PHEW …!!!


All packed up and ready to deliver, at last; it’s been a hectic few weeks, partly accentuated by a family hospitalisation that has required some time, energy and commitment. The pressure is self-inflicted, to an extent. It was only in early December that I decided, with my tutor’s agreement, that taking my submission beyond the basics and into a new, further manifestation of the New Photographic Chemistry project, was a good idea. Making that happen in just a few weeks, with Christmas intervening and the aforementioned personal commitments arising unexpectedly, has been a challenge. And, truthfully, I have ended up cutting a few corners and progressing without the level of planning, preparation and attention to detail that I normally expect to apply. The concept of what I’ve done is good; and I have brought it to a decent outcome; but there aspects of the quality, in the detail, that I might have done differently, with more time.

So, what’s in the plastic box in the foreground, above? Assignments and Tutor Reports, of course, and a small handwritten ‘occasional journal’ that has run alongside this blog; but there are two other ‘items’ that it’s worth illustrating. Let’s start with the ‘Exhibition in a Box’.


Lifting the lid reveals this, a 1:33 scale model of the micro-exhibition at Bank Street Arts – a micro-micro-exhibition!


It isn’t the one I produced when planning the event but a newly-made, more accurate representation of the exhibition, just as it was laid out back in September/October at Bank Street. It was my main publication and the key outcome of the work and the module, so the model is a way of sharing that, in three dimensional form, with the Assessors (and the big black plastic folder in the first illustration, at the beginning of this post, has a selection of large prints from the event, too). Here are a few more illustrations of the Exhibition in a Box:




The second new element of the submission is the Assessors’ Book, which incorporates a section called Exhibition in a Book. The book is hand-made, bound, and constructed by ‘yours truly’. The cover pattern is one of mine – Acutance – and is printed onto a new material I’ve just managed to source – self-adhesive, inkjet printable canvas (A3 size). I’m pleased with the way it looks from the outside.


The paper I used for most of it feels good but hasn’t printed as well as I would have liked; and I haven’t had the time to mess around and resolve that situation. It’s ‘OK’, but only ‘OK’!  And my bookbinding skills were tested somewhat when combining cover and inserts – again, just about ‘OK’. Some of the pages are illustrated below.


But I have sought to build some visual elements into it. For example, I’ve created a fold-out timeline/flowchart, which presents my progress through the module visually.


And then, I have tried to bring some elements from the exhibition at Bank Street into the book.

_DSF2460_DSF2459Printed fabrics from the project


Sample, burned, page from the old textbook; the derived image, as it was presented in the exhibition; and a scrap of fabric that appears in the image


_DSF2461_DSF2464Pop-up pages



A fold-out, A2-size, version of ‘Useful Exposure Range


The book also includes reference to some new work from another old book that I purchased back in 2014. It’s early days with this work and I haven’t made any of it public yet but it’s useful to refer to it in the submission.



Shades of Duchamp in all this, of course, which I fully acknowledge. His ghost seems to have stalked my progress through L3 – and I thank him for that!

And that is probably it on this blog, for a while. Might be back in April to reflect on the outcome!


Assignment Five–Submission and Feedback

Ass 5 Essay


Last week, I submitted my Assignment Five essay, a reflective account of the publication of my New Photographic Chemistry in the exhibition at Bank Street Arts; and yesterday I had a tutorial where the feedback, apart from a couple of suggested extensions, was that it is ‘there’. Not much more to say on that particular issue except to add a link to the essay, here: SYP Assignment Five Essay Stan Dickinson.

There is a second part to Assignment Five, which is to describe how one intends to submit for assessment. Some aspects of such a submission e.g. copies of assignment submissions, tutor reports etc, are obvious; but one is also conscious that this is the final submission for a visual arts based degree. So I have had in mind to produce a more extended version of something that I did for my Body of Work submission. I produced an A4 size Assessor’s Booklet, a sort of guide through my submission, which I hand-stitched as a small bound object, to give it a little extra character. I mentioned that in the second part of my Ass 5 submission and am being encouraged to follow it through – maybe even to do a small hand-made bound book. In fact, my tutor’s suggestions for reference points went a step further, referring to Duchamp’s ‘La Boîte-en-Valise’ . I’m not sure about going that far, but it does occur to me that I might reproduce the scale model of the exhibition (having donated the original to the gallery). Well, it’s either that or a fold-out, pop-up version in the hand-made book (and submission in 2018!).

