In our earliest years we know a patch of ground in a detail we will never know anywhere again – site of discovery and putting names to things -people and places- working with difference and similitude – favourite places, places to avoid – neighbours and their habits gestures and stories -textures, smells -also of play imagination, experiment-finding the best location for doing things -creating worlds underfur own control, fantasy landscapes. (Professor Mike Pearson) (oca notes, pg 15)
For this exercise we as photographers and artists are asked to find inspiration in our immediate locations, we look at the concept within welsh culture called Y filltir Sgwar(the square mile) described by Professor Mike Pearson. The square mile is the intimate connection between people and their childhood home surroundings. We are asked to create a series of 6-12 photographs in response to this concept and to use it as an opportunity to take a fresh and experimental look at our surroundings. The aim of the exercise is that it should communicate something about our identity, interest and ambitions once we have completed the exercise we need to write a reflection on the exercise of up to 500 words.
Reading the brief I started to feel a little uncertain about how I was going to approach this exercise you see my childhood surroundings would be back home in South Africa so that was not an option for me. I decided to start jotting some ideas down and researching some photographs to try and find some inspiration for the exercise. While doing my research I found myself drawn to the work of Niki Feijen series Frozen in time feeling inspired by his work of abandoned buildings I decided to do some more research on abandoned buildings in Cyprus while doing my research I found an article about the Katsela Project her in Cyprus where the street artist Zabou does beautiful work on abandoned buildings in the village Athienou.
So on Saturday (02/07/17), I headed off on a road trip to find the village Athienou, Athienou is a village in the Larnaca district it is one of the four villages located with the united nation buffer zone. So I finally reached my destination after a long drive usually I would park up and walk around but it was extremely hot 44 degrees heat so I decided to drive around the village to look for the abandoned buildings with the artwork as I was driving I would stop and take photos of the village and an abandoned building I found but 4.5 hours later and I only managed to find one of the abandoned buildings.
Its been over a week now since I uploaded my images but I am feeling a little frustrated with the outcome of my images I think that I am over thinking the exercise. So I decided to take a different approach and make it a little bit more personal the introduction to the course is all about identity so I am going to photograph the inside of my house and try to show me as a person.
Attempt 2 –
It has been a couple of weeks now and I am struggling to feel happy with the outcome of both sets of images my first attempt I failed to achieve what I wanted and that was to photograph the abandoned buildings in the village Atheinou. I then decided that driving around a village and photographing the village itself was just not good enough and not that much out of my comfort zone I wanted to try something new and different and so I changed my idea and thought since the introduction of the unit was all about identity maybe I could try something personal and something I have never done before and photograph the inside of my house even though the photographs are more personal and I have done my best to try photograph the house in a creative way I feel that my first attempt of the village is technically better.
If you have a social media profile picture, write a paragraph describing you it portrays. What aspects of yourself remain hidden?
I decided to use my Facebook portfolio picture which is a selfie a took a few months ago on my iPhone, to be honest I was sat in the garden with nothing to so I started to play with my phone’s camera I don’t usually do selfies on my phone if I do it usually when I am messing around with my children. So once I took the selfie I decided I would edit the photograph on my phone using snapped, to be honest, I don’t usually have a portfolio picture of myself on Facebook I usually use family snaps but I liked the way this one turned out so I decided to use it. Looking at the image I don’t think the image says much about me as a person for me it is just a selfie snap I took because I was bored and I liked the way it turned out.
During my Context and Narrative course, self-portraits were something I was experimenting with at first it was so out of my comfort zone but by the end of the course I found that it was a way to use my photography to help me deal with some personal issues in a positive way. If I was to construct a more accurate portrait of myself it would show me as me if that makes a scene no makeup, comfy clothes. Maybe a portrait of me studying or me doing my daily chores as a mum or maybe me and my camera because those are the things that make me the person I am.
My final portrait
Our course notes look at the work of Grayson Perry’s Channel 4 series Who are you? Grayson Perry is an English artist who lives in London. Who are you? is a three-part series where Grayson chooses different types of people and takes the time to get to know these people with the aim to create portraits of each individual that is diverse and shows their to true identity.
Part 1 of the series Grayson explores the identities of ex-minister MP Chris Huhne, Rylan Clark, Kayleigh from Ashford Kent, a young transgender man. After spending time with these people Grayson creates an art project that will show the individuals true identity. Once the work was completed it would be displayed in the national portrait gallery it would report the unusual and troubled standing next to the impervious and polished icons of Britain.
Ex-minister Chris Huhne got a jail sentence for perverting the course of justice. Grayson creates a ceramic vase with small imprints showing this he then deliberately smashes the vase and puts it back together. The cracks are outlined with gold to show the broken pieces this shows the ex-ministers imperfections as a public figure.
Rylan Clark from the x-factor Grayson looks at his journey to fame and his struggles with being Rylan and then just being Ross, he creates a 21-century portrait of a gilt-framed version of an Elizabethan Court portrait titled the Earl of Essex.
Kayleigh from Ashford Kent is a young Muslim convert. Grayson creates a portrait made of silk hijab showing Kayleigh on her symbolic journey and how the Muslim religion offers her a refuge from the demands of Western society.
Alex is a young transgender man, ever since he was young he knew he was different from other girls, Greyson creates a small brass figure, the figure is a reflection of Peter Pan and it shows the changes Alex has gone through to become his true self a ‘boy’
I have not had the opportunity to watch this series on Channel 4 but I was lucky enough to find it online I found it very interesting how Perry as an artist address the truth about peoples Identities and creates portraits that show this on a deep level. The portraits he creates are personal and shows each individual in a different unique way. My favourite portrait out of the 4 from series 1 is The Portrait of Alex, Greyson uses Peter Pan as a representation of Alex ‘The boy who never grew up’ I think it shows Alex as a young child and the changes he has to go through to become his true self.
Grayson Perry: who are you? portraits set National Portrait Gallery record/The Independent (online) available at https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/news/grayson-perry-who-are-you-portraits-set-national-portrait-gallery-record-10113377.html
Grayson Perry: who are you review – it takes a real artist to get to the heart of Chris Huhne/The Guardian (online) available at https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/oct/23/grayson-perry-who-are-you-recview-it-takes-a-real-artist-to-get-to-the-heart-of-chris-huhne
Reflection point –
Identity – The distinguishing character or personality of an individual – Individuality (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/identity)
Collective identity – Collective identity is the shared sense of belonging to a group. It is conceptualized as individuals’ identifications of, identifications with, or attachment to certain groups.
Individual identity – The distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/)
Can you think of some examples from your own experience, or of someone you know, where there was a clash of identity? what happened and can you see how fluctuating notions of identity are still potentially problematic? What does it mean for you to be yourself?
I think that what makes a persons identity is down to their life experiences. As people get older their life changes so do their identity. An example for me is how a persons identity changes when they have children they adapt who they are to meet their children’s needs. When I was younger I would do what I want. Go out clubbing, sleep late, spend my money on what I want because I had no one else to think about but myself but after having children I found that I changed as a person instead of nights out with friend I was home watching Peppa pig, my money I was spending on clothes and goodies for me was being spent on toys and clothes for my daughter. Got over my fear of dogs because my daughter wanted a dog and now I have even taken an interest in horse riding because my daughter loves to ride. Sometimes when a persons identity changes it can be good but other times not so good for example if you are changing who you are to impress others like teenagers who are under peer pressure. For me it is important that I stay true to myself I know what type of person I am and I like that person I was not always like that but as I got older I think that I realised if people can’t accept you for who you are and you are happy with how you are then you should not have to change just to make those people happy.