Ongoing Development

PH0703 – Work in Progress Portfolio reflection

Time for clarification…

‘Whilst the work itself reveals a high level of execution technically, the conceptual ideas behind are not so clear; what is the overall intention of this project for the viewer?’

My Research Project Proposal went some way towards answering this, albeit 200+ days ago and spread across some 5000+ words.  To précis… with no existing publication dedicated to the chapels of Oxford (indeed, prior to me creating it, there was not even a definitive list of the chapels), it is my intention to bring together those establishments, photographically.  While I could have chosen to assemble a portfolio of architectural images,  I wanted to build upon the challenging photography of stained glass with which I had experimented some five years earlier.

At its most fundamental, this could be seen as no more than a catalogue.  Yet my hope and intention is to engage the viewer into wanting to explore further the hidden gems that lie within Oxford’s chapels by portraying a single stained glass windows from each chapel: I hope to better popularise the stained glass windows and chapels of Oxford, only more so… by removing the windows from the context of the chapel, it will help break down the significant barrier of the chapel itself.  Too often, visitors will walk past a chapel without giving it a second thought and in Oxford, visitors are tripping over them without even realising it.

I suppose that I am simply using the stained glass as tourist bait.  Seeing the images of stained glass as a collection (be it in an exhibition, guide book, or perhaps an interactive guide) might be just the temptation required to draw a visitor into a chapel… or perhaps to follow a tour of several chapels.  An interactive guide could produce a tour specific to a particular stained glass artist, time period, or location, at the whim of the user.  This may seem rather shallow, but ultimately, interpretation of an image (or collection) is in the eye of the beholder.   Should they see this as a showcase the religious symbolism, iconography or read into it the ritualistic aspect of stained-glass window tradition, then that is wonderful – an added bonus for them.

Thinking entirely selfishly, I would hope that through this portfolio I might be seen as a go-to figure for such niche work.  It has been reassuring to hear from a couple of the Oxford Colleges that they would like me to do some more specific work for them… interestingly, in both instances they wish to use stained glass window images for greetings cards.

‘Towards the end of the WIP portfolio, there are two sets of images from St. John the Baptist Chapel, that are the “Floor Tiles” followed by the “Contemporary Tiles” from Chapel of St. Nichols. It appears that this is the type of imagery that you are aspiring to create…’

Oh no – very definitely not!  These images were no more than whimsical imaginings: manifestations of tangential, conceptual ideas.  While I quite liked the results, I remain a stalwart of classical art, but was drawn to this work following some investigative work as a result of feedback on my initial Work in Progress Portfolio :

‘it may be worth exploring the possibility of showing details or fragments in order to communicate other aspects of their importance.’

My response to this was to examine the detail and structure of the stained glass (HERE) and from there I wondered what else I could do at a more abstract level.

I have very little interest in developing further such musings – this is bordering on the sort of artwork that I actively avoid.  Under duress I have once visited Modern Art Oxford, a location full of the things I least like in the world of art – a veritable Pandora’s box.  I have no intention of creating items that could sit there.

‘Elsewhere, you had spoken about the weather and daylight affecting the colour dramatically, and there is scope here for producing tripod-mounted looped films of the experience as actual pieces of work. Subtle changes in movement can lend a power of attention to images that are matter of fact, and such experiences may be more akin to the window designs.’

This I do like, and have carried out some experimentation.  Twice I captured a time-lapse sequence hoping to reveal the impact of weather conditions on the lighting.  On each occasion the conditions remained unbelievably static!  This is definitely an area I will revisit.

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