Category: Part 1

Exercise 1.3 -A Short NarrativeSeries


Make a short narrative series of four to six collages based on a recent or contemporary news event.

I have taken my influence  mainly from John Heartfield in that a lot of his work is political and I wanted to make a political statement about a current high profile character.

Heartfield was himself influenced by the Berlin Dada Movement whose art was provoked by the first world war. His work mobilised photomontage as a political weapon, in his case to support the communist cause, by showing the Weimar Republic to be a “disorderly verbal-visual cacophony”.

Also the influence of Peter Kennard’s work, in particular “Haywain with Cruise Missiles” appealed and accentuated my desire to do something political.

There was an obvious subject to consider and that was the relationship between David Cameron and George Osborne in relation to the European Referendum. I tried a few ideas for this but did not get where I wanted to be. At that moment, the foibles and innuendos of Donald Trump came to mind.

Donald Trump is an outspoken character and in recent months he has made statements about immigrants into Europe, students in China,  building a wall between the USA and Mexico and many other subjects. His popularity, in my mind, equates him to Hitler’s before the second world war and I believe he is equally as dangerous.

Trump is intolerant of many of today’s current values. His intent on curtailing human rights (ref his outspoken words about immigration – an intent to protect the boundaries between whole nations such as Europe and the middle East and the USA / Mexican border) leads me to believe that he is unsuitable as a world leader.

My computer generated collages have been produced to help to strengthen this argument:



Trump Tiananmen-Square



Trump Hitler]






Trump Great Wall



Trumpsnake 1




Trump has run a successful campaign so far but is unlikely to make it all the way to the White House.


Exercise 1.2 – Existing Work of Art

1 Discuss a photograph that takes an existing work of art as its starting point. Write a 500 word reflection.


Following a visit to the exhibition at the National Gallery (2012) entitled “Seduced by Art – Photography Past and Present” one image, by the Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra, stayed with me. This image took its ideas from “The Birth of Venus” (1862) by Eugene-Emanuel Amaury – Duval.

The Birth of Venus

Dijkstra photographed a series of adolescents on a beach in Poland and simply titled them by their location and date.

This picture entitled, “Kolobrzeg, Poland, July 26 1992,”according to the exhibition’s write up on this subject,

“shows the same heightened realism as that seen in Richard Learody’s ‘Man with Octopus Tattoo”


This was shown very close to Dijkstra’s portrait.

The cold rawness of flesh is very different to the idealised alabaster smoothness of Venus but to the author this is the more real. The placement of the subject is however comparable. The bather stands out against a neutral background. Fill in flash is used to brighten the body, pulling it forward towards the front plane of the picture.

Both figures display a pose called ‘contrapposto’, in which the body’s weight rests on one leg , throwing the torso into counter pose. This creates an uncomfortable feeling for the viewer. This is contrary to the feeling displayed by Duval where the painting was allowed to be somewhat more unrealistic where the pose is more of an affectation than a reality.

Djkstra took a number of pictures of young girls and boys in exactly the same pose and these seem to ask the question “Is there a difference?”. Personally I cannot see a male / female divide.

Dijkstra also speaks on the subject of nakedness and unlike Duval’s work, her subjects are not naked but she feels that they have been subjected to the same pressures as a naked model. “Naked but not nude!”

This picture is part of Dijkstra’s most famous series, Beach portraits (1992 – 2002). The camera catches a passive stare, is shot from low down and studies the condition between youth and adulthood, showing intense vulnerability and awkwardness.

I have been working recently to try to show, in the studio, various states, in particular the total natural relaxed pose and this gives me a cue to also try to demonstrate vulnerability.

I think the motivation for this photographic exercise was to study time and change. This picture is provocative and could almost have been produced for an unacceptable part of the sex industry.

The painted study of Venus is also looking at a specific time in a woman’s life. The motivation for the study of Venus, however, seems completely different. It is more of a picture for the male gaze before the introduction of photography as pornography. It is softer and more acceptable.

Although the picture is being considered here as a single item in comparison to a painting, it is very much part of a set of carefully balanced compositions, defined by the central presence of the youthful subjects.


De Panne, Belgium, August 7 1992 1992 Rineke Dijkstra born 1959 Presented by the Patrons of New Art (Special Purchase Fund) through the Tate Gallery Foundation 1999



These adolescents are not at one with themselves, they are unsure of their place in the world. This leads me to consider whether “The Birth of Venus ” shows that same vulnerability. I think it does. There is a slight tension in the body which the artist has chosen to portray rather than disguise (only slight). In painting it would have been easy to disguise it whereas in photography that option is not so easy to achieve.

The subjects remain anonymous to the point that each one is only identified by its date and location so if seen in a list it would not be possible to know what the subject is going to be. However, each picture has a certain tenderness (beauty) which one would have expected to be drawn out within the title.

The beach portrait photograph is printed 117 x 94 cm, somewhat smaller than the painting whose original size is 196×109 cm but still quite large and imposing.

