Final Major Project Reflection 19

I thought I would do an update today on how we are getting on with the exhibition promotion. It is frustratingly not going as planned.

Before Easter we were to take a still life photograph that illustrated our own part of the exhibition but was not going to be part of the actual exhibition. You can see mine here. Everyone on the group was supposed to send me a copy of their image by 12th May and I would use them to design a series of posters that we could use to publicise the event.

To date I have still only received one image. One person has contacted me to say that they will not be sending me anything as they don’t feel that their image reflects their project well enough and thinks it may confuse people rather than lead them to the exhibition. Other than that, despite several group chat requests I have not received anything else.

With only mine and Anete’s photos to use I have produced the following posters.

I used a similar layout and style to last year as this seemed to work well and it builds on our established brand.

I had planned to have these printed professionally on glossy paper but given the tight timescale and the lack of enthusiasm from the rest of the group I don’t think we have the time to do that now. Disappointingly I think we will need to print them out on copier paper and make do with that.

In my frustration I put together an excel spreadsheet of what everyone needs to do for the exhibition and for when. Given the attitude from everyone else in the group I don’t suppose anyone will take any notice let alone read it, but it made me feel better. I have suggested that the person in charge of social media uploads these images to the Facebook page, and then made suggestions for other daily entries. But seeing as they have not posted anything on there so far I expect Anete and I will end up doing that too.

I have set up an event on Eventbrite and linked it to a Facebook event, this will give the group the option to invite people using both social media and email. I have sent the Facebook event invite to my contacts once and will send to them all again a week or so before the launch.

In addition I have opened up a KingdomEvent account and created some really smart email invitations that we can use to send to specific individuals. Apart from the first few free ‘stamps’ each invitation costs money which Anete and I have paid for between us, enabling us to have sent that personalised invitation to more that 60 people. Event Kingdom has a handy database that tracks who has received an invite, who has read and opened the email and also who has responded that they are coming.

We straight away had about three people tell us that they couldn’t come for various reasons, but all wished us luck with the exhibition. A few responded that they were coming immediately and most haven’t responded as yet. I intend to send the invitation again to everyone who has not responded a week before the exhibition and then send another message to all of those that have responded positively on the morning of the exhibition saying that we are looking forward to seeing them later. This should remind anyone who has forgotten about us.

Between us, Anete and I have invited almost everyone that we have come into contact with throughout the course. All of these people have been a part of our journey and should be offered the opportunity to see the final outcome of it.

The other thing that has been happening this week is that Erin has been putting together a video that highlights some of our other work. It will be played on a loop on a screen next to our information table at the exhibition.

I think Erin has done a really good job with this and it shows what everyone is doing very clearly. I like the range of images that everyone has included I think that it is a very nice collection of photographs.

At the beginning of the week we received proofs of our photographs from Ditto 4 Design. There were a few issues with a mark on one person’s photo which Ditto confessed was their fault. The major problem was that some people had submitted images in sRGB colour which is great for on screen and on websites but a printer uses CMYK colour. The difference was causing a loss of detail in some of the darker areas on some of the images. There was a bit of confusion with some group members saying that they would withdraw their images but once the people concerned had worked out how to make the changes they were uploaded again and we were all back on track.

Final Major Project Reflection 18

This week we went, as a group to order our prints for the exhibition. Beforehand there was a lot of back and forth on group chat about how to resize our photographs to the correct size. But in the end using Photoshop to crop and resize the image I think we all made it! Amy was working in the morning and was unable to come with us so I had asked her to contact the printer herself and arrange to get her own prints there before hand, which she did.

The photographs I have finally decided to have printed are these.

I had some trouble overlaying the painting on the photograph but one of the other lecturers at college took the time to show me how to use Photoshop and mask layers to create the effect I wanted.

At Ditto 4 Design we took it in turns to download our final photographs and have the designer there check that they were in the right format and see if there were any issues or changes that needed to be made before we paid for our prints and double checked delivery arrangements. It all went surprisingly smoothly and was actually quite fun!

