FMP Week 2: Hestercombe and Helen Sear

A day out with Falmouth and Plymouth MA students and tutors hosted by Tim Martin, Art Director and Curator at Hestercombe House and Gardens near Taunton was delightful. The occasion was an exhibition by Helen Sear ‘Prospect Refuge Hazard 2’, and an afternoon seminar ‘Disrupted Views’ with presentations by Helen Sear, Laurent Chatel, Professor of British Art, Culture and Visual Studies at Lille University who specialises in 18th century English landscape gardens and Gareth Evans, writer, editor, film and event producer . Additional bonuses included catching up with course colleagues the day before the event and having an optional portfolio review in the morning chaired by Jesse Alexander.


Sarah Newton 2018, Symmetry in Places 1
Sarah Newton 2018, Symmetry in Places 2
Sarah Newton 2018, Symmetry in Places 3

Who could not fail to be impressed by Helen Sear’s work. Such a variety of subject matter, focussed on the natural world and in particular her work with the forestry commission presented on film, with moving projection, as murals and in framed images. Learning how she made the mural adorning the beautiful staircase walls leading up to the first floor gallery made their viewing all the more interesting.

Helen Sear 2018, Staircase at Hestercombe House
Helen Sear 2018, Moving floor projection at Hestercombe House











Hestercombe House and Gardens. Available at: [accessed 05-10-18].

CHATEL, Laurent. Available at: [accessed 05-10-18].

EVANS, Gareth. Available at: [accessed 05-10-18].

Hestercombe House and Gardens. Available at: [accessed 05-10-18].

SEAR, Helen. Available at: [accessed 05-10-18].

FMP Week 1: Pecha Kucha

In preparation for submitting a proposal for my Final Major Project we were encouraged to make and submit for discussion in a tutorial a Pecha Kucha presentation (20 slides each shown for 20 seconds accompanied by an informal narration about plans for the FMP).
I set out to complete this in powerpoint and was expecting to run it alongside a live narration. I then realised a recorded voice over was probably expected and part way through loading images found I did not have a recording facility on the version I accessed via Falmouth. I later read that such a facility is not available on Apple systems as an integral part of powerpoint (perhaps others know better than I how to achieve this). So here it is, ultimately recorded on Camtasia, informal in style of presentation and hopefully short enough to avoid death-by-powerpoint.


I found the process very helpful despite the initial technical issues. Coupled with the previous module’s feedback and having to get straight to the point in 6minutes 40seconds I feel more prepared for writing the proposal. The final element of insightful wisdom to add before completing this task was the tutorial on 2nd October. I thought I had focussed my thinking and plans considerably and have now been encouraged to narrow my intentions even further so as not to be over ambitious in attempting to achieve more than maybe possible given timescales and the course requirements, thereby risking non-achievement of some intentions, or even (my interpretation), poor quality through being thinly spread over various activities. My understanding, having reflected on the tutor’s advice, is that by drilling down on my methodology and the items I am working with and aiming for one specific format for a public display (at least at this stage) quality will reign over the quantity and diversity of options I was thinking about in the Pecha Kucha.

FMP Week 1: Salient Points of Feedback from the Surfaces and Strategies module

  • ‘Killing my darlings’, a phrase used in relation to the Surfaces and Strategies WIP Portfolio and relative strengths of the images. I can only guess which were preferred by assessors and therefore seen as stronger. I assume they include scans where the subject matter needs interrogation to understand the narrative, thereby excluding my seascape and documentation of immediately recognisable debris images. Interestingly, the latter may be more saleable to a wider market at affordable prices, as activity during and post my exhibition has shown, while the former may have greater appeal to arts aficionados and communities who are prepared to pay more for more ‘obscure’ pieces.
  • ‘Imprinted artefacts’, again used in relation to my WIP portfolio, which I have been referring to as products that can be bought suggests another way of thinking about how my images can be presented. For example, rather than planning to work on items of use around the home such as mugs, bags and coasters, use surfaces and materials that do not necessarily have functional daily purposes. These could perhaps be seen as more closely akin to sculptures which can be looked at on a pedestal, floor, hung from a rope etc, but not ‘used’. At Unseen in Amsterdam in 2017 I saw wooden ‘rocks’ covered in prints rendering them 3D. I have been researching different surfaces as well as scanners including 3D options excited by the thought that I could print in 3D and what would the items turn out like. However, such technology is well beyond my means in the context of completing my assignments…unless there is an organisation with the facilities and willing to take the risk to let a student experiment…
  • ‘Physical outcomes as installation views’. Having created what I called an installation with items made using my images and incorporating some of the debris I had collected as well as a few props I had at home I would like to do this again. I enjoyed the process of coming up with ideas, mapping out a plan, running a rehearsal at home and then installing the piece in situ in the gallery. Already I have ideas bubbling and emerging, but am anxious about costs. I can envisage several that could go on tour. For example, surfboards, windbreaks and towels on beaches each beside a bin for a specific type of debris depicted in my images (eg. one for tin, one for glass, one for paper, one for material, a large one for plastics, a large one for fishing lines and nets etc.). I would be happy for my images to be displayed in this way and to be invited by a sponsor to coordinate a series of travelling events if someone or a corporation would like to step forward… 
  • ‘Images are ‘skins’’. What I did not show in my WIP portfolio were the images and other physical outcomes being made. That is, the manufacture of the photo products. The processes were easy for me as I engaged various companies to ‘make’ them for me. I see  that I will have to focus on ‘making’ things myself and possibly going to see how these companies apply my images to various surfaces. If I am to go down the road of creating ‘artefacts’ I will need to be doing and photographing the ‘making’ as there may not be a company in such a specific line of business (ie working with the surfaces I have chosen) to call upon. 
  • ‘Be more ruthless’. Differentiate the work I do from that of others. Put aside modesty and publicly proclaim the added value my work has. Features of my personality and natural tendencies to put others first and see others as more competent in some areas seems to be being challenged. These directions link in with a particularly interesting suggestion to write a short piece incorporating how my past profession has influenced my current approaches to taking and making with my photography to help with my focussing for the FMP. A kind of looking back to the past to reflect on the present and project into the future. Mmmmm food for thought…

In summary; have a narrower focus on what I take, continue to explore what I create with the images, examine how my images differ from those of others in more detail and depth highlighting the ways in which mine excel and have confidence in what it is about me and my past that is influencing the direction and impact of the imagery I am producing.

