Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Summertime in Suburbia .....................the dog gets a wash

With my new found freedom from sticking and glueing that was the PG Cert in Photography, I am finding tradtional ways to fill my day. Today dog and I ventured out to do a little photography; summer is here, and the London Villages Project waits for no man.

We ventured into some different streets and found all sorts of delights; red roses, dead conifers in concrete tubs on lawns, and some wonderfully green summer trees. Suburbia is so "suburban". The more I look  the more I see the different styles of gardens and window dressings that make up the whole. Double glazed windows with net curtains, window boxes and garden gates all seek to define the occupants and make their dwellings unique. Stopping to take photos I am always wary of figures behind the curtains wondering what I am up to; I don't know that they would believe me if I tried to explain that I am taking pictures of their bushes and trees.

Our 20 minute morning stroll extended into an hour long exploration; checking where the sun lies, and when to go back to catch the light in the best position is part of the initial research. Summer sun is harsher, and requires a certain devotion to duty on my part to get up while the light is still kind enough to the flowers on a sunny day.

Dog had a wash today; her first for many months; I have time at last to do a little spring cleaning. Tied by her lead to a garden chair she endured first a cold hose and then some "strong" shampoo from my bathroom. she hates this, much preferring her own, doggy smell. She has been known to run up the garden after a wash to roll in some fox poo  to restore the balance that her senses prefer.

I was getting my own back on her for the worming tablet escapade that she led me on last week. Every few months I have to get three large brown tablets into her; a feat which gets harder every time and the one time when she well and truly lets me know that she is not as stupid as she pretends to be most of the time. I have learnt through experience that there is no point trying to hide these tablets in her food; she simply goes on hunger strike until normal service is resumed. So I wrapped the tablets in a delicious piece of  pork loin.

 Foolishly I let her see this process, and she happily took the whole parcel into her mouth, only to refuse to swallow it. I tried holding her muzzle closed to encourage her to swallow. She salivated wildly all over the floor and refused to play ball. I put her outside, where upon she swallowed the meat, and out popped  the tablets onto the lawn. We repeated the proess, this time concealing the tablets in a slice of bread; she ate two, and the third was again discarded with disdain. At this point I gave up, and left the tablet in her food bowl, hoping she would forget and eat it with her tea ( which , of course, she expected as usual despite the extra snacks).

Tea came and went; the tablet remained in the bowl. Dog wins................

 Later that evening I put some boiled cabbage water into the bowl ......................water and tablet happily consumed..................I win........................

3am the next needs to go out to the loo becuse of the extra drinks she had; I have to get up and take her............................DOG WINS!!!

So today we have clean, healthy dog...................................WIN WIN

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Collography, collodion and the East Sussex Contemporary Art fair

The last few days have been immensely busy; a graduate show at Central St Martins , followed 24 hours later by the East Sussex Contemporary Art show; two very different experiences, in which the biggest lesson learnt has to be that people like free stuff, and that very few people outside the photographic community understand what a "C-type" print or an "archival digital print" are.

Much of my work is abstract, and not instantly recognisable as a photograph, so I tried to give details that would make this clear; but maybe not clear enough. My work "Daydreams 2" (below) has attracted the most attention on my stand at the art show, and although derived from a photo of reflections in a stream, is sufficiently far removed from the original subject after manipulation to confuse the viewer into believing that what they see is not a photograph. much of my recent photographic work has involved layering and collage, and this is an example of the use of symmetry in the layering process.

Daydreams 2    (copyright Caroline Fraser 2011)

 Understanding other artists techniques is always a challenge; I have been learning about collographs and dechirage, after admiring the work of Ali Stump, printmaker and Fizz Fieldgrass respectively,at the art fair.

collographic print by Ali Stump
Collography is, according to Wikipedia;

 "a printmaking process in which materials are applied to a rigid substrate (such as cardboard or wood). The word is derived from the Greek word koll or kolla, meaning glue and graph, meaning the activity of drawing, which could explain the common misspelling collagraph. (Adding to the confusion, a photo-collagraph is a term to refer to any type of collotype photographic print.)

The plate can be intaglio-inked, inked with a roller or paintbrush, or some combination thereof. Ink or pigment is applied to the resulting collage, and the board is used to print onto paper or another material using either a printing press or various hand tools. The resulting print is termed a collagraph. Substances such as carborundum, acrylic texture mediums, sandpapers, string, cut card, leaves and grasses can all be used in creating the collograph plate. In some instances, leaves can be used as a source of pigment by rubbing them onto the surface of the plate."

