Reflective Statement

Within my work and throughout university the everyday narratives and daily moments that often go unnoticed have fascinated me. Reflecting back on my projects I can see clear themes that have formed. For instance the public space being made domesticated and the way these spaces are arranged. Also the relationship the inhabitants have with their own space and the traces they leave behind. The use of natural light has been constant throughout my projects, stemming from an interest in nineteenth century paintings. This compelled me to research further into ‘Tableau photography’ for my final essay, because of its concept of ‘false reality’. This has inspired me to look further into the domestic space and lead me to attempt to provide mere glimpses into these daily moments, exploring the idea of the real authenticity time.

Concepts And Themes
From reflecting back over previous projects, the first project that had a strong sense of narrative was ‘Concepts and Themes.’ By having to choose a piece of artwork from the Southampton City Art Gallery, I was naturally drawn to the paintings by Edward Coley Burne-Jones. Looking at the time when it was painted, taking inspiration from the Pre-Raphaelite period and at the narrative that Burne-Jones brings to his mythology paintings. My first thoughts were to try taking a specific theme from the stories, I soon took a natural lead, drawing the real sense of romance in the paintings and interpreting that in my own way in terms of the human female form by using a true romantic setting, so in my case the wooded area the subject is in. I chose the subject in my images to be a young girl, wanting her stance and composition to echo the ones of the trees surrounding her, blending her into the natural landscape.

I wanted this because it makes her more ambiguous and links her in with the nature, again drawing form Burne-Jones’ paintings of his mystical creatures. There could be many different ideas of who she is and where she has come from. I look at my images more as landscapes, thinking of the subject as part of that. She emphasises the beauty of the nature and how it can come to life, similar to Burne-Jones’ mystical characters that have immortal powers.
Being inspired by other Pre-Raphaelite artists like Holman Hunt and Gabriel Rossetti, it made me want to capture true romance and create a feeling of the pre-Raphaelite period within my images. I started off practicing in the studio creating different compositions, I looked at how Burne-Jones painted the human form and took the silhouette shapes to form my own idea of graceful, feminine beauty. I also focused on more contemporary photographers such as Sarah Jones and Gregory Crewdson, who use narratives within their work also. 

This helped me to have a clear idea what I wanted when I shot in my location.
When editing I took into consideration all of this and chose the image I thought best represented my inspiration and my own developments throughout the project. My final print was done by precision of using a mask in the darkroom to make the actual image size 8X10 on a 20X16 piece of paper. I decided to do this to draw the viewer into my image, and make them look closer into the narrative giving them a chance to engage with the image.

(Final Print)

Domestic And Public Sphere
‘Second-hand sites are argued to be intrinsically about identity’ (2003, Spaces of shopping practice, Second-hand Cultures. Nicky Gregson and Louise Crewe.)

I began by looking at objects that were given to charity shops; I was attempting to capture the authenticity of the individual and how an object can hold that nostalgia or mark. I also wanted to challenge the public space and how that is made domesticated. My first artist inspiration was from Nigel Shafran, from looking at his project focusing on ordinary objects that are being recycled and sold.  After firstly trying to capture the whole room in my images, I decided this wasn’t including what I was trying to get across in my images. I decided to change from digital to film and get a lot closer to the objects. I did this because getting closer to the objects would show off their character, by being able to see them more clearly and the way they are set up together (acting out the domestic space). This can be shown a lot better when cropping a small section of a shelf within the shop.

Other main influences have been photographers like Ben Murphy because of his documentation of the outside space being made domesticated. Also Laura Letinsky and Wolfgang Tillmans because of their focus on objects as still life.

