Week 7: Publication

Week 7 was about making ‘dummy’books

Starting with Shelfies and Pilibraries we took images of our own shelves and piles. I have both. The shelves tend to be associated with my profession and piles with the growing pile of photography publications including mine made Ed Ruscha style. I also showed how a book can be a shelf as one acts like a docking station ’tilt’ for my laptop! I think about this book and its contents everyday, good news for my learning as it is authored by the course director!

Sarah Newton My photography Pilibrary, 2018


Sarah Newton My very useful docking station tilt shelf, 2018


Selecting images relating to our projects was the next more substantial challenge. Going back through mine since the start of the course I initially looked at those I had submitted for Work in Progress assignments. I then went back through to pick up all those not included in the assignments but for which I had a memory and this would be their opportunity to be ‘shown’ too. With nearly 200 I was starting to get lost in the forest!

Sarah Newton Selection of Beauty and the Beach… images, made 2017-2018

Moving them around on screen and draft prints outs on cheap paper they began to work into themes over time then groups or collections that crossed the time boundaries. I started to see a progression in my development with diversifications into sub-projects along the way.

Working under a time pressure as this was a task for the week I moved on to the third stage of putting them into a sequence, explaining how they were to be displayed in a publication and presenting a mock up on film. This part of the task was as frustrating if not more so than the overview and selection of images. I wanted more time to be able to get hold of low environmental impact and recycled materials with which to make a physical copy to film. I have come across photorag paper made from cotton, seaweed paper, rice paper, plant based papers and even paper made from stone. I have also seen notebook covers made from recycled plastic bottles and tyres.

Sarah Newton Original design for a publication, 2018

For the purposes of the task I filmed me turning A4 pages on which draft quality images were printed (to save ink). Uploading did not work so I resorted to still images with a flick over effect using Camtasia.

This felt like a very busy week and I was not satisfied with my outcome. However, the review of images was enlightening and my interest in materials to use in a publication has grown and also been inspired by the creative productions of others on the course. Suggestions received from my course varied from including the range of images since the project began to focussing on recent images which are abstractions of beach debris and one that suggested several books! In addition, webinar discussions led to the offer of editorship by my tutor as I was too close to the subject matter and images to see the ‘intrigue’ and ‘Beauty’ (as in the project title Beauty and the Beach…) others were seeing and feeling about them. A week later her editorship made me realise the value of such a task as it is not always possible to predict how viewers will see and respond to your own images. I will take this lesson and her suggestions forward into my thinking and planning for an actual publication.


Twentysix Gasoline Stations. 1963. Ed Ruscha. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twentysix_Gasoline_Stations. accessed [04-06-2018]

Nurdles, bio-beads and importance to the environment, all wildlife and ourselves

Understanding what we are talking about is a small first step to addressing the concerns these tiny, potentially toxic pieces of plastic raise (they can be coated with chemicals). Nurdles are used in the production of plastic items and bio-beads (also known as Biological Aerated Flooded Filter Media BAFF) can be used in sewage treatment plants. Many find their way into our rivers and seas through spillages and in the past, discarding excesses that way. They are small enough to be thought of as food items by birds and marine animals and we now know they are in our food chain and to greater or lesser extents in ourselves, through eating these creatures. They will not disappear.

©Nurdle Free Oceans.org

The Nurdle Free Oceans organisation is promoting awareness and campaigning to support the Clean up Our Seas campaign with particular emphasis on encouraging industrial organisations to prevent spills in to our water ways in the first place. 

With growing awareness people are now becoming nurdle ‘hunters’ across the world identifying places where they have been found, in what concentrations and with what types of nurdle.

©Nurdle Free Oceans.org
©Nurdle Free Oceans.org

Why have I become a nurdle hunter? At a local beach clean a marine biologist working together with Surfers Against Sewage representatives explained what nurdles were, similar in size to bio-beads, and spoke about spills in South Devon rivers and sea. We were shown how to find them (and it took seconds to do so) by simply sweeping your fingers through a small patch of dry sand. I was staggered that so many, hardly bigger than a grain of sand and of different colours, some more worn than others, were found by a group of about a dozen people within minutes! It made me wonder how many people have used the beach like myself for many years and not realised the intruders were there. I understand that sources of bio-beads can be traced by virtue of their colour, as different manufacturers use different colourings, whereas nurdles are harder to trace back. I now visit the beach with a kitchen sieve and glass jar to, in a very small way, catch nurdles and bio-beads and later dispose of them carefully. I have no idea how deep down into the sand they go. I have also spoken to visiting family and friends and engaged them in hunting with me.

