Category: cultural geography (page 1 of 2)

BACKWATER: Creative Project OR Phd or both?

I have been inspired by a fairly innocuous Victorian postcard I found online which symbolises where I come from..literally..

I hope to create a set of three related but different media outcomes from same basic idea. Below some mock-ups of how it may come out…

The painting below is also a find. Accredited to one Evelyn Fothergill Abbot and painted in 1932..

It is a hither too unknown to me image actually painted in Long Wittenham allegedly but from angle of hill I would say more likely a view down from the Clumps…I will investigate..

(c) Reading Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/backwater-long-wittenham-abingdon-oxfordshire-41453

Painted the year my father born….Traced the artist..Evelyn Fothergill Robinson..member of New English Art Club with Alexander Mann and Nevinson etc…

also connected to Arts and Crafts..exhibited at Baillie and Grafton Galleries pre marriage in 1917!

Here a black and white Italian painting. Also traced title of a Wittenham Clumps painting..no image yet.

As part of the new painting project I also hope to be taking photographs on the spot.

Trailer Star’s English Folk album….I hope….

Finally a new book of poems…

 

 

From Track to Backwater

trackcover

In 2010 as my mother was in the final stages of Carcinoid cancer I took a walk down a disused railway line in my hometown that used to run from Didcot to Southampton.

I used it as the beginning of a NTU M.A. in Multimedia. A year later it collapsed and I retstarted it as a Fine Art Drawing M.A. instead after she passed away in 2012.

As my mother worsened I continued to visit her and that track and walk it and remember the times I walked and drew it in the early 1990s.

Here is an image from a small sketchbook drawn on the 1st August 1990….I dated everything in those days.

sketch15

 

I however had not forgotten that Track project and always thought it would come back.

 

 

Holiday Research – The Traveller’s Map

Whilst on holiday in Norfolk I as usual encountered a few bookshops. On my travels I found these items. the Murray’s is Piper and Betjeman from 1949 and interesting as uses the pre-boundary change definition of Berkshire which includes Abingdon and Didcot.

The Gray is interesting as a general print history and the London on Wheels a real find for 30p…..has a Dover Railway excursion song sheet illustration in from 1844 which about as early as it gets!

Here the books and the scans of map and songsheet.

 

This is I believe the earliest (I so far found) image of the Wittenham Clumps alongside ‘Shillingford’ on the map. It from Burton book and was aimed at Coach Traveller’s in 1802.

 

clumps1

gray wheels

burtonmurrays

 

Rail and River: The Hitchman Archive explored.

As a teenager I remember looking through the extensive book collection my friend at school’s father had assembled. Mostly on a natural history and a river Thames theme I wasn’t sure how many of those books were still with my friend Stephe here in Nottingham. Yesterday I looked through the remnants of the ‘Hitchman Archive’ and found a treasure trove of cultural geography material.

Here what I managed to carry home to render into a bibliography for a proposal but there plenty still in the boxes.

hitchmens

Most significant were the accounts of the Victorian Thames and it already apparent that the railway opened up the River Thames as a tourist destination. I also delighted to discover a hither-too unknown to me artist George D. Leslie who was living in Wallingford at the same time Mann in Hagbourne. Indeed there was a group of  artists associated with two families there and George D. Leslie even wrote a book about art politics at the R.A!

leslie2

This has put back my writing of the proposal for PhD as I sort through the new material and maybe revise my intended research question and title. The Rail/River juxtaposition seems to sum up the Victorian Golden age ( in Williams sense) problem. The artists used the railway to access the ‘unspoilt’ countryside/riverscapes but hardly (unlike the French Impressionists) painted the Railway…..this at root of my enquiry. Why did the British painters and artists comprehensively ignore the very means by which they were gaining access? This seems to be the essential contradiction at the heart of rural art and art movements here in the U.K.

Having found Leslie I did a quick trawl of other possible artists at work in a radius of just ten miles of Didcot Junction and came up with John Singer Sargent and John Lavery both connected to Lord Asquith estate at Sutton Courtenay. I also uncovered a small art commune known as the Broadway Group in the Cotswolds connected to Henry James and presumably linked to the arts and crafts further upstream. It looking increasingly likely that although the focus has been on Jewson and Morris above Oxford that the railway enabled a whole range of artistic activity all along the newly ‘discovered’ unspoilt Thames. Far from being the ‘Upper Thames’ poor cousin there may be more yet to uncover in ‘The Lower or Middle’ Thames Valley.

