Category Archives: Assignment 4 – Image and text

Reflection on Tutor Report for A4

I had a positive and interesting Hangout review with my tutor for A4

He was happy with my research and reading both directly related to the course and around it. He commented that the writing was ‘intelligently done’ and appropriate. We spent some time discussing my interest in both looking at and collecting photobooks and how that could be helpful in extending my work especially with thinking in a more contemporary framework.

  • Pleased with this. I find looking at a range of photobooks both useful and interesting. The types of books available at present vary widely, from the spare, contemporary approach used by Mack, to the dark, dense books produced by many of the Japanese/Chinese school.

For A4 he felt that I have extended my practice and worked using a more conceptual approach. It is not a ‘new’ piece in that other’s have done similar work but has been thought about and fed on from research and thinking about memory and time. He felt that I had ‘let go’ to some extent and been more experimental with my approach. Technically consistent and thought /worked though problems.

  • Again happy, I did a lot of reading around the topic of memory and archives for this, and about how to incorporate text into the work – or how to use it to develop the themes
  • This was a difficult and very personal pieced of work and I think that comes though in both the images and the way I got to them via interaction with family and my mother’s archives.

We discussed the video I made for Exercise 4.5 and the accompanying album. We looked at taking this on further for A5, either as another video, this time using archival images to accompany the words, or as a pdf photobook. He reminded my that working from intuition is part of the process and my feelings/thought around this become part of the work.

  • 3 possible ways forward
    • A video
    • A photobook
    • The idea of using the archival images outside – but this would be limited at present as I cannot get to many of the places she thought important
  • Keep is simple and contemporary
  • Keep it short
  • Make it personal and include the history around it
  • Make text (if included) contemporary (I seem to be using that word a lot) and readable.

He gave me 3 helpful links which I will follow up about family work and archives.

Altogether very helpful and the discussion has helped clarify my ideas for A5.

No reworking needed for A4!

Assignment 4 – Self Reflection

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills:

  • The images of the still life set ups are sharp, and the background is deliberately out of focus
  • I considered both black and white and colour images. The initial pictures used as the basis are both black and white (the earlier images) and colour (the later images).
    • I considered making the whole series black and white either by changing the later of the pictures to black and white – or by making the whole series completely in black and white.
    • Overall, I decided colour gave a more accurate portrayal of how I am feeling at the moment and the pictures were varied  however black and white would give more consistency.

 Quality of outcome:

  • Getting the images without reflection was difficult
    • I ended up removing the plans from the frames
  • The light was variable – it would have been easier to do these as indoor still life’s where I had total control, but I wanted to do them outside to reflect on my Mother’s love of gardens

Demonstration of creativity:

  • I spent considerable time planning this exercise both in organising the set ups and the necessary pre-work of searching for the pictures
  • There was a large emotional load when making and taking these images
  • They link directly with and from exercise 4.5 and would be better seen together


  • The assignment was based on the work done in part 4
  • The work sits within the framework of memory and families and I have done reading around this (referenced in the research).

Assignment 4 – My Mother’s Pictures

Assignment 4 asked for a series of images that were informed by and developed from text.


Much of the work for assignment 4 is based on the reading that I have been doing in and around Part 4 of IAP. I have read several books on memory and how it can be portrayed in photography, specifically  Geoffrey Batchen – Forget Me Not(Batchen, 2006), Marianne Hirsch – Family Frames (Hirsch, 2012) and Annette Kuhn – Family secrets (Kuhn, 2002). Non of these were directly related to the use of text with images, but they all talked about memories and identity and how this can be shown in images. This was relevant to me as I chose to focus on my mother, her memories (Exercise 4.5 – My Mother’s Memories) and my and other people’s memories of her (assignment 4). I have also been reading A.S Byatt’s book (Byatt and Harvey Wood, 2009) on memory for interest and background information about how our memory works.

