With all the term’s work from both the BTEC Level 3 & NCEF Level 2 courses submitted, it was time to get it on the wall.
The first session involved myself, my classmates & Zig working out where to put all this wonderful work. There was just about enough space to get them up.
This joint effort took most of the day, but the labels still had to be added. This was done a couple of days later. It certainly made a major difference having everyone’s names & work titles next to the photos.
It was also great to see the results of many weeks of hard work, research & discovery finally on display.
With the final images selected, it was now time to look at both the collection & each one in further detail.
As a collection, I found them quite challenging. These aren’t pretty images you would have on a wall to add colour to a room. They actually made me feel quite uncomfortable when I looked at them in detail. So, I could say that I’ve achieved my initial goal of recreating the ethos of the original Cruel & Tender exhibition.
To recap, the photographers chosen for the 2003 Tate Modern exhibition were done so for being:
“united by this sense of ‘tender cruelty’, an oscillation between engagement and estrangement in their work. The result is a type of photographic realism that avoids nostalgia, romanticism, or sentimentality in favour of clear-eyed observation.”
When I took the photos for this project, I was recording my observations of what was in front of me. The images aren’t nostalgic, romantic or sentimental. I’ve not played with colour or tone with any of the images shown on this blog. I have to admit that I did increase the clarity using Camera Raw for the final prints, which has given them a starker appearance.
As a collection, they make a commentary on a well-known & well-loved city. By showing both familiar & unfamiliar elements it speaks of London choked by Capitalism in a contemporary context. White collar commerce has always been an aspect of this city, but it has certainly overtaken the industrial trade. There are only small pockets of industry left with the majority of land being developed for flats, office blocks or leisure.
In order to give the collection a bit more strength I decided to name them. I found this quite constructive when working on my Dreams/Reality project for the Level 2 course & naming my other abstract images. It gave them a touch more character & added to their identity.
This is the view which first meets you when walking to the river front from North Greenwich station. What first strikes you when looking out is how the skyline has been changed beyond recognition. Before these behemoths were constructed, the skyline would have been full of masts. When taking a closer look, the viewer can see the original buildings nestled along the riverfront. They look miniscule in comparison.
In the forefront of the image, there is a whole selection of rubbish, broken glass & discarded laughing gas canisters. Detritus created from the commodities bought & sold by the brokers in the clean-lined buildings opposite.
Reminiscent of the New York skyline, this highlights the current London horizon from this part of the Thames. Again, not pretty.
As a solo image, this isn’t the strongest in the collection. However, when placed with the others it brings it together. Firstly, the sky tone matches the three central photos. Also, the lines echo the one on the far right. Lastly, the image title was itching to be written.
A further aspect to be taken into consideration is that this shows how the Greenwich side by the O2 is now leisure-focused rather than industrial.
This image was taken from the viewpoint of looking down the Thames on the Greenwich side. The area behind the sign is the Victoria Deep Water Terminal, part of which is used by Hanson for storage of aggregates for the building trade (crushed rock, sand and gravel). When walking down that part of the river, you pass the main entrance to the storage area & have to be careful of the JCB diggers shifting aggregates to the waiting barges on the water.
In the distance, the four towers of the Greenwich Power Station can be seen. The station was originally designed by the London County Council architects department, and built in two stages between 1902 and 1910, to provide power for the London Tram Network & London Underground. The building is now a standby power station fuelled by oil & gas. It was formerly powered by coal, which was delivered by boat to the cast iron jetty.
A further comment on how the City isn’t accessible to all. Again, it highlights the difference between the new & the old buildings on the Isle of Dogs.
An observation I made when looking round the back of the sign in the previous image. There is a small branch which looks similar to a crucified figure caught up in rusting barbed wire.
This image was taken outside The Cutty Sark pub, a Grade II listed building built in the early 19th century. The chain is part of sculpture consisting of an original anchor from one of the river boats.
Now I’m definitely looking forward to getting these on display at college. Will be interesting to see what reactions this collection will receive.
With the project almost completed, I didn’t have to worry too much about producing further images. However, on Mothering Sunday, I went over to South East London to visit my mother in Plumstead.
Instead of joining my mum & daughter for their ritual shopping trip to nearby Woolwich, I decided to go for a walk to see what had changed around the area.