(Assignment Three was also discussed in the tutorial and is coming together as a project, of which more to come.)

Exhibition at Bank Street Arts–some initial reflections

Bank Street Exhibition-12

All done! The exhibition was installed on Thursday, open Friday & Saturday, with a social/private-view Friday evening and a student event Saturday; all taken down by 4pm Saturday afternoon (in time for the gallery’s comedy evening in that same space Saturday night!). Earlier in the week I had remarked that I had everything planned to the nth degree, so something was bound to go wrong. Nothing really did, apart from the middle one of those five frames in the foreground falling off the wall shortly after hanging (my fault) and breaking at the top right corner. We managed to fix it with some glue and a piece of ‘invisible’ tape – and no one noticed (or rather no one mentioned it!).

Bank Street Exhibition-6 Bank Street Exhibition-15

A formal reflection on this culmination of the publication of my work needs to form the core of Assignment Five, but here a a few informal and initial reflections:

  • At a purely personal level, I’m very pleased with the way that I managed to present the work. Some details could have been better, inevitably, but I think I achieved the touch of spectacle, the variety, the use of space, and the visual interest that I was hoping for.
  • That outcome was, I think, the result of good ‘research’ (I’ve learned a lot from contemporary art shows that I’ve seen in the last year or two) and meticulous planning. Fair to say, I think, this is something I take to more naturally than some artists.
  • Which might be one of the reasons that I got a good response from the gallery, who have offered me the chance to do another micro-exhibition sometime next year; and encouraged me to consider some of their other opportunities, too.
  • Response to the work and discussion about it with others is hugely beneficial and has, on the whole, gone really well. The audience has been a varied one – family/friends; gallery staff; fellow students; even the occasional walk-in visitor – though not large (whatever might define ‘large’, of course). I’m fairly sure that their engagement with the images/installation has been more than just ‘polite’ – testament to its visual appeal, I suspect. I enjoyed the anonymous comment in my ‘Comments’ book that said “It took me a while to realise it was a photography exhibition”. Good! One such casual visitor (not the same one) thought I’d painted the big mural on the far wall. Perhaps I’ll try that another time!
  • I would observe that most such response has been on an aesthetic/formal/process basis, rather than a reading of significance in the images. I have to say that I don’t mind that in the least – whilst recognising that not everyone would feel that way. In many respects, I have begun to read it that way myself. Hopefully, for those who wish to find significance, there are enough opportunities to look and respond – and I’m pleased with that, too. But I’m also reminded of responses to Thomas Demand’s work, where one could argue that the only significance is that he made it. It’s a complex area of thinking – but there is, I think, genuinely a ‘new formalism’ in contemporary photographic art. It doesn’t appeal to everyone – but I’m quite happy to engage.
  • The numbers for the Student Event on Saturday were disappointingly small. Huge thanks to those who did attend, of course – for making the effort to be there and for your contributions to the very useful discussion. I think it happened to clash with some other OCA Study Visits – and I must stress that I don’t feel any personal disappointment about it. I got what I needed from the day. But it seems a pity that more students at all levels couldn’t have seen the work. I am absolutely not blowing my own trumpet here, but I think it’s fair to say that this exhibition had much about it from which other OCA students could have gained. Anyway, “c’est la vie”.
  • And finally, I have an exhibition here that could be transported and repeated elsewhere – so just need more locations!

So, overall, I’m satisfied and pleased; and I have the basis for preparing an Assignment Five submission in the next few weeks. Still need to do Assignment Three as well, of course.

Bank Street Exhibition-3Bank Street Exhibition-10

Assignment Four–Tutorial and Feedback


I’m pleased to say that there isn’t much to say about submission and feedback for Assignment Four. The submission is about a final ‘draft’ of the proposed publication of the work – in my case, the plans for the exhibition at Bank Street Arts, which I sent to my tutor last week. We had an online tutorial yesterday and, apart from a whole series of very useful and encouraging tips/comments, the feedback is, essentially, get on and make it happen, enjoy it and, in the parting comment, ‘break a leg’, That’s not entirely inappropriate; so much is about rehearsing ideas and then putting on a performance.