For more specific photographic work on using text with images I looked at Time in New England  by Paul Strand and Nancy Newhall (Strand and Newhall, 1980), Anna Fox has done much work that involves words such as My Mother’s Cupboards and My Father’s Words, (Fox, 1999) Work Stations, and Cockroach Diary (Fox, 2000),  Aaron Schuman – Slant (Schuman, 2019)and the work of Sharon Boothroyd/YoungDavid Favrod    – Hikari (Hikari, 2015) based on words he heard his grandparents say about their history in Japan. This influenced the work in exercise 4.5.

I have also recently looked at the work of  Zarina Hashmi – Home is a Foreign Place who , when she was wanting to make a piece of work that helped her understand her feelings about her childhood home, took a series of words in Urdu that made her think of home, had them written out in Urdu script and then illustrated them with wood cuts which she made into a grid.  This piece made me think of the use of single words that linked to a memory and that could be illustrated with images.


I am very aware that I have few exact memories of my mother, far less than I feel I should have, so decided to explore this.  I started by using her words and memories in in Exercise 4.5 – My Mother’s Memories to produce a video and an album. I then decided to explore this further by using words triggered by the family’s memories of her to produce text to base images on.  The details of how I obtained the text words used is described in Assignment 4 – Initial Thoughts.

Having acquired the words, I grouped them into categories. This is detailed in Assignment 4 – First images.  I then looked through both my mothers and my old photo archives to find images that showed her at important parts of her life. While looking for these images I found an image of my grandmother and a family shrine they had set up after her death. I followed this idea and made a series of still life images that included a picture of her and some relevant items (my mother’s when possible). As many as possible of the images and frames are the original ones, but some of the pictures were so small that I had to scan them and enlarge them to enable the detail to be shown. I took the images outside as the garden was always her favourite place.


Beach Baby
Land Girl

Learning points:

  • Sorting though archives is a very slow process
  • When re-photographing pictures in frames it is wise to remove the glass to avoid undue reflections
  • Family work takes an emotional toll
  • Still life set-ups are difficult to make without either being overly repetitive or using so much detail that it obscures rather than helps the original image
  • Adding text – here in the form of titles – is hard because the images were inspired by the word categories, and not always exact links

Contact sheets of possible images of my mother:


Batchen, G. (2006) Forget me not: photography & remembrance. New York; London: Princeton Architectural; Hi Marketing [distributor.

Byatt, A. S. and Harvey Wood, H. (2009) Memory: an anthology. London: Vintage Books.

Fox, A. (1999) My Mother’s Cupboards and my Father’s Words: a short story in words and pictures. London: Shoreditch Biennale.

Fox, A. (2000) Cockroach diary 1996-1999. London: Shorditch Biennale.

Hikari (2015) At: (Accessed 28/05/2020).

Hirsch, M. (2012) Family frames: photography, narrative, and postmemory. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press.

Kuhn, A. (2002) Family secrets: acts of memory and imagination. (New ed) London; New York: Verso.

Schuman, A. (2019) Slant. London: Mack.

Strand, P. and Newhall, N. W. (1980) Time in New England. Millerton, N.Y.: [New York]: Aperture ; distributed by Harper & Row.

Assignment 4 – First images

Having looked at length at the words collected for A4 I realised that there were several duplicates and others that grouped together:

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  • Beach, Black Sands and Pagham – are all talking about the seaside
  • Jewellery, eye for fashion, appearance conscious – all about dress
  • Flowers, lily, hydrangea, gardener – all about flowers
  • Social, plums, rolladen, good cook – about meals and occasions
  • Family, memories, sleepovers, tent (of sheets), castle, sadness – all about childhood and the past

Others are more difficult to categorise:

  • Independent, proud, determined, pragmatic, conceited are personality traits
  • Articulate, sarcastic, charming – how she presented to others
  • Prejudice, 2-faced, WWII, difficult – how she could be about others and the past
  • Supportive, caring

The first group are (reasonably) easy to picture, the second group much less so.

