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on to pastures new

The results for the Autumn Assessment came out a little over a week ago now (on the 15th December) and I was pleased (and not a little surprised) to get 75%, a notch down from Digital Image and Culture. The marks are no longer broken down into sections, but the feedback was comprehensive and obviously personalised:

‘You showed astute and perceptive research, writing and contextualisation throughout; perhaps best evidenced in assignment 4. We thought that although you worked hard on the research and analysis, you seemed at times to lack confidence in your conclusions, where you could be more decisive.

You also underestimate your own voice: in your folder 5, you mention style and distinctiveness. Your voice is also what you have to say, via your work. Ask yourself; is it worth saying? Does it have a wider resonance to others Do the projects get this idea/concept across to the viewer? Does the presentation method enhance, or obscure, what you are trying to say? We think that you satisfy each of these questions in your assignments (and many exercises). Your presentation often augments stills with sound and spatial arrangements. These combine to elevate each project above a regular series of images. Not only are these methods effective, but they are considered, discussed and validated in your accompanying text.’

I find the bit about ‘lacking confidence in my conclusions’ interesting. For most of the module, I think I was wrestling with not really enjoying what I was doing as much as I had thought I would. Gradually I had come to see that I was not really interested in making good, single images anymore but could not find a way to bend the genre (or the module) into something that would allow me to move beyond the point I had reached by the end of Digital Image and Culture. When it came to wrapping the module for Assessment. I realised I liked a lot of the work that I had made, but was not quite sure how it answered the questions asked by Landscape, Place and Environment. I found it quite hard to bring everything together in terms that fitted the specific learning outcomes for the course. Anyway, I must have come closer than I thought.

Now it’s time to move on. I have three and bit years to complete the degree following the new study pathway and the three new courses that replace Body of Work/Contextual Studies and  Sustaining Your Practice. I’ll need to focus hard and keep going, resisting my tendency to wander off to look at interesting, but not strictly speaking relevant areas of investigation. This was also noted in the feed-forward part of the Summative Assessment:

Looking towards level 3, we suggest that you carefully consider the scope and scale of projects: managing these from the outset. Keep updating an ‘artist’s statement’ of what the project conveys and how you intend to achieve that. This will help you keep on track, without adding elements that could spread your efforts too broadly, rather than concentrate on the objective(s).’

I’ll do my best! You can see how I get on, over here:


a note for the assessors

We are asked to submit four things for Online Assessment (OCA, 2021: 1-2):

  1. Learning Log:  Submit between 2 to 3 learning log entries for each of the learning outcomes for the course.
  2. Creative Work: Select three assignment outcomes (excluding critical reviews/essays) or pieces of creative work.
  3. Critical reviews: Submit any critical review/essay from your course unit.
  4. Reflective presentation/evaluation: Your reflective presentation or evaluation will also help assessors to navigate your submission.

These are to be split across 5 folders in a shared, assessment directory of the OCA G:Drive:

  1. Selection of learning log entries
  2. Selection of Creative Work
  3. Written Elements
  4. Reflective Presentation or Evaluation
  5. Tutor Reports

I have created an expanded version of this folder structure here, as part of my learning log. It is navigable using an extra dropdown menu – for the Assessment category – visible at the top of this and every other post.

There are separate sections for each of the five learning outcomes:

Learning Outcome 1 – demonstrate detailed knowledge of visual and conceptual strategies in landscape photography, the representation of place and be able to explore your own critical photographic projects

Learning Outcome 2demonstrate an awareness of the wider social and cultural contexts that surround the representation of place, and be able to discuss relevant ethical perspectives in relation to your own practice

Learning Outcome 3explore and realise a range of ideas and creative starting points, and exercise judgement in the production of visual material

Learning Outcome 4 – manage learning resources, conduct self-directed contextual and visual research, and be able to appraise your progress with increasing confidence

Learning Outcome 5 –demonstrate increasing autonomy and a developing personal voice, exercise your communication skills confidently and interact effectively within a learning group

They are also accessible via the dropdown menu at the top of this page.

As well as forming part 5 of my G:Drive submission – here are the six  formative feedback documents for the assignments.

