Dippy on Tour

My sister and my twin nieces (9 years old) were staying with us over half term. To keep them occupied we’d planned to do a couple of things with them. Dragging them geocaching, I mean treasure hunting, didn’t happen, although there was a lot of excitement when it came to hunting out Easter eggs. A planned visited to the Dorset County Museum, which they didn’t know about, to see Dippy the dinosaur did go ahead on a mainly dry if chilly Easter Monday.

Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure is the title of an exhibition touring the UK that is giving the nation the chance to view one of the best known dinosaurs in the country. Dippy the Diplodocus. The cast of the dinosaur has left its home at the Natural History Museum and is visiting a number of locations around the United Kingdom between now and October 2020.

First stop on the tour was Dorchester and the Jurassic Coast.

Although we’ve visited Dorchester a number of times over the years, this was the first time that we have ever visited this particular museum. Having booked tickets for the 2pm slot we were early arriving in Dorchester and so spent a bit of time wandering around.

Bypassing the Tutankhamun exhibition, which we’d never have got my Egyptian mad niece out of, we popped into a couple of shops; including Waterstones where I picked up a copy of Cecil Beaton: Portraits & Profiles. Beaton being a research topic in one of the exercises for Part 3 I thought I’d get a book I’d spotted in Waterstones, Bristol about him. Instead I ended up with this, at first skim through, a fascinating book of his portraits of various people; with his own written descriptions of them. Too late to use for Part 2, but just in time for the formal portrait exercise in Part 3.

Arriving at the museum just before 2pm, our tickets were checked, we were given stickers that would indicate that we had booked to see the rest of the museum as well as Dippy. Seeing the Diplodocus was free but the rest of the museum incurred a charge. Bags examined we made our way up a level to the gallery that surrounded the dinosaur cast.

It was packed.

Being the Easter weekend and also something that a lot of people aren’t going to get a chance to see again on their doorstep, lots of families had made the same decision as us. In fact we bumped into a friend and her family as well as a work colleague and his.

Dippy fills the large, open, two storey gallery in the museum. Its head is at one end, literally only inches from a glass screen where you can take photos of yourself with Dippy as the backdrop. At the other end the tail curves gently in order that it can fit within the area.

Dippy on Tour-6711
It’s behind you!

Dippy on Tour-6712

In work, a few days ago I was chatting with the colleague I’d seen and we found ourselves discussing whether we think the tail had been bent specifically to allow the skeleton to fit within the museum space, or whether it normally bends like that.

Around the gallery are numerous smaller exhibits, mostly fossils but in one cabinet there were a number of preserved birds. Plaques provide copious amounts of information for those that take the time to read them. Whoever curated the exhibition has done an incredible job.

After wandering around the upper gallery we went down to the lower level and were able to get a view of Dippy from underneath. The ground level being a larger area than the gallery it was less crowded and it was possible to get a better view of the Diplodocus skeleton. Around the room were a few more displays, a wooden dinosaur skeleton and a large picture of dinosaurs that you could stand in front of and have your photo taken.

Dippy on Tour-6723

Dippy on Tour-6728
Up Close and Personal

Dippy on Tour-6730

Seeing the remnants of one of these creatures its easy to imagine just how frightening it would be to have come across one in the flesh. Thank goodness they became extinct millions of years ago.

Moving on from the Dippy exhibition we made our way around the rest of the museum.

First stop was a couple of rooms. One contained a display consisting of a farm cart, some hand ploughs and a variety of farm implements. The second room was fitted out like the interior of a late 19th century, early 20th century house with bed, table and various household goods including an early bellows-type vacuum cleaner.

The remainder of the exhibition was on the upper floor of the museum, and we continued after a brief stop in the museum café.

First stop was the Jurassic room where there were more fossils and models of dinosaurs, including a life size fossil Ichthyosaur head and jaws as well as a model of the same as it would have looked in life. Very quickly I found myself left behind by the others.

Lots of families had taken advantage of the Bank Holiday and were visiting the museum, at one point I found myself chatting with a lady about her grandson who she had brought to the museum and who knew everything about dinosaurs that a young child could know, to the point that he corrected his gran when she got things wrong, something she delighted in doing just so he could share his knowledge with her.

