Exercise 1.1 – The origins of Photomontage

Exercise 1.1

Esther Teichmann

Corinne Vionnet

Idris Khan

Helen Sear

Using the list of artists given above as inspiration, create a series of six to eight images using layering techniques. To accompany your final images, also produce a 500-word blog post on the work of one contemporary artist-photographer who uses layering techniques.



I was interested in Helen Sear’s works showing minimum information about a person with an overlay of some environmental interest (flowers or whatever). This is my own take using a photograph of mine from a recent James Bond shoot and experimenting with a number of overlays in my collection until I was happy with the change which the overlay created. The person is clearly recognisable.

Colin C Overlay 2



Once again I have used my own found images to create this scene in Cambodia of a tree at Ta Prohm temple with the overlay of a figure at the scene. Moving away from Esther Teichmann’s technique, I have used an overlay on the second picture to add atmosphere in a style which suits my photography.


Colin C Overlay 3

20140817 115 Overlay 2C


Fascinated with the results shown on the internet for Corinne Vionnet’s work, I have produced an image of Trafalgar Square using six layers. The picture shows Trafalgar Square in different seasons, including a Christmas tree, a fountain and, in the background, the National Gallery.

Colin C Overlay 4



I have written later in this blog of the work of Idris Khan which ranges from Monochrome images to moving pictures and finally to sculpture.

Inspired by his work photographing pages of a significant book, I came to the conclusion that the most significant book in my life at the moment is the course content for “Digital Image and Culture”. The first picture shows the twenty pages which make up part 1 of this course “The Constructed Image”. Most of Khan’s work is in monochrome and this was certainly most appropriate for my work.

The second image follows my love for self portraiture where I am striving to present my work by showing an ordered approach (also in monochrome).


20160217 021Overlay A


Colin C Overlay 1


Having worked on a number of overlay pictures “In the Style of” various artists, my thoughts turned to my own personal style. The technique I used here is attempting to demonstrate clarity of the inner self. There is only one focal point for this image which is what I wanted.

Colin C Overlay 5


This image is more of an indulgence. The person on the old photograph is my father (now deceased) and I tried many different ways of representing him with his mathematical instruments (he was a scientist). This picture was not my favourite of the series but it does show an interesting use of the overlay technique.



Colin C Overlay 7


The work of Idris Khan

Idris Khan is 38 years of age.

Khan first caught my eye when I read about his work entitled “Six Suites for the solo cello”. The work was created by photographing the pages of sheet music from all Bach’s cello suites and digitally layering the images so that the whole suite is on one page. He did the same with Chopin, Beethoven and Mozart.

There were differences and the purpose was to bring a spectrum of feelings, warmth, humour and anxiety to what was a cool aloof image.

Khan draws his inspiration from music and the history of art together with theological and philosophical ideas. He investigates memory, creativity and experience.

Khan admired the fluidity of Cy Twomby’s work and this can be seen in his own pictures.

Mark Duerdon had an influence when he said that “your art should be honest and aware of its influences”.  In other words, there is nothing wrong with using the ideas of another artist or philosopher as long as you understand where those ideas are leading you.

Idris Khan regularly works with composites of 1 to 2000 layers. Apart from his work with sheet music, he has produced a composite of the whole of Camera Lucida and the whole of Susan Sontag’s “On Photography”. A lot of his work is scanned.

Other works include:

  • Bernd & Hilla Becher’s water towers
  • All his holiday photos for the entire trip
  • All the images by Nicholas Nixon of his wife and her three sisters (30 in total)
  • Every JMW Turner postcard in the Tate
  • Every Rembrandt portrait
  • The last fourteen of Caravaggio’s paintings
  • The Quran (114 Chapters)
  • Paradise Lost

Today, a lot of Idris Khan’s work is branching out into film and sculpture. He has been influenced by Sarah Warsop (Siobhan Davies Dance Company). He creates movement by thinking about nostalgic places to develop the rhythm of the dance. There is always a story behind every piece of work. In his photography he dislikes the gap between camera and object and attempts to correct this mismatch.

Khan’s mother was Welsh and his father Pakistani. He was the only mixed race boy in the mosque. His father was strongly influenced by the Kaaba, a small stone building in the great mosque at Mecca. It contains a sacred black stone and is the goal of Islamic pilgrimage and the point toward which Muslims turn in praying. Idris Khan has produced a sculpture showing 144 graphite pieces (copies of the stone) in a 12×12 formation with the same prayer written on each. He has been nervous about producing this work but states that it is in no way intended to dilute the meaning of the Kaaba.

The work of Idris Khan is moving all the time and at the age of 38 he still has a long time to continue with the changes he has been making but I think his work will always be  founded on certain fixed principles, searching for feelings, warmth, humour and anxiety.



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