Exercise 5.3: Print-on-demand mock-up

I did this exercise before I had completed taking and preparing all the photos for Assignment 5, so if I had decided to produce a book for this assignment much more time would have been spent on selecting and preparing the final images for inclusion.

Nevertheless the exercise itself was an illuminating one. I had originally thought that my images for this assignment could have been used to produce a photobook, including my photos with copies of the pictures produced by Norwich School painters that alongside them. But having tried it out in blurb, I quickly realised that it wasn’t working. I should have recognised this from my original proposal, when I stated that I was not taking a modern photograph to compare with the Norwich School original but simply using the original as a geographic location from which to produce a series of images of life in Norwich today.

The problem with placing the two types of images alongside each other was that you immediately start to compare the two scenes to see how they differ or are there any similarities – the view down a particular street, do the buildings look the same. This detracted from both sets of images.

Perhaps a book would be possible with just my own photographs, but for it to be worthwhile it probably needs quite a few more images, maybe around 20, otherwise the book would feel very slight. I guess the 10-12 images I was aiming for might just about produce a pamphlet.

The pdf version of the book can be found here (please note in the pdf version the pages are sequential, in the book version the images of the painting and the photograph from the same location would be facing each other as the book lies open). After the Norwich School

Exercise 5.2: Print Quotes

I researched the three companies quoted in the course material; Metro, theprintspace and Spectrum. I decided to seek prices for an A3 print as this is the size required for assessment.

It wasn’t straightforward in that Metro only offered standard format sizes, not A3 size. In addition Metro and Spectrum offered two levels of printing (standard and premier for Metro / online and studio for Spectrum) which seems to be the difference between straight printing of the files as you send them or a level of assessment and intervention in the printing by studio technicians. On top of this Spectrum offered a 20% discount on all services for students, Metro offer students a range of discounts including 10% off off the standard print service whereas theprintspace have no discount offers on their website.

On top of this one also has to take into account delivery costs for the prints as these too vary and would affect the overall price.

In order to do a fair comparison I have assumed 10 different prints sized 407x304mm using the standard delivery price. Te figures below include the student discount offered by each company.

Company Price per print Giclee Cost of 10 prints Price per print 

C Type

Cost of 10 prints Delivery cost
Metro £11.84 £118.40 £8.68 £86.80 £5.18
theprintspace £13.30 £133 £9.85 £98.50 £5.22
Spectrum £9.34 £93.40 £7.05 £70.50 £6.50

So the total cost of ten prints, 407x304mm delivered is

  Giclee C print
Metro £123.58 £91.98
theprintspace £138.22 £103.72
Spectrum £99.90 £7700

I have prepared two files of the same image (the first is for c type printing and the second a giclee on Innova white matt paper)  to the specifications set by Spectrum. The images are here. 

Can inkjet be treated as a photograph?

 The difference between inkjet and c type is that in the former method droplets of ink are sprayed onto a paper whereas c type is much more closely linked to a traditional photographic developing process where the image is transmitted on to silver halide papers and processed in the same way as a traditional photographic development.

The debate as to whether inkjets are ‘photographic’ prints or not comes down to this different method of production.

To my mind this division is false. A photograph was originally produced by exposing film to light, projecting the image on to photographic paper then developing and fixing it. There is an argument to be made that anything not produced by this method cannot be classified as photographs.

However if we take the argument that inkjet prints are not photographs because they do not involve projecting the light onto photographic paper then surely anything produced from a digital camera can not be classified as a photograph as it does not involve capturing the light from an image on to photographic film.

I believe that the important issue is the final printed image, its quality, feel and closeness to the image captured as intended by the photographer. Whether that is by c type or inkjet is, to me, irrelevant. Perhaps we should be less interested in terminology and more concerned with our view of the final photographic image.

Exercise 5.1: Origins of the White Cube

The essay starts with the statement that in this century we “investigate things in relation to their context, come to see the context as formative of the thing, and, finally, see the context as as thing itself”.

It goes on to describe the modern gallery space which, it says is constructed to rules that are as strict as those for building a medieval church. The windows are sealed off, walls are painted white and the ceiling becomes the source of life.

The gallery is described as a chamber whose roots are found ‘not so much in art history as history of religion’.

This religious theme continues throughout the essay where the gallery becomes a place of ritual.