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The group with Lindsay at Ditto 4 Design

There had been some discussion on group chat about the need for postcards/business cards at the exhibition, mostly from one person who didn’t want them. In class we had previously agreed that we would all have some postcards printed so while we were at Ditto 4 Design we ordered those too.

These are my postcards:

Natalie has ordered our names in vinyl lettering so we squared up money with her and ticked that job off the list of things to do.

We had another chat about getting some floor stickers for the reception area floor at the exhibition. I thought we had agreed it in class but on group chat a few people were dissenting so Anete and I wanted us to come to an agreement once and for all. It turns out that only Anete and I thought it was a good idea, everyone else wasn’t really bothered and when someone suggested that they would be ok with it if someone else paid for it I thought it was time to draw a line under the idea. We took a quick vote and made the decision not to go ahead with any floor stickers.

As I missed last week’s class, being on the way to Hannah and Mike’s wedding in Oxfordshire, I also took the opportunity to catch up on what I had missed. Not a lot apparently! There are a few dates that everyone had agreed to come into college and prepare the prints for hanging, which Anete passed on to me, but that is all.

It has actually been quite a tough week. One person has not been coming to class, not been part of the decision making and is countering every choice we have made with the argument “Well I haven’t agreed to that!” In the end one or two people weighed into the conversation with some quite strong words and it seems that they have finally come around. During what has actually been a very busy week I have found all the tension quite draining.

Camille Silvy

French photographer Camille Silvy was born in 1834, near Chartres. He began his career as a diplomat having trained in law.

Silvy took up photography as an amateur in 1857 while he was a government diplomat. He was sent to Algeria to draw and document buildings and scenes but soon realised that he couldn’t actually draw very well and turned to photography.

Like Constable, Silvy liked to represent his local countryside and one of his most famous prints is called ‘River Scene, France’, taken in 1858 from a bridge over the River Huisne that runs through his birthplace Nogent-le-Rotrou. It was described as a “triumph of the art” when it was exhibited in France the same year at the first exhibition to include photography as fine art.

“One critic said of his landscapes: “It is difficult to obtain a greater finesse in the details with such grand and well combined effects of light.””

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Elizabeth Martin, Senior Conservator at the V&A explains that two negatives would have been used to make the image, one for the foreground and one painted with the clouds and river reflections (this was because the wet collodion process was overly sensitive to the blue part of the colour). Under high magnification she located the join in the poplar trees. She was also able to enhance the two figures in the image so that their outfits could be dated. She says that, “Excitement set in when a hitherto undetected ‘man in the bush’ was found.” What a naked man was doing in a bush can only be speculated about but perhaps a nude sunbather chose to save any blushes when a photographer began setting up nearby.

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The farm workers (actually railway workers) and the wealthy couple about to go boating were paid to be in the picture. It was an idyllic scene set-up to illustrate the division between rich and poor.

Another well-known photograph is of men reading an Order for the Day sent by the Emperor Napoleon III from the frontline in Italy and posted on the streets of Paris. It was to his army and reminding the people that he was still in charge.

Silvy gave up his diplomatic career in the late 1850s and moved from Paris to London where he opened a photography studio at 39 Porchester Terrace, Bayswater. The yard at the back was used to print the photographs out using sunlight. The building included finely decorated recption rooms, a dressing room and even a ‘Queen’s Room’ in case Queen Victoria ever came to call. Although she never came herself Prince Albert was photographed by Silvy as were other royal friends and relations. It was close to Hyde Park where, as a keen horseman he was able to make equestrian portraits which were particularly fashionable at the time.

When setting up, Silvy needed people to take photographs of, so he sought out actors and performers who wanted to sell their photographs to fans. this was a great tactic and helped spread the word about him across the city and beyond. One of his most famous performer subjects was opera singer Adelina Patti who he photographed in many of her roles at Covent Garden recreated in his studio.

Generally, two poses were recorded, three times each, on one glass negative. When the sitter had chosen which they preferred, the portraits would be printed, gold-toned, trimmed, mounted on card and dispatched by post. Over 17,000 portraits were made here (up to 30 a day) between 1859 and 1868, and over a million prints produced for sale.

