William Fox Talbot (2) – Lacock Abbey

A fantastic visit with my nephew and mother to Lacock abbey – a stones throw from where I grew up and the house of William Fox Talbot, subject of a previous exhibition review. I took a photo with my iPhone in the exact position that William F.T. took one of his first negatives – the one I had seen at the British museum.  Perhaps this was a pilgrimage without profound meaning, but the idea that the photograph of an opening (aperture) from a dark space (camera) recording light outside, is surely an image or metaphor for photography itself and a rationale for my continuing project of photography the doorways which I am calling Cultural Distance.

photo text text photo

Photo text text photo is a great book looking at artists who use text in their work.

  • Hapkemeyer, A and Weiermair, P (ed) (1996), photo text text photo’, Zurich: Edition Stemmle Ag.

Bernard Faucon’s hand written texts in French to fit into the landscape as constructed texts  through the addition of shadows added with Photoshop or similar


A possible translation: However it looks – The end of desire

Willie Doherty, subject of another post, appears here too.


Willie Doherty


Willie Doherty’s work was suggested to me by more than one person this year.  I can’t recall seeing any work exhibited, but I am drawn in to the work by how the text words alter completely how apparently mundane photographs (beautifully composed) can be seen.  Doherty uses this and other techniques to find a new way of presenting issues and understandings of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The persistent gaze, deliberately excluding people in the landscape works, creates a solitude and a hard reality for the abstract concepts that the words embody.

Doherty’s work is also about the reliability of memory and particularly how a photograph is a memory (representing it’s point of image capture in time) but also evokes in a viewer their own memory of that place, that time.  Both these memory types are perhaps unreliable.


Christov-Bakargiev, C and Mac Giolla Leith, C (2002) Willie Doherty, London: Merrell

Kakejiku -Japanese Screens and scrolls

Developing an idea to create work in the form of a scroll or screens.

Looking at traditional Japanese vertical screens  as a possibility for connecting images back to the idea of ’36 views’.

Kakejiku — ‘the hanging scrolls you see in japanese tea rooms, temples or traditional guest houses.’


They have a particular structure – allowing a top and bottom to roll the central image, a simple bottom and top rod and satrap to hang the work.  The framing is precisely defined as well:


sometimes the borders are organised into columns and lintels.

This film has a lovely visual description of the craft of making the screens.  Is it possible to do this with photographs……?

why write?

a post about writing.

There is a big contradiction implicit in trying to write in a ‘poetic’ style to place alongside or within an image.  The poetry I like is imagist in nature, it describes specific places and creates strong visual images and draws metaphor and illusion from those images.  If it fulfils this task, it needs no illustration.

25th August 2016

The question above still needs answering, and so I am adding to this post somewhat later.  Fiona C. asked set the question in an informal discussion about the work.  It has led to a bit of doubt setting in, text has become a smaller part of the August exhibition than I perhaps anticipated – image and 3d form have dominated in the final presentation.

John Kippin


CVAN publish a new film on John Kippin edited from sensitive interviews with Alesandro Vincentelli of Baltic.  The film allows Kippin to talk at length about his process – his very conscious image making and the irony embodied in his work.  The main thrust of the film and his opening remarks are based on his approach to landscape and comments on his bemusement that we cannot  appreciate the ‘process’ of photography – thinking that photography is just capture and that is it. Viewers do not give credit to the importance of, developing, filing, cataloguing and editing to print or publish. Later in the film, Kippin makes connections between the black and white process and drawing, pointing out that the simplification, caused by the black and white process, renders back and white photographs closer to immediate drawing.


‘Hidden’ is one of my favourite photographs.  There are many reasons – the formal composition, with its gentle diagonals opening the huge space, its fantastic open Northumbrian landscape and sky contrasting with the wreckage.  The single word opens up this work, changing absolutely how the it is viewed. It is also a word that defines its local context – if you live in Northumberland, you know that this photograph is taken on the Northumberland military ranges – right next to the National Park, it is a bombing alley for the RAF. It is hidden, because no public access is allowed, although during the Gulf wars, we Northumbrian residents, certainly knew about it from the screaming jets flying low.  When this work was cited in a exhibition review, the London author could not make out what Kippin referred to, I like that!

