Research and personal images – (part 7)

RESEARCH – Assignment 2 & 3, Unit 2, Task 1&2,

(1.1, 1.2, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

This week has been challenging personally, for lots of reasons I can’t really go into at the moment, but it will all be okay in the end.  (I hope.)  I just have to go one step at a time. This is a new skill I’m having to learn, having always been a person who likes to fix things. Well, I suppose we all do, but if you have a long term illness and you can’t overcome it, you just have to learn to accept it. One step at a time.

Continuing on my theme of Visible Invisible, I’ve done some more research into my project


I have often joked that if you cut me in two, there would be flowers on the inside, so I was thrilled to discover the work of Brazilian, Marcelo Monreal.  Monreal’s work came about as a result of working in the garden, alongside his Mother, just before her death, when she told him, “We are made of flowers.” Monreal digitally manipulates the faces of famous people and fills the ‘cracks’ with stunning floral compilations that show the characters as full of life. Just as a flower opens and blooms, he opens his subjects up with these collages, revealing inner beauty behind their chosen appearance.  Like all the artists I’m choosing to show you today, he seeks to find what we hide. I love these vibrant explosions of flowers! I think his work will continue to influence my work, and I hope that I can attempt to capture some of this beautiful work in my own processes going forward.

” …people don’t often tell us who they really are. Instead, they keep parts of their real selves hidden. ” marcelo monreal


FRIDA KAHLO (1.1, 1.2)

The more I looked into this project, the more I have made a connection with Frida Kahlo. I’ve written before about her illness, and her life and there are so many wonderful images of Frida, with her customary floral head-dress and bold colours, but there is another side to Frida. Perhaps a side she didn’t always want the world to see, but she showed it anyway. “My painting carries with it the messages of pain.”  frida kahlo.  She showed that pain in her paintings, and I feel it whenever I see her art.. that connection to a deep pain and sadness, and a desire to fight through it and carry on with life.

I loved this image of Frida taken by Diego Riviera. Is she lost in thought, sadness or pain? The background is blurred by shallow depth of field, keeping all the focus on the sitter. The flowers in her hair seem a little wilted, unlike the usual bold headresses we are used to seeing on Frida. Her hand covers her face, is she hiding something? We touch our faces as a comfort, but I feel as though she has something she wishes to say but can’t.  I think the image in black and white works, because something of the sadness would be lost by using colour film.

flower-crown (image found on Google)
Frida Flower crown


RENE MAGRITTE (1.1, 1.2)

I like this image by Rene Magritte, because once again, you see what is there but not there. The hidden face, and the public face we show.

I believe that there is a desire in photographers to see what isn’t there.. that story …that private face, that hidden depth.  We photographers take notice. We’re aware of sensitivities and flaws, maybe even secrets, in a different way to others. We see and feel what others maybe don’t see, and we want to capture that. A bit of me wonders if that’s because we’re hiding some hidden feeling, and it feels safe from our side of the camera? …Do we want to be ‘unmasked’?

“At least it hides the face partly well, so you have the apparent face, the apple, hiding the visible but hidden, the face of the person. It’s something that happens constantly. Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. There is an interest in that which is hidden and which the visible does not show us. This interest can take the form of a quite intense feeling, a sort of conflict, one might say, between the visible that is hidden and the visible that is present.[2]”

Rene Magritte




IMAGES (2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

After an upsetting few days, and trying my hardest to deal with, and to accept what is happening around me. I  found the image above, of Frida and this excellent quote.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought there are so many people in the world. there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too.  Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”  Frida Kahlo 

It gave me a little bit of hope in a sad, dark moment, and made me smile a little.  So I decided to recreate the Frida Kahlo image myself. I took the image with a natural light source in front of me, and the room behind me in darkness. I used a shallow depth of field to blur the background, and a fairly slow shutter speed of 1/25s to get the correct exposure. I set the ISO to 800 to allow for the photo being taken indoors, (in the conservatory.. I can tell you a flower crown is quite a hot thing to wear on a hot day!) I used a remote control switch to take the image. I didn’t really think the image needed much in the way of editing, so I converted it to sepia tone, and added a small vignette, although perhaps with hindsight I could remove the stray hairs from my fringe on my forehead… (maybe I’ll come back to that…)


If you’re watching over us, Frida. I’m glad you are as strange as me 🙂

Below is my own interpretation of the Rene Magritte image. My sanctuary is my garden, and I often hide there to find peace, and distraction from pain, and sometimes the blackness of depression. Even on days when I can’t cope with gardening, (really I mostly just tidy up anyway..  lots of watering, primping and deadheading, and occasionally directing Tripod Carrier where to plant and move things!) it helps me to be in the garden. I find solace, tranquility and healing in the world outside my window. There is a sense of wellbeing and continuity in the constant growth and change in the garden…It grounds me.  I love plants, if I’m feeling shy, or lost it gives me a way to connect to people, I hide behind my knowledge of plants and flowers, finding pleasure in their Latin names, and some strange safety in the knowledge of their language. Sometimes, I’m even genuinely hidden by all the foliage and flowers!! There is a parallel here, in that I find a way to hide behind my camera, viewing the world vicariously, and sometimes not living in the moment. but taking the photo’s because I want to hold onto that moment and go back to it when I want to. ‘Captured images’ moments in time.

