, painting and clarification of ideas, i have moved towards choosing my final location for my final show. During week 7, i reviewed my shoots over the previous weeks and the direction my idea has moved towards. After looking at the beginning of my journal and online posts and comparing, i realised that the main theme of my idea has been apparent throughout all my work. This being a focus on social housing and development, the beautifying of these areas through my edits and what is there or left behind, aswell as the documental side, exploring and looking further into the local areas that have surrounded me for years. I then began to move forward with the idea, realising that it is very different to what i have previously explored, usually focusing on more architectural and minimalist aspects. However, i have enjoyed the change and challenge of communicating ideas in a new way, pushing myself to create an exciting project that is personal to me, whilst overcoming and working with issues that have arisen.
During a recent group crit i explained that quite a few of my friends have lived on estates for as long as i have known them, and strangely i have always been fascinated in the development and community side to these places. I also explained my decision so far to leave people and friends out of my imagery, as i wanted to purely document the style of housing and building types. Social estates have been a huge influence on modern architecture and utopian type community areas, pushing idealistic boundaries of living. Choosing to start exploring the idea fit in perfectly with the timing of UCA, as i have always wanted to document the areas that have been strangely fascinating to me. Possibly creating a book or sequential pieces in large format and presenting as a final idea is something that i have always wanted to do, and concluding this project with this is an exciting ending to a year that has been important in me finding my style and place within lens based work.
I began week 8 looking and preparing for my final shoot by revising previous images and drawing imagery from these, aswell as using feedback to conclude my final layout for the exhibition. I would have liked to have had these shoots done by end of week 7, however, the weather did not work in my favour aswell as my planning for what i am looking for. I am cutting it very fine as the real challenge is creating this imagery within a week and a half of the final shots being needed for exhibition, however i believe that this only pushes me further to go and explore my idea. I also have enjoyed being a lot more open and easy with my work in the last couple of weeks, allowing me to explore without the ‘boundaries’ of having to create and plan. Essentially I aim to have the shots ready by the start of week 9, ready for editing and printing for the book and walls, whilst still developing book work and playing around with my final concept.
10th-23rd April / Easter Break
After Week 6 and the concluding evaluation we participated in, the easter break begun. 2 Weeks working outside the studio was a daunting problem as i like to be constantly producing sheets or small paintings and so forth, therefore i would have to make do with resources outside of UCA. This was something that i realised came under the research we did on problem solving, therefore i explored as many avenues with my book work in order to catch up and produce visual pages exploring my idea. I enjoyed not knowing specifically my task everyday as it allowed me to take risks and explore my idea further.
I began by sorting my images out into chosen folders in order to make progress within the book examples easier. It also allowed me to look at previous shoots and recognise where i need to improve. I also researched the area’s i had explored, for instance Margate and Canterbury, and the history behind the social estates and area’s. Each couple of days, i documented what i was doing, whether it be new ideas or influences in order to keep up with the demand of work i need. I realised that during the first week i did leave work and not finish it, therefore making me work harder in the second week to produce outcomes and evaluate. I used many different materials during the break such as image transfer, paint, charcoal, wood offcuts and so forth (documented in my Sketchbook).
I evaluated the areas i had visited, explaining my choices of local areas instead of further away (e.g London) aswell as concluding ideas and where my project has ended up. I decided to explore one more new area – Aylesham – in order to create a final piece that coherently fits in with the work i have been doing, aswell as injects new imagery into the project. Aylesham was built in the 1920’s to accommodate workers at nearby coal mines, and is an interesting and strangely utopian/eery area. Not short of countryside beauty or services, however it does seem to fit in with my idea of social housing and this utopian community idea so well. The area also has been identified by the Dover Local Plan as a location for expansion, continuing my interest in documenting area’s of development and change in architecture/landscape.
Week ending 9th April // Week 6
Week 6, preparing for the final week ahead of the easter break (2 weeks off). I was unable to attend on the Monday due to a university interview at LCC in London, however caught up with the chat that i had missed on the monday. I looked at previous sketchbooks from students in order to study their progress and compare with my own. My idea has changed however still follows my original styles of photography and work style. After my own critical evaluation of my work the previous week, aswell as the group crits, i planned two shoots for the week ahead, one in Margate, Cliftonville and the other on Sturry Road in Canterbury. These shoots are essentially preparation in working out my final location ideas for the finished pieces and shoots. Both still follow social housing and the beautifying/history of them.
In margate i explored the different areas, which range vastly in terms of community. Margate has the highest rate of social deprivation in the local area, something that i found really interesting when exploring and searching for the hidden yet obvious beauty surrounding the areas. I learnt a lot about the area, including coming across original art deco buildings scattered just a stones throw from the seafront. I also visited the high street and local attractions such as the shell grotto etc. Through exploring margate i recognised that all the images taken on that day have a strong context and narrative about the area whilst still incorporating my own thoughts and ideas. After the shoot i began looking into other places to explore during the easter holidays.
During the week i also did some more artist research, looking at Ansel Adams book ‘the negative’. His images are some of this centuries most memorable photographs aswell as his visualisation of the analogue processes and developments. What i found really interesting was that even though i do not primarily use analogue and film photography in my work at the moment, i do enjoy the process and using some of his methods as inspiration.
Towards the end of the week, we were all preparing imagery and work to show for the group crit on Friday, in order to receive feedback. I had some really positive comments aswell as ideas to include text or my own paintings and drawings into the final book/images. Viewing other peoples progress and their influences was also really helpful as it helped me understand different contexts and styles that other people work with. For the easter break, i plan to take shoots and find a final place/location to take a series of images for my book and show. I also want to reflect on the imagery i have explored and delve into the narrative i have been working with so far.
