This little man…….

A modern day match for the ‘Shell shocked soldier’

shell-shocked-marine        Omran Daqneesh

Don McCullin                    Anadolu

I have mentioned before about an image that really stood out for me when I visited the Conflict, time photography exhibition in London.

It was that of the ‘Shell shocked soldier by Don McCullin. It shows a great intensity of feeling and shows just how easy our lives can be destroyed, not only by injury but through the effects on the mind. Here we have an adult male who is so obviously in shock and one that would never be the same person again. Yesterday, with some dismay there appeared another image that unfortunately sits in the same frame of harrowing viewing, maybe even more so.

It is that of little Omran Daqneesh sitting alone in the back of an ambulance after being dug out from the rubble of what was once the house where he lived. I have a true belief that this image will sit along side that of Don McCullins in the years to come and will become just as iconic.

You may be asking why do I feel that this image is more harrowing than that of the soldier? well, for a start it is of a innocent child, as a mother I guess that pulls at the heart strings, but the soldier is someones son too so it shouldn’t that different in  terms of how it makes one feel, but heres the thing, and not to take any thing away from the soldier…… This little man didn’t sign up for this…… this little man probably just wanted to play with his siblings or friends…… this little man has known nothing but war and fighting…. this little man probably thought his home was his ‘safe’ place….this little man doesn’t have that anymore… this little man deserve so much more…..this little man……Bless you child!

Omran Daqneesh

Omran Daqneesh      Photograph: Anadolu



Posted in Research, Resources | 1 Comment

Our high streets demise

Context and Narrative has been very much an up and down part of the course for me, with me almost giving up at one point. Having said that one of the photographers that we are asked to look at – Gregory Crewdson, led me via the recommendation of a fellow student to take a look at Lori Nix and her miniature worlds and it is here that assignment 5 comes into play. I found her work to be very inspiring and wanted to try some thing similar myself. Although in hind sight I probably should have kept this project as one to do for myself over months and not weeks. Not having done anything like this before I went into the project quite blindly Although I did research the type of material that she uses for her models so I had a starting point.

My chosen subject was to be the high street, which has been in and out of the news quite a lot in recent years due to the closures of many large chain stores. So there I had it, the idea, the style and the photographer for the inspiration. I hadn’t kept a scrap-book for this part of the course but decided that it might be a good idea for this assignment and so there is one to go along with assignment 5. It contains some of the pictures that I found inspiring, bits of material that I used for the models and a couple of reports from the Local Data Company. I used these to get an idea of the shops that were still doing well and those that were in retreat.

Over the last decade we have seen our high streets change quite dramatically with many large well-known and what many considered to be the backbone of our retail market closing down. The likes of Woolworth’s, Comet and Jessops to name but a few have long ago fallen by the wayside. In a report by the Local Data Company released in 2014 it is said that whilst small independent stores continue to increase, the larger chain stores continue to retreat. It states that the independents have been growing since 2009 although the rate at which they grow has started to recede as the years have gone by.

[1]The net change in Independents in 2014 was +432 (+0.41%) verses +384 (0.37%) in 2013. Whilst in 2015 a report by the same company states that [2] Independents opened the fewest number of shops in Britain’s top 500 town centres since LCD records began 2009 with just a +117(+0.11%) increase in 2015
Many people have said that these losses are due to the increase in internet shopping, the convenience of shopping on-line and not having to leave your arm-chair would, at first glance, seem to be a very plausible reason. Not having to either find a place to park or indeed pay for parking is very appealing and of course with the decreased access to a bus service in many places it is far easier to stay at home to shop.

Those that are connected to the Leisure industry i.e. Cafes, restaurants, bookmakers etc all continued to grow, while Bankers, butchers and food shops have only managed to remain stable.

The continued trend for stores closing has led to many towns having Town management teams installed. In 2011, David Cameron appointed Mary Protas to lead an independent review into the future of the high street and having published her report in 2011 she stated that the aim of her review was to [3]put the heart back into the high street, to reestablish them as places for socialising, culture, health, wellbeing, creativity and learning. Her report went on to list 28 specific recommendations that you can view by visiting The Portas review online.

Using this information I hope to create a high street that is a small representation of many of our small towns. I am unsure about the lighting as yet but I am thinking it may be touch light as I feel this may give me the darkness I want whilst I can also concentrate some light in the areas that I want better lit. I may also see if I can use some LED lights as some kind of street lighting. I will write more about this in my conclusion, after I have completed the build and the image.