2 Re Make an existing work or art using photography.


The Singing Butler by Jack Vettriano


Jack Vettriano is a Scottish artist (originally Jack Hoggan until he adopted his mother’s maiden name). I use the word artist purposely here because I am aware that there are many experts who do not regard his work as art. According to The Daily Telegraph he has been described as the Jeffrey Archer of the art world, a purveyor of “badly conceived soft porn”. There are many other similar references but my own personal view stands “that he is a prolific artist, admired by thousands if not millions. He is a household name”.

The Singing Butler is probably his most well known work. It measures 910mmx710mm and sold in 2004 for £744,800. It has stayed in my mind for many years.

I produced my version of this picture in 2012 for the module “The Art of Photography”. Since then I have moved on and the reason I am bringing this picture back is to look at it in a different way, as a piece of art rather than a study of colour which was the subject at the time.

The Singing Butler

I chose three people, including myself, rather than four, with the intention of portraying a slightly different image of the individuals. I was looking for a sense of fun using older people to see if I could portray the same sense of glamour. The original is more formal and more passionate but it was not my intention to ridicule the passion. It was a positive intent to show something slightly different, not literal.

The weather conditions were completely different and the natural light on the day was intense and full of contrast. This, I thought added to the bright cheery atmosphere and I regarded this as a positive.

The technical quality of the picture was not perfect and I have been advised by experts to improve it by post production, perhaps add an overlay, but for me this picture is intensely personal and exactly as I wanted it to be.

I have the shadows, the effect of a windy day and an a formality of dress which in both cases describes a quality of life to be enjoyed.

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.


Preliminary Setup for my new Level 2 Course

I started this module of my OCA Photography course on the day David Bowie died. What struck me on that day was the excerpts from the video of Lazarus (his last) shown on the BBC news. Bowie in bed with his head bandaged, reaching up in distress and ultimately disappearing into the wardrobe for the last time.

That album and those images to me are already iconic. I can’t get them out of my head. If I could make work as emotive and as accomplished as that I would move into the realm of greatness. This module “Digital Image and Culture” is my opportunity to work towards that goal.

After opening the package, ordering books and organising my system, the next step was to get on with it.

The first exercise is a pre course warm up:

“To re photograph every photographic image seen on one single day, to arrange them in a grid and write a short reflective account about this exercise”

I was going to Liverpool on Saturday 16th January to attend a study group meeting with Keith Roberts to look at his exhibition of the portraiture of Edward Chambré Hardman (1898 – 1988). On the same day I also visited the exhibition in the Liverpool Museum of Stephen King “Dry Your Eyes Sweetheart” and spent some time in the library studying the Stephen King book “Lewis’s Fifth Floor” which shows some excellent portraits of past Lewis’s employees in the context of the fifth floor.

I decided to complete the re-photographing exercise within the journey to and from Liverpool and during my time in the city. In all, I took 128 pictures and could probably have taken more. These pictures were randomly selected to try to present a balanced approach to the exercise. They have been reduced to 90 and printed out as contact sheets as follows:





Now comes the interesting part, the analysis.

I presumed that most photographs would fall into the category of advertising and that the majority of these would be fashion.

I divided the photographs into categories and counted how many pictures fell into each category:

  • Advertising                                                             65
  • Exhibition                                                               20
  • Beautiful Picture                                                   1
  • Book                                                                           2
  • Newspaper                                                              1
  • Map                                                                             1
  • Pub Sign                                                                   1

So my theory that the majority of the pictures would be related to advertising was unanimously confirmed.

I then split advertising into 5 main categories as follows and gave a score to each category:

  • Fashion                                                                     16
  • Food and Drink                                                      12
  • Events / Film / Theatre / Museum                  16
  • Travel                                                                         9
  • Miscellaneous                                                        12

The interesting conclusion is that fashion did not dominate as I had predicted. Food and drink were very high up the list, higher than expected but so was travel. Museum etc. was unnaturally high because of the district I was working in and the fact that I visited two major exhibitions.

Making up the miscellaneous items were such subjects as healthcare, shops, gym membership and items of social interest.

When viewing the photographs (more closely than usual) I was brought closer to each individual subject for not much more than a split second. This was enough to bring the subject into my conscious mind from the sub conscious. I am trying to evaluate whether that means that the subject becomes more engrained when it enters the conscious or whether the sub conscious is enough to have an influence. For example when I look at a facebook account on the web, I ignore all advertising and until recently I believed I came through unscathed. Now I am starting to form the opinion that I am being influenced by every image whether treated consciously or not.

There are a lot of un answered questions:

  • Does the size and clarity of the photograph matter? (some adverts for example are purposely blurred).
  • Does the location matter?
  • Is colour more influential than monochrome?
  • Does a beautiful woman attract?

I realise that many organisations carry out research in these areas but I can’t help thinking that there are many conclusions which result in bad results.

In Conclusion:

  • A high percentage of the images viewed last Saturday were powerful enough to substantially influence my being.
  • Still photography remains an extremely powerful medium. Moving images are gradually taking over but there is a time and a place for both.
  • Consistent themes were difficult to find. Bright colours, good lighting, appropriate picture size, clarity and position were all important.
  • The blurred image did not work.

The most powerful images for me were shown on a huge illuminated screen, in view from Lime Street Station, where the pictures changed approximately every minute. So every traveller could not fail to miss the display and saw several images while passing by.