Clearly the pressure has to be on industries across the world and Operation Clean Sweep is the result of action being taken by the plastics industry themselves, supported by The British Plastics Federation and Plastics Europe.

I probably need to photograph them with a tape measure so that their size is apparent. Here are some I collected recently, the green top in the second image being a Smartie top I found on the beach. Hopefully knowing that gives an impression of size. I appear to have collected a mix of nurdles and bio-beads as well as a little bit of twig. I wonder if a catchy song could be composed to inform people of different ages and kick start their individual hunting activity and encourage their support for industries who are actively taking positive action to stem the flows into our waterways and oceans. After all if we want to keep buying and using items with any plastic components and we want our sewage treated we need to get behind them

BBC. 2017. Plastic ‘nurdles’ found littering UK beaches. BBC News. 17 February 2017. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39001011. accessed 23-06-2018

British Plastics Federation. Operation Clean Sweep. Available at: http://www.bpf.co.uk/Sustainability/Operation_Clean_Sweep.aspx. accessed 01-08-2018

Nurdle Free Oceans; reducing plastic pollution in our seas. Available at: https://www.nurdlehunt.org.uk/whats-the-problem.html accessed 01-08-2018

South West Water. Nurdles and bio-beads. Available at: https://www.southwestwater.co.uk/environment/rivers-and-bathing-waters/nurdles-and-bio-beads/ accessed 01-08-2018

Sarah Newton Nurdles and Bio-beads with various plastics, 2018
Sarah Newton Nurdles and Bio-beads in a Smartie top, 2018

Landings 2018 Design Team: Part 3

Communications between us and with Gary have continued this week with a focus on starting to pass on information to the webmaster at Falmouth. Inevitably there were some requests to be filtered back to participants for resubmissions where specifications for the site were not met at a level of quality that was acceptable and would be acceptable, once operational, to participants themselves. With a provisional going live date for the advance publicity a few days away it is imperative that everyone who expressed an interest at the initial stages find an opportunity to send in their information. It would be a shame to miss out, especially if some have no physical exhibition plans. However, having sent out three sets of polite reminders I find I do not wish to be annoying and put pressure on people. Perhaps I would not be terribly good in this role were there high stakes for missing deadlines for publications.

23rd July 19:30pm designers conference
By prior agreement just Andrew and I met to finalise the wording and formatting for the publication that will accompany the Landings 2018 exhibition page. Ant is busy with InDesign, adding ‘best of’ images and colour coordinating them according to their themes. I had sent both a draft which Andrew had added to and I sent out draft 2 before our meeting. With a little tweaked wording and formatting it was ready and shared with Ant and Gary. We also set out a list of tasks still to be achieved relating to the posters, film and exhibition page with responsibilities between the three of us suggested. I also need to seek permission from an artist whose illustration we would like to use in the introduction.

Following various consultations during the week Andrew and I reached what we think is the final draft of the introduction meeting on Slack on 28th July. The film is also at a final stage unless there are late additions. We have asked if the posters, film and publication can be hosted by Falmouth University and therefore be accessible for others beyond the course.

Apart from collecting and uploading late information, proof reading and corrections, the final major task still to be achieved is completion of the publication.

Guest Lecture 24-07-2018: Laura Nissinen

Timing could not have been more perfect. Having diversified and seemingly reached another level or dimension (as my black images suggest to people) I have been thinking about images for the impending Work in Progress Portfolio. Encouraged by my tutor and colleagues I am veering towards a WIP comprising many images originating from scans. I took my concern as to whether this would be acceptable to my module leader in case this was a path I should not tread being without a camera in sight. This is after all a photography course which implies camera use.

Justification through explanation seems to be the key. Photography is the art of capturing light, a camera is a mechanical means to do this. The effects of light can also be caught using other means including using light sensitive paper as with cyanotypes and pinhole devices and importantly, in relation to my query, a scanner. Once imported into the digital darkroom processing can take place regardless of how the image was captured.