The next few sections of the museum were devoted to local artists, poets, a large section about Thomas Hardy, Sylvia Townsend Warner and several other authors. So much to see and read, I could have spent far longer than we had wandering around.

On the walls were a number of photographs from the 19th and early 20th century. Looking at a number of the photographs I found myself thinking about how they would have been taken, photographs of farmhands where they would have had to hold still while performing an action; like winding a handle on a machine, while the photographer took the photograph. Previously I would never have thought about what was involved in capturing images like these. Knowing more about the history of photography has given me a deeper appreciation for how these images were captured.

The final part of the museum was dedicated to ancient Britain and the Romans. Again lots of artefacts to look at and information to read. There was even a man and his daughter playing what appeared to be an ancient variant of chess.

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, there was a lot to see and when I have a bit more time spare I’ll go back and take a more leisurely wander around the museum, and maybe even make a day of it and visit some of the others dotted around the town.

 

 

Michael Wolf

Michael Wolf is a German born photograper and artist who lives and works in Paris and Hong Kong. Born in Muich in 1954, the focus of his work has been mega cities. His work has been exhibited around the world including the venice bienniale.

My Favourite Things

As part of the research for exercise 3.2 Series we were asked to look at Michael Wolf’s My Favourite Things.

In his project My Favourite Things Michael Wolf has captured a number of photographic series that each revolve around a single item. For instance mops, chairs, people, cats, plants, rubber gloves and many more.

Wolf’s work shows that if you just open your eyes to the world around you it is possible to find things to photograph. When you begin to look around, you soon begin to notice things. It’s like when you buy a car, you soon begin to spot other cars like it on the road as you drive about.

The series of images that Wolf groups together also highlights that when you do look at the world around you, it becomes obvious that people put things in the most unusual of places.

Exercise 3.2 Series can be found here.

References

  1. Wikipedia. Michael Wolf Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wolf_(photographer) [Accessed 19th February 2018]
  2. Michael Wolf My Favourite Things Available at: http://photomichaelwolf.com/#my-favourite-thing-groups-2/1 [Accessed 19th February 2018]

The Americans

02 -The Americans
Cover of Robert Franks The Americans

Franks (2017), The Americans contains a series of photographs taken in 1955 and 1956 by the photographer.

The edition that I’ve read is very clean in its presentation. The book jacket has not details on the inside and in fact has the familiar photo of a group of people looking out of the window of a trolley bus.

Each photograph is on a single page, with the preceding page containing just the caption of the photo.

The book contains an introduction from the author and poet Jack Kerouac. Not having read anything by Kerouac but looking at his Wikipedia (2018) entry, his introduction seems to exhibit his style, poetic, almost free flowing, off the cusp, written in response to the photographs that follow.

The book is a snapshot of an America that has long gone. A peek back into history and a time where every country, and not just the USA, was rebuilding from a war that had engulfed the world.

The Civil Rights Movement was still in its infancy. Segregation of children by race had been ruled un-constitutional in 1954. In 1955, Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old African-American from Chicago was lynched for an alleged interaction with a white woman. Later that year and into 1956, Rosa Parks came to prominence when she refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger, which led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

One image that stands out for me is of a coloured woman holding a white baby. The caption reads “Charleston, South Carolina”.

02 - Charleston South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina

An image like that today wouldn’t stand out as much. It could be a woman holding a friend’s baby while they chat on a street? But if looked at in the context of the time then its meaning changes. We can make assumptions about what we’re seeing but without being able to see outside the edges of the frame we cannot completely understand what we are seeing. Although we can be certain that either this photograph was taken from a distance without the subject’s knowledge or that the subject and the parents of the baby must have been aware of what was happening and been happy with it.

In a lot of the photographs the subject seems unaware that their image is being captured. In some of these there are wonderful moments when a person is staring directly at the camera. Letting you know that they are aware of what is happening and almost challenging the viewer by refusing to look away. Some of those gazes are direct and obvious, others, although still direct are not so obvious because of the distance between the person and the camera.

02- Courthouse Square
Courthouse Square, Elizabethville, North Carolina

As an introduction to the work of Robert Franks, I think that The Americans is very good. As a window on American society in the 1950s I think it’s excellent.

