What a great start to my Masters, and Nikki Price Photography will still be running in a business sense, but I’ve decided to take a small step back to concentrate on my studies. This choice of course isn’t an immediate concern for me as I’m not directing my time a million miles away from where my passion lies, and I have some smaller projects in the pipeline for 2018.
I’ve realised in writing this blog, that I had two pre-loaded draft blogs on:
- a literature list (in an attempt to encourage myself to write as I go along)
- and a two month review of where I am with my research
I won’t repost the whole blogs but here’s a little flavour for you:
The thing I’ve found with research and reading around a subject you are so passionate about, brings up all kinds of the thoughts and processes. I’ve found myself in a natural ‘rabbit hole’, wanting to keep delving into subjects and getting more and more excited about where it is leading me. I have been writing using good old fashioned paper and pen, and often let my thoughts wander having ‘revelations and ideas’ at times, so I always try to keep my observation journal on me. In many ‘how to’ guides I’ve seen advice like ensure you diarise time to just think, which I think is sound advice!
Great thinking places I’ve found are (I’ve also got Lauren Elkins Flaneuse book waiting in the wings to be read so hoping for some further inspiration):
- on a train -journeys over half an hour are best (great for when I travel to Uni)
- in a cafe – always a bonus for a long lunch
- in the shower -all best ideas are made here aren’t they?
So where am I now?
Three months further into my reading and I feel I’m getting to that research niche in that shadow, my thirst for knowledge and reading is growing, like I commented to my supervisor, ‘I loved that book so much I felt like I inhaled it!’ (speaking of Annette Kuhn’s Family Secrets). I’ve completed my first presentation and was comfortable doing it.
My research (no matter how wide I am reading at the moment) keeps pulling me to: using family photography (memory and narratives) as a means to researching Identity, Belonging, and Loss.
So in photography’s core concept of the ‘Rule of Thirds’ here are my top three (boy this has been hard!) key readings that have made a huge impact on me so far, and would encourage you to read them:
Annette Kuhn (1995) Family Secrets
Taking Autoethonography to the next level with this book, a straight talking 360 degree analysis of the authors family photographs, allowed me to think more about the ‘face value’ of the immediate photograph. This read has enabled me to think more about my childhood photographs, particularly those during my senior school years and to analyse them within the wider social context at that time, and my family unit. Kuhn’s reflection on her school uniform echoed that of my own, mother buying the size up so we ‘would grow into it’ (I’m sure many families consider this!) coming from a single parent family. I was also the first in my family to go to University, and all the expectations and feelings that surrounded this. Kuhn’s father was the photographer and yet it was her mother who was the instigator for the photos of Kuhn in various home made outfits, mirroring a matriarchal perception of mother as the nurturer, time keeper, and recorder of childhood moments. This also ignited my love of concepts of time travel, and awareness of time using photographs to allow us to metaphorically travel/connect with different points of time, Marc Triver notes that ‘a room needs a clock to denote the passing of time’ P185 in Berger’s book;
John Bergers (1967) Understanding a photograph
I read Bergers book at the same time I watched his 1972 BBC series of Ways of seeing. Both have completely transformed not only the way I am thinking about and analysing my own work, but art I see in many places. My connection to of art is greater, taking a 3 minute ‘dedicated’ time to ‘see’ work that I find of particular interest to me, looking deeper into what the artists message was, the context in which it was made, and having that critical reflection. I particularly enjoyed Berger’s diagrams on ‘Memory’ and its ‘non-linear’ way of looking at a photograph, in that recalling memories from photographs although constructed in a very chronological/linear way (in a hard copy of an album Birth through to before Death), the process of understanding/seeing a photograph happens in a very “radially” way “that is to say that an enormous number of associations leading to the same event” (P59). This allowed me to think that a photograph isn’t simply a static moment in time, but an artefact to revisit again and again, to enhance or obtain different meanings from it as Berger says “The appearances of the event photographed implicates other events, It is the energy of these simultaneous connections and cross references which enlarge the circle beyond the dimension of instantaneous information” (p91) i.e. a photograph allows for more interpretation, beyond what you can initially see.
The great thing about Berger’s work is his no-nonsense straight forward talk, and written words, that I find very accessible, de-mystifying the arena of ‘art’.