  1. 512973-PH5LPE-A1-Feedback
  2. 512973-PH5LPE-A2-Feedback
  3. 512973-PH5LPE-A3-Feedback
  4. 512973-PH5LPE-A4-Feedback
  5. 512973-PH5LPE-A5-Feedback
  6. 512973-PH5LPE-A6-Feedback

And finally, thank you for your time looking this submission for the Autumn 2022Assessment Event.

Course Evaluation

Rewritten from Assignment 6

Having to work within the constraints on movement imposed as a result of a global pandemic means that this is the least well-travelled course-unit of my OCA journey so far. The images for the assignments have all been made in the two places where I have spent three quarters of my life – Orkney and London. But, rather than limiting my work, I feel that this has made it easier to identify non-subject-based continuities across the five assignments and to focus upon my relationship to place.

In thematic terms, I moved from producing disconnected dots on a map for assignment 1, as – with aesthetic questions to the fore – I looked for beauty (and the sublime) in the town and the country to joining up the dots to make a line, as I journeyed north along the Lea Navigation in assignment two. For the third assignment, I moved into three dimensions and explored a small island before finally moving in closer to examine a particular aspect of Walthamstow, my island in the archipelago that is London for assignment 5.

Also, while Digital Image and Culture was assessed online, this is the first unit where none of the assignments have had a physical component to send to my tutor.  Nonetheless, I have tried to incorporate physical artefacts into my work for the course, making picture postcards and cyanotype maps. I have printed most of the edited and compiled images before re-digitising them for submission to my tutor in their final, file-based form. By way of a further move towards materiality, as I moved through the unit, more and more of the photographs I made originated on film and were composed – or, to use Stephen Shore’s term, structured – upside-down on the ground glass screen of a medium format manual camera with technical movements.  

Alongside helping to develop these practical aspects of my examination of Landscape, the course moves to examine the generation of  non-aesthetic meaning  – both personal and political/historical –  and the ways that this can be included in both the picture-making and in the final presentation of work. As the course progresses it becomes less concerned with aesthetics and increasingly focuses on the ways the ‘meaning’ and impact of landscape photography changes depending on the context in which it is deployed. It moves from examining ‘landscape’ through the prism of art, towards a much more politico-historical take on the landscape and the way we humans have shaped it.

3 out-takes from assignment 3 which I wish there had been room for somewhere…

In one of the first posts I made for my log, I set out what I hoped to get out of LPE: I wanted  to make series of photographs which could cohere over the timescale of the course; I wanted them to be technically excellent and to engage the viewer visually and to contain meaning beyond the individual image’s subject matter. I wanted them to say something about me and with my relationship to the places I chose to photograph. I think I have mostly succeeded in this, but suspect I am finishing LPE with less of a spring to my step than when I started it.  I’m not quite sure why this is so. I am happy with the pictures I have made for the assignments, but they don’t excite me to the same extent as my work for Digital Image and Culture did. 

It’s possible that  – while they are probably the most technically accomplished photographs I have produced for the OCA – they are just a bit too straight, too predictable, with all the experimentation going into their presentation rather than the selection of subject or viewpoint. Certainly the end-points of my assignment work didn’t surprise me to anywhere near the same extent as my more playful, digital work did in the previous module.

Anyway, in conclusion, I may not have progressed as far as I hoped when I started the course in November 2020 but I’m not too far off it. I think I have a much more useful working definition of what ‘landscape’ might mean, and I have answered a fair number of questions I had around methodology that I can take forward to level three. I have taken an analogue workflow to the point where I am happy to work within either an analogue or digital space – or a combination of the two, depending on what I’m trying to achieve. I still have to decide how obviously politically engaged I wish my work to be.

There’s lots still to do, but a lot has already been accomplished. I am done here. I am ready to move on. 

learning outcome 1

demonstrate detailed knowledge of visual and conceptual strategies in landscape photography, the representation of place and be able to explore your own critical photographic projects

The second folder on the G:Drive (Selection of Creative Work) contains my three ‘assignment outcomes’. There are two high-resolution video files and a number of stills, sized to print on A3 paper at 360 ppi. Smaller versions of all these files can be viewed in relation to one another here, as part of my learning log.