I also found this fascinating combination of travelogue, illustration and ‘staged’ photography by Charles George Harper and W.S.Campbell. I have never seen this illustration of the Clumps before and it several decades before Gibbings books were published.

I am very grateful to Mr Hitchman senior for this legacy:-)

TVVBothS TVVillages2vol Wittenham Clumps, by Charles G. Harper from Thames Valley Villages, 1910 (a)

They also published this book which has direct connection to Edwin Smith’s later photography from the look of the cover!

rural nooks

Reading Berkshire and Photography: Francis Dann

More interesting highways and byways of Berkshire Photography..pre 1900

Francis Dann was a well known female commercial photographer. This her and her shop in Reading. Plus a photo from her studio and her card.

FDann

Dann Card

Dann-shop

Cassey-directory

 

 

Sources: Berkshire of One Hundred Years Ago: David Buxton , Alan Sutton 1992

$_35

and the Reading Connections Blog

https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/reading-connections/2014/02/17/mrs-dann-readings-first-female-professional-photographer/

 

Full online digititised collection here:

https://www.reading.ac.uk/merl/collections/Archives_A_to_Z/merl-P_DX322.aspx

One of her images

dann pic

Henry Taunt and Long Wittenham

tauntshop

I have long been familiar with a Henry Taunt image of the road from Long to Little Wittenham but in a recent web search found an interesting twist on the theme.

The two images below  clearly show that Taunt like other commercial photographers used  ‘combination printing‘ in dropping in a separate cloud background.

I was familiar with Gustave Le Gray’s use of this technique in seascapes.

http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/gustave-le-grey-exhibition/

Here the two images. The second image is I presume the original.

Without inspecting the originals in the Oxford Museum collection
which may take some time as there 14000 images I cannot say if my hunch correct yet.

Here a pdf of the catalogue

Henry Taunt Catalogue

hill2taunt hilltaunt

Here more images from the visit of Taunt and his camera to the village in 1890?

 

There is a fine website dedicated to a Taunt revisited photography project here:

http://henrytaunt.com

This is what I call a floating tripod..

henry-taunt-afloat02

 

Sweet Thames Run Softly…

thamesbook

bookt

Going back to the source. I grew up near The Thames.

I have written about it for thirty years and now I researching it 🙂
temsbooks

oxnew

Just discovered this so am now looking for a copy..

This also..

taunt

Suit of Lights? The Berkshire Hank Williams…

marshfield mummers

So Shaun what are you actually doing now……

well..that’s an interesting question.

I currently have two PhD proposals submitted to Nottingham University and Loughborough. They both the same and the gist of the proposal is this.

I want to link two separate areas of art research together. Storicodes is an app developed at Nottingham University MRL ( Mixed Reality lab) which is an artier version of the rather banal QR code. It has been successfully deployed through large scale illustration ( NWS November 2015).

At the same time I became aware of the developments in digital embroidery especially through the work at NTU in textile and product design. I was assured by Dr. Sarah Kettley that there is no theoretical problem in creating lighting embroidery which could then be scanned by the storicode app.

Which Baldrick is where my cunning plan unfolds…

As a dead country star ( yes there a lot around) and folk performer/reviewer I aware that audiences falling and venues closing so would like to help counter that trend. An app that connected both consumers and artists and enabled connections would be great. So here we have a variation on the ‘added content’ idea. By wearing an embroidered suit whilst performing it may be possible for an audience member to focus the scanning app on a part of the design which lit up in sequence as songs played. This would trigger an illustration appearing (songbook cover/graphic novel page) as I performed. The audience member would only access this information at the performance. Thus re-establishing a live venue experience with added value. I keen on the idea of near-field content which limited and not ubiquitous. I have a plan for a museum tree that beams out archives..but that literally another story…

Finally and still in early stages of development I have friends who work with severe autism and it may be possible to develop child-friendly suits that enable communication. Music and rhythm can be the keys to unlocking those previously ‘blocked’ neural spaces. If I can get funding then that a route I keen to go down.

PhD funding is extremely competitive at present and I still hopeful. If I fail ( update July 2016..I did fail but only because I not keen on being a corporate intern which sad ). Then I may look at alternative ways of creating these projects such as Near Now at Broadway or ACE funding or even Crowdsourcing. Who knows.