As these images show, the layout planning has progressed; the wall mural and larger prints are ordered (and the mural has actually arrived, within four days of ordering!); my own printing & framing is also under way; and, most importantly, the publicity machine is turned on and beginning to roll. There is a social/preview on Friday 30th and OCA are fully on board with invitations for that – 150+ have gone out, including 30 or so that I have done personally. Many of those are to people that I know won’t be able to attend but this is, of course, an excellent opportunity to promote the work anyway. There is to be a Study Visit type event on Saturday 1st, and this has been publicised on WeAreOCA – here. These two events are important – partly, of course, as a means of publicising, but also as a potential source of feedback. Engaging an audience with the work is also about engaging the work with an audience, so to speak. The student event, in particular, should be an opportunity to talk about the work and gauge responses – just hope I get a few people there. I’m also in discussion with the gallery about their related promotional activity, which is likely to be very useful.

Some key pieces of input from the tutorial, in no particular order, were:

  • make sure to gather as much in the way of statistics about site hits, footfall, views and so on as I can; and fully document them for eventual assessment submission.
  • make sure to have sufficient assistance at the installation stage because something is bound to go wrong;
  • take some good installation shots;
  • consider doing a set of affordable, editioned prints for sale at the preview as a means of covering some of the cost;
  • write personal e-mail invites to people I’m particular keen should be aware of the work/event.

The sale of a set of prints wasn’t something I’d considered at all & I wish I’d thought of it before sending out invitations. However, still time to do something, if I decide to. So, all seems to be in order, for now.

Exhibition Planning–Gallery 1 Bank Street Arts


It is all confirmed. ‘New Photographic Chemistry’ will have its first ‘proper’ showing at the Bank Street Arts gallery, Sheffield, on Friday 30th September 2016 & Saturday 1st October 2016. I have the whole of Gallery One for those two days – set-up is Thursday 29th; open to the ‘public’ from Friday morning; a ‘social/preview’ on the Friday evening; an ‘event’ for fellow students, with OCA’s support, on the Saturday; take-down immediately after closing on that day. It is, in effect, a kind of solo graduation show, I guess, and I have just over four weeks to make it happen.

The image above is of a scale model of the gallery that I’ve made over the weekend, from a floor plan that I picked up in a meeting with the gallery manager on Friday. I’m awaiting his feedback on a ‘trial run’ with some self-adhesive vinyl material that we stuck on the gallery wall, which I expect to be OK, and then I’m hoping to have a large-scale ‘mural’ printed of one image, which will go in the large space on the back wall. I’m also planning to have a selection of images printed professionally, at around A2 size. The main purpose of the model is for me to experiment with layout using some scaled down prints & get a feel for how I can use the space most effectively. Once I have a firm idea on what and how many, I aim to order my external printing this week. I’ve already sourced printers for the mural and the A2s. The latter I plan to have mounted on PVC, as a sort of compromise between highly durable but hugely expensive dibond and the cheap but vulnerable option – foam mounts. I’ll also do a fair amount of smaller printing myself (and/or re-use prints that I made for the Daisy Lane Books installation). It’s going to cost me a few hundred pounds but I keep saying that I want to ‘make a bit of a splash’! I think that is what will work for this project.

I will need to make some choices about what to include & what to leave out. Gallery One is a decent size space but I can’t include everything. The ‘alcove’ on the left of the image, by the window, will house a screen on which my video of the book that I submitted for BoW Assessment will run. I’ll also have the new video available so that I can use it in the Saturday event if I wish. In the middle of the gallery space, I plan to place a borrowed glass-top desk into which (under the glass) I can display the book itself and various ‘artefacts’ from the project, such as burned pages and the printed fabrics. I’ll probably also have at least one table on which other items from the project will be displayed. The glass-topped display should evoke a sense of the ‘museum’, the book as a kind of relic, and I’d like to make a display on the table that feels more ‘installation’ and less ‘pictures on a wall’. I thought about recreating the look of this image, for example.

Two Grades of Bromide Paper

OCA has agreed to help with ‘invites’ for the social event and with the organisation of the Saturday student event. The latter will certainly be publicised on the OCA blog WeAreOCA and will run in similar fashion to a study visit. That gives me a good basis for promoting the exhibition and for presenting the work to others (and gaining the all important feedback, of course). I need to liaise & prepare material for these purposes shortly, too. Assignment Four of SYP is to present a ‘draft’ of how the final publication is to be presented. There isn’t a great deal of time to do that, and get tutor feedback, in time to make amendments before the event. But I’m expecting to have the basis for an Assignment Four submission early next week; all being well.

(Perhaps worth noting here, that I have also been in discussion with my tutor about a project for Assignment Three. The details aren’t yet fully agreed/finalised but it will simply run in parallel – more on here later.)