But it is not for the sake of religion that the gallery is constructed in this way, according to the author “the endurance of a certain power structure is the end for which the sympathetic magic of the white cube is devised”.

The White Cube offers access to a spiritual world at the cost of the visitor becoming ‘the eye’ and ‘the spectator’. The eye refers solely to the visual world in the gallery, the spectator means leaving everything from the real world outside, almost a cardboard cut out of the visitor.

The essays are a defence of the real world against the sterility of the White Cube.


It is interesting to consider the very strident points made in the essay. I think that most would agree that context influences how we view an object and this is particularly so in an artistic or gallery setting.

The White Cube is a recent phenomenon, if you visit the National Gallery or see pictures of older galleries then they are not in any way similar to contemporary galleries. In previous centuries the walls of galleries were covered with works of art , up to, and including the ceiling. It is a recent phenomenon for the white painted walls and lack of windows.

In some ways this can strike as giving space to the object on display, there are no distractions and the work of art can be observed in isolation almost. O’Doherty seems to be arguing that the rituals for visiting such a gallery have overtaken the simple appreciation of the display and have become the reason for the visit.

Tutor Feedback and Review

I had been rather pleased with the Critical Review that I submitted for Assignment 4, so initially I was a little disappointed that my tutor found so much to comment on. Having read his report a few times now, and thinking about what he said, I think that I can learn a great deal from this exercise.

I had tried to take on board previous comments about being more analytical and in this essay I attempted to give a more personal critical response to the images I studied. This was fine but, as my tutor pointed out, I also could have taken a more analytical approach to the genre and why artists had chosen to use it.

He also questioned whether the images were made by landscape artists or political artists, which is something I could have addressed in the essay.

These were the major points he raised and I now recognise more clearly the importance of the articulation of individual thought and analysis. I will revisit the essay to see if I can take on board the main points he made.

Photo Gallery

I have set up a Photo Gallery where higher quality versions of the photos in the assignments can be seen, as well as photographs taken outside of the exercises.

As well as the photographs, by clicking on the i (information) tab at the top you can also see information and comments about the image

The gallery can be accessed here Photo Gallery

Shape of Light Exhibition at Tate Modern

This exhibition is described by the Tate as displaying “100 years of Photography and Abstract Art”. I enjoyed the whole exhibition, but for the purposes of this note I will concentrate on those images relevant to landscape.

The exhibition started with a photograph by Pierre Dubreuil called Interpretation Picasso: The Railway c1911. The gallery notes explained how the image was made at the same time as Braque and Picasso were experimenting with cubism. The photograph of a train is broken down into a complex picture of geometric designs. The image of the train can still be imagined but the viewer has to be actively involved in studying the photo rather than just seeing a representation of the locomotive. The photo was displayed next to a cubist painting, Mandora 1909-10 by Georges Braque.



This emphasised the intent of both artists to purposely represent reality in a different fashion. It was interesting to see the two images displayed together, but I think that the Dubreuil photograph suffered a little from being displayed alongside the Braque. To my mind this photograph doesn’t lend itself to exploring the simultaneous depiction of differing planes in the same way that can be achieved by painting. The image itself was interesting and of merit in its own right, but displaying it alongside the Braque perhaps most demonstrated the limitations of the technique.

It was very interesting to see images by photographers that I had studied in earlier exercises of this course. Several Lewis Balz photos were displayed in the setion on minimalism. It was good to be able to see original images rather than representations in books or on the internet.

A couple of things stood out to me in this part of the exhibition. Firstly the gallery note used exactly the same quote from Balz that had struck me when I was studying his work, and the Tate video, earlier in the course. He said that “photography is the only deductive art”, whereas as other art forms add meaning as the work progresses “photography begins with a world that’s perhaps over full and needs to sort out from that world what is meaningful”.

It was interesting to read on the gallery notes that Balz’s work was often displayed along with that of Carl Andre and that is how it was displayed in this exhibition.

I thought that this worked well – mainly because of the minimalist nature of the works, that the monochromatic effects and the geometric patterns complemented each other.

Seeing Balz’s work displayed in a gallery brought home the minimalist nature; for me his work was about pattern, isolating everything to display form or pattern.