This is not to be confused with the wet plate collodion process used in photography, used to stunning effect by one of my fellow students at Central St Martins Jonny Weeks in his portraits of blind people.

Ali Stump creates her prints using cardboard, and they have a beautiful simplicity to them with unusual, almost child-like perspectives of everyday objects.

Dechirage is almost a reversal of collage, being a process of removal rather than addition. Fizz Fieldgrass creates delicate sculptures using source images such as photographs as source material, which are then printed onto fabric, built up in layers, and then torn away to create delicate three dimensional images.

example of dechirage by Fizz Fieldgrass

Fieldgrass has a background in sculpture, and his use of textiles and Japanese papers was a source of admiration for many seeing his work this weekend. The main concern by visitors was how long the work will survive, given the delicate nature of the work; a currently  unanswered question.
dechirage by Fizz Fieldgrass

Friday, 17 June 2011

A photography show at Central St Martins

So, the show is on the road.

Last night we had the private view, agonised over how much to sell catalogues for, dressed in our finery, hoping to become famous. Many of the punters were there for the free booze, and certainly not looking to spend money either on catalogues or works of art. The big buyers had visited earlier in the day when I was still trying to sort out postcards and having a calming walk with the dog.

For some reason the bodyguards controlling the front entrance felt that the best way to create a frisson of excitement on the street was to let visitors in, one at a time, very slowly. So mummies and daddies from far and wide got soaked in the rain waiting to meet up with their respective offspring who were locked inside waiting for the party to start.

I forgot to take my camera in the excitement , so photos of the artwork will have to wait; for now here's a couple from my portfolio. The first is one for the London Villages project  london villages project, being my next-door-neighbour's tree. Some would argue that I should remove the airplane trail; I would argue that it is what the sky always looks like around my home, and I will therefore leave it as it is.

Crab apple from the series 'Springtime in Suburbia' 

Tonight we are out as a family for the first time in a while; celebrating new jobs for both my children. Somehow that feels more important than photography right now. The restaurant we have chosen sent me an e-mail this afternoon offering me a last minute ticket to their fashion show tonight due to 'last minute cancellations'. I had visions of dining amongst the Chislehurst wags, surrounded by ladies in high heels and men with fast/big/black 4x4 cars. Not quite what I had  planned ; so I gave them a call and was pleased to hear that the fashion show is in a marquee; which should be fun as it is currently full-on June monsoon weather and very cold. We will be fine, tucked indoors in the warm.......................... lets hope the chef is indoors too.

from the series 'n'aller pas trop vite'

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Insomnia ....................... a poem for my classmates


It's over

I can relax

I should be fast asleep

But lying here

at 3am

my mind spins on, relentlessly,

wondering how it will fill

the whole uncharted day that is


Not wanting to be immersed in the domestic bliss

that is a clean and tidy desk,

a spotless fridge.

Last night a programme on botanical classification

"bringing order to the chaos that is nature"

Those words,
my words,
others' words.

They won't go away.

I want to be a photographer

thinking, creating, curating.

Fractals and chaos

Order and classification

My mind won't stop

I'm clinging on



fearful of stagnating.

What will tomorrow bring?

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hawkwood ; a sanctuary in suburbia

There is a real feeling of an end in sight for all the members of my course; today most of us have been busy printing off our final assessment of our projects, getting work ready to hand in tomorrow, and wondering how we will fill all the time that is suddenly going to become available. Already some of us have found time to read a novel, go to the shops and have a lie in. For myself, I find this weekend that I can suddenly sleep again; a welcome relief after weeks of waking up at 6am thinking about what else needs to be done. I was able to enjoy a walk on the beach at Camber without worrying about the time passing and feeling that I should be somewhere else. Most importantly of all, I actually wanted to take some photographs, something that I have been avoiding for the last 3-4 weeks, as I didn't feel I would have time to process them. I feel quite excited at the prospect of having some time to think.

So it is with great pleasure that I release details of my book "Hawkwood"; a very personal project for my family containg a poem I have written for them,with photos taken there in the last few months. Hawkwood is a haven in suburbia, owned by the National Trust. I have walked there countless times, and as I describe in my poem, it has kept me alive through good times and bad. My hand made book with the same title is still not right; I need to work on getting the paper and format perfect. In the meantime this softcover book will have to do. It forms another strand of my work for the London Villages Project in which memebers of London Independent Photography record their chosen localities within the London suburbs.