I then need to decide how to show case the images and link them to the words/ideas given by the words. One way I thought about was to place the images in the environment.

The difficulty with this was that we are in lockdown, and I simply could not travel to many of the places that would make sense of this as an idea; a beach, where she lived when younger (Germany and America) or even the castles she loved to visit. So more thought was needed.

When I was looking though our old archives, I came across these two images. The first is of my grandmother, the second is of the family shrine they put up in Germany after her death in about 1948.

I decided to attempt to use the words and some of the pictures I had found of her to make a series of still life’s , using the old photos and items that linked them to some of the memory words. I deliberately shot the images outside in the garden as that was her favourite place.

The Seaside
The Seaside
Dress code
Dress code

This is a starting point. I have some others in mind.

Assignment 4 – Initial Thoughts

Words and Memories

Since my mother died, I have found that I have surprisingly few memories of her from my childhood. There are the occasional snippets; walking to the top of The Trundle, overlooking Goodwood Race Course wearing an orange fluffy jacket (but that might be because I have a photograph from that occasion), going on holiday to London where she bought a very expensive umbrella from Harrodsburg and promptly lost it, searching rubbish tips with my her and my stepfather for a piece to fix his broken refrigerator (another photo), her burning one of my dolls in the furnace because it was tatty and I was too old for it, Christmases in bed with bronchitis. There are a few from my teenage years; bringing stray kittens home and attempting to hide them under my bed, writing long letters from boarding school (which I recently found in the bottom of a drawer when we were emptying her house, time in Spain for my stepfather to take photographs, and being sent home early to get back to school. There are more as an adult, but they are unclear; having lunch in her dining room, telling her she should sell my stepfather’s car after he had died (she had one of her own), being told I needed to lose weight (that was a repeated theme). And, of course, there are the recent ones of her illness; hospital visits, arguments about living alone, her telling us she loved us. Very little in total from more than sixty years.

We now have some of her words telling us about her memories, some of which I have made into a short video (see Exercise 4.5 – My Mother’s Memories). I wanted to make another half to that story, using the memories of people who were close to her – but using those memories in a more sideways, elusive fashion.


  • I asked the six people who were closest to her (my husband, three grandchildren, a niece and her best friend) to give me two sets of words. For the first set I just asked them to give me three words/thoughts that came into their minds immediately they thought of her and then after two week I explained why and asked them to give me another set of three words. I added my own six words to these, making a total of forty-two. There were a mixture of emotions, items and places. Several of the words were repeated.
  • I then randomised the words, so they lost the connection with any particular person. I did this very simply by printing them out in a grid, using a varied selection of fonts, cutting them up, putting all the words into a bowl and pulling them out without looking.
  • Unlike my normal way of doing things I didn’t draw lines or take measurement to cut along, I wanted the final words to feel more organic, random, less formal.
  • I then stuck the words onto paper in the order I drew them out, creating another 6 x 7 grid of unevenly spaced words.


  • I now need to make images that come in some ways from these words.
  • I have thought of several options
    • Use the places that are mentioned and go and take photos there (difficult at present practically)
    • Set up still life arrangements that echo the way she has been described – a gardener, a cook, social
    • Still life images that show the more factual items – flowers (lily and hydrangeas), jewellery, food
    • Find old images from my and her extensive photo archives that echo some of the feelings
    • Look for images of her that come to mind when I see the words – family, fashion conscious

I am going to put the words aside for a little while at allow some thoughts to simmer and to play with some trial ideas.

Initial word list:

Family Memories Sadness Beach Sleepovers Castle
Difficult Jewellery Pagham Rolladen Sarcastic Flowers
Supportive Articulate Pragmatic Articulate Pragmatic Social
Determined Caring Appearance conscious Good cook Gardener Eye for fashion
Conceited 2-faced Charming Family Prejudice WWII
Plums Hydrangeas Determined Lily Beach Tent *of sheets
Independent Proud Social Supportive Independent Black sands

Randomising process:


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