The Tate website (Tate [s.d.]) describes minimalism as “an extreme form of abstract art developed in the USA in the 1960s and typified by artworks composed of simple geometric shapes based on the square and the rectangle“.

“Several important characteristics identify Minimalist Art. One of the most common is repetition, or creating multiple images of the same shape, especially simple geometric forms like lines and squares”. (Study.com Minimalist Art [s.d.]).

This perfectly describes the work of Lewis Balz that was on display







Study.com Minimalist Art (s.d.) At: https://study.com/academy/lesson/minimalist-art-definition-characteristics-famous-painters.html  (Accessed on 24 June 2018)


Tate (s.d.) Minimalism – Art Term | Tate. At: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/m/minimalism  (Accessed on 24 June 2018)

Living Cities Exhibition at Tate Modern

I visited Tate Modern to see the Shape of Light exhibition and, quite by accident, discovered a separate one called Living Cities. It was a display which the gallery notes described as “a variety of responses to the modern city from artists around the world”.  A couple of exhibits were of real interest to my study of landscape photography.


Two Chinese artists work together under the name Birdhead. According to the gallery notes their photographs “capture and make sense of their experience of daily life in their home city of Shanghai”.

What I liked about their work was the sense of humour and irreverence displaye in some of their images. I really like the photograph of fish displayed at a stall

I thought that this gave a real sense of what daily life must be like for many of the residents of Shanghai. One can almost smell the street scene! The timing of the shot is also just right, with the car in the background approaching, but not quite reaching the fish. A split second later and the car would have been behind the fish and provided a distracting background: the image would not have been as successful. The car adds motion to the image and suggests modern life whereas the fish display and stall provide a timeless feel.

The following image gives an interesting study of geometric forms against a cloudy sky – the contrast of the harsh lines of the city against the organic forms of nature comment on the city as a way of life.

It was also interesting to see a display of Stephen Shore photos from American Surfaces 1972-73. These were explained in the gallery notes as photos taken by Shore of “everyday scenes he encountered on a dedicated road trip across America”. This took me back to an earlier exercise in this course on ‘The Road’ and the work of someone like Alec Soth. What was interesting about Stephen Shore’s work was the size and nature of the images and how they were displayed.

A considerable variety of images were used, some landscapes, some portraits, others were interior scenes. The prints themselves were quite small, perhaps giving a more intimate feel to them.

I did not find many of the individual images compelling in the way that some of Alec Soth’s images were.

But what was interesting about this display was the way a composite picture of the road trip was formed from individual images that had caught the artist’s eye at some stage. It gave me further cause to consider the meaning of the term ‘landscape’ and how this can be conveyed. It showed to me how landscape does not necessarily mean a single image or even a single point in time, but can be represented by a series of images taken over a period, but with a relevance to a landscape as a unifying factor.

Part 4: Reflections

I have thoroughly enjoyed this part of the course, I learned a great deal from Assignment 4. Before undertaking the assignment I had a cursory knowledge of photomontage, but for the critical review I undertook a considerable amount of research. This was necessary as i now have a much better understanding of the genre and how it has been used, It will also help me a lot for my final assignment in Part 6, I have always thought I would like to produce a photomontage for that assignment, but my thoughts on how I will approach the task have developed considerably. I have many photographs that I have taken since I started this course, but I now realise that I want to produce something more than just an aesthetically pleasing image. I wish to produce images that make a statement about the issues I believe in (albeit within the confines of demonstrating the change in landscapes over the seasons).

How have I progressed over Part 4?

Technical and visual skills: I think that my analysis of images has improved. In his last comments on Part 3 my tutor suggested that I needed to move away from a descriptive approach to images to a more analytical one. I think that I have started to do this, in fact I think I have moved some way since the start of Part 4.

Quality of outcomes: I was pleased with my critical review which I hope has been conveyed in a concise and coherent style. It was as I was studying and writing the review that I perceived what I thought were two distinct styles in photomontage – the artistic approach adopted by the dadaists, Romare Bearden and the pop art movement as against the photographic style as shown by Henry Peach Robinson, Jeff Wall and Peter Kennard. One issues I was concerned with on the critical review was; had I tried to cover too many artists (four). Would it have been better to have just looked at two or three? While looking at fewer artists would have allowed more detailed analysis of each image, it would not have easily led to the conclusion I reached in terms of the two distinct styles. I therefore think that