References

  1. Frank, R (foreward by Kerouac, J) (2017). The Americans. 11th edition Steidl (ISBN 978-3-86521-584-0)
  2. Wikipedia (2018) Jack Kerouac Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kerouac [Accessed 4th March 2018]
  3. Wikipedia (2018) Wikipedia (2018) African-American civil rights movement (1954–1968) Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African-American_civil_rights_movement_(1954%E2%80%931968) [Accessed 4th March 2018]

McCullin – a film by Jacqui & David Morris

McCullin is a documentary by Jacqui and David Morris, released on DVD in February 2013. The documentary can be found on YouTube (2015).

A mix of film clips, still photographs, McCullin talks about his career and some of the events he photographed. Having read his autobiograph Unreasonable Behaviour this was a chance to hear the man talk about the events he’d witnessed and the feelings he’d expressed.

I’ve read a number of books containing McCullin’s work so it was fascinating to see images I’m familiar with alongside others that I wasn’t.

Time 100 Photos included the image of the albino child in Biafra amongst their selection of the most influential photos of all time. Hearing how it made Don McCullin feel and how he’d tried to avoid the child by going elsewhere, only to find the child had followed him when he felt a hand take hold of his, was fascinating. With only some boiled sweets on him McCullin gave the young boy one and he hurried off, stopping a distance away to lick it.

In the same way, the image of McCullin, Egomonsters (2013), carrying the old woman is expanded upon. Seeing the old woman being helped along a road by a British soldier, McCullin took a photograph of her. Unable to walk very quickly, even with the aid of two sticks there was a risk that she would be killed before she could reach safety. Putting his camera away McCullin scooped her up and carried her to safety. Another photographer captured his actions.

A lot of times photographers, McCullin included are simply viewers of events, there to document what is happening for both history but also so that other people can view the events from safety and distance (both in miles and days, months and years).

At times, as demonstrated in the above examples and the description from the documentary of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam; where other photographers did “point and shoot” trips but McCullin immersed himself for two weeks in the thick of the action, photographers become part of events and aren’t able to just be onlookers.

In today’s world, where almost everyone carries a camera with them, it is easy to see how simple it is to be an onlooker. Social media is filled with videos showing events unfolding, the people capturing those events being just an onlooker. Viewing events from the other side of a screen.

McCullin, through his work and career, demonstrates that although as photographers our purpose is to capture images, we are also human beings and once the camera has stopped clicking become just another part of events happening around us.

References

  1. YouTube (2015) McCullin – a film by Jacqui Morris and David Morris Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-r0IjB44KY&feature=youtu.be [Accessed 3rd March 2018]
  2. Time 100 Photos Albino Boy, Biafra Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/don-mccullin-albino-boy-biafra#photograph [Accessed 3rd March 2018]
  3. Egomonsters (2013) Don McCullin: a Goya with a camera Available at: https://egomonsterblog.wordpress.com/photography/don-mccullin-a-goya-with-a-camera/ [Accessed 3rd March 2018]

 

St James Arts, Crafts and Hobbies exhibition

St James Church,
Preston Road,
Yeovil
Saturday 24th February 2018
10am – 4pm

The church I attend decided at the end of 2017 to hold an exhibition of the arts, crafts and hobbies that members of the congregation take part in. Since David, the vicar is well aware that I do photography and has seen some of my work, there was no point in me not getting involved.

The question was what I should exhibit.

The obvious things were the photographs I developed as part of the darkroom evening class I undertook at the beginning of 2017. As part of the course we had to take and develop a set of photographs based on a theme. My theme was churches and so picking up a 4 foot by 3-foot display board from Hobbycraft I attached the selection of photographs I’d produced to the board along with a description of what each was and a short description of how “The Church Project” had come about.

The second set of photographs I put together were of St James church itself. I used eight photographs which I had printed at 7 by 5 size and then put in two four aperture 40cm by 40cm frames. One set of images made use of some photos I took of the church when it had been snowing (both front and back of church) with a couple of photos of some of the stained-glass windows. The other set again included images of the front and back of the church, taken more recently, but also a close up of the lectern and one of the organ loft and its window.

The final set of material I was exhibiting were two photo books that I’d made as a result of attending an OCA South West student workshop on bookbinding. One of the books included the material I produced for the Square Mile assignment, the other is a project I’m working on called “The Final Journey”.

At the last minute I managed to put together a brief description of some of the churches that I’d photographed as well as a description of the two photobooks, along with a description of the technique used to bind them.


