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]. 

Reflections on my exhibition and the work of Jo Dennis

Jo Dennis’s work is of interest to me in a number of ways. She photographs well-used and deteriorating spaces, incorporates painting and creates installations. I also photograph man-made things, albeit on a much smaller scale, and create images and have just added an installation with my exhibition 17-24th August 2018. We both look at deterioration and erosion and ‘reframe’ what we see.

“The images of the walls become ‘found’ abstract paintings – in turn, the works become a record of the time that has eroded these surfaces and reveal the domestic, un-fantastic banality of everyday existence. For Dennis there is a poetic profundity to this erosion. Her composition and cropping of photographs, allied to her paintings and sculpture, together expand these ideas using a process of abstracting and reframing imagery.” (Sid Motion Gallery 2017)

Her multi-image multi-surfaces installation is brought together using painted lines that appear on some of the images thereby making a physical connection tying the collection to a singular theme.

Jo Dennis 2017, Matter out of Place Sid Motion Gallery

When I view her work I am struck immediately by her use of limited colour palettes and the consistency in the aspect ratios and sizing of individual and small group images which bring the subsets of the series together.

Jo Dennis 2017, Matter out of Place Sid Motion Gallery
Jo Dennis 2017, Matter out of Place Sid Motion Gallery
Jo Dennis 2018, Ladywell Gems

In contrast I feel my work is still at a messy experimental stage, each piece having its own life, contrasting and sometimes clashing colours and shape and size being determined by what most suits the subject matter rather than what might make looking at the images easier.

Sarah Newton 2018, Beauty and the Beach… Speculation Gallery
Sarah Newton 2018, Beauty and the Beach… Speculation Gallery










Although I divided my images into three types placing each on a separate wall of my exhibition there remained a certain higgledy piggledy feel about each one. Clearly I need to address these areas, not simply to feel I am ‘conforming’ to unwritten rules of consistency and continuity that date back to analogue times (e.g. Cotton 2018: 219-221) but because I want to find a way to maximise the receiving of the narrative I tell through my images.


Cotton, Charlotte. 2018. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. 3rd edn. London: Thames & Hudson.

JOBEY, Liz. Lost and found- the transformative art of Jo Dennis. Financial Times: Financial Times Photography. 18 May 2018. Available at: [accessed 23-08-18].

SID MOTION GALLERY. Jo Dennis Matter out of Place. 19 January – 24 February 2017. Available at: [accessed 23-08-18].

Paul Kenny

I have just been made aware, through a friend who has visited my exhibition this week, of Paul Kenny and his publication ‘Seaworks 1998-2013’ available from TripleKite Publishers. What a great reference in relation to my project.

For more than 35 years Paul has sought “the awe-inspiring in that which is easily passed by. It contains issues of fragility, beauty and transience in the landscape: marks and scars left by man and the potential threat to the few remaining areas of wilderness. Looking at the micro and thinking about the macro, I aim for each print to be a beautiful, irresistible, thought provoking object.”

His aim is so similar to mine. However, whereas I am focussing on taking debris on beaches he is collecting organic as well as inorganic items on beaches. Another similarity is his methodology. I am just starting my adventure with no camera techniques, particularly scanning. Paul creates plates of his found items, scans and then creates large scale photographs with them (Huxley-Parlour 2018). He has also used seawater from the beaches where he took images to erode and change their appearance (Seymour, 2016).

I am so pleased that my images created a resonance with my friend who recommended Paul’s work to me. I plan to find out much more as I move into the Final Major Project stage of the MA Photography. The first step is to find and borrow a copy of ‘Seaworks 1998-2013’ as it is out of stock on several sites.


HUXLEY-PARLOUR ARTISTS. Available at: [accessed 23-08-2018].

KENNY, Paul. Available at: [accessed 23-08-2018].

SEYMOUR, Tom. 2016. Paul Kenny’s Land and Sea. British Journal of Photography. 21 June 2016. Available at: [accessed 23-08-2018].

TRIPLEKITE PUBLISHING. Available at: [accessed 23-08-2018].

Showing now!

Beauty and the Beach… opened yesterday with a lovely soiree and will run until 24th August. Also on line at Landings 2918 for a year.

My 10 tips on mounting an exhibition ( which may be obvious to some but could also be helpful to others):
1. Think about potential audience(s). The context for mine is a three sided ‘booth’, one of several displaying the work of artists, in a working artist’s studio that also serves the community as a shop, post office and cafe. Based on the diversity of local and tourist custom in this area I included a range of images from seascapes to ‘abstracted beach debris’.
2. Consider how the images are displayed. I selected three groups to be placed on each of three walls: seascapes and finds that clearly identify what the subjects are, beach finds that start to intrigue through use of light, textures and tonal range and beach finds that have varying degrees of digital darkroom work and need closer viewing to understand what they are and how they were made (camera, scanner and cyanotype).
3. Decide what else to include. Products: I made products on varying surfaces to see how my images might look on glass, china, in acrylic, on hessian and towelling fabric. Incorporated into the exhibition of images as an ‘installation’ these have added interest and potentially value at several levels. In addition to encouraging a ‘double take’ and potentially enhanced impact between image on the wall and the product where the image has been presented in the two forms, they can strengthen the message you wish to convey, show a different perspective (e.g. ‘recycling’) and present items considered aesthetically pleasing and an object of discussion in their own right. Props: In addition to newly created products I included props to ‘set the scene’ reinforcing both raising awareness of beach debris and to show original items that featured in some of the images.
4. Prepare images and products well in advance in time for faults to be addressed, particularly if dependent on others (e.g. for printing and making products).
5. In the weeks leading up to the opening plan, discuss, shape and confirm arrangements for publicity, financial transactions, opening event and hospitality, and whether you need to be present during opening times or whether the event is ‘hosted’ by another on your behalf.
6. Develop a hanging plan according to the options available at the location and be prepared to adapt according to circumstances on the day.
7. Allow for doubling and even tripling your initial estimation of the time setting up will take.
8. Have an assistant for practical and moral support when setting up.
9. Expect the unexpected. Opinions, likes and dislike vary according to many factors, nature, nurture, life experiences and importantly neurological sensory and emotional sensitivity. As authors of ‘images’, having lived with and become very familiar with them over time, our attachments can be quite different to the response and relationship others form with an image.
10. Keep energy and wellbeing levels up during setting up and opening days and enjoy showing your work to others!

Sarah Newton Bottled Beach Debris, 2018
Sarah Newton Props and products to accompany Beauty and the Beach… Exhibition and Installation, 2018
Sarah Newton Can tops and bases in acrylic block, 2018