Laura Nissinen is completing a PhD thesis ‘Abstraction in Finnish Art Photography’ and staged an exhibition ‘Aleatory Variable at Galleria Huuto from 27 March -13 April 2014 and curated ‘1917-2017 Abstract! 100 years of Abstract Photography’ at the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki 1st November 2017 to 14th January 2018. This latter exhibition influenced Shape of Light 100 Years of Photography and Abstract Art at the Tate Modern, London, which I visited on 18th May 2018. She is inspired by the works of Jean-Luc Nancy, Laila Pullinen and Lucio Fontana.

Scanning is a feature of Laura’s methodology and has been used to produce results from water damaged negative, burned black and white film and film developed in artist’s urine (paying homage to Andy Warhol and friends urinating on paintings using copper paint). In addition to speaking about her work, Laura spoke about stages in the development of Abstract work referencing key artists, their styles and methods of production.

Informative, insightful, inspirational and affirming of the direction I have been moving in, my question has been answered. Thank you Laura Nissinen.


Fontana, Lucio. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/lucio-fontana-1102. accessed 30-07-2018

Fontana, Lucio. Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/lucio-fontana. accessed 30-07-2018

Nancy, Jean-Luc. Available at: http://www.iep.utm.edu/nancy/#H7. accessed 30-07-2018

Laura Nissinen. Photography exhibition Aleatory Variable. Galleria Huuto Jätkäsaari 1. 27 March – 13 April 2014. Available at: http://www.galleriahuuto.net/?p=10487&lang=en. accessed 24-07-2018

Nissinen, L, Aleatory Variable, 2014, Exhibition.

Pullinen, Laila. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laila_Pullinen. accessed 30-07-2018

Pullinen, Laila. Available at: https://nissbacka.com/laila-pullinen/. accessed 30-07-2018

Warhol, Andy. 1978. Oxidation Painting (in 12 parts). The Warhol. Available at: https://www.warhol.org/lessons/oxidations-and-abstraction/. accessed 30-07-2018

Warhol, Andy. 1978. Oxidation Painting. Saatchi Gallery. Available at: https://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/andy_warhol_20.htm. accessed 30-07-2018

Laura Nissinen Aleatory Variable, 2014

Stepping into another’s shoes: my guest blog for Alexandra Prescott

Guest Blog: Wildlife for Alexandra Prescott

From wildlife to debris that is running wild across the planet one would think the work of Alexandra Prescott and myself were poles apart. However that would be an erroneous assumption. We both seek, look and examine in detail. It is a form of ‘hunting’ but in neither case harm is intended. In fact quite the opposite. We are both intending to raise awareness of man’s impact on the world in which we live.

Our methodologies are somewhat different. Although we both venture out with ideas of ‘capturing’ images of particular animals or debris, Alexandra has a more clearly defined schedule and plan for her work. Her detailed knowledge of the best times and locations to ‘shoot’ specific creatures in Scotland are an example. In contrast I never know what to expect although with experience I have an inkling of what is likely to be found.

Whereas Alexandra may set up a base and wait for her subject matter with tripod and cameras with telephoto lenses, I walk and try to spot inanimate materials, carrying a camera, usually with one lens and a camera phone.
More recently there has been a convergence with our work. For some time I have been able to show some of my finds in context, for example with the beach and sea in the background rather than having the subject matter fill the majority of the image. In this way a connection has already been made between the the location and the issue of marine debris for the viewer. Alexandra has been photographing both wild and domesticated animals with human activity in particular locations.

This spring I had an opportunity to photograph Tawny owls growing up in my garden. I have always had an interest in and a desire to improve my wildlife photography. I admire the work of Gordon Buchanan, wildlife photographer and presenter (e.g. Brunt, 2011). Knowing something of Alexandra’s work in focussing on a limited number of species at specific times of year, I wondered if I might be able to study the owls over time and how I could do this without disturbing them.

