2. Blog

Journey to Mamon

brief – submission – blog – feedback – rework

[27Sep21] An idea yesterday that began with a piece of junkmail from the local Conservative Party councillors. They are running a petition to support the retention of Eltham’s rather interesting, vaguely art deco (echoing the Courtaulds’ Eltham Palace), 1930s police station. I photographed it for I&P Asg.5 (fig. A1) but it did not make the cut.
Anyway, when I went to their web site the petition turned out to be a ruse mostly aimed at voter data-gathering, but the point is, their banner is a pano of the view from Greenwich Observatory (fig. A2), not dissimilar from one of mine for EyV Asg.1, but a wider angle (fig. A3).

This led to the thought, let The Journey be from Greenwich Observatory to Canary Wharf, choosing urban landscapes along the way, ending at Henry Moore’s Old Flo currently sited near the tallest Canary Wharf buildings (fig. A4). Perhaps every image should include the Towers – we’ll see (they are visible from much of London, a perpetual reminder of our economy’s reliance on Financial Services †). This can encompass old and New London with the Observatory and the overlooked Naval College epitomising the former and the Towers the latter, strewn with Establishment art to lend some implied heft.

† Elsewhere, it might be worth considering the view of The Towers from every London Postcode. It would be a lot of work, but can run as a side project.

[28Dec] Horizon, little sky?

Beaumont Newhall, in the 1982 edition of his History of Photography, takes note of the change, saying that with the 1937 Guggenheim grant Weston’s “style expanded, the variety of subject matter increased, and a rich human quality pervaded his later work.” And John Szarkowski, characteristically, articulates it most persuasively. Writing in American Landscapes, he notes, “Until the mid-1930s [Weston] tended to avoid the horizon, or use it as a beautiful line, a graphic obligato at the top of the picture, contenting himself with an order that could be managed in a taut, shallow space, almost in two dimensions. But by the late 1930s, when he was at the height of his powers, no space seemed too broad or deep for him.” Clearly, Szarkowski’s view of Weston’s career does not follow received opinion.

Grundberg, 1999, p.26

Batch 1

[5Jan22] The first outing for the assignment today, the weather dry, bright but cold, so pale blue, clear skies. Two targets in mind, the views north from Greenwich Observatory and from Cutty Sark. I found a third – between the two is a weather-beaten statue of one of the Georges.

A mixed image strategy with a combination of exposure and film simulation bracketing and I also took along an analogue camera I was given for Christmas – my first outing with film for a decade or two.

Contacts

The first image from the observatory is ok but the others are rather ordinary. I could redo the statue from further away with a longer lens to change the perspective but Cutty Sark is from about the only available vantage point: the only choice is portrait are landscape. Portrait offers a more concentrated image, but my EyV tutor was very much against mixing the two formats – that’s largely why I switched to 6×7 for most work, but squarish is not optimal for images of urban landscapes. Perhaps the solution is to crop them all vertically – I’ll try that next.
It is to be hoped that the cohesion of a common background will make the whole more than the sum of its components.

There is a statue near the observation point of fig. B1. Perhaps it will be possible to construct an art / monument / historical artefact theme or typography for this series. And don’t fail to mention this creative, developmental journey in the write-up. And if it is possible to create this squarish, it will be a conscious and welcome subversion of literal landscapism (land-escapism? regrettably, that’s already a thing, see the Land Escapism Conference next month in NSW and Gloria Medina Torre’s photographs of the Yucatan and Land Escape Ltd, garden consultants.)


Batch 2, Greenwich Observatory, 28th January

Contacts

[28Jan] The walk during the last batch, extended by a lack of buses due to road closures caused by an accident immobilised me for a couple of weeks, then flu, then bad weather, but back today with a second visit to Greenwich Observatory to include the statue and include some vertical format.

Figs. C1-C4 are the four basic options, Vertical and horizontal, with and without the statue. Fig. C5 is the one I went on today’s visit for so I’ll stick with this for now and see if the others fall into line.
There is some purple fringing though overprocessing which will not be in the submission.


Batch 3, Greenwich and Isle of Dogs, 31st January

Box D
Isle of Dogs
Google Maps

Contacts

[31Jan] A third outing today, a return to George II in the grounds of Greenwich U. and then through the nearby foot tunnel to the Isle of Dogs where a Dobson replica was encountered in Millwall Park.

It was bitterly cold and, having had to negotiate stairs at both ends of the tunnel, I had to call it a day.