“The great French photographer Nadar described Silvy as a “formally clad, white-tied charmer who – as each client entered the studio – would negligently cast a pair of white gloves into an already overflowing basket, and don another, irreproachably new pair… “”

Silvy took many of the portraits for carte de visite or calling cards. People would create albums of these cards and show off about who they knew. Some of Silvy’s photographs were even of people involved in creating these albums.

A series of 3 photographs taken in 1859 called ‘Studies on Light’ used a number of groundbreaking photographic techniques and manipulations to create them. Scholars suggest that up to four negatives were combined to create the photograph entitled Twilight. It is also thought that this picture is one of the first to deliberately use blur to suggest movement.

Photographic portraits was not Silvy’s only business venture. He established a Librairie Photographique in 1860, photographing and restoring manuscripts. He also published a magazine called the London Photographic Review.

Silvy met and married Alice Monnier in 1863.

Silvy’s self-portraits show him, and his wife, to be very handsome and fashionable. One particular portrait shows him four times, reminding viewers of an Andy Warhol print and like Andy Warhol I understand that Silvy turned his studio into a bit of a photography/portrait factory.

Silvy developed a panoramic camera in 1867 and demonstrated it by taking a 360 degree panorama of Paris taken from the Champs Elysees. Most cameras prior to this involved swinging the camera around and taking a series of photographs that were then stitched together in the darkroom. There were many problems with this so Silvy’s design involved a photosensitive sheet that was slowly unwound from a spool through the camera.

Silvy ended his photographic career early, in 1867 due to ill health. The London smog didn’t suit him and photographic chemicals didn’t agree with him. Still at aged just 35 years he returned to France and fought in the Franco-Prussian War.

In his later life Silvy suffered from manic-depression and spent many years in and out of psychiatric hospitals before he died in 1910.

References:

 

Final Major Project Reflection 17

This week I have been contemplating what I have been learning about Constable. I have known his name for as long as I can remember and I have tramped or rowed around Constable country for more hours than I can count but I have never really known anything about him other than that he is a painter.

Although I had known the Hay Wain and even completed a tapestry (it is now retired to the attic) of it a few years ago I had never studied it and never made the effort to visit it in person.

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Constable’s Hay Wain Sketch
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Constable’s Hay Wain

When I visited London the other week I had the chance to see both the sketch and the final painting. As you would expect, the sketch was much rougher than the original but still a worthy painting. While the final painting was much more detailed than I had imaged it would be.

iPhone-18I had read that there were a number of people in the painting but it was only up close that I could make out all the people in the background gathering in the corn. Even the man in the boat is quite difficult to see in some prints.

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I had been told how Constable changed things in his painting as he went along and spotted this barrel beneath the ripples in the ford, itself painted over a boy on a horse as can be seen in the sketch above.

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I wrote a blog entry about Constable’s biography a few days ago and wrote about how in 1821 he had planned to enter a scene of Waterloo Bridge into the Royal Academy’s Annual Exhibition but at the last minute changed his mind and quickly created the Hay Wain. This bottom left corner of the painting shows the hurried brush strokes Constable used and that makes the painting almost look unfinished especially compared to some of his other works.

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I thought Boat Building was a nice painting, smaller than I was anticipating but very detailed. I didn’t study it for long though because I was really taken with Salisbury Cathedral.

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I thought the light was great, the detail was fantastic and I really like the way the Cathedral is framed by the trees. I like too that Constable has included his friend Revd John Fisher, Bishop of Salisbury in the bottom left corner walking through the church grounds with his daughter.

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It is this painting of the Cenotaph to the Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds that I think is my favourite. I had not noticed it before in any of the books that I have been reading but when I saw it in the gallery I just had to stop for several minutes and have a closer look. It felt like I was looking at a photograph it was so detailed and realistic.

The Cenotaph is in the grounds of Coleorton House in Leicestershire where it was erected by Sir George Beaumont in memory of English painter Joshua Reynolds. The bust on the left is of Michelangelo while that on the right is Raphael.