I have added short, explanatory texts and some context for the selected images here on my log; they can be viewed grouped with this post here or by following these individual links: 

Series 1 – Assignment 1

Series 2 – Assignment 2

Series 3 – Assignment 5

The posts from which the series’ are drawn can be found here:

Assignment 1:

Assignment 2:

Assignment 5:

Each of the assignments has been revised for Assessment in light of my tutor’s formative feedback. The individual tutor’s reports can be found here, as well as in the fifth folder on the G:Drive:


series 1 – beauty and the sublime

assignment 1

Beauty as a concept is encoded in the way a picture is put together and presented to the viewer. A moment can be extended to hold something timeless, possibly even to contain an element of truth (that’s what Keats thought, anyway). The sublime is quicker, hotter somehow, bypassing the head to communicate with our darker emotions.

orcadian photographs (2013-18)


Beauty is stable, existing outside of time and history; the Sublime is evanescent, speaking to our fears even as we struggle to work out exactly what it is that confronts us. Beauty endures, but the Sublime dissipates, like a radioactive element whose half-life period has passed.

photographs of sea stacks (2020)


towering cliffs (2020)


views framed in fearsome symmetry (2020)

fig.4: fearsome symmetries

pictures of livestock (2020)


sites of ritual (2020)


effects of light (2020)


shelter from lowering skies (2020)


So, as its context changes, the Sublime transmutes into something baser  – beauty perhaps, or maybe just the picturesque – but a trace of its earlier potency  lives on in the formal elements that underpin it…




series 2 – a journey

assignment 2

A journey involves movement; from a start point to a destination. That journey can be either made literally, through physical space, or figuratively, as a metaphor for life or an aspect of it.

A photograph is – by definition –  a still image; the movement of a movie is just a product of the way our brain allows us to ignore completely the fraction of a second when the projector advances to the next stop-point in its series of stops and starts to give the illusion of movement from a series of stills…

The landscape I travelled through is a product of the burst of energy that kickstarted the industrial revolution in the early 19th century and continues in diminished forms to this day. It is not so much an edgeland as a space that exists as a palimpsest of its past and present uses.


fig.1: map-fold cover

The canal is a corridor leading to and from London, a groove guiding traffic from point to point, a beaten path followed now by high tension power-lines, in the same way that narrowboats once hauled goods to and from London’s docks. Because it is screened-off  – by embankments, and plantings, and industrial estates – it is hard to get much sense of the space beyond its banks.

fig.2: Unfolding the Map (a clockwise sequence from top to bottom left)

So, with a final glance back to the 19th century and the industrial revolution, I created a miniature blueprint map of my journey. After copying my cyanotype print of an A1, hand-traced map digitally in sections, I patched-worked them together electronically before adding further scans of instant prints of photographs taken, on my phone and without much due ceremony, during my exploratory trips up and down the navigation.

fig.3: Blueprint Map with Collaged Instax Prints

If a return to real world assessment were on the cards, I would make an OS-sized map on a plotter at work, to use as a catalogue image for the images contained in the animation. It would also serve nicely as an alternative, more traditional description of the path of my journey north out of London.

series 3 – disputed territories

Assignment 5

While the countryside can seem timeless and unchanging, cities are in a state of constant flux. During the time I have been working on this project, within a couple of minutes walk from my door, shops and cafés have changed ownership and purpose, people have died and babies have been born. In this small corner of the city where I live, building work has never stopped for long, even during the pandemic. Buildings have been demolished and new ones built in their place.   Everywhere is a palimpsest, written and then overwritten as each new wave of people replaces the last.

What follows is a series of snapshots, capturing moments of time in Walthamstow. They were all taken between March 2021 and May 2022. They all include some sort of textual element. Some of their locations still look as they did when the photograph was taken,  but already others have altered dramatically.

Live/Love – Danger
No Shit!
No Fun!
urban geometries
No Entry!
Return of the Repressed






We read the space around us every time we set foot outside our house. Words, pictograms and glyphs direct our actions, letting us know what we can and what we cannot do . We can comply – maybe willingly, maybe grudgingly – or we can try and resist. People lay claim to each and every scrap of space. All of them try to claim something from the ongoing chaos of urban life, as theirs and theirs alone; all are intent on leaving their mark.

I am no different. We are all Kilroy; and we are all here.

Some thoughts on the physical display of the images:

I had intended to present the photographs for the fifth assignment as a physical display of twenty large prints, arranged in a single row of alternating diptychs and triptychs. The titles would locate them simply, consisting of the street names and the dates when the individual pictures were taken.