I have done nothing in post-editing to this image. This was meant to be just a bit of fun… an exploratory image.



With inspiration from Marcelo Monreal, and a great deal of help from my lovely Tripod Carrier, I present to you my own internal floral explosions (well, it’s quite a modest one really, but you get the idea…. 😉  )


insert image here…

Flower girl DSC00174 (2)
Flower girl f3.5 1/160s 9.73mm ISO100


Finally, to create the images below, I took a shot of myself with the crystal ball, and then one without. I wanted to convey a sense that my life has been turned upside down by having a long term condition, but the use of a crystal ball also implies a vision into the future, one that is clear and bright.

To make the image where I have seemingly disappeared, I overlaid the middle of the ball from the one with me in it onto the centre image to create a composite image.


So that’s it folks… probably the last few images for the end of my assignment on Dreams and Realities. I never expected this project to be quite so personal, but I’m glad it has been. It’s been cathartic, challenging, and rewarding, and alongside the course I’m taking on living with a long term condition it is helping me finally come to terms with it, and to find a new path.  As I said, last week, there could even be further exploration into a potential exhibition, alongside fellow students at RHACC on the subject next year.

There will be a few more blog posts from Negative Thoughts in the final few weeks of term, mainly going over what we’re learning with Photoshop but also to tie up loose ends.

At this point, my plans aren’t to continue on to level3 in September – (real life is somewhat getting in the way at the moment …but perhaps I’ll look at continuing next year.) I will continue to take photo’s, and develop my skills,  I do intend though to keep my blog up and running, so you’ll still be hearing from me, if you’re happy to come along for the ride 🙂 Since I was diagnosed almost a decade ago, I’ve had a long term goal. To get back into employment in some way. Now that goal is that some time, hopefully in the not too distant future, I’ll be to be able to sell some of my craft and photography work, locally and via an Etsy shop.

Next week, I’ll present my final images to you, to Ria and my fellow classmates, and then it’s all over really….. or is it? Another new beginning awaits…….



p.s. And one last image, it’s partly tongue-in-cheek, but again, it does give some sense of how it feels to live with a long term condition..

Me and my Shadow… f7.1 1/250s 17mm ISO100

You may feel like a shadow of the person that you once were… but there’s still a way forward and a bright, fulfilling future.



Wikipedia: Rene Magritte, Son of Man.

Frida Kahlo image found on Google

http: http://www.look4ward.co.uk/art/marcelo-monreal-s-surreal-collages






NCFE LEVEL 2 PHOTOGRAPHY – Assignment 2 & 3, Unit 2, Task 1&2

RESEARCH (1.1, 1.2)

In the past month and a half, I have been lucky enough to attend two fantastic exhibitions, and to exhibit in one 🙂


Photo London. Somerset Ho. f7.1 1/640s 18mm ISO100

After making our way into London, I have to admit, I was struggling to cope physically pretty quickly, and I don’t think I saw nearly as much as I would have wanted to, but for my first ever photographic exhibition, it was a bit of a show-stopper!  Not strictly speaking an exhibition, it’s billed as an Art Fair, and was jammed with Literati and the glitterati too! Heart-stoppingly beautiful works and some eye-wateringly expensive prices.

Whilst it was amazing to see some of the iconic 50’s & 60’s fashion shots, especially those of John French (personal favourite of mine) to Terence Donovan and Bailey, I really did love seeing candid shots of Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren.


Some of the images I liked best were not simply photographs. A lot of them incorporated a range of materials and techniques; from paint to paper cutting & paper pricking, aluminium printed images, concept works such as video and kinetic light images. I am inspired to try out a few of these new-to-me techniques. I really loved these images. Sadly, I cannot tell you who made them, because I can’t stand for too long in one place, and it quite often involved standing waiting for a long time to read what the tiny piece of labelling said… sorry. 😦

I suppose in my own small way I have been making images along these lines for a long time, drawing and machine embroidering onto some of my own photo’s as part of my journalling.

