In the first three images I wanted to look at how the town of Wymondham was changing and to show before and after images of new housing estates at the edge of the town. I did not have any ‘before’ pictures but wondered if Google Streetview was up to date or if it would still show how things used to be. Having studied, in the previous module, how artists had used Streetview I wanted to try using it to produce some of the images. I found that it had been updated very recently where all the new developments were taking place, but I also found a number of glitches in the system which allowed me to create the before and after images. I originally planned to use the ‘before’ images from Streetview and then take my own ‘after’photographs. However, discovering that I could obtain both before and after photos from Streetview at the same time, I decided that it would be more relevant to use all the images from Google. In this way it does query the ‘truth’ of what Google is showing us. I left the Google location and capture details on the photos to show when and where they had been taken.
01 Albini Way: I found that while all the images for the road were of the new development and taken in 2016, there was a single point where the image had not been updated and it showed the scene captured in 2009.
02 Norwich Road: In this instance I found that the Streetview images from the Norwich Road side of the site had been taken in 2016, but when viewed from the opposite side of the site the images dated from 2012 and showed what it was like before work started.
03 London Road: When looking at the Streetview images of London Road they again date from 2016 and show a completed development, but if you look from the side road, just as it joins London Road, this dates from 2009 and shows how it used to be.
For the images depicting ‘where everyday life takes place’ and how appearance changes, I researched early photos from archives (one rich source was postcards on Ebay). In an exercise on this part of the course I had experimented with with inserting characters from old settings into modern day images. In his feedback my tutor was taken by the idea, but thought the characters looked a bit like ‘cardboard cutouts’ and felt they could be more ghostlike. I wanted to try again with this approach and improve my technique. I researched three photographs of locations showing people from the early part of the 2oth century and added the people to a contemporary setting to show how the sites were and are places where ‘everyday life takes place’.
04 Beckets Chapel: I took an old black and white photo of two people standing outside one of the oldest buildings in Wymondham and added them to a photograph I took of the site today
05 Abbey Wall: Compared with the earlier photo we can see the influence of the motor car – parking, yellow lines and speed humps.
06 Damgate Street: Life on the streets was different in the earlier photo with people standing in the street and no parked cars. The pub is no more, but the building looks just the same as a family home.
What strikes me about these last three photos is how little the structure of these town centre streets has changed and I think that this is something that helps to build a sense of place.
For my last three images I chose to look at three iconic settings that really do determine the town as a place. I chose what are probably recognised as the three best known sites in Wymondham. For each setting I based my location on an old print or painting of the scene.
07 The Green Dragon: a medieval public house dating back to the fourteenth century. I based the photo on an image that I found dating from the 1906 publication “The Old Inns of England” (Harper 2013).
08 The Market Cross: The Market Cross is a well known local landmark, according to Wymondham Town Council it was built in 1617-18 (to replace an earlier cross from the middle ages which was destroyed by fire in 1615) and cost £25-7-0d. My photo uses , as its source, an oil painting by Henry Ninham dating from 1865. Ninham was one of the lesser known artists of the Norwich school, best known for his etchings. The imposing setting in the town centre and being so easily recognisable as such an old building, the cross has become a symbol of the town – being used as a logo for the town council and on the town signs, as well as a Bowls Club and the local Vet!
09 Wymondham Abbey: Probably the town’s most famous landmark the abbey was founded in 1107. My source for the contemporary photograph was an engraving by Thomas Lound dating from 1847. Lound was a later member of the Norwich School of Artists and interestingly a keen photographer (and according to the website Early Norfolk Photographs showed 5 of his photographs at an exhibition of 1856 – “two of Ely Cathedral, two of Bromholm(e) Priory and one of the Fish Market, Norwich”)
The abbey has also become an iconic building, its twin towers forming the logo of the local high school.
Sources of Original Photos and Paintings
Note, two images no longer available online.