My first port of call was taking a trip on the Woolwich Ferry. I used to have the occasional trip on this as a child.
After the trip across the Thames, all the passengers have to disembark. There really isn’t much on the other side of the water, so I decided to walk back through the foot tunnel. I forgot how long it was – think it’s about a mile.
I then walked along the Woolwich riverfront eastwards. Just like the Greenwich stretch, this area has been the subject of massive redevelopment. I also realised that despite moving to that part of the world in 1982, I’d never actually walked that route before. Was very interesting just taking in all the details.
The last image shows where the path becomes less developed, but at the end of it was a nice surprise. A new London green space called Gallions Park. This land was previously part of the Royal Arsenal, but has now be redeveloped for the local community & visitors to enjoy.
The most interesting feature in the park has to be Gallions Hill. This is a 22m-high mound that, a man-made landmark constructed out of recycled excavated material. This structure features a spiral pathway leading to the summit. I had to climb up there to take in the view.
By then I realised that Sunday dinner was going to be on the table very soon. Was a long walk back to my mum’s, but I’d certainly built up a good appetite by the time I arrived at her house.
Now for the hard part – the final selection for Cruel & Tender. I laid out the prints on the classroom tables. Then I stepped back & let the (constructive) rabble descend.
The main deciding factors were the colour of the sky in the images & not having too much repetition. I did grimace a bit when a couple of my favourites were discarded, but I understood the decision. As for the sky colour, I couldn’t do much with that. Interestingly, the central image in the final selection was taken a few moments before the one on the bottom left.
Initially, the portrait images were lined along the top. However, by putting them in the middle, the sign draws the viewer’s eyes in. The surrounding images with their amount of detail can then be looked at a bit closer & at a more leisurely pace.
It does feel good to be almost completing this project. It’s been a lot of hard work, but quite enjoyable. It has certainly pushed my photographic boundaries & I know I’m extending my photographic range while developing my style. Will be great to get these up on the college display boards alongside the great images by my fellow classmates.
Today I received the 12 prints I ordered from DS Colour Labs for the Cruel & Tender project. I decided to print them 12″ x 18″ with a gloss finish. I knew I wanted them to be bigger than the prints I had for my People & The Environment project as there was so much detail in each image. The main deciding factor on this size was cost. I could go bigger, but the price jumps up substantially. Also, I wanted to make sure they looked how I wanted them to without making this project too expensive.
When I took them out of the packaging, I was very pleased with the quality & the overall results. I had made an adjustment to the clarity to each image which gave the collection a starker look.
The next stage was to lay them out on the living room floor to see how this collection works together. Also, to see which ones don’t fit in to the final selection. As with previous projects, I find this task quite essential & enlightening.
I did have some plays with mixing & matching certain images, but still not quite certain on the final few. I know that two will definitely have to go as only five to ten photos can be submitted. Again, I will bring the prints to the next class session for feedback. I know I’ve got to that stage where I’m too close for a subjective view.
Definitely a busy day with another feedback session from the class & Zig. I’ve got it down to 15 images now. The narrative is certainly getting stronger, but I really have to get them printed so I can see how these physically work together.
I also looked back at some of the images I found while carrying out my initial research. These shots by Lee Friedlander & Albert Renger-Patzxch jumped out at me, especially the first one of the metal fence. Very nice coincidence!
With a few hundred shots to go through, it was time to whittle down these to the final 10. I had an idea of the stronger images I wanted to submit, but I wasn’t quite sure which ones went together.
First I chose the photos that had generated a reaction initially. Secondly, I decided that the narrative I wanted to present was a walk along the river from Greenwich to the Greenwich Peninsula taking in views of the Isle of Dogs. These chosen images are snippets of an area with which I’m quite familiar but is changing vey fast. I also wanted to combine it with aspects of the Greenwich side, bearing in mind the industrial history of the area.
Most of this river walk is still quite shabby with signs of the previous industries quite obvious. By juxtapositioning the old with the new shiny financial area, it highlights how London is more than ever reliant on services than industry, especially with regards to the River Thames. It also captures small aspects of London that I’m sure will soon disappear once the developers have got their hands on that sliver of Thames path.