I really was inspired though by the beautiful craft orientated images like that of  Maurizio Anzeri, a ‘photo sculptor’. If you are a regular reader of my blog you may remember my blog piece on this form of artwork. Anzeri takes vintage photographs and embroiders onto them with such precision and skill. Whilst the photograph remains a photographic image, it takes on another life as a sculpture. These beautifully executed, hypnotic works are mezmerising to look at. I am absolutely inspired and thrilled that I have actually seen some of these works. 🙂


I also loved this stunning image of Frida Kahlo (another heroine of mine) .. now having been a photography student for some time now, you’d think I’d have taken a polarising filter with me to reduce the reflections on the glass, wouldn’t you? Still…. it’s given me a chance to play with the image at home… lol. I think there’s still some embroidery I’d like to do…

Sadly we had to leave Photo London fairly quickly, because I was in pain….but it has made me want to go out and see more of what this talented World of Photography has to offer. It’s too difficult for me to choose any one image that I would have liked to have on my wall.. Maybe it’s a bit like when there are too many options on a menu, and you just can’t choose!?


…. my observations (2.2, 2.3, 2.4)

What I like best about these images is that there is something uexpected going on both in front of, and behind the subject.  The man jumping over the blonde lady for example. She seems entirely oblivious to the fact. Clearly engrossed in her phone conversation, and practising her best selfie pout when she saw me turn my camera to her. In the image of the two ladies talking, the background image seems to be some kind of riot, there are police and horses, and objects have been thrown onto the street… in total contrast to the relaxed ladies, chatting with their flasks and hipster outfits. In the final image, there seems to be some kind of march, perhaps a protest march, in France. The picture behind is black and white and the tonality of my image is equally cool in tone. The subject is being photographed by her boyfriend (i think?) yet she is looking at me, taking a photograph of her being photographed.  I felt there was an element of expectation, if that is the right word… everyone wanted to have their picture taken, everyone appeared happy to pose, in contrast to the usual suspicion that surrounds taking a stranger’s photo these days, Perhaps they wondered if I were some as yet, undiscovered famous photographer, and that they too would have their 15 minutes of fame?


LONDON NIGHTS, THE MUSEUM OF LONDON 11 May – 11 November 2018 (1.1, 1.2)

We took a class outing to see this brilliant exhibition.  Consisting of portraits, documentaries, conceptual and photographic film, there are over 200 stunning exhibits showing nocturnal London, in all it’s colourful, vibrant, dramatic glory!

Whilst photographs were not permitted in the exhibition itself, I have managed to find a few of these images by internet search.

Buckingham Palace and Picadilly circus by night. Bob Collins

These stunning images of St.Paul’s after the blitz, 29 December 1940 taken by Daily Mail photographer, Herbert Mason. No camera trickery or Photoshop here. It shows the near total destruction of London but St.Pauls still standing in the haze of dust and dawn reflects the hope that people clung to during WWll

Historically, I’m a lifelong retro fan, but this exhibition had me thinking in some new directions.

I particularly enjoyed, this vibrant shot by Nick Turpin, of a lost in thought night-bus passenger.  I wonder what he’s thinking? Is he lonely or sad? I feel like the use of colour implies hope for the future, coming through the mist.


I was blown away by this image from Rut Blees Luxemberg there is a golden glow in the background, which could be just light pollution, but could easily imply some kind of post apocalyptic glow.

London: A Modern Project

This silver gelatin print on aluminium by Anthony Cairns would definitely take pride of place in my home! I love the geometric leading lines. They appear to be lit. It’s not clear whether this is a car park or a graveyard. The image is in negative.


This exhibition is definitely worth a visit and continues until mid November. There can surely be no other city quite like London? I think it’s at it’s best at night.

If you have spare time afterwards.. the museum itself is fascinating! Go!

The Rotunda outside the Museum also has it’s own exhibition featuring amazing work from students in the local area following the London Nights theme.



ps. Many Thanks Toby for seeing me safely there, and home again. You are a star!


RICHMOND SCHOOL OF ART – June 2018 (2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4)


And then, even more excitingly,  to top it all off, we had our own exhibition here at Richmond Art College. It was well represented by all three levels of NCFE Phtography.


Armed with a hammer and panel pins, I set off… on a very sunny mid morning to put up my chosen images…. still at this point a little undecided as to which would be going up after all!

Some from our Postcode Project

and then the two ‘Product Shoot’ studio images


There isn’t a huge amount of room on the boards, once you take into account the number of students, and the standard of work is pretty awesome across all three groups.

It was lovely to get to meet our fellow students and compare notes, the standard of work was amazing. It was good to also get feedback from our peers.

Such a busy month! I consider myself a true Culture Vulture now…..


research images,  my own and found on Google