For 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. In all cases the satellite view on Google earth was up to date and I used this as the central image to set the location with the before and after images on either side.
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 next three images I wanted to look at how some things had changed over time but how it may appear that little has changed. I found a website George Plunkett’s Photographs of old Norwich which had a number of photographs taken from 1931 onwards including a number taken in Wymondham. I also discovered a number of photos and postcards advertised on Ebay. Having looked at ‘appropriation’ in the previous module it was something I thought I could try in order to produce these images. Again I kept the Google Earth satellite view as a central image to fix the location but also as a symbol of the contemporary nature of the final image.
04 Bridewell Street
The first image just goes back 20 years to 1997 and shows that little has changed over that time. The next two images go back a bit further and start to show some changes.
05 Church Street
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 the chair outside the door and people standing in the street, that wouldn’t be done today! 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 buildings that really do determine the town as a place. For these images I wanted to give a sense of really going back in time to before the age of mass photography. Although photography had been invented by the time of the images I have used, I chose to use a drawing, an oil painting and an engraving to add a sense of ‘long ago’ to the first image, a sense of timelessness.
07 The Green Dragon
The Green Dragon is a medieval public house dating back to the fourteenth century.
However it would seem that pubs may not have been popular topics for local painters. The earliest image that I could find dated 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. The oil painting on the left is by Henry Ninham and dates 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!
I particularly like the satellite image for this group, as well as showing the location , the shadow of the Market Cross is immediately recognisable .
Even older than the cross –
09 Wymondham Abbey
Probably the town’s most famous landmark the abbey was founded in 1107. The engraving on the left is by Thomas Lound dates 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.
Images not used
In addition to these images there were a number that I tried out but dismissed in favour of the ones above.
Instead of using the photo of Church Street, I thought of using one of Market Street:
However I decided to use the Church Street image as 1) the original was a better street scene whereas the Market Street view was mainly just of a shop and 2) the Market Street image seemed a bit unbalanced with only a small first photo on the left compared to the other two, This could have been addressed by cropping, but I still didn’t feel that it gave a ‘balanced ‘ feel.
I tried a couple of alternative views of Damgate Street, changing both the original photo on the left and my contemporary version on the right. Again, for the left image I thought the older photograph worked better and that the landscape, as opposed to portrait, orientation for my contemporary photo worked best.
For the Green Dragon and the Market Cross I tried an old photo on the left, but wanted an ‘older’ feel to the original images so decided to replace them with a drawing and an oil painting respectively.
Also for the cross I tried to photograph it from different angles, before deciding that the viewing angle (and lighting) were best in the final version I used.
For the abbey, wanting to preserve the ‘older’ feel of the left hand image I decided against a photo from 1954
and instead choose from several etchings, the oldest dating from 1738
and the next from 1818
But I decided that the viewpoint and tone of the engraving I finally chose was the one best complemented by my contemporary photo.
Early Norfolk Photographs. At: http://www.earlynorfolkphotographs.co.uk/Photographers/Thomas%20Lound/Thomas_Lound_photographer.html (Accessed on 22 March 2018)
Harper, C.G. (2013) THE OLD INNS OF OLD ENGLAND. At: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/43865/43865-h/43865-h.htm (Accessed on 19 March 2018)