Roland Barthes (1982) Camera Lucida
Probably the key three things to come out of Barthes Camera Lucida is his analysis of the ‘Winter Garden’ (p63) photograph, the Punctum (p27) and Studium (p28). In his analysis of the Winter Garden, Barthes was searching for his mothers true identity, connecting with who she was before he was born. He suggested that ‘the photograph doesn’t necessarily say what is no longer but only for certain was has been’ (p85), in the case of his mother, she was at the Winter Garden, that is for certain, looking at the concepts of photographs moving across time, this would allow Barthes to now ‘see’ his mother as she was then. Although strange for me to say perhaps from coming from a visual perspective, I found the beautiful thing about his analysis and his connection to the photo was that there was no copy of it for the reader to see, as he notes ‘this photograph only exists for me, for you it would be nothing other than an indifferent picture’ (p73). The Punctum; that something within the photo that pricks your interest, and the Studium; allowing time to contemplate the photo, have been two simple concepts but inspirational ideas.
Along with Berger and Kuhn’s books this has changed the way I am seeing, I have revisited past work and family photographs, to really ‘see’ what is contained within. For Example; my Punctum in this Family photograph is the red coat I am wearing. This photo was in a collection kept by my late father, I didn’t recall the moment it was taken until I saw the photo, and the red coat immediately stood out to me ‘pricking’ my interest, the spending time (studium) to analyse it further.
In a little corner of Rochester in Kent there is a little unknown lane (in comparison to its well documented sister Rochester High Street), Horsewash Lane. As you know I love a bit of local history and have been fascinated by it for ages, however the history behind Horsewash Lane has only come onto my radar recently.
When I was little my father lived in Strood, and when returning home we’d always cross Rochester bridge, going under the subway which is the start of Horsewash Lane (opposite the Crown Pub), at the time I didn’t know it by that name. I was fascinated by that white tiled subway, as I descended the spiral stair case to it, or when I went with my mum and brother (who was in a pram at the time) down the ramp. I can’t really explain why I had a real connection with that subway, perhaps as it book ended some great memories from days out, then we returned home with the hustle and bustle of the road above, safe in our echoey subway.
Anyway I digress, Horsewash lane, I’ve investigated the history behind the area, through Medway Council Archive Centre and CityArk online, both of which note that horse washing took place at this point at the river from around 1828, as depicted in sketches found from the Frindsbury side of the river. The lane has been documented to have been there since 1548 (then known as St Clements Lane) when the Parish of St Clements declined following Henry the 8th’s united church policy. The City ark document noted that in 1851 an arch from the Church of St Clements was found when the new bridge was being built. This Lane linking to the area know as ‘The Common’ hosted many a market in its hey day including wheat, cattle, corn. It is refreshing to see that the traditional markets of Medway are being kept alive such as the Rochester Farmers Market and Rochester Flea.
Visiting the area today, it is very run down, fenced off, with no real evidence of the interesting area that it once was, it feels unloved and neglected (apart from the graffiti and the coach park). The old subway is now boxed in, the stairs removed, and a new pedestrian crossing now takes it’s place. With the new Rochester Riverside housing development, I wonder whether Horsewash Lanes new residents will even know that this place ever existed. So much of our local area is well documented, I don’t like to see those little gems not so well known, fall to the way side in our wonderful and rich local history.
The photographs I have taken show the area 2016, before further development takes place, and this area’s history is potentially forgotten.
The start to my Brownie 127 project (Medway in the 1950’s) has been amazing. I’ve made such a connection with the people I interviewed, don’t get me wrong it has been amazing visiting the Medway archives searching through resources and reading books about local history, but it something entirely different talking to people, and listening to their stories. Here’s a taster of some of the people I have interviewed so far for the project (Don’t want to give any spoilers!), want to be involved? see here.
Barry E: a great visit to the former Horsted Farm site in Chatham where Barry’s family worked, it is now an open space with some housing, skirting the edge of Fort Horsted. Barry remembers when they planted the trees for the Orchard.
Richard B: we visited numerous places Luton arches area of Chatham. I loved hearing Richards stories especially that the proximity to living so close to the railway had inspired him to become an engineer! Richards enthusiasm for the local area and supporting its heritage hasn’t faltered as he is the Chairman of a charity working to establish a 1939 Chatham bus as an educational resource, the Medway Heritage Bus.
I must admit I haven’t played around with film photography for a while, my last project of film photos was for my modern day fairytale exhibition for Medway Open Studios.