My first encounter was by chance, so no preparation for what I found in terms of careful setting up of a ‘hide’ which in my case would be a discreet observation point as I do not have a portable setup. I was taking a landscape view from my garden across fields to the sea. Something made me turn left towards a tree where the is an owl box and I was being watched by what I later found out was the parent of three owlets. I am sure Alexandra will have had moments as I did freezing to the spot not daring to move and hardly daring to breathe. My attention focussed on changing camera settings with no jerky movements, standing as still as I could and focussing on taking close ups of the owl. This meant that I was not in the best position as the owl box and branches detracted from the shots. The owl was not going anywhere, it was enjoying being based in warmth as the sun came up on a beautiful still day. It was I who walked away.

Sarah Newton Being watched taking landscape images, 2018
Sarah Newton, Tawny Owl keeping an eye on me, 2018

The second encounter was similar, also unplanned, when I was near to the location for the first ready to take photographs of the landscape. Again a feeling (that something was different or perhaps of being watched) made me turn and really look at a fallen tree. Blending in with the colours of the branches and shaded by the foliage were three small owlets looking at me! Another heart stopping moment and my attention was once again diverted.

Sarah Newton Three Tawny Owlets 1, 2018

Subsequently I visited these and other locations in my garden and fields and had many such encounters. I knew that dawn and dusk would be the times to see the owls from past experience with barn owls. It was easy to monitor their behaviours and know when they were active as their calls gave them away. Interestingly the three owlets remained together following and calling each other while waiting to be fed then hunting for themselves and finally, one by one, flying off the establish their own territories.

Sarah Newton Three Tawny Owlets 2, 2018
Sarah Newton Three Tawny Owlets 3, 2018

What have I found out about myself and my photography? Patience is key. I seem to have used my walking and chance encounter approach to my debris with the owls by walking to the vicinity where I could hear their calls. However being able to move may mean that I catch some images that would no be possible if in a hide with a tripod set up. Not to be intrusive and disturb them is essential. I did feel protective on one occasion but unable to interfere (I could not get to the location and should ‘let nature take it’s course’) as a large crow attacked an owlet. It survived as the parent saw the attacker off. Being more prepared, perhaps taking a chair and tripod to the area they were in and spending more time with them would have given me more and clearer images. Having a camera that can take photographs in low light without necessitating very high ISOs and having a longer lens would be helpful. My images were taken with 24-120 and 55-300 zoom lenses.

There is so much more to learn and I feel I am only just beginning an exciting and never ending journey.

Prescott, Alexandra. 2018. Alexandra 421 – A Journey – Critical Research Journal. Available at: https://alexandra421.wordpress.com/. accessed 20-07-2018

Brunt, Lara. 07 January 2011. Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan: Part 1. Wanderlust Travel Magazine. Available at:https://www.wanderlust.co.uk/content/wildlife-cameraman- gordon-buchanan/. accessed 20-07-2018

Guest Blog: Alexandra Prescott

Alexandra and I have swopped experiences. Taking images with each other in mind and writing about the experience on each others site as guest bloggers.
This has been invaluable as a compare and contrast activity both in relation to our practices and our projects. Feedback from Alexandra on my images has certainly had an impact not only on taking images of wildlife but ensuring my processing and presentation of images is equally attended to.

Guest Blog




Landings 2018 Design Team: Part 2

In preparation for making decisions about colour schemes I googled colour wheels, both complimentary and contrasting, watched the Wes Anderson video and researched his work, and looked at the Tate exhibitions.

Wes Anderson Colour Charts
accessed 05-07-2018 Credit: RICHARD WAREHAM FOTOGRAFIE/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY Venn diagram and colour mixing C029/3137 Rights Managed accessed 05-07-2018 https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ phillips-matching-colours-struck-by- heatwave-p03204 accessed 05-07-2018

09th July 20:30pm designers conference
14th July 17:00pm designers conference
In both we looked at early drafts of the poster and the video, discussing colours, fonts, positioning and images. I had collected and collated and shared data on the excel sheet, Andrew having set up a shared one drive for the submitted images. I shared an update of our activities for Gary on Slack.

Early on we agreed to have three alternatives for the posters having used an excellent blue wine rack image of Andrew’s as a basis for the design. Each of the three would be what we considered the best ‘best of’ and most suitable for the poster design from each of the three themes. The three theme posters were finalised with unanimous agreement as to the images to be used.