Posted in Research | Leave a comment

Building the high street, an upward journey!

The idea behind this came about after researching Gregory Crewdsons work and a fellow student suggesting that I may like the work of Lori Nix. Nix builds miniature world or at least parts of them and makes them look like they have been abandoned or hit by an earth quake. These works of art appealed to me very much and my instinct was to try and produce an image that contained a narrative in a similar way to those of Nix.

There are many videos on you tube that have interviews with Nix and I was able to find out what type of media she uses for her buildings and quickly realised that along with foam board she recycles bit and pieces that she finds at home or ant and about. As I work within the recycling business this could actually be a way of incorporating some of the things that I have learnt about self portraiture, about putting yourself in the picture without actually being in it and of course gives me plenty of material to start the project of with.

I will explain in this post the process that i go through to make the high street and so until the project is finished this will be updated and certain points.


Most of the build work is done in foam board, which as it turns out is quite easy to work with and has the added advantage of being very light weight. I can’t say they are really to scale but I think people will be able to get the general idea.

20160403_150346.jpg   20160403_151636.jpg


As a person who enjoys the genre of still life I have collected things over the years to use within my photography, some of which has now come into play in this project. I often use rolls of wall paper as backgrounds to add different textures. It turns out that certain wallpaper, when coated in two different strengths of coffee makes for a pretty good wall and make believe fabric in a shop window.


For the brick work along the bottom I simply printed out some dolls house paper, this gave me some thing closer to the correct size brick that I was looking for.

20160403_182054.jpg 20160403_180025.jpg

20160403_183919.jpg 20160403_190119.jpg


I used the top off a small bottle of spay to make a litter bin and I also made a planter in the same design, these are just like the ones in my own town.



I want to make it look like there are some shops open for business whilst others have closed and stay empty or boarded up. I intend to use poly that I have picked up at work for the glass in the windows, mesh that I have been able to get from a DIY store and wooded boards that I have made using some more of the foam board and some wall paper. I also need to come up with a foot path and road surface which I think I will be doing with some slate colour lino or cushion flooring

20160415_220733.jpg  20160414_212910.jpg

20160414_215523.jpg  20160416_104717.jpg20160415_221923.jpg  20160415_221826.jpg


Decided to try out some lighting tonight. These were done with a torch but I think I am going to see about boring a hole into the shops that I want lit and using some small LED fairy lights.

I have to say this project sometimes runs away with me and before I know it its time to down tools and go to bed…gosh life gets in the way some times!

20160415_200212.jpg 20160415_200145.jpg


I have decided that I need a cafe, every street has at least one cafe and they are almost always good at surviving the slumps as well as excelling when things are good, we do after all need to eat and it seems to me at least to be an area that many choose to cut back on last.


The tables are made out of one of those plastic things they place in the middle of a pizza to stop the cardboard from touching the pizza itself. I cut it in half and covered with a little bit of decorative paper. I need to trim around the windows and figure out a way to do some tiny menus and salt and peppers.


Posted in Part 5 Constructed realities and fabricated image | 2 Comments

Assignment 5 -Ideas/Planning – Idea two

I’m sticking with the idea of using models built by myself for this assignment, but having tried out the models made from thin card I found them to be a little too flimsy. So whilst I liked the look of them I have decided against using them for this assignment.

Looking deeper into the work of Lori Nix I have decided to build the main buildings out of foam board. I will also be adding things that I find in and around the house and at work to the project to add the little details. I want to be able to combine some of the things that I have learnt during the course and see this as another way to develop a self-portrait (I work within the recycling industry)

My aim is to create a narrative with two sides by building a small fictional high street, although it is very loosely based on the town where I live. It will be unto the viewer to read it in which ever way they like. Will it be a high street that is dying or one that is starting to make a come back?

I realise that this will not be on the same level as those built by Nix and her assistant but I do not have the same sort of time scale and so I will do my best to get my intended idea across in weeks rather than months/years and who knows I may really enjoy it and decide to create my own little project that I can spend more time on.

Posted in Part 5 Constructed realities and fabricated image, Research | 2 Comments

Nan Goldin


Nan and Brian in bed, New York, 1983

Nan Goldin
Born: 12th September 1953, Washington, D.C.,United States of America.

