Good morning, it is early on a Friday morning and the holiday is well and truly over, I guess you are still asleep. I will call over and see you this evening and bring some cards because I know it is Auburn’s and your daddy’s birthday this weekend.
I am on day one of part four of the course and starting to interact with the landscape, I have discussed interaction and collaboration before on the blog, especially with my tutor and while I find this relatively easy to do with people and animals, with a very big inanimate thing like a landscape it could be kind of tricky.
I have started gently enough with some photographs I took in the park.
Figure 1 (184.108.40.206) Playground P1 Digital photograph
Figure 2 (220.127.116.11) Playground P2 Digital photograph
Figure 3 (18.104.22.168) Playground P3 Digital photograph
Figure 4 (22.214.171.124) Playground P4 Digital photograph
Figure 5 (126.96.36.199) Playground P5 Digital photograph
Figure 6 (188.8.131.52) Playground P6 Digital photograph
Figure 7 (184.108.40.206) Playground P7 Digital photograph
Having read a little bit about Goldsworthy, Long and Cragg, I can understand that these photographs represent several interactions with the landscape over many years. I am guessing that this was once a forest as it would take research into old maps to confirm this. The first intervention was when it was probably civilised by the landowner as part of his estate. Further interventions would have been carried out by successive landowners according to the fashions of their times until the land eventually passed to the council. The council intervened to turn the landscape into a park land and what we see here is probably the council’s last intervention, the introduction of the modern playground. The final interventions with the landscape are these photographs.
Each intervention has served to make special, in a different way, this particular landscape and draw attention to it. My intervention was to make special the landscape on a windy Saturday morning in April 2017 and take something away from it, digital images, so that I could share something of the landscape that I thought special with you and the viewers of my blog. You will have noticed that I said something because a photograph represents the experience of that windy Saturday morning but only to the eyes, you cannot feel the wind or hear the birds and the people, or smell the grass or touch the trees. You can imagine these things from your own memories and maybe impose the wind from the way the clouds look or the temperature from the way the people are dressed. Most people who see these photographs will not have the time to do that and will flick on with the mouse, such is the speed of viewing and life in the modern age. Only the special and the spectacular hold your attention.
But stop a while and blow up one of these unspectacular pictures to full screen size and imagine from your memories to fill in the gaps from your other senses, then further wonder who are the people in the photograph and why were they there that particular day. What were the names of the landowners who decided and the workers who toiled to make the landscape what it is today, then go back further and wonder what or who stalked these forests before they were civilised. If you do this you can realise that every picture tells a story, but you have to invest the time to read the book.
Another thing to think about is what I was thinking about to make this particular landscape special, for other people, what were my motives in taking the pictures.
Now from my unspectacular landscape lets go to look at a rather more spectacular landscape.
Figure 8 (220.127.116.11) Wheatfield with crows by Vincent, Digital image
Using a different sense of the word landscape this one is rather special. It is the culmination of Vincent’s life work, a painting he painted within weeks of his death that people read into with regard to Vincent’s State of mind. People have travelled the world to look at this landscape in Amsterdam, however if they went instead to Auvers Sur Oise they would discover that Vincent’s inspiration was less spectacular that my own photographs of the playground.
In a curious way I have arrived at a similar point reached by John Berger in the first chapter of “Ways of Seeing”, unfortunately, I didn’t make the link until it was pointed out by my Tutor, who is far cleverer than I. Having relooked at the book I can see the comparison, Berger highlights the sensationalism of “the last picture that Van Gogh painted before he killed himself”(this is of course an untruth) and goes on to say “It is hard to define exactly how the words have changed the image but undoubtedly they have. The image now illustrates the sentence.”
Figure 8 (18.104.22.168) Wheatfield without crows, Digital image
If somebody told you tomorrow that you were going to die next week, would you paint this corner of a field in Auvers and add a few crows to immortalise yourself? I think would find something a bit more special than a playground in Winchmore Hill but then given the context of the words, perhaps a playground in Winchmore Hill is something I could make special so that it would fully convey my angst.
The way forward is to imbibe my impressions of the landscape in an expressionistic style in the hope that everyone will slow themselves down enough to slowly examine the piece of landscape that I have declared special.
I set about this task manfully using Photo shop to isolate and rotate the things I found interesting and produced these;
Figure 9 (22.214.171.124) Monochrome sample Digital image
Figure 10 (126.96.36.199) Monochrome sample Digital image
Figure 11 (188.8.131.52) sample Digital image
Figure 12 (184.108.40.206) sample Digital image
From these four samples I produced four sketches in anA4 sketchbook that looked like this;
Figure 13 (220.127.116.11) A cave that needs something to happen in it, graphite on A4 Cartridge
Figure 14 (18.104.22.168) Astronaut, graphite on A4 Cartridge
Figure 15 (22.214.171.124) Geometry, graphite on A4 Cartridge
Figure 16 (126.96.36.199) Standing in the shadows, graphite on A4 Cartridge
I was pleased with the distance I had come from the original photographs, but it is time now to go to work so this feels like a pleasant juncture to stop and take stock and remember the lessons already learned in part 3, upscale the work and dance at the easel.
I will see you later on in the evening my darling, I have much more stuff to tell you and I am looking forward to it.
All my love
PS For the Havard educated amongst us, isn’t it about time that Havard encompassed Kindle. My hard copy of the book is somewhere in the house but then, so are lots of things.
Berger, John. Ways of Seeing (Penguin Modern Classics) (Kindle Locations 248-249). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.