Continuing over the following week we met several times on Slack and by email, with Gary at times. The focus moved to the background colour and titling and ending text for the video, keeping some familiarity with the poster and exhibition page designs while showing individual’s ‘best of’ images in the best way albeit for a brief moment following the style of……. Ant rightly pointed out that the location and release timing for the video would be important as it was not an alternative to visiting the galleries in the exhibition. We agreed it had to be a complimentary and ‘fun’ reinforcement of the exhibition and might be better issued as advertising rather than as a button on the exhibition page.

With agreement I sent out emails to individuals who had initially expressed interest on two occasions as gentle reminders requesting the designers information as our deadline for completion was imminent. A few were able to respond.

This week felt as though we had a little breathing space for our own work. Gary has sent on some of our information to the webmaster and clarifying the format he would like further information passed over. We have agreed the site will be live adverting the coming of the exhibition from 6th August.


I have been learning about; sharing on One Drive, Slack and Excel; that when a team has complimentary skills deciding who does what flows naturally; that there is a level of excitement that comes with the responsibility of achieving something for others; that taking part in something with others who are also committed to doing as good job and are willing to ‘go over and above’ requirements all sharing the work and all willing to put ourselves under added pressure to achieve the outcomes, is both satisfying and a confidence boost (when such a design task has not been experienced before).

I have also thought about whether our symbiosis means that we have not enough diversity of opinion in the group (I raised this in one of our webinars but no comments were made) and whether I personally have done enough for my part. I have been rather envious in very brief moments that I am not creating (although facilitating the creations) in having taken a more administrative role. I then rationalise that we have had a very limited time scale, we also have our own course work to do and expediency has necessitated getting on with ‘it’ and remembering it is a course activity and not a marked assignment. An additional concern about the role I seem to have taken in keeping Gary informed, making suggestions re themes, colours and wording to get discussions going between us, is that I may have been seen by Ant and Andrew as a bossy headmistress! We did not discuss leadership at the outset. This was not a deliberate omission but probably an assumption that we would all be contributing as equal partners as a collaborative venture in a flattened hierarchy recognising the different qualities and abilities we brought to the design table.

Additionally, as the task has unfolded and we have learned that the template is set for the exhibition page I do not feel we have experienced as much of a designing experience as I would have liked. However, that said having complied with the template and decided colours and background, the creative side of designing has emerged with our making posters, video and a ‘showcase’ zine cum catalogues cum exhibition publication (final title to be decided) to which I have loved contributing.

Landings 2018 Design Team: Part 1

3rd July Exhibition Designers announced and I am one of the three with Ant and Andrew. I am delighted to be working with these two great guys and experienced photographers (in the same cohort who I met at the Amsterdam and Falmouth course events) and really appreciate others’ trust that we will get the job done by voting for us.

For me I expected it would be a journey of discovery, challenges and leaning new things, not having done this before. The journey started straight away with needing to arrange a designers meeting through canvas and organising live webinars to inform all those associated with the MA Photography (staff and students) what our three themes are and what those who want to take part will need to send to us.

4th July meeting with Ant and Andrew to decide themes and the information we required from participants. What a great meeting to start the process. Not only did we complete the planned purpose and agenda but we also added plans for additional activities beyond the initial remit and specification for our roles.

I shared ideas I had had based on studying the five words, sentences and two images people had submitted to express an interest in taking part. These were Identity(ies)=9 Memory(ies)=8 and Transformation/Consequences=7. From these with Andrew’s ‘way with words’ emerged the theme titles.

Expressions of Consequence

Narrating Identity

Elements of Abstraction

Ant had been in touch with Gary and shared the Landings 2017 information which showed the format and potential design specification and limitations set by the webmaster. Ant’s suggestion that we have circles rather than squares for each person/theme was agreed subject to the template allowing this deviation (we later found out this was not possible). Ant also informed us that Gary had set up a Slack sharing platform through the Falmouth system for the four of us to communicate.

We also looked at Wes Anderson’s Color video by Andres Pena  as used in his films (https://vimeo.com/182987900) suggested by Andrew and agreed to research more on colour combinations and ideas for those relating to the themes and background for the exhibition page. Ant directed us to a brief video of an exhibition viewed while a man was on a running machine for a minute which became a source of inspiration for our film.

