so alas good people of the internet my studies at Solihull College and university centre are coming to a close and with one giant task ahead of me the “Final major project” begins. This is where the culmination of everything i have learnt and studied at college are put to the test. effectively showcasing one body of work to truly show off what i can do. Now obviously i am not one to shy away from a challenge, so i am taking the bull by the horns so to speak, we have been asked to come up with three project briefs to put forward to my class at college. and after countless hours of research i have compiled them below for your pleasure
“Coventry culture” a wet plate collodion perspective
as a proud coventrian i feel i owe it to my fellow people of coventry to capture something that truly represents the diversity and strength within our city. Coventry is a city which is currently going through the motions for city of culture 2021. now with the bid being active and very heavily supported and advertised i thought i could do my bit so to speak to help portray the vast diversity and culture of coventry. There are many different languages spoken in coventry over 100 to be exact each of these languages have come from the four corners of the globe and these fine people have chosen to lay their head in coventry. Now obviously all of these different people bring a vast array of culture to the city. now if we look up the oxford english dictionary meaning of culture it says “Culture, the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
i would look to utilise my favourite photographic method of utilising the historic process of wet plate collodion to capture various artists and cultural in there natural habitat so to speak. there is a vast array of artists/ artisans that specialise and excel in the city of coventry so i would aim to gain environmental portraits of as many of these to show the multitude of diverse culture.
costs and considerations
wet plate collodion has its drawbacks but despite these negatives i like to focus on the positives (see what i did there) all puns aside i love the process and i adore the final images that i get from this as there is no one else in coventry that i know of that is actively using wet late collodion i feel it a duty to ensure that this process becomes a part of coventry’ rich culture. cost wise it is an expensive process but as i all-ready have all the required equipment the only consideration in terms of cost would be the chemicals. i have a silver bath which requires maintenance after shoots and at longer intervals the only things i would need to buy would be the substrate ( the surface which i choose to take the image on) so this could be either glass or trophy tin (aluminium), collodion (a mixture of gun cotton and ether) , fixer , and sandarac varnish. now these individually are probably the cheapest of the chemicals for the process but i would have to ensure i stockpile a decent amount of them to ensure i prepare effectively for all shoots.
other considerations and the how to
the main aspect for this field of work is time, collodion is not a quick process in the conventional sense. from preparing your chemicals for a shoot to maintaining your equipment of which there is lots to physically setting up your darkroom at a shoot to taking the images and processing. however with all this in mind i still find the process of having a sitter see the images come out in the fixer is part of the magic and i wouldn’t want it any other way. the interactiveness of this process is another way to raise the excitement level for the people involved and this is one of my key parts when approaching subjects for this project. Most importantly is the logistics of arranging shoots with various artists/artisans around the city for the photoshoots themselves the biggest problem i could see myself arising is the lack of space i may have when visiting artists studios and spaces. collodion takes lots of space with the portable darkroom. so it may be a possibility to overcome this is have the artists visit the studio with items that relate to their process and work so for instance a fine art painter may bring an easel and a canvas of their work and set up and shoot.
the ruins of the coventry cathedral, nov 16th 1940 , unknown photographer
Memories of the blitz
coventry is well known for having received some of the heaviest bombings during world war 2 at the hands of the Luftwaffe. the air raids began in June 1940 and continued almost relentlessly until august 1942, over 1500 coventry people during this time were reported killed. 80% of these 1500 were killed between the three big raids, the 14th of November 1940 and the 8th and 10th of April 1941. as i said in my first proposal i am a very proud coventrian and i believe we are only as strong as our history. coventry has faced incredible challenges through these bombings and a huge loss of life but those who stood at the end of it all, stood and fought. they fought by rebuilding and starting again. thousands of homes were lost and the resilience of the coventrian’s dusted themselves off even through the heartache of losing loved ones carried on and stood triumphant. we live in a world where war and horrific acts are being carried out daily, but i personally could not imagine the terror that these fine people of coventry must have been awash with. As a child and even a teen i had stories told to me by my grandmother of the fires of coventry, she was in bedworth at the time of the November raids and she told of the red in the sky and the sounds of planes going overhead. i never had a chance to document these memories of hers. and i feel that without capturing these memories they may be lost. obviously many of these survivors of the blitz still remain some in coventry and some elsewhere in the world. and i am sure their own accounts of what happened on that night and during all of the raids will have been told to others and to friends and family. i would look to capture their stories in a slightly different way to try and have a true impact on my audience. as above with my wet plate collodion process i feel would have a connection to these people that remain. the survivors of the blitz must be at least 83 to have recognition and stories of these events. i would look to photograph the survivors in the symbol of strength and determination the coventry cathedral.
the costs in terms of shooting with wet plate collodion would be the same as the first project so this is kept in mind. Additional costs that i may incur would be transport costs for the sitters to get to the old cathedral. this would all be dependant on how far the sitter would be from coventry city centre and if at all they can get there.
considerations and the How to
the first of my considerations would be the logistics of the shoots. now obviously with people over the age of 83 they may not be mobile so i would have to approach as many of these survivors as possible. i would have to approach the coventry city council and the church to ask permission for shooting on the grounds of the old cathedral. i would also seek the help of an person by the name of Trevor Harkin who is a historian who specialises in the Blitz on coventry and has published books to that affect. all considerations and costs for the first project would apply to this project as well.
Artwork by Irving Penn, Still Life with Skull, Pitcher and Medecine
still life collodion
one series of work i have always looked at and revered is the still life work of Irving Penn. Irving Penn was famously known for his work within the fashion world as a highly successful photographer he put his photographic talents to the almost witty composition of found objects. these somewhat inanimate objects would com together to form abstract still life pieces. the purpose of me focussing on this style of images would be almost shot in homage to Irving Penn. i feel that still life is an art form all in itself that showcases the essence of all photography in freezing a moment of time for all eternity so to speak. i would want to utilise these skills by capturing objects of every day modern life think of all the things that we see on a day to day basis that we take for granted, from headphones to laptops televisions and mobile phones. even things like bottle openers items that some would call every day necessities. but i would photograph these in an ironic way to say they are luxuries that we can live without and quite frankly could be better without. i would look to shoot these on wet plate collodion as my preferred medium as i feel the tones and clarity of wet plate would truly show off these images in their best light.
costs and considerations
costs would be significantly lower than the above projects as i would be in a fully controlled environment the advantage of being in a controlled environment would mean more control of light and substance and temperature control would be easier so less plates would be wasted during the process. the biggest thing i would need to worry about would be which items i would need to secure for the photoshoots as some of these could be quite large and transportation would be difficult but not impossible.
now obviously there is a slightly recurring theme in terms of my chosen medium, wet plate collodion has become my preferred artistic method. the largest problem as all ways with life and art in general is time. i need lots of it to be able to successfully complete this body of work. of the three proposal’s i would only be picking one to go ahead and create my final major project with. however both other proposals would be ideas that i have spent so long generating these ideas that i would most certainly pursue them for personal projects.
so keep an eye out for all these projects in the future and be ready for the announcement of the Solihull College end of year exhibition dates and times to be confirmed