An outsider by her own admission Goldin photographed her own life and that of the people around her during the 1980s.Those she photographed – often seen as depraved, wanton or wild included hustlers, transvestite and prostitutes and she managed to photograph them without making assumptions on their identity, with out stripping them of what they were but simply as they saw themselves and she included her own wayward life along side all of the others.
Originally done as a slide show for her friends the series The Ballard of Sexual dependency went on to be publicly shown at the Whitney Biennial in New York in 1985 and was later released as a phonebook the following year.
It shows her struggle for intimacy, understand and maybe acceptance between family and friends alike. Taken like snapshots the images give us an insight into her life and at times become almost voyeuristic in style but there is a real depth in them that requires the viewer to look more closely at them and for me, many appear almost abusive, be that self-inflicted or that given by society, both mentally and physically. What i see when I look at so many of these images is not intimacy (that would suggest love or at the very least some kind of pleasant connection) but evidence of emptiness even self loathing to a certain extent. For me there is little evidence of any warmth in their feelings, it’s as if they do not wish to be there, as if we have been allowed to view a world of an existence that is nothing but a shell – nothing but that of people going through the motion of life because that is what their window on the world tells them that they should do!

Posted in Research | Leave a comment

Assignment 5 -Ideas/Planning – Idea one


When I first started context and Narrative I took a quick glance through each of the assignments, assignment 5 (manipulated images) looked very interesting although at the time I had no idea what I would do for it. Working through the course material led me to a photographer that really caught my eye and imagination.

Gregory Crewdsons work left me both amazed and in awe of his very large and very theatrical productions, so much so that I couldn’t stop thinking of it for quite some time. This gave me the idea behind my image for Assignment 5. I am hoping to combine the love I have for still life work with that of my new-found admiration for Crewdsons. I intend to produce a set not unlike the real life sets that Crewdson works on but obviously on a much smaller scale.

Props needed for this will be sourced on-line and in various shops as will the lighting and smaller details that will make up the street. I am undecided yet as to whether I will use images taken of my daughter and husband in the poses that I need and then added to the final image in PS or whether I will use model figures, this will depend on how co-operative they both are. On the subject of props, if anyone knows where I might get an American style car that has a boot that opens and is matchbox size please let me know.

I am hoping to set this up in the loft space as this is a good area and of course it will be dark so I should be able to control the light a little better. I can also leave it set up for as long as I need with out the fear of it being tampered with or in any ones way.

I have started to build houses from cardboard using downloaded templates. Although those I have done so far have some things that I need to finish off I am actually quite surprised as to how well they have turned out. Given that the image I have in my head is one taken as darkness falls I think they may prove to be quite good!
I am including a list of things I need here just so that you can see what will go into the making of the image and to give myself a check list of the items that I may still need to collect.
Housing templates
Pavement: Textures printed out onto card
Street utilities : Telegraph poles, lights, fire hydrants?
Grass matting
Tarmac road
Selection of bushes trees possibly flowers.
L.E.D lighting
Studio lights
Blue/red gel filters
Tiny pebbles/rocks
Large piece of chip board

I also need to take a shot of a suitable backdrop for the end of the street, just so that it doesn’t look like the road falls of the edge and into oblivion!



Posted in Part 5 Constructed realities and fabricated image, Research | 1 Comment

Hannah Starkey.


Hannah Starkey ‘Untitled – May 1997’, 1997 © Hannah Starkey,Hannah Starkey.


Born: 1971, Belfast
Known for: Photography
Education: Royal College of Art (1996–1997), Edinburgh Napier University (1992–1995)


A famous tableaux photographer, Starkey’s photographs start their life as an image that has been built upon in her mind’s eye. They are highly pre-judged with every minute detailed logged and noted even before she decides on a location.

The casting, choreographing and the location of the images are simply things that need to be done or found in order to execute the image that is already complete in her mind. They are merely the practical side of things.

The use of models with their faces turned away from the camera means that we the viewer use the elements with in the frame to draw our own conclusion about their character and who they might be, in some case we may even find ourselves wondering what it is that they are thinking. We proceed to use the objects in the room and the type of room they are in to form a persona that may be nothing like the real person so each photograph, like so many others is subjective.

She presents a narrative though the use of her models. Their race and identity is simply suggested through their physical appearance. Photographing women within their daily routines, she freeze frames a time that in many ways portrays them as appearing lonely, bored or pre-occupied and lost in their own thoughts seemingly oblivious to what is around them.


Cotton,Charlotte(2004)The photograph as contemporary art.London:Thames&Hudson ltd

Posted in Research | Leave a comment