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Feedback to Date

As mentioned before this section of the course is entitled Networking and Feedback and the objective is to create a network of contacts with the intention, at this stage, of obtaining feedback on my main portfolio. The recommendation is to start this module before completing the Body of Work so that the feedback will “improve” the portfolio before assessment. For various reasons I didn’t get the opportunity to get to that stage of this module before the portfolio assessment so I’ll be using this module to improve the portfolio before my final exhibition or publication.

However, I was aware of the purpose of this module, or at least this section, of the module so I created a group or “coterie” of friends and colleagues and solicited critique from them in the same way. This “coterie” consisted of artists and photographers though none are full-time professionals.

One benefit of using this group in this fashion was that they were helpful in selecting the final images, ensuring that they worked well together. This is something that I would not be able to obtain via the profession network being created in this module.

An example comment was

 I suggest dropping 15 and 7 for thematic reasons. I. don’t feel they fit  with the theme of a walk progressing from one image to the next.  In all of the other pictures you can see a path that could take you to the next step of the walk. There is no clear path forward from these 2. They are more illustrative of dead ends.

another was

when I see a collection of shots such as these, I always look at the overall colour tone so for me I would take out 14 and 15 as they look tonally different from the others. I know it is probably due to a seasonal difference but that’s how I view it. And maybe also no. 12 as whilst it is a lovely image it is strikingly different from the others. Coincidentally the remaining images also adhere to the theme of a passage through a barrier which comes out well in the portfolio.

There were too many critiques, some of them in depth, to include here but it was a very useful exercise. For me an interesting aspect of the replies was the fact that the artists (i.e. painters) and photographers approached it very differently. The former would look at individual images and, in some cases only, look to see if they worked as a whole. The photographers took the opposing view and began by looking at the theme, then the sequencing and only at the end did they really study the individual images. I have no idea if this is typical but it was very marked in the group that I created.

Obviously, having finished the previous module, Body of Work, my final portfolio from that course was assessed and I received comments from the assessors. Given that this section is all about feedback it seems sensible to address any issues from the comments here. They were generally positive as you’d hope with a 2:1. An example is:

Very competent technical and visual skills. Competent realisation of ideas, presented well, showing consistency in judgement. Effective grasp of ideas and communication of visual ideas.

Given that the whole point of the portfolio is to get an idea across and communicate an idea I was obviously pleased with that. Also:

Good synthesis of analytical thinking, integrating some significant independent judgements and articulating a personal creative voice.

and finishing with

a professional and committed attitude towards building a strong and personal body of work

Again perfect for what I was trying to do so I was happy with that. Conversely I was criticised for no evidence of risk-taking but I was comfortable with that. I’d taken risks in previous modules and in this one I knew what I wanted, how I wanted to get the message across.

The biggest problem that I have, not with the comments but how to address the issue, comes with:

Your submission shows the decisions you made between assignment 4 and your final assignment, cropping and editing your selection of images. The most successful images are not always in the final selection, and in several cases the smaller scale, aspect ratio and composition, and lustre of the print are stronger.

Firstly the issue of aspect ratio. I made a conscious decision to follow up on my tutor’s suggestion that a 5×4 ratio might work better than a 3×2. When I tried it I felt that the first ratio created more of a portal effect whereas the original, wider ratio created a panorama which was contrary to my intentions. Obviously the assessors disagreed, at least in part.

More annoyingly I deliberately had the final images printed professionally at a larger size to show off the detail but again the assessors preferred, in some cases, the smaller size. The final comment about the lustre is the one that really hurts. The professional prints were not cheap and the assessors preferred the lustre of my own prints!!! Oh well, I need to think about my exhibition but at the moment I think that I’m making my own prints at A3 and getting them professionally mounted.

On a final note, I’d continually tried to ensure that my Contextual Studies work complemented my Body of Work portfolio and the assessors’ comments with regards to this were:

You have produced an engaging and original piece of work which runs parallel to your BoW project in a productive and inquiring way…….You are careful to continually pull your CS research back to the specific focus of your BoW (Windsor Great Park) and this has resulted in a reflective and critical piece of written work which complements, extends and enhances your practical project. (my emphasis)

That’s exactly what I was intending and I’m glad that it worked. I always intended keeping my essay or thesis alongside my portfolio, to the extent of making sure that it was available in some form from the exhibition and this has convinced me that I was right to think along those lines.

Anyway, that’s a summary of the feedback to date. Now to pull a PDF together and solicit more, external feedback as part of the module.

One final addition, I showed my assessment prints together with my Assignment 5 images to a group of people who came round for a long lunch. The interesting aspect was that they agreed with the assessors that the assessment images lacked lustre compared to my prints …. or at least they did until the sun came out. At that point the assessment images came to life so that’s something tat I need to be very aware of in my exhibition.

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