Thursday, 7 November 2013

Assignment Five - feedback

I received my feedback on Assignment Five at the end of last week, and I'm pleased to say that it was good.  Some of the highlights were - "... a really original and challenging take on the brief ..."; "... feels thoughtfully executed but is also irreverent and fun ..."; "... solid content and ... sound analysis ..."; and "... only criticism ... might have tried too hard ... (some images) ... have a few too many elements ...".  The latter point was accompanied by two qualifications - that he wasn't entirely convinced that it was an issue but it's a possible criticism some might see, and the clear advice that I certainly shouldn't do any more work on it.  Actually, I do agree with the comment.  Having never done anything like this before I was, even after looking at others' work, learning as I went along.  Some of the busiest pieces were amongst the first.  This was the very first, for example.

As the assignment progressed, I began to see that simpler and cleaner compositions worked best.  The one below is probably my personal favourite - and that is partly down to its simplicity.  Stezaker's collage work usually involves the juxtaposition of no more than two photographs - but it still leaves plenty of scope for 'reading' - and, whilst I wouldn't compare the image below to the quality of what he has produced, it does share the simplicity and it does still have plenty to say.
Interestingly, Jesse selected the one below as his favourite of the set.  In some ways, it is quite a busy and complex image, with lots of elements.  But the difference, I suspect, is in its 'cleanness'.  There is a lot of white space; the composition is more careful and structured; and it has more of an abstract look.  This one - although very different in subject matter and content - is closer, in a formal sense, to the recent Laura Letinsky work that partly inspired me.  That too combines lots of clean white space with intense patches of colour.

Feedback on my prints is also encouraging.  The "... quality is good ..." with the inkjet "... providing ... crisp resolution and vivid colour ...".  That's pleasing; I wanted to get a crispness into them.  My idea is that a casual viewer should be drawn by the visual attractiveness but also, initially, slightly unsure as to whether they are 'real' physical collages rather than photographs.  He has a very good suggestion to make - that they should be printed to the edge of the paper, with no borders.  I have already re-done them in that way - and it works well.  We are, of course, encouraged to leave small borders on prints for assessment submission, to aid handling.  But these images are different, with plenty of 'white' space around them that can easily be handled.  I hadn't really managed to work it out for myself - perhaps because I was locked into the need for border - but the multiple frame effect that results from there being white bordered images within the frame of the overall composition resulted in some unnecessary confusion for the eye.  Printed large with no borders, they look much better. 
The other suggestions on prints are - that I should at least experiment with lab printing, and that having them dry mounted on card would be good for assessment submission.  Again - agreed on both counts; unless the print feedback had been 'these are amazingly good, don't bother any further', I had all along felt that I should try the professional print approach.  And the dry mounting certainly makes good sense.  So - one image has gone off to Peak Imaging to be printed at around A2 size and card-mounted.  I've chosen one that has some very subtle shades of off-white in the background and some vivid colour as well, so it should be a good opportunity to make a comparison.  I don't mind the cost of going down the professional approach and I like the idea of a further 'push' in size, but I don't want to lose the crispness I referred to above. 
There was an issues with the background of one image.  One of the early ones, it had been assembled on ivory card rather than the white paper I used for all the others.  It is this one.

I don't mind the ivory, but I did mention its difference in my notes, and Jesse comments on it too.  So, I have used a combination of Photoshop and Lightroom adjustments to get it to look as follows.  I needed to retain contrast in the background, though, partly to keep the shadow effect and also because there are faint (and deliberate) traces of the tape that fixed some of the images to the board, which would have been lost had I brightened it too much.

Another small factor that arose from printing to the edge of the paper was the realisation that I had used two slightly different size ratios.  I've now amended those so that all six match - particularly important if I do get them all professionally printed and mounted. 

And finally, I've arranged to have a telephone tutorial next week, to discuss my assessment submission and to also discuss my move on to Level Three.


  1. Well done Stan, I know you were tenterhooks about this for a while. I've really enjoyed watching it's progress and think that this 'jump' you've made comes just at the right time - right before level three!
    Now a question comes to mind, and I only thought of it just now because Carberry has just nailed his colours to the mast, yet your depiction is very caucasian? Presenting a question to either me as a viewer or you as the artist?

    1. A very valid point to make, John; and, from the first Australian cricket team to tour England in 1868 made up entirely of Aboriginals, until a few more modern players in the England team, it's fair to say that the Ashes have largely been contested between Caucasians. I might have included some of those original Australians were it not for the fact that all the pictures tend to be team photos - moved too fast for the 1860s camera equipment! My 'artistic' choices were, as you can imagine, largely about what images I could lay my hands on that fitted with the compositions!!! Now, had I been reflecting cricket as a whole, that would have been a very different matter - lots of images of Michael Holding scaring the 'you know what' out of a few Caucasians, for example. My next series, perhaps!

  2. Yes, that whole period of the ashes history would be very interesting to investigate from that perspective. Similarly the history of Indian representation in Test cricket either for or against India?

  3. .. and the recent rise in power of the Indian cricket administration, and its backers. You sense there's an uncomfortable and unresolved 'alliance' between the old and the new, the crucial influx of money (and sometimes questions about the source!) against the traditional nature of the game - but all in the context of significant cultural/racial differences. Quite a melting pot - especially if you add in the political backgrounds in Pakistan & Sri Lanka.