We also agreed that we would ask participants for the information needed for the template; up to 14 words describing each individual’s work, a thumbnail image, name and url link to their own site where they would show their work for Landings 2018. In addition we were to ask for a ‘best of’ image that would be in each person’s exhibition that we could use to make an accompanying film, showcase in a zine/catalogue and using our designer hats judge one to be the best of the ‘best ofs’ to place on a promotional poster. Ant and Andrew suggested they use InDesign and Camtasia respectively to start work on these activities. Given my lesser competence in these areas (not knowing InDesign although I have used Camtasia) I agreed and offered myself as a port of call for the information to be returned to as I could set up a shared excel sheet for the data collection.

A great start to our working as a team with each of us contributing ideas and shaping those of each other and naturally falling into undertaking activities within our competencies that reflected the different tasks we needed to achieve.

5th July I held the first webinar for those interested in taking part. We had agreed each of us would host one to maximise opportunities for those based in different time zones and with working and family commitments to take part. Due to the proximity to the designers meeting the previous evening I did not have a well prepared presentation but did manage to post up brief notes about the themes and what we required. Unfortunately due to audio difficulties communicating well was hampered. I was also not as familiar with the operation of webinars to know that my logging out and then in again would not stop the webinar altogether. I also forgot to ask people to close down their video and mute their microphones which would have helped, an omission for which I kicked myself afterwards!. …attended.

Andrew created a page of information for participants which included our agreed clarification of the themes and this was made available at the next two webinars. I placed copies on the Surfaces and Strategies and Photography Hub pages where people were signing up to take part. We began with a sub-title in addition to the themes (following the pattern of the previous year) and dropped this following discussion when Gary pointed out it was not essential.


Surfaces and Strategies week 6: Installation Plans

I have chosen to hold my exhibition at Speculation Gallery, a local space in a village near the coast. I will be holding an early evening launch on 17th August and it will be open to the public from 17th -24th August. The gallery has a number of advantages over others in the area and the arrangements have been much less complicated than other ways of displaying my work might have been (e.g. permissions relating to an installation on a beach, in a town centre or school).

Speculation Gallery was opened this year and is a working artist’s studio as well as a community shop, post office and cafe. This setting will be visited by local people as well as holiday makers and contacts that I invite to attend. There is parking nearby. Other work by the resident artists and other artists will be on display and for sale. As well as a long straight wall there are four 3 sided ‘booths’ along an opposite wall. The largest of these is to be cleared of the work of others for my work. I will also be able to have a small table to display items, either those found on beaches, those made using images of found items, a visitors comments book, a leaflet about myself, and an order form. I hope to make postcards and cards available with the exhibition as well as a zine booklet. Each image with have a luggage tag with title and price.

I have 3 white surfaces with a hanging rail and multiple options for nylon strings and hooks to attach my work to. The main panel measures 2.4 meters high and 2 metres wide and each side panel is 2.4 metres high x 1.2 metres wide.

This week I have completed sunrise trips to three beaches to collect images and materials. My sub-heading to the title Beauty and the Beach… will be 3s or Threes. This reflects the three panels, beaches and ways of looking at and seeing my images. It also reflects three ways of making the images: straight shots, some digital enhancement of straight shots and a more radical scanning of materials and digital processing to create a new collection ‘Re-Vue’ which is a recycling of rubbish but not in the way one might expect.

Sarah Newton Beach debris tryptic, July 2018
Sarah Newton Beach debris tryptic, July 2018
Sarah Newton Beach debris tryptic, July 2018

The displays on each panel could be as simple as three images one underneath the other or set in a diagonal formation, or as sets of nine in three tryptics. I have wondered about showing finds from each beach on separate panels and about showing a landscape image, object as found and object as scanned on each panel and look forward to the views of others as well as playing with scaled mock-ups to see what works best.

Sarah Newton Potential display area for my exhibition, July 2018

I will be able to host the launch and intend to have ‘specimens’ in bell jars on the display table and perhaps on each of the cafe tables.

