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Category : SyP

Draft Publication – Supporting material

A long time ago, in assignment 1, we were required to create a Biography and an Artist’s Statement for use during the process of asking for feedback. I’ve modified it slightly since then and, very definitely, changed the associated image to the one shown here. I’m still not sure how I’m going to display this information. I was going to use perspex stands (A3) to place on a table but I’ve seen these get moved or lost before now. An alternative would be to have this information on a laptop screen, cycling between the three elements but I’m wary of leaving a laptop in a public area where there will be many people passing through the bar area. Anyway, I’m sure that a solution will arrive.


Biography

Gaz Williams is a nature photographer based in Windsor, Berkshire. His early life in North Wales, living next to the sea but with access to the forests, rivers and rugged mountains of the area inspired in him a love of nature. Avoiding the crowds led him to develop a love of exploring, of leaving the beaten path inhabited by the many, and discovering those hidden areas, accessible only to the adventurous.

 His prize-winning work has twice been exhibited at the Joe Cornish Gallery in Northallerton, Yorkshire and full-page commercial images have appeared in the Guardian Magazine, the Observer, Country Life and other magazines. His travel photography has taken pride of place on the brochures of companies to highlight travel to those out of the way places, away from the crowds.

 His first solo exhibition, featuring the hidden areas of Windsor Great Park, will be held late 2018 and he invites comment or discussion on this at www.gaslight.me.uk/contact


In addition I need some way of describing the portfolio and its theme, basically saying what “Virtual Boundaries” is all about

About

The Virtual Boundaries of Windsor Great Park

Modern photography is generally perceived as having originated when Louis Daguerre announced the daguerreotype in 1839. Similarly, mass tourism can be said to have started two years later when Thomas Cook chartered a train to run a short leisure outing. Since their near-simultaneous origins the two have become inextricably linked.

Windsor, visited by around 8 million tourists each year, is typical in this regard, the ubiquitous camera phone in evidence throughout the town resulting in millions of images being uploaded to social media as tourists use these sites to relive their trips and to show off their experiences. Most of these tourists will enter Windsor Great Park, even if it simply to stroll along the first stretch of the Long Walk.

Given the interest of the global media in much of the Great Park, particularly the Castle itself, and the sheer number of images taken by the tourists and delivered throughout the world, both physically and virtually via the web, the volume and reach of this material is enormous. This ensures that tourists will create an image of the place from the absorption of publicly available material before travelling in a process described as ‘place consumption’.

This has been described as an ‘easy pleasure’ since the tourist has already seen these earlier images and been told ‘this is where to stand and see it’, resulting in repetitive images being accessed by future tourists, typified by such images as the Long Walk and Savill Gardens. The huge volume of this imagery creates a constant, repetitive sense of place through this absorption ensuring that this limited area becomes self-perpetuating as tourists revisit places that they have seen beforehand on Social Media and becomes the norm for future tourists.

Unknowingly these tourists from around the world have created an imaginary world where their collective work speaks of far more than their individual images, creating a virtual world within the physical constraints of the Park. However, the boundary of this area is not physical, it can change and be moved by the adventurous, those prepared to step off the beaten path and explore.

The Great Park has many beautiful areas, accessible to the public, which can be accessed by those who cross these virtual boundaries and explore while still being mindful of the delicate nature of the environment there, especially in those areas of Scientific or Conservation interest.

Finally the Artist’s Statement

The majority of visitors to Windsor Great Park follow the same routes as their predecessors, constrained by their own preconceptions of the area, afraid to leave the beaten path and create their own experience. These preconceptions have been created by images and text in magazines and social media, an imagined geography that develops the Tourism Space that is Windsor Great Park and is then itself modified by that Tourism Space.

In my exploration of the Park I’ve come to love those other areas, the ones that lie outside of this predefined space requiring the visitor to step off the beaten path and explore.

Each of these images shows a glimpse of that “other side”, accessible to those who would leave the beaten path and discover their own world, treating the rabbit hole as a portal rather than as a barrier.


Added note: I’ve had the images printed and mounted so ended up doing the same for my information. The image below has been printed at A2 size and mounted on 3mm Foamex (see later blogs about this choice). The background images to the board are all from the Park but not part of the exhibition.

Draft Publication – The Marketing

While the final portfolio is being fine-tuned I’m looking at the marketing that I need to do before the exhibition. As I mentioned in Section 2, I’m looking at fliers, business cards and adverts. All of this is a bit intimidating, not in the sense of getting them done since that’s the easy part, it’s the idea of publicising my work, something that I’m still not comfortable with despite some excellent comments from reviewers. I still have trouble believing that anybody would want to see a body of work created by me so to ask people to come and visit seems a bit hypocritical. Anyway, hopefully I’ll be over this before the exhibition!