The exhibition was held in the main part of the church, with some extra hanging space in the church room alongside.

The building was full of examples of the labours of almost 30 exhibitors, with ages ranging from pre-teens to the retired.

Painting, sketches, photographs, textiles, cross-stitch, knitwear, sugar craft, models, woodwork, metalwork and much more were on display. It seems that St James church has a very talented and creative congregation.

The exhibition had seen a steady stream of people since it had opened at 10am, with a busy period during the morning, and another busy period during the last hour, when the exhibitors started arriving to take down their displays so that the church could be made ready for the Sunday morning service.

I didn’t get time to see everything but what I did see I was very impressed with.

What I particularly liked about the exhibition was that many of the exhibitors were there and it was possible to talk to them as you wandered around. Discussing what they’d produced and why was a useful insight into different creative processes. Finding out a bit more about people I’ve known for a while, and things they do in their spare time was another benefit of the day.

One person I was talking to about photography had done the same college evening class that I’d completed two years ago, they’d also been to the same ploughing championships that I photographed for People and Activity exercise in Part 2 of the course.

Another person I talked to explained about the model of the church building that had been used during the re-ordering work that was completed last year. The original model had been made by him and his grandson. When the church decided to remodel the building, they updated it so that people could see what the end result would be. Something that helped a lot when it came to selling St James’ vision to everybody concerned.

I also got to talk to a friend about the work her daughters were showing, one piece having won a prize in a competition.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take photos of the exhibits but I did manage to take a photo of my display on my phone, the same thing as somebody was doing with their work.

The feedback I had from various people was very satisfactory. It was nice to explain the background to some of the work, and a few people said they were moved by one of the books I’d produced.

I suggested to Alan, who had organised it, that perhaps they should do it again next year. The decision isn’t his but if he had his way then he said he’d rather do it during the summer holidays and have it open for a week, rather than just a day.

My Display 4
Some of my work on display at St James Church

Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans is a German photographer who was born in 1968 (Wikipedia (2018)). He is a Turner Prize winner.

His early work was portrait based, and of his friends and people from the area surrounding him, in particular the London club and gay scene.

Tillmans is a graduate of Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design (artnet (2018)).

Wolfgang Tillmans work was researched for Assignment 2 of the course.

References

  1. Wikipedia (2018). Wolfgang Tillmans Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfgang_Tillmans [Accessed 20th February 2018]
  2. artnet (2018). Wolfgang Tillmans Available at: http://www.artnet.com/artists/wolfgang-tillmans/ [Accessed 20th February 2018]
  3. Wolfgan Tillmans Website Wolfgang Tillmans Available at: http://tillmans.co.uk/ [Accessed 20th February 2018]
  4. Tate Museum Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/wolfgang-tillmans-2747 Accessed: 31st January 2018.
  5. Andrea Rosen Gallery Available at: http://www.andrearosengallery.com/exhibitions/wolfgang-tillmans Accessed: 31st January 2018.

Annette Messager

Annette Messager is a French artist. Born in Berck-sur-Mer in 1943 (Guggenheim Foundation (2018)) she is a winner of both the Venice Biennale Golden Lion Award and the Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award (Wikipedia (2017)). Her work is noted for its use of photographs, prints, drawings and other materials.

From Guggenheim Foundation  (2018) it can be seen that a lot of her work has involved the use of stuffed animals (both the taxidermy and soft toy kinds) and images of human body parts. Hustvedt (2009), however, shows that her work uses far more and is influenced by a great many different things.

Through her work, and her own descriptions of herself, Annette Messager has taken on many different titles. Trickster, practical woman, peddler (Hustvedt (2009) and Guggenheim Foundation (2018) describe the titles that she has given herself. The latter source mentioning her work The Bedroom Works/The Studio Works in which she sketched her apartment, separating it into the part inhabited by Messager the person and Messager the artist.

Researching Annette Messager was part of the work for Assignment 2 of the course.

References

  1. Wikipedia (2017) Annette Messager Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annette_Messager [Accessed 20th February 2018]
  2. Guggenheim Foundation (2018) Annette Messager Available at: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/Annette-Messager [Accessed 20th February 2018]
  3. Hustvedt, S (2009). Puppetmaster Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2009/feb/21/annette-messager [Accessed 20th February 2018]