I now have a real fondness for Constable, not just because of the familiarity of the Hay Wain and the Essex/Suffolk countryside but I now also have a great respect for his talent and his determination to stick with the subject matter that mattered to him despite it being unfashionable. Apart from his paintings he lived a real life love-story that surely any girl is going to fall for!

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My latest photoshoot for my final major project was a bit of a disaster. I went over to Flatford early one morning to have another go at the Boat Building image and also the View on the Stour near Dedham. It was a lovely clear morning that could have done with a few more clouds in the sky to add interest to my photos but with limited days available to me and several rainy days that had already prevented me from photographing I couldn’t be too fussy.

I had a book of Constable’s paintings with me and used that to help me set the tripod and camera in the right place. I followed all my usual steps and took around 30 photos for the first panorama.

I then moved on and used the book again to set up for the second panorama. Again I took around 40 photographs.

People were beginning to arrive and get in the way of my shots so I packed up and headed home again. I stopped off in East Bergholt and took a couple of photographs around the village which I’ve used to illustrate an earlier post describing Constable’s Biography.

Sadly when I tried to download the memory card onto my laptop I found that several of the images ‘could not be found’ and others could not be joined together in a panorama. I have put this down to a corrupted memory card. It was a bit frustrating but I have managed to salvage a couple of photographs.

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Boat Building 2 rows of 10 photographs

I’m reasonably happy with this image. I like that you can see the boat rests in the dock. I had been a few days earlier and there was still water in the bottom as they had only recently begun to drain it.

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I still haven’t found a good sized copy of Constable’s Boat building painting but I have quickly dropped the image I do have on top of my panorama so that you can see how it would look.

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View on the Stour near Dedham 1 row of 14 photographs

For the View on the Stour photograph the sun was casting very strong shadows and had the photos been able to merge successfully I would have needed to edit my own shadow out in the lower part of the shot. A visit later in the day would have been better but then I would have struggled with people in the shot.

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Again, I’ve quickly dropped a copy of the painting onto the panorama. It won’t line up precisely as this part of the river was altered when the second lock was installed just to the left of the photograph.

I’m happier with this image and  think I might be able to work on this photograph and possibly use this in my final exhibition.

Final Major Project Reflection 16

I haven’t written a reflection recently, preferring instead to include my thoughts in my blog posts. However, as my tutor is keen for me to include my personal experiences I thought I would share with you my experiences of visiting a couple of galleries in London last week.

I have been promising to go to London and visit the galleries that hold Constable paintings for several weeks or even months now and last week was when I actually went.

I was staying in Essex and caught a train into Liverpool Street that arrived around 10:00. It was quite empty but there was a man on the seat in front of me that that kept sniffing and slurping his drink and then there was a man next to me across the aisle who was also sniffing and blowing his nose. It was a bit annoying and did make me feel a bit sick but I am a woman of patience, little did I know that this was the start of a very testing day.

On arriving at Liverpool Street I chose to get the tube over to South Kensington where I could begin at the V&A and then walk back across London to the Tate Britain and then the National Gallery. I won’t mention the large school party that tried to get on the tube and exit at the same station as me, they were only mildly frustrating as they took up the whole platform and waited on the exit stairs for everyone to gather together.

I’ve not been to the V&A before and was blown away by the scale of the museum and the size of some of the exhibits. They are beautifully laid out and there is a wonderful range of items on display. With no time to spare I headed straight for the paintings area and the two galleries that hold the Constable paintings. As far as I could tell, the two galleries that hold the Constable paintings were the only two galleries in the whole museum that were closed! Only in England does a flagship museum choose to change the lightbulbs in the middle of a busy Easter school holiday! I asked the man atop of the cherry picker if they were going to to reopen the galleries and he very politely said that they would only be an hour. Not a problem I had seen some very interesting exhibits on my way and would be pleased to go back and view them in more detail.

After pootling around the theatrical exhibit and taking in some lovely Beatrix Potter illustrated letters I went back to the painting area. The workmen were still busy and as there was a sign that said if I needed any help would I please speak to a member of staff, I spoke to a member of staff. Her initial response was “Its nothing to do with me, you need to ask the contractors!” I gave her a ‘look,’ to which she responded “Alright. I’ll go and ask them.”