Week ending 2nd April // Week 5 // Practical Skills
Week 5 is underway and having previously been a tad ‘stuck’, the weekend helped clarify my ideas so far. The Monday morning lecture was on practical skills and what the criteria looks for in terms of understanding aesthetic awareness and using imaginative and flexible processes. Essentially the ‘aesthetics’ of photography are the most important part of the work that we create, understanding the way art looks and how it is put together, something that runs through into the book workshop. We looked at Valerie Belin who photographs mannequins modelled on supermodels. She combines her photographs with vector graphics from the internet, using skills and aesthetic awareness to create final outcomes. Her work is visually exciting and complex, using layering, shape and composition to create imagery that reflects her interests and style.
Imaginative and flexible processes? Dictionary definitions
- Imaginative – Showing creativity or inventiveness
- Flexible – respond to altered circumstances
- Processes – methods/actions
We also looked at Hannah Hoch who worked on a women’s magazine during 1916. She produced images for magazines and the studios would cut and paste different images together. She used experimental processes such as juxtaposition, collage and placing in order to create pieces, using skill and knowledge learned. We mainly looked at artists who have overcome issues by using skill and experimentation in order to further their work. Another artist was photographer Francesca Woodman. We discussed the camera she may be using, the style she is aiming for, her subjects, and what she experimented with. This covered shutter speed, aperture, pose’s, gaze’s and so forth. Essentially, we looked at how extensive enquiry can develop creative solutions allowing our attempts to focus on different ways of addressing current ideas and being open to changes in direction.
By using my journal work and sheet development, i allow myself to experiment with my ideas visually, however, now being in week 5 i do believe it has come to the point where i want to really try different things, therefore creating a book with my work as an example seems to be the boost my work may need. After the lecture, i evaluated my ideas so far within my journal, exploring the ideas behind my interest in social housing having been influenced by friends who live on estates and these somewhat utopian inspired area’s created on community basis. Although some may view these areas as dingy neglected areas of society, i find some enjoyment out of this idea that they all connect in one place. The hidden beauty they also have through the flowers, statues and odd pops of colours are also fascinating, truly looking past the parts that may not be aesthetically pleasing to all and focusing on these random pops of unusual beauty.
By the end of this week, i had created a book using the method ‘Perfect Binding’ aswell as clarified my concept and ideas using the shoot i had completed that week. During the week i also experimented alot on photoshop with my images, creating and using different techniques to create graphical images that were transcriptions of my work. What was really interesting was planning and choosing the images i wanted to see within the book without being to picky. I also learnt how to design a book in different ways using indesign aswell as viewing how the book was glued together. The images looked more raw and real in the book form, an interesting viewpoint in to how i will showcase my work at the end of the FMP. However, as a sample, the book taught me that i need to evaluate my sequencing and cover work, therefore choosing what goes together and what should and should not be included.
Week Ending 26th // Week 4 // Planning and Production
We are now in the 4th week of our FMP and its become apparent of the planning and production that not only me but a few of us should have explored form the start. However, its not to late ever to bring clarity and anticipate change in ones own work. Production allows you to keep you eye on the end result aswell as develop imagery and work that is in keeping with the aesthetic you are working towards. The processes i use within these are key for the experiments i will test out. A part of the planning and production is attending the morning lectures and group crits in order to receive feedback on the work i am doing, something i have found very valuable to my work. We looked at Chris Shepherds work this morning, using his style to remind us to be coherent and work towards creating something that truly reflects us. Another artist we looked at was Garry Winogrand. ‘His work has been the subject of many museum and gallery exhibition, and was included in the 1967 “New Documents” exhibition, curated by John Szarkowski at the Museum of Modern Art, New York’ (1). It was really interesting to see the visual connection between his imagery, following city streets, people etc. We also looked at John Szarkowski’s work and his influences, being a legendary curator and critic. Essentially, the morning talk was looking at how artists structure their work and develop their projects also, therefore being aware of time allows you to achieve your goals.
This week proved a bit difficult having previously discussed ‘time management’. I had basically hit a ‘wall’, however, i found that this has been crucial in terms of me developing as an artist and overcoming problems in order to create something that truly works with who i am. What became clear was the change in my projects direction, although it isn’t major, it definitely has changed my views on what i want to achieve. I began on the Tuesday by evaluating what i have done so far, and whether it is enough or coherent in terms of development. Essentially what i found when evaluating, is that my ideas and progress have been steady so far, however they haven’t truly inspired me to explore and look further into my subject matter, something i believe has been restricted by my constant focus on building upon the exact same idea i began with. From this i began to write down key words that i identify from my work on post it notes and laid them out, this helped me identify current working theme’s within my work. I then brainstormed from this, identifying the key concepts i want to work with. On the Friday, i shot round the local estates in Canterbury focusing on the unusual and ironic parts of the buildings.
Later on in the week Me, Gina and Zai began to photograph around UCA in order to gather imagery for the Book Workshop. These images were really fun and successful, reminding all three of us to be playful with the camera and not feel stiff and restricted when taking photographs. We began to learn how we could develop our work and showcase it in a professional way. This followed examples such as Kettle stitch, perfect binding and Japanese book binding. Next week i would like to use my current shoots to create an example of a book using perfect binding in order to experiment.