I made two sizes of prints: 12″ squares (as large as my printer will go) for hanging on a wall, and smaller, 5.5 x 5.5 inch ones intended for display as rigid concertinas, like those used for parts of the 2022 Deutsche Börse exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery.

fig.1: no fun! (triptych 2) – installation view (large prints)

I mounted all the prints on foam-core and – after hanging the larger prints in my living room (fig. 1) assembled the smaller prints into zig-zags, to get some idea of how they would look displayed that way (fig.2).

fig.2: freestanding installation maquette

Perhaps, as in Sebasteo Salgado’s exhibition  Amazônia (Science Museum, 2022) the zig-zags could be huge, forming a maze to walk through affording the viewer a more immersive exploratory experience…

    • The Photographers’ Gallery (2022) Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2022 [Exhibition] London: TPG . 23/03/2002 – 12/06/2022
    • Science Museum (2022) Amazônia [Exhibition] London: Science Museum 13/10/2021 – 27/03/2022

learning outcome 2

demonstrate an awareness of the wider social and cultural contexts that surround the representation of place, and be able to discuss relevant ethical perspectives in relation to your own practice

Photographs on their own (however epic) are incapable of providing more than a starting point for deep analysis of the climate crisis. At the same time, cooperation with photographers and sponsorship of distribution offer opportunities for ‘art-washing’ on the part of the big corporations. This came into stark focus during the final section of the course, beginning with exercise 5.1.

Earlier, exercise 3.4, I had already started to interrogate ideas around greenwashing by the petrochemical industry and counter-propaganda by environmental organisations. As part of the same post, I looked at the way Joel Sternfeld’s work became increasingly politically engaged over the past forty years, culminating in his 2007 book,The Day it Changed, which combined text with pictures taken at the 2005 climate change summit (COP11).

In the second half of the same exercise I discuss a campaign protesting proposed restrictions on houseboats in the section of the Lea that I used for assignment 2, that one of the ways I could get further into the life of the places I was photographing would be by engaging more with the inhabitants. My tendency to make landscapes devoid of people had been picked up as a possible indicator of ‘voice’ by my fellow students at our monthly LPE hangouts. I am not sure if this is something to be pleased with.

I suspect that Assignment 3 would have more impact if I had been able to make a distinction between the people who live on the island and farm it, and the external groups who have made use of it as a location for their activities. The photographs for it were all taken within a few miles of the place where I grew up, but I have not spent much time on the island of Flotta. My photographs are the work of an outsider rather than a local. I turned it into a place  I visit rather than one where I have lived.  

As I approached the end of my time on the course, a visit to an exhibition of photographs by Sebastao Salgado at the Science Museum helped me crystallise my thoughts on this:


learning outcome 3

explore and realise a range of ideas and creative starting points, and exercise judgement in the production of visual material

With each of the practical assignments, I have  taken my initial idea and let it develop to a point where it seems complete. I have documented this in detail for each assignment but, for assessment, would pick out:

Assignment 1 – approach, editing and presentation

It covers my selection of the series of images and illustrates how I experimented with different ways to present  the paired rural/urban photographs before making the ‘Orcadian Photographs’ animated slideshow.

The early sections of the course, encourage us to experiment technically. This then feeds forward into work carried out later in the course. After the Zone System exercise in part one, I began to adopt an increasingly analogue workflow for the remaining three practical assignments. Exercise 1.6 is written up here: 

The Zone System in Practice 

I visited the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery too late fully to incorporate the display ideas into Assignment Five, but they feature in the reworked version for assessment (Series 3 in my Selection of Creative Work). My review post is here:

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, 2022

learning outcome 4

manage learning resources, conduct self-directed contextual and visual research, and be able to appraise your progress with increasing confidence

The critical essay (Assignment 4) and Reflective Evaluation Document (an earlier, longer version of which formed a central part of my response to Assignment 6) are both uploaded to my Autumn Assessment G:Drive in revised form, following tutorial feedback.

The revised version of my essay can also be found as part of my log, here.

My choice of essay subject grew from the discovery that all but the most remote areas of Flotta (the small island which was the location for my third assignment) had been surveyed by Google Street View and also my use of proprietary software to document journeys of my own. This is discussed in my log post:

Mapping the Lea Navigation and a Journey to Flotta.

Research with traditional, paper maps underpinned the work I submitted for assignments three where a day spent in the Orkney Archive  provided useful context: 

Exercise 3.5 – local history.