Sarah Newton 26th September 2018, Three ways of seeing Stoke Beach

FMP Week 1: It’s started

Well here I am at the end of week 1 of the Final Major Project. Double the size in terms of duration of time in comparison to the previous 4 modules, it feels more than double the challenge already. Despite not having weekly tasks that lead up to assignment completion there is plenty to do. I am venturing forth with a mixture of anticipatory anxiety as to whether I can achieve the dizzy heights required for assignments and excitement that I can focus on creation, publication and reflection about my own work.

During the break from my total immersion in Surfaces and Strategies I think I had what some might call a ‘photographers block’. I reached a point where I wondered if I had done as much as I could on my project Beauty and the Beach… and found it hard to visualise ascending to producing images that could meet the exacting expectations of the FMP criteria. In addition to not being confident about my images, I started to doubt if my plan to continue to use scanning and produce a photo-book together with another exhibition were the right way to go forward.

I am pleased to say that I feel I am now getting back on track. Feedback from the Surfaces and Strategies module assignments has helped along with having to produce a Pecha Kucha presentation (20 slides each shown for 20 seconds accompanied by an informal narration about plans for the FMP).

Destructiveness and Reconciliation

What is it about making contemporary art and photography that compels some to produce and destroy their works to improve their reception by others? I guess there is something of a trend as with clothing and furniture that can be bought new but with a deliberate distressed effects.

Is it pushing the boundaries to see how far one can go with being accepted in society or is it to do with casting the views of others aside with an attitude of not caring less what others make of it?

Visiting Unseen in Amsterdam in 2017, the Shape of Light at the Tate Modern 2018 and PhotoLondon in 2018 has begun to challenge some of my previous thoughts about abstract work. Not understanding what some have tried to say with their work I have been hasty to dismiss it as possibly infantile and therefore futile. Through studying I am more prepared to try to understand what a piece is about and why it may be heralded as something wonderful by others.

So does that mean such works can only be fully appreciated through acquiring knowledge? If that is the case the phrase ‘art lovers’ becomes circular and applicable to an exclusive section of society and excludes others who may have limited opportunities for access and exposure.

There is however a certain aesthetic appeal combined with intrigue as to the making and meaning that draws one into an image. Among those I am studying are Daisuke Yokota, Maya Rochat, Paul Kenny, Laura Nissinen and Matt Collishaw. It is not that I am planning a lot of destruction. I may try sea water with some of the items I find and some of the images I make. My materials are already in part or whole destroyed through damage and/or deterioration. I just need to explore what people have done before in order to stimulate my thinking and inspiration for my future work. As Welby Ings recommended in his 2014 lecture paraphrasing Keats, dwell in the space of unknowing…as a way of finding fertile ground. In this way I aim to allow myself to explore and experiment with methodologies for creation and ways of presenting images, continuing to build the confidence I have been developing during the Surfaces and Strategies module.

INGS, Welby. 2014. ‘The Art of Research’. Available at: [accessed 18/08/18].
JONES, Jonathan. 2013. ‘Mat Collishaw: still sensational’. The Guardian, Interview, 26 Apr 2013. Available at: still-sensational [accessed 24/03/18].
KENNY, Paul. Available at: [accessed 23/08/18].
NISSINEN, Laura. 2014. Photography exhibition Aleatory Variable. Galleria Huuto Jätkäsaari 1. 27 March – 13 April 2014. Available at: [accessed 24/07/18].
ROCHAT, Maya. 2017. A Rock is A River. Photobookstore. Available at: https;// [accessed 20/08/18].
YOKOTA, Daisuke. 2015. Photographs. Another Something online publication. Available at: [accessed 22/08/18].

Comparing and Contrasting

Looking at the work of artists and photographers past and present is key to having some indication of where your emerging style might lie. What can seem very different on the surface can yield interesting similarities underneath depending on the factors and dimensions you look at.

Thus in her comparison with and admiration for the work of three peers also looking at health and wellbeing Yas Crawford additionally notes interesting contrasts but also some similarities, to my work, despite it’s focus on inorganic matter, following  her visit to my exhibition.

In addition to Yas’s points about control, it’s apparent loss in respect of health and having it but not using it in relation to littering beaches, I wonder if there are other continuum we can relate to. For example, would images about health resonate more strongly with an audience than mine about debris? Maybe so. Where they will converge in emotional impact of course is when there is significant evidence that the debris in our oceans and on our beaches is not only harming wildlife and the environment but also ourselves. Thus the control we once had and chose not to use will have been taken out of our hands.

Jeremy Carroll 2017, Entanglement


LOEILDELAPHOTOGRAPHIE [written by]. 2017. ‘Jeremy Carroll. Marine Pollution’. loeildelaphotographie. [online]. Available at: [accessed 23/7/17].