The route will be continued as time and weather allow, see fig. D1.

I am sticking to vertical format B&W images of local landmarks with Canary Wharf in the distance, though I’m not sure it will sustain the full 12.

The story so far (if I’m sticking with vertical B&W). Cutty Sark doesn’t really fit in – it was in my original list, but that was before I started think of public art as the second unifying feature, after Canary Wharf.


Batch 4, Greenwich, 4th February

Contacts

Having identified some more potential secondary subjects from List of public art in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, today’s come from south of the river.

A selection of the output from Batch 4 was processed to Black and White



Batch 5, Isle of Dogs, 7th February

Box D repeated
Isle of Dogs
Google Maps

Contacts

[7Feb] I started from Island Gardens station where the Dobson replica (figs. E3-4) is sited, checked out the church to the east, but any view of the towers is obstructed by apartment blocks. I returned to the park and walked north for two stations, finding nothing to photograph and so got back on the train to Canary Wharf to photograph subjects at the end of the journey.

The empty plinth in front of the Museum of London (figs. E7-8) used to hold a statue of Robert Milligan but that was removed in 2020 because of his interests in the slave trade (Warren, 2020).

The final selection was processed to black and white.


Batch 6, 11th February 2022, Greenwich Peninsular

Contacts

[11Feb] This visit was not very productive in terms of the project, but enjoyable nevertheless. I found the other pieces I set out to see, but for all but one, the towers were obscured by apartment blocks or the O2 Dome (figs. K1-K6) — and that one is rather underwhelming.

Images processed


Batch 7, 23rd February 2022, Canary Wharf

Contacts

[24Feb] The last batch, as the assignment is due in by 28th. Having found no other targets on the Isle of Dogs between Mudchute and Canary Wharf, it’s off to the destination with the Canary Wharf Art Map (2021). Given the nature of the site, many of the pieces had no line of sight to what have become the background targets, f the HSBC, Barclays and CitiBank towers.

Processed


Final Selection

[24Feb] I accumulated the final shortlist on the Submission Page in order to write about them. I’ll now move them back make the final selection

The brief calls for “approximately 12 photographs”. I doubt I’ll exceed that number and I’ll be content with 11 or even 10, but no less than that.

Selection

I’ll start with individual images, looking for likely to stay – likely to drop – middling.

likely to stay
1-4 are strong (defined in the Asg.1 submission); 8 interesting and political; 10 part of the original plan; 17 good; 20 good, like the bike.

likely to drop
5-6 weak; 11 weak; 12-13 indulgent;

undecided
There’s a picture at the top with no statue. I like one at the top of the page, image before any of my text, but should it be that one?
7, 9, 19, too many heads?
14-16 a bit weak; 18 too;
21 not special – its in the middle of a cafe, difficult to get a good angle.

On the first pass, that’s 8 good, 5 not-so-good; 8 undecided. Choose the 4 best of the 8 undecided and see if they’ll sequence.

That’s 4 from 7, 9, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19 and 21.

Keep 2 heads (7, 9, 19). #7 goes because of the cluttered background.
2 needed from the rest – 14, 15, 16, 18, 21 – 14 (clocks) and 15 (tear) the others have aesthetic faults and the two have added intrigue because Clocks doesn’t look like an art work at first or at second glance and Tear has the requisite buildings only in distorted reflection.

Sequence

Abandoned jetty at the top.
Wolfe (1) first, Old Flo (7) last (as originally envisaged).
split the heads (6 and 11), split the intrigue (8 and 9).
the original plan was to sequence by size of the towers, implying distance and journey (ignoring the impact of the lens) so that would be:
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 10 – 12 – 7
then mix in 6, 11, 8 and 9


LP&E Asg 2 References

Alexander, J, Conroy, A, Hughes, A, & Lundy, G (2019) Landscape, Place and Environment [LPE]. Barnsley: Open College of the Arts.

Brightly, G. (n.d.) Greenwich Conservatives [online]. greenwichconservatives.com. Available from https://www.greenwichconservatives.com/ [Accessed 27 September 2021].

Canary Wharf (2021) Art Map [online]. canarywharf.com. Available from https://canarywharf.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/canary-wharf-whats-on-art-map-jun-2021.pdf [Accessed 24 February 2022].

Warren, K. (2020) Who are monuments for? Considering slavery legacies in London’s public statues [online]. museumoflondon.org.uk. Available from https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/discover/who-are-monuments-for [Accessed 7 February 2022].