It turned out that they had been asked to do another piece of work and were going to be another hour. They did concede that they would reopen the second gallery but needed to keep the first gallery closed for safety reasons. I asked the member of staff if it would be possible to let me into this first gallery for a few minutes to view Constable’s Hay Wain sketch and the Salisbury Cathedral painting for a few minutes before they began work again to which she responded “You can see them from here.” I was several metres away behind a rope and at 90 degrees to most of the paintings. I began to explain that I was only in London for the day, I wouldn’t be able to get back again for some time and that I was interested in Constable for my degree course to which she replied “There is some of his paintings in the other gallery, you can go and look in there…” By this time I was more than a bit peeved and couldn’t bring myself to give her another ‘look.’ Instead I simply pointed and said “But it is the Hay Wain sketch I particularly need to see.” She responded by helpfully pointing out “Well you’ll just have to wait then.”

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I was so cheesed off at that response that I stormed out of the museum. I say that I stormed out, it is such a big museum and I didn’t know the way out. It took me about 10 or 15 minutes to finally make my dramatic exit!

I don’t really know that part of London very well but when I saw a familiar fast food logo I thought I would drown my sorrows in a burger, fries and diet coke. I dutifully queued at the quick service till only to have four or five very tall international teenage boys push in front of me. I resisted the urge to point out that that is not the way to queue and instead moved across to a ‘slow’ till.

As I had been marching down Kensington High Street I had passed Holy Trinity Church, Brompton which advertised that it had a cafe. After my burger I thought I would go back to the church and sit in the cafe while I waited for the workmen in the V&A to finish. The cafe is advertised as being open from 11:00 to 16:00 on a Thursday so I was surprised to see, after walking down quite a long drive, that there was a notice on the door saying ‘reopens at 2pm.’ Only in England would a cafe be shut at lunchtime!

It was a beautiful day and the church has a lovely garden so I consoled myself by sitting in the sun for half an hour.

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Back in the V&A the workmen had gone and I was able to get a good look at the paintings but time was pressing on and although I now didn’t have time for the Tate Britain I could still visit the National Gallery if I walked quickly.

I walked down Kensington High Street, along Hyde Park and over towards Buckingham Palace, along the Mall and into Trafalgar Square.

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The National Gallery was heaving and not a pleasant place to be. The final painting of the Hay Wain is there and I was interested to watch several people pointing it out and talking about it. My Mum rang me while I was in there so I tried to escape quite quickly but again couldn’t find my way out and had to ask a member of staff how to get out!

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I headed back along the Embankment to Liverpool Street and as I approached I rang my brother and asked what train he planned to get home. He was already on the train, the front coach on platform 12. I had 10 minutes so I ran across the concourse to platform 12 and down all eight coaches to try and find him but he wasn’t there. I rang him again only for him to double check and let me know that he was actually on platform 11. This was not just across the platform but back up the eight coaches to the ticket barrier and then all the way down another eight coaches to the front of the next train. Just as I jumped onboard the signal went and we pulled away as I was sitting down.

I had arranged to meet someone briefly at Ipswich station to collect something before returning to Colchester and eventually home on the Clacton line. As I was at the front of the train with my brother for his stop, I was the wrong end for a quick getaway at Ipswich and found myself running along the platform, back up the eight coaches and over the bridge just as they were announcing that the next train to Colchester was the next train at platform 2. I dashed out of the station met my friend, grabbed what I needed, ran back into the station and straight onto the train.

At Colchester I was again the wrong end of the train and with just three or four minutes to spare ran back up the platform, along all eight coaches, then past the shops and onto the Clacton line train where I finally fell exhausted into a seat. Joy of Joys, when I arrived at my final station I got off the train at exactly the right place to leave the station without having to take a step further than I needed to!

Throughout this traumatic day I did in fact learn something! I was struck by Constable’s love of his local countryside and how he sketched and painted whatever was around him, wherever he was, rejecting the popular mountainous landscapes of his predecessors preferring instead to paint ordinary life. Perhaps, alongside my panoramas of Constable’s landscapes I should include a panorama of one of my local landscapes?