More work on assignment 2

Generating some more images in preparation for assignment two. I spent some time with the Thai Children’s Charity at a reception on London recently – link here – where I met their Chairman and their Chief Executive and began the discussion regarding background information. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’m told that at least one of the images from assignment one has been included in their latest newsletter:


Shelter – has been used on the latest newsletter for the Thai Children’s trust

These new images – below and the top one – all incorporate text of one sort or another (except the opening image). This first image is about equivalency, how the toy is deemed of similar worth to the orphan Jieb. I have used a lot of Jieb’s background in these images – she is close to the Gross’ – and has, probably in the same way as all the orphans, a quite poignant story.

Three versions of a similar image – links to do with physical disability. I am inclined to think the last one, with the ‘ghosted’ image of Jieb is the strongest graphically, but that isn’t really what I’m after. I think I want to present images that the viewer can build their own narrative around it; using the elements within the frame to construct for themselves. More and more I am becoming concerned that these images may be too descriptive, not ambiguous (?) enough or perhaps are too accomplished in their delivery – too much like advertising shots. This next one I have deliberately tried to counter this trend:

I am a little concerned though with this image that the obviousness of the ‘cutting’ of the text still places the image in a commercial setting. The bootee was made made for me by Ann Gross when I had asked if her knitting circle had any to give – she felt it was easier to make them than ask!

This one is further again along the abstract route:

I quite like the clear addressing of the letter to the Gross’, and the butterfly image is narratively opaque, the viewer has to contrive a connection between the words and the image in the frame.

Back to the commercial world with these last images:

I’ll have to down-select and prepare for the assignment soon and I’m hopeful that I can get some feedback at the TV group meeting soon.


7 thoughts on “More work on assignment 2

  1. I’m sure you’ll get really useful feedback at the meeting. A few thoughts from me, in case it is of interest.

    I’m still uncertain about the use of the small text with the toys and other objects. The toys shot on white seamless look like product shots. I think that might work if the writing was of a size to compete but as it is it looks like editorial and as I’m not in the market to buy the toys I am not sure that I’d be tempted to read it if I didn’t already know some of what it was about. I understand the comparisons you are making but I am not sure they are communicating to the audience – either directly or by intriguing them to come forward. The writing in these shots feels a little tentative and almost like an afterthought.

    Of the three bootee shots I think the one with Jieb is much the stronger. Her face is the thing that makes we want to look closer.

    The image I think works best is the butterfly with overlaid letter. Like the picture of Jieb that started the last post this is intriguing in a different way from the toys. It’s more subtle and less fussy, and the writing and picture seem more unified.

  2. I think its really good to try out loads of different approaches, if we were doing art elsewhere that’s what we’d be doing then getting feedback and going forward based on what works best taking into account your own aims for it which you revise as you go on making the work.
    The main thing is to avoid editting yourself when you experimenting, there’s like a cycle of making then refining then making then refining.
    For me I really love ff with the Asian text over, I was looking at it again and I like that the text echos the stiches in the knitting.
    I was also wondering if you could somehow print the children onto the toys, or attach labels to the toys ..maybe the childs picture with text on the back… Just one of my ideas might not be a great one! The handwritten text is really engaging for me, more than the typed. I’m not sure if that’s my fine art background where a degree of physicality, the haptic touch based side of it, that is important for me to feel really personally engaged rather than distanced. (Distanced isn’t a negative by the way, just depends on your aim)

  3. Eileen, Anne, normally I’d write a response individually but there would be some repetition, so excuse the conflation.
    I think I’ve said elsewhere I don’t know how I am going to end up; I know I need to conclude, at least to a submission soon, but I also know I will continue with the process (if that’s the right term) trying to make sense of what is in my mind regarding this issue/topic/subject. All the words are direct from material I have received from people in the Thai Children’s Trust via the Gross’. The handwritten text was also very important as it brings a physical directness from the orphan – I have some text where someone has overseen the writing and has ‘tippexed'(?) some of the misspelling and the correction has been made by the orphan, which I have resisted using. The printed text comes from sheets that describe the orphans – almost like specification/data-sheets of the children, ‘advertising’ them for donor support. I am in direct communication with the executives at the TCT and want to explore that with them; however I hear ‘commodification’ along with all the other things associated with these children/young adults.
    I have been trying different approaches to try and lure people to look and question the images – the size/position/lucidity of the texts have been strategies employed, the use of toys also, in my mind, speaks of equivalencies in our western value systems.
    Eileen, it is interesting that you use Jieb’s name, in an almost familiar way; this suggests two things for me. The directional power of text – I say her name is Jieb, therefore her name is Jieb! And that, possibly, you have become associated with her, with her condition and position of dependance, her vulnerability etc?
    Anne, your suggestions of labelling I think, look to my concerns over the commodification of these orphans and it is something I might explore going forward.
    And your comment about advertising is something I am troubled with a lot Eileen! I hope I can overcome this, both in my mind and in delivery, as I fear I might abandon this work and start all over again, if I feel I am being exploitative.
    Thanks both for your comments, they are very welcome.

  4. I think it would be a great pity if you stopped John. This is an interesting and meaningful exploration.

    The comments made don’t seem to me to suggest that you are exploiting the children in any way. Certainly I don’t think that and wasn’t meaning to suggest it in what I wrote. The point simply was that some of the choices use visual language commonly associated with advertising. There is nothing wrong with that per se but such techniques have their own associations and connotations and, particularly in combination with the small black text it seems to me not to be quite communicating the things you want to say, certainly not as clearly as some of the other work. That said, I am sure that Anne is right in saying that you shouldn’t edit yourself too soon in the experimental stage.

    The impression I have is that this project is very meaningful to you, and that you want in particular to be honourable and not exploitative in your dealings with the Grosses and, through them, the orphans. I think sometimes when one is very close to work that it is difficult to see it clearly. Perhaps making prints and sharing them with the TV group will be helpful in getting the necessary distance. In any event I think that it is important to work through such struggles and doubts. This is how you make good work. I am are that you will ultimately make a very powerful piece from this as long as you continue to persevere.

    • I’m not planning on stopping, just maybe the approach!

      I’ve just had a thought about the toys. Some of them, the non-knitted ones are from Thailand, made by the refugees in camps that house the orphanages – I think it’s important – in a similar way to the use of the handwritten letters. They are the presence of the people in the image being associated with the words. But the woollen items are created in support of those same children??……………….??

  5. I’m glad to hear that!

    It seems to me that the knitted things, when interwoven with the handwriting, symbolised the complex interaction between the orphans and those who sponsor/support them.

  6. I think the Charity made a good choice of the image for their newsletter as it provides a different way of looking at ‘shelter’. I was particularly drawn towards the butterfly image – the handwriting and the soft colours, with somehow, the impression of life being fleeting. I could read the handwriting as well when I zoomed in. The bikes one just doesn’t seem to speak to me at all except I started to wonder whether the refugees who make them are getting fair pay for their labour. I couldn’t read the writing properly even when I zoomed in. I don’t understand your concept of equivalency here.
    Re your concerns about commodification – in what respect? Is it how the orphans can be used to make cheap items to get money for the project or themselves? Or is it about using their images to get publicity for the Charity.
    This leads me to thinking about your ‘Statement’. Do you think that further work on this could help you to refine down? I’m asking this because I don’t quite know what your emotions and views are about the Project; its purpose and the reason for it. On my part I feel angry that these vulnerable people are still in these camps after all this time and having to live in this way. I feel angry that ‘Governments’ aren’t doing more. I could go on…..

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