Thinking onwards – film strips or scrolls

I have started to think about showing the images as a  book, then as a ‘strip book’ and taking that to the logical extreme as a redited strip to the same size as the original capture film.  This could work as positive print or negative film….first trials below

or indeed as scrolls, looking at the Japanese tradition again:

Video of a traditional Kakejiku – Hanging Scroll

This video shows the craftsmanship required to make a perfect scroll.  They are an art of devotion and were designed for contemplation.  Their portability is a part of their design, with special fabric tassles to tie up the work.  Often found in Budhist temples or in homes, they have a strict design of framing with concepts of ‘pillars’ at the sides and a ‘heaven’ section above and a ‘hell’ section below.

All these concepts and techniques link back to my introduction to the craft of rice paper and chinese brush painting which was the subject of an earlier workshop and post.

There is a possibility of taking and adapting this to the issue of how to display the possible 36 image poems so far created.

Roni Horn

Roni Horn’s work is now becoming a clear inspiration.  Two headline reasons are my interest in her  poetic use of landscape through photography and the sculptures/text and sculptures/concrete poetry pieces. Her books and catalogues have a balance between word and image, but I need to see a full show of Horn’s work to gauge how this works in an exhibition context.  I feel that her varied work in text and image and this beautiful balance between them, is close to what I am trying to find for my own work for the coming summer exhibition.

You are the Weather, 1994—1995
64 C-printed photographs and 36 gelantine-silver prints
Installation view, Matthew Marks Gallery

There are so many coincidences of thought and process.  Firstly the sense of series – you are the weather is made up of multiple pictures of the same subject – the work is dependent on these being seen together and in the same space, this fits into a historical view of ‘series’ that goes all the way back to Steiglitz’s Equivalents series.  Equally it is crucial that ‘weather ‘ is a series of photographs taken over time, the viewer immediately equates the title with what is shown, weather ‘happens’ daily so we assume the photos of Horn’s companion and lover are taken daily and in a similar position – the thing that changes is the ‘weather’, but of course the implication is that weather affects mood and so we look to see how the mood varies in each shot and then maybe speculate that this ‘weather mood’ affects the  relationship between the subject and the photographer. This is further emphasised by the intimacy of the chosen location, the edges of the many pools and hot springs that the two were near on their travels around Iceland. This location at the edge, between the two physical states, air and water, wet and dry, creates a dichotomy between the intimacy of the private moment but also points to a certain distance between the two, an unequal relationship, with different power or different artistic aims.

Horn’s sculpture – particularly the work using text seen in the above images – resonates with me for different reasons.  The short words or phrases are made physical through different media and through the different methods the texts are applied.  In most cases the text line is carried into three dimensions as if the text literally ran through the object, like a stick of rock.

[no title] 1999 by Roni Horn born 1955

Horn uses text with image in footnotes a particular way in some series, deploying tiny numerals and small passages of linked text at the base to add her ideas and thoughts about the context of the large image displayed. In  the Tate Gallery’s Still Water (The River Thames, for Example)  seven dramatic close up  images of the surface of the river thames are heavily annotated with information and ideas inspired by extensive research by Horn into the history and life of the river Thames particularly its darker history.

‘Close inspection of the images reveals that tiny numbers in typeface are dotted like specks of flotsam over the water’s surface. These numbers refer to footnotes printed along the lower edge of each image’s white border. The footnotes present a series of musings and quotations on the significance of the river and the moods and narratives it evokes.’                                                       From: Tate website – downloaded 2nd June 2016

  • Horn, R (1995) making being here enough – installations from 1980 to 1995. Basle.
  • Horn, R (1994) Island – to place pooling waters.Walther Konig. Koln.
  • Neri, L and Cooke L and de Duve, T (2000) Roni Horn. Phaidon Press Ltd. London

Sycamore – image and text together


Starting to move towards a ‘publication format’. I think the black background is great. White text works well – but this must be off the picture, composition demands a balance between text and image and overlap is an invasion of one on the other.

Handwriting is now a possibility, in the  image above the writing is done with fine pen on exposed negative film and then scanned.   I like the idea of my handwriting and the effect of it being scanned or ‘developed’ as if it were a negative.  My handwriting is terrible and its flow sporadic,  so I have tried some versions with a more organised style of handwriting and applied these to recent photos medium format negatives to create these compositions and looked at them printed largea1 felled


The next thing to try was how this would work if the images were returned to something close to their capture size, to a strip. the size of an actual film negative….