Since writing this for week 6 of the course I have been encouraged by comments received in webinars to think about losing the subtitling and also setting out my images in a very specific and more traditional format. My plans now include unmounted and unframed images and hopefully they are to be displayed in multiple ways on products as well as on the walls.

Links to Speculation Gallery




Surfaces and Strategies week 6: Some considerations when planning my exhibition

We were given a set of questions to consider when planning our exhibitions. Although I thought of some answers when reading them initially I have had them in mind when visiting the location and am now able to give more well defined and specific responses.

What impact does your chosen space have upon your photography, and vice-versa?
Having chosen a multifunctional space which offers various activities including coffee shop, general stores and artists studio and teaching space as well as gallery space for local artists, I am aware that are a few considerations to bear in mind. I will have a three sided area one of four ‘stalls’ displaying works of art (drawings and paintings) from various artists with a facing wall showing the paintings of the resident artist and owner. Having spent a little time there, people passing through the location come in for refreshments as well as locals coming in for supplies. They may have seen the other exhibits before and not look to see if there is any new work. There is very limited parking which means people who come specifically will need to walk a short distance to reach the gallery.

What is around the work that can direct or distract attention to and away from it? Could anything in that environment be used to heighten awareness of your work or emphasise the reading of it?
Although mine is planned to stand out with some installation work as well as images, the work of the other artists may be more of a draw for viewers. In addition, having spent a little time there, people passing through the location come for refreshments as well as locals coming in for supplies. They may have seen the other exhibits before and not look to see if there is any new work.

My recent work, images abstracted from beach debris, may not convey my aim to increase awareness of and responsibility for our waste management. Thus I have begun to plan an installation to reinforce the connection with the beach. I will be using the floor space to display large sealed kilner jars of some of the debris I have collected set out on a large beach towel that has been printed with my image of a pile of waste I have collected from beaches. A couple of hessian bags made with my images along with several square black backed blocks with my images of personal possessions found on the beach will also be on the towel. At the side I will have a small table with additional items with my images including mugs, coasters and placemats as if to suggest a picnic on the beach. I have considered making bunting from some of the fabrics I have found and stringing this with fishing lines along with displaying some of my images cut into bunting triangles. The ceiling lights for displaying work on the walls may prohibit this unless I am able to hang it at a lower level or drape it around the table and edge of the towel.

Who will your viewers be and what does your work expect of them? Does it expect them to be literate about photography or internet literate? Does your work expect too much / too little of your audience?
As indicated the visitors to the venue are a mix of locals, tourists, art students, school children (who come for lessons although schools will be on holiday) and guests I invite. As the potential viewers are so diverse I am not able to predict their responses. I expect some will like some images, some will find the concept amusing- my displaying images of rubbish, some will understand that it is about found rubbish on beaches, some may reflect on their own behaviours and that of their family and friends in relation to waste management. I plan to have a visitors sheet or book for comments and suggestions and have contemplated a competition to encourage completion. For example, “please comment and make suggestion about what you have seen. If you can leave your name and phone and email one person will be randomly selected to receive the item they would like to have from this display at the end of the exhibition on 24th August”.

How long will you allow people to view your work? Is there a particular sequence in which you want the work to be experienced, or will you ’empower’ the viewer by allowing them to wonder freely around the space?
The location is open everyday 09:00am to 17:30pm and people can spend as long as they like there. They can choose where to focus their gaze. The space is viewed from the open side of a three sided ‘stall’ which cannot be fully walked into given the floor installation although people will be able to easily see the display and lean forward slightly to see more detail. It is 2metres wide (back panel) by 1.2metres deep (side panels).

How much can your viewer engage with the work directly? Can they contribute to it, or interact with it?
I may have to have a small notice asking people not to touch the installation pieces as these could break and be harmful (e.g. glass kilner jars and some glass coasters).

Do you value the thoughts and opinions of the viewer? If so, how would you go about collecting those?
I will be very interested to see their views on the comments and suggestions sheet which will be on the display table.

This has been a very useful exercise in making me think through some of the issues and influences in preparing for the exhibition. Clearly the Landings 2018 exhibition which will be an online collection of my images but not include the installation element will be a different experience. Although I cannot predict who will look at my gallery on the Squarespace site I would guess that they would include people who are interested in photography or those who know me personally and are following my journey into photography.