As far as the fliers were concerned I had no idea what I wanted to begin with so, neither in terms of the artwork nor the size or materials. In the end I remembered that I’d used Vistaprint some years ago and went to have a look at their site. There was some excellent advice on their website as well as on other sites on the web. l also went along to our local Tourist Information Office and looked at some of the fliers that were there to advertise other events. Then I did what I should have done at the beginning and went to The Old Court where my exhibition will be held to look at fliers advertising other events to be held there.

After pulling together a number of thoughts or ideas it was time to try my hand at design using Vistaprint’s online tool. After a few aborted attempts I came up with this design in A6.

I was quite pleased with it though I’m sure that a professional marketeer will b able to pick holes in it. I deliberately didn’t put any contact details on it, not even my website, as I wanted that information to come out at the exhibition. Also, I didn’t want to use the exhibition images, at least not all of them since I didn’t want people to see them before arriving at the venue. I did however want to give a feel for the theme so people would understand the aims of the portfolio before arriving.

So far I’ve left these fliers in dentist and doctor’s surgeries, local coffee shops who have a notice board, the venue itself and the Tourist Information office. I’ll be adding other sites if and when I think of them but, in the meantime, it feels strange going past a notice board so see my exhibition being advertised.

I want some business cards as well, both to hand out or leave at the exhibition and to hand out to people when I talk about the event. Following a near-identical process to the fliers I came out with these.

Again, I didn’t want to use the exhibition images but wanted to demonstrate a wide range of genres on the cards.

Finally the advertising. I wanted to advertise in the local paper and on the local borough’s website, both of which allow free advertising for such events.

The above advert is from the local paper but the borough website has a similar one in place. I’m curious how effective these will be, and the fliers for that matter, but I’m not sure how I’ll be able to quantify their effectiveness beyond anecdotal comments from visitors …. assuming that I get any of course!

Anyway, that’s the marketing that I’m doing at the moment. As and when other ideas come to me I’ll be adding those in as well.

Modifying the Portfolio

My portfolio is continually changing as I make trips into Windsor Great Park to find new images or, more accurately, tweak the existing images until I get the best composition, lighting, depth of field etc. This isn’t just for the individual images but to make sure that they all work together as a coherent portfolio.

The original portfolio was basically that which I submitted for Body of Work with a few modifications as I detailed in Section 1 – Networking and Feedback but, partly as a result of that feedback, I’ve been enhancing it through the past few weeks and months.

My tutor, David, introduced me to the PhD thesis of Peter Davies whose work was entitled “An Investigation of the Photographic Interpretation of Woodland and Forests“. Although his theme was very different to mine his subject material was very similar in that he was looking to examine the representation of forests and woodland via a major body of photographic work. My theme of examining the woodland in the Park to portray or to demonstrate how it can create virtual boundaries has led to similar images.

In particular it has led to a very similar way of working as we both revisited the same areas on numerous occasions to modify our portfolios. I’ve narrowed the scope of my visits to the Park to around fifteen locations that, to me, offered the best representation of a Virtual Boundary. As I revisit these locations at different times of the day, in different weathers, I’ll sometimes come away with upwards of a hundred images, all of which I immediately discard on my return as they offer nothing new when compared to the existing images. On occasion they’ve led me to reflect on the images or on my composition and led me to revise my thoughts on what it was I was trying to achieve at that location.

Frequently I’ve been creating a rough sketch so that next time I go I’ll remember my thoughts.

Sketch for Location 1

I, very definitely, make no claims as to the artistic merit of such images but it was useful when going back to the location to try alternative compositions as seen below.

I’m pretty close to the final version which can be seen in my modified portfolio document that I used in Assignment 1. I think that I should possibly have kept the original portfolio to make comparisons but it was easier to just update it with the current images so that I could send it out again for review as and when I needed rather than keep creating a new version each time.

I’m finding it to be an interesting exercise as I fine tune the portfolio and I’m almost developing a personal attachment to these locations so that if I do chance to see somebody approaching one of “my” boundary locations I’m hoping that they don’t trespass and go through into “my” space !! I definitely need to step back at times !

Local Art Scene in Windsor

Given that my exhibition will be in Windsor and I’ve been doing a fair bit of research into venues and so forth I thought that it would be interesting to summarise the arts scene in the town. It would be simple to go back in history and recount details of some of the great authors and poets that have lived or stayed in Windsor such as Shakespeare himself who stayed here while writing The Merry Wives of Windsor. Thomas Hardy lived and worked in the town. Poets such as Tennyson, Marlow, Longfellow etc. all stayed in or around Windsor. Some of the early Victorian photographers such as Fenton and Frith were regular visitors and guests. More relevant is the thriving arts scene which facilitates the hosting of my exhibition.

I’ve already mention The Old Court in Windsor, the local arts centre. Here it’s possible to view photography or painting exhibitions, listen to concerts, attend a play, laugh at comedy acts or be educated by lectures, all in the same week.