I was delighted to be asked to have a play with a Kodak Brownie 127, something of a staple camera from the 1950’s.
The prospect of using another film camera was exciting. I’m at the start of prepping for a blurred / imperfect / destructive digital photography project, and the imperfections and a ‘hope and a prayer kind of photo’ that film gives you, has fuelled my fire of producing more film photography.
As I had come to the Brownie 127 Project quite late, it seemed the perfect time to have my 9 exposures entitled ‘The Last Day of Summer’. So on the sunniest and warmest day of August 2015, I loaded up the Brownie 127 and spent some quality time in my garden.
I was fortunate enough to have ben lent a Brownie camera with a film by a fellow artist who is also submitting work for the Brownie 127 project. This and the advice via email from the project lead made this start very easy.
I was however a little apprehensive to start…..with my staple 35mm Canon Film camera, (make sure its loaded in a dark room, automatic wind on, be careful when handling the film, make sure its in a dark room etc etc), the ease and simplicity of the Brownie camera seemed a little too good to be true! but it was! Loading the film in the shade was a breeze, it was quite difficult to work out if it had caught on the spool, but after a few turns it was. The number of exposures from the rear of the camera, didn’t appear as easily I’d hoped from the instructions with ‘2 or 3 turns would suffice’, however the roll needed to be turned at least 6 to see the exposure numbers. The Brownie seemed pretty hardy and robust.
I had posted a photo of the camera on my Instagram and my Facebook business page, and quite a number of family members and friends were posting that they too had a Brownie camera exactly the same back in the day. This was also great way of getting any further tips on using it!
I really wasn’t too sure if any of my photos would come out, however as the day was bright and all photos were taken in the garden, so thought at least they would be well lit!
Due to the timescale to the project submission deadline, I sent the film away for developing, and within a week they had been returned, I think the price was reasonable for the developing. I will in the future have an experiement and develop my own.
When I had received the photos and the film back, it was evident that stillness when taking the photo was key (a skill to perfect on especially without the stabiliser function on digital cameras!), and to keep the subject wide in the view finder. I had perhaps been a little too close in shots of my dog (and that he was very energetic!). It was great to see however the contrasts in the photos were good (which I love high contrast photos), and some ‘happy mistakes’ were made when I didn’t turn the film on enough and got a double exposure on part of the film. This double exposure reminded me of when I went back to the very basics and made a camera obscura out of a shoe box. These ‘imperfections’ of slightly blurred, out of focus, and contrasty photos, I absolutely love. This camera is definitely one for more abstract photography (and great for quick holiday snaps).
I also couldn’t resist taking a photo of my digital camera, as homage to the film!
Nikki Price, The Last Day of Summer (2015) 127 Film
For those of you who would like to be involved in a Nikki Price Photography project then carry on reading:
I’m revisiting a significant/memorable place for those of you who were children/young people growing up in the Medway Towns (or near) in the 1950’s, to have your photo taken at that place today, and to give this a short paragraph of why it is memorable/significant.
If you are interested in volunteering for this next project then drop me a line through the contact me link here:
I’m so looking forward to being at the Rochester Flea on Saturday 30th November 2013 sharing an outside stall with fellow photographer Richard Reader. As well as some fabulous second hand goodies, musical instruments, clothing and little stocking fillers, I will have an assortment of my portrait and landscape photos available to purchase. I will also be having a an exclusive promotional offer to those who come along to the Flea for an Autumn/Winter outdoor shoot WOW I’m soooo excited!!!!! So get there early to pick up a flyer.
For those of you looking for ‘feel good’ Calendars for 2014 then look no further that my stall, following the successful sell out of the Medway Little Theatres Calendar Girls in May I have a limited number of Calendars featuring the very gorgeous cast, left to purchase (including a little photo of yours truly). All Calendars are £7.50 and all proceeds are being split between the following Charities: Marie Curie, Cancer Research, and Macmillan Nurses. Fabulous causes I’m sure you’ll agree.
Don’t forget to come and say hello, and sample all the wonderful treats at the Flea.
NB: I will be wearing a few more clothes than this! 😉
Nestled away Near Cranbrook in Kent is Sissinghurst Castle, a wonderful home born out of a passion of a couple (Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West) in the 1930’s.
I was lucky to have visited at a time where the gardens were in full bloom.