But that is where I be at right now.

Here some artist’s suits for information….and of course Elvis Costello wrote a song called ‘Suit of Lights’

ANAMNESIA: Art, Technology and Modernism in the Thames Valley 1850-1950

Back to where I started..literally…..first thought best thought?

amanesia

This explains where my ‘art research’ has gone…
It not classic ‘design’ art research any more it lies somewhere along the Iain Sinclair/W.G.Sebald/Patrick Keiller line. i.e. A travelogue based exploration of the historic impact of technology on a specific geographical region. I am now working exclusively on this as my ‘written’ output alongside my poetry.
 

I no longer consider myself to be exclusively in the fine art ‘drawing research’ area.

I am now seeking full or part-funding or a receptive institution to help develop this project.

And here my first mention of ANAMNESIA in 2010:

 

Revisiting ‘Deep Mapping’

This post was originally posted on this blog in 2011!

Interesting how much of it now relevant again…

The following passage was taken from “DEEP MAPPING:” A brief Introduction by Iain Biggs.
Mapping Spectral Traces

The concerns of deep mapping in its visual and performing arts manifestations are best indicated by Clifford McLucas’ text There are ten things that I can say about these deep maps. For McLucas deep maps appear in the interaction between three basic elements: graphic or freestanding visual work; a time-based component—film,  video, performance, or music; and a database or archival system that remains open and unfinished. He sees the process of deep mapping as challenging our presupposition that knowledge is the specialist domain of professional experts and wants it to bring together “the amateur and the professional, the artist and the scientist, the official and the unofficial, the national and the local.” McLucas also argues that deep maps should be a “politicized, passionate, and partisan” evocation of a site, involving “negotiation and contestation over who and what is represented and how.” Deep mappings should give rise to “debate about the documentation and portrayal of people and places” and be unstable, fragile, and temporary—conversations not statements. Mapping Spectral Traces 2010.

Clifford McLucas

http://cliffordmclucas.info/

 

 

my post from 2010

I am intending to rewrite my initial proposal in light of research I have done.

From a starting point of a ‘portfolio’ piece which showcased work using GPS and some form of app/website I have moved to a much more general approach drawing on the whole Deep Mapping idea. Indeed the closest fit to my initial aspirations of a ‘regional focus’ has been my recent discovery of the whole ‘deep mapping’ area.

I had already seen Patrick Keiller’s work and especially Robinson in Ruins which came out recently chimed with my own concerns. This has linked with the Pearson and McLucas definitions of Deep Mapping as a framework for proceeding. Indeed so much so that I am going to rewrite my initial proposal to acomodate this shift in focus. Although keen on social interaction and the kind of idea expounded in the ‘Context Providers’ book I am putting this on back burner until after M.A. completed and may form part of a larger package to take to Didcot Cornerstone Gallery (at present a gallery exposition is no longer a focus).

Deep Mapping is a complex idea and has complex outputs so the rest of this RPT M.A. is very much concerned with fitting the range of inputs into a manageable ‘online’ outcome as well as producing a range of discipline specific outcomes. I am no longer as focused on a specific app although it may still be produced.

I am also looking at merging google maps and a traditional website (which can be accessed through responsive or purposefully ‘mobilised’ websites).

To me the technology is simply a frame or container for the subject matter which is my main interest. Contemporary developments in hand held devices affords greater on location interaction but this does not now seem as important to me as providing a coherent interface for my wide ranging concerns.

It is a tall order to bring together my work in disparate fields and I am aware that there will be problems and that indeed the whole project may fall over through to many inputs but that is the most interesting aspect of this kind of work for me and also something I can honestly reflect upon as being genuine research in a fairly new area.

As Cliff McLucas stated

  • “To investigate ways of dealing with landscape – in what the concept has come to stand for, in its permutations in various media (painting, photography, poetry, performance … ), in its disciplinary field of landscape studies (incorporating historical and cultural geography, art history, archaeology), in its association with contemporary notions of place and identity, in its implied cultural politics”

 

and I also influenced by Mike Pearson’s definition

  • ” deep mapping……..takes region as its optic, acknowledging the effective ties between people and place”.

To me this social, political and people-centered focus is at the heart of my enquiry.

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