My final images from this project show how the displays within the charity shop can be acting out the domestic role, and the items photographed show the individuality of the previous owners.
(1 Final Print out of 3)

Contemporary Practice
Within this project I have explored the domestic space and the traces that the inhabitants leave within their personal environment. I have explored the notion of the everyday by capturing images of the interaction and subtle suggestion of the presence of the inhabitants. The themes that are within my work are the banal of the everyday movements that we create in a domestic space and would normally overlook. Also the idea of how we create a personal space to live in, the idea of how over time we leave traces of ourselves, and looking at the idea of ‘dwelling’ and how this is accentuated in the interior. By using the domestic space I am using a familiar environment the viewer will be able to relate to, this will help them engage with my work, enabling them to absorb the image and to be absorbed by the image.

I have created subtle enigmas within my domestic scenes, inviting the viewer to enjoy the experience of looking. A lot of my images reflect similar qualities that may be found in paintings of the past. For example the natural light that seems to be a theme throughout my images, again drawing on the idea of ‘tableau’ and an image to be ‘be held’.

Within my proposal I wrote about how I wanted my images to be about the interaction of people within a personal space, however throughout my project I felt more drawn to how the inhabitants interact with their private space, not so much with each other. So as I took more images I felt I was commenting more on the interior as a container for the private individual, than my original idea of focusing on the relationships within the private space. 

Reading Henri Lefebvre’s theories of different elements of space in ‘The Production of Space’ (Lefebvre.1991), I began to look at the interior space differently. Lefebvre suggests that when we see a space, we must immediately indicate what occupies the space and how it does so. My images relate to this in terms of what the viewer will feel when they look at my images. Lefebvre also refers to the house as a ‘dwelling’ and the traces within it. As my project went on I felt more inclined to photograph the traces within the domestic space, rather than what I had proposed to do.

(2 Final Prints)

Final Major Project
Hotel rooms, doctors surgeries and airport lounges are just a handful of spaces that we consider insignificant or unfamiliar. However an ever-increasing proportion of our time is being spent in these curious spaces. My final major project is an exploration of these ‘non-places’ and hopefully an opportunity for the viewer to interact with these ‘spaces’.
My final project is a development from the most recent, contemporary practice. However, some of the main themes have been continued and the places have varied from domestic homes to public spaces being made domesticated. I started out by photographing a doctors’ surgery’s waiting room, however I felt the results were too clinical. Nevertheless the exploration of a space attempting to be made domesticated interested me, and on hindsight the catalyst within this project.

Looking at Marc Auge’s book on ‘Non-places’, which analyses the notion of ‘space’ and ‘place’, I was able to enhance my understanding of the conations we have with each term.
‘Place’ is said to be more of a representative of our time, being defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, on the contrary to the term ‘space’, or ‘non-places’ where the identity and familarity is lost because of the “temporal expanse (‘in the space of a week’).” (Auge pg.82). It is therefore a more abstract representative of our time.
This research compelled me to find a transitional place that we may not consider significant but that we may spend a lot of our time, leading me to photograph guesthouse rooms. The photographs I took in the guesthouse illustrate my concept well, merging the two themes; a public space being made domesticated and the time spent in a place of insignificance.
The sense of time within my images became vital and creating images that absorb the viewer. Drawing from the concept of ‘tableau photography’, which originates from the French word 'tableau' which is used for painting. Michael Fried defines it as ‘A rectangle made to be ‘be held’ by the viewer.’ (Fried. 1971, p.90) I have creating ambiguous narratives that enable the concept of time to be in the control of the viewer, striving to represent present reality in our ever-changing lives. Making me wonder whether these ‘non-places’ have become the real measures of our time.

Tableau photography is considered ‘The painting of modern life’ (Oliver 2011), thus enabling me to draw from my love of renaissance paintings. I have used my medium format 6.45 camera for all of my projects, enabling me to be familiar with my equipment to create the best results. In terms of finishing’s, I have hand printed from my films and mimicked the size and proportions of a painting, resulting in approximately 30X40” C-type colour prints. The way I photograph is also taken into consideration. By always using a narrow depth of field, to create those soft background spaces, these allure the viewer to be absorbed into the images, by the soft painterly tones.

(Doctors Surgery)

(Final 3 Prints: Guest House)

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