The idea of ‘getting in for a shilling/penny’ is still operational by the National Trust, you are given a plastic shilling/penny in order to gain entry to the main building.
The feel is similar to that of Castle Drogo however not as huge, but in a sense that someone had a great passion to make their home exactly how they wanted. I can relate to that, after all its is said that our home is our castle.
The Site is wonderfully peaceful and a delight to sit in the wild garden by the stream. The building and maintaining of the Castle wasn’t with out its struggle, not only between the land, but also between Vita and Harold. There is a great exhibition about their lives, loves, strains, and passion throughout their lives which I would encourage anyone to go and see. I love the passion of individuals striving for their own little haven in their creative world.
An Excerpt from Vitas diary:
When people like you and me marry, life resolves itself into a compromise, which is truly satisfactory to neither. Bit I love you, I can never ever cure myself of you, so what is to be done?
So after the wonderful success of the promotional shoot for a commission by The Right Step Dance Company for Fuse Festival and costume by Kalikas Armour, it was fabulous to see the full performance at the Fuse Festival 2013.
With haunting vocals by Tendayi Sutherland and processional drum by Jacob Bride and JIMtheSAINT the Sirens emerged from the Central Theatre Chatham, Solemnly walking through the busy shoppers of the high street who were stopping in their tracks to see the Sirens, ending their Journey at the Anchor.
The full musical composition combined with the Sirens, protective, mischievous, and tempting natures, treated the audience to a journey through the Sirens personalities and mysticism that surrounds the legend of the Siren.
Protective – mother-like figure over the other Sirens
Mischievous – cheeky and playful
Temptress – luring the sailors to shore
I found the whole performance fitting, given our Naval history within the towns of Medway. It was a wonderful collaborative project encompassing the variety of talented artists across the Medway Towns.
I have been proud and honoured to work with some fantastic artists. Heres to future projects!
Originally myself and a small group of local artists thought about starting an open house in our neighbourhood. We wanted to promote the wonderful diverse nature of the creativity in our local town particularly for independent artists, with a unique touch of having a view in peoples homes, this was around early 2012, when we discovered that Medway was due to have its own ‘Medway Open Studios‘, a fabulous find!
July and December 2012 Medway Open Studios were exceptionally well attended, and we are all looking forward to July 2013. We have collectively called ourselves ‘The Bishops Square Artists’ an affectionate name for the square that we all live on.
The Facebook event page and further details can be found here.
Heres to a successful summer.
An overcast and showery day was a challenge for the shoot, however we did get a brief break in the rain, which added to the theme of the shoot ‘The Sirens of Cetham’. Sirens are typically beautiful but dangerous creatures from Greek Mythology, luring sailors to shore to inevitably destroy their ships.
One of my favourite shots of the day was of ‘Siren’ Natalie peering through the iconic anchor entwined with the fabric from Kalika’s Armour, just outside the Pentagon Centre in Chatham, a link to the Naval history of the town.
Last year before starting on my Photography business I wanted to ensure I had something to do in my ‘down time’ that was relatively inexpensive, you always get told that the first year of your own business can be ‘interesting’ financially, so I wanted to make sure I could get out and do something. I was always interested in my partners stories of going to various castles with his parents when he was little, and our trip to Castle Drogo in March 2012 re-ignited a passion for old buildings, so thought having a years membership to the National Trust would be just the ticket.
This ‘last castle in England’ is nestled in the hills in north Dartmoor National Park, a fabulous story surrounds this family home, with an eccentric millionaire wanting his own Norman castle built using traditional methods. His architect kept insisting that he could make the castle ‘look’ like a traditional castle but with having modern materials and a peaked roof. Sadly the millionaire was insistent that he wanted a Norman Castle with a flat roof, and the National Trust have been trying to raise funds ever since to repair the roof, which has constantly leaked ever since it was built!
I fell in love with the place nestled in Dartmoor National Park, such lush trees, and amazing views (even in the pouring rain). I loved the guides in each room, although I do like to have a read of material before I visit a place, having an actual person to tell you these stories and to ask them questions about the place is wonderful. I went into the dining room, where an older chap was waiting with a smile on his face, he was welcoming and began to tell us about the room (he was an amazing storyteller). Apparently, the owner insisted that the dining table had electric table lights on it, this could be a bit of a problem when someone spilled a drink as the tablecloth would sometimes lightly shock the diners!!!!