The local Arts Society, strapline “Enriching Lives Through the Arts”, hosts lectures and arranges visits to local arts sites of interest. SOTA, The School of Arts, holds classes for dance, singing and drama for children throughout the year. The Contemporary Arts Fair, held every year, brings together over 160 artists, printmakers, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists and selected galleries from the UK and Europe.

Windsor Theatre is a beautiful building in the shadow of Windsor Castle and hosts a wide repertoire with many productions transferring directly to the West End. The Castle itself is host to much of the Royal Collection with works ranging from van Dyck to Wedgewood and a whole room devoted to Reubens.

There are a number of art galleries catering to the tourist industry which I could have utilised for my exhibition but chose The Old Court because of its local nature.

Every year the Windsor Festival hosts music, tours, events and exhibitions as well as organising, with the Fringe (see below), a number of open houses where local artists open their houses and workshops to visitors. Associated with the festival is the International String Competition which is one of the foremost competitions of its kind in the world.

And, of course, Windsor has its very own Fringe, perhaps not as well known as Edinburgh but it is the second oldest in the UK after Edinburgh. The Festival can claim to have started under the aegis of Yehudi Menuhin whilst the Fringe can claim the active support as judges of Hilary Mantel, Fay Weldon, Kenneth Branagh, Nina Bawden and numerous others.

In summary, it’s clear that Windsor has a thriving Arts scene which has made it comparatively easy to organise my exhibition but, at the same time, it’s slightly disconcerting to be dipping a toe into an environment populated by so many prestigious names.

Assignment 2 – Tutor Feedback

Generally David seemed happy with my second assignment where I presented my draft proposal for my exhibition He felt that an exhibition would be a suitable medium for presenting my BoW work and it’s probably not necessary to produce a book I parallel as this might dilute my efforts. He did, however, suggest that the site, format and content of the exhibition should be determined by the direction I see my work going after the course.

In my budgeting I need to include my time and costs even if it’s “free” since it is good practice should I need to attempt to secure funding or, more precisely, reciprocal funding at some point in the future. One way of looking at it is “I’m donating my time so there is a monetary value associated with it.”

I discussed with David whether foam board or Foamex was a suitable medium for the exhibition since I wanted to avoid glass due to the inconsistent lighting in the venue. He suggested that it would be suitable and allayed my concerns that it might appear to “amateurish”. As he said, it all comes down to how I want to show my work and he suggested that a chat with Genesis might be advantageous. He also agreed that glass could be a risk in poor lighting conditions. David also suggested using aluminium instead of Foamex but, again, I’m worried about the lighting conditions. David also recommended the book Exhibiting Photographs by Shirley Read which I’ve subsequently read and it’s incredibly useful. I wish that I’d read it at the start of this module.

Another really useful point that David raised was that whenever something goes on an exhibition wall it looks smaller than you expect. As a result, I’ll increase the size of the images that I intend to take down to check the lighting and positioning before I get them printed in their final form. I’ve been down to look at the Old Court’s current exhibition again and David is right. The images on display are in frames that are just smaller than A2 and the images themselves are no more than A3. I’ve now decided that my border-less prints will need to be the size of the frames or even larger if they are not to be lost on the wall.

I should not get too hung up about the quality of the final print (within reason obviously). David used the example of camera phone images that have been over-enlarged. On a gallery wall most views are from a distance where the pixelation is not apparent. At that distance the image is all, dependant on the work and the audience. When I think back to some of the exhibitions that I’ve attended, both amateur and professional, it makes total sense.

A useful comment from David for any specialist photographer – “More people will hate your work than will love it” which is useful to remember. In other words – develop a thick skin! It’s an interesting comment because I used to address IT conferences all over Europe and the USA. When doing this my views and lectures might conflict with the established practice of the companies or organisations whose employees were attending. It was something that I learnt, that I had to be able to defend my comments, either at the conference or subsequently. Here, there is very little opportunity to defend my work since it’s much more subjective. Any viewer’s negative comments, in general at least, are valid.

As an aside, David subsequently commented – “Not that I am suggesting anyone would hate your work of course” 🙂

It’s important to decide what I want to do afterwards in terms of photography and that must determine the location of the exhibition. Whichever the location, I would be remembered at that site for the work of my first portfolio so there is a danger of returning with a different genre. This aligns with my intention to exhibit the BoW work at the local Arts Centre which is a focus for local art in Windsor. It is also associated with the annual Windsor Arts Festival so provides a continuation of the local publicity and engagement. Subsequently, having gained experience with this location, I will host a larger wildlife exhibition at a gallery that has national associations, and which would market the exhibition nationally. It’s important to look at the profile of the visitors (or prospective buyers) so I feel that this split, of local and national, works with this approach, local visitors at a local centre for the BoW work to promote the Great Park and the wildlife exhibition could be held elsewhere with a larger, non-local and transient footfall.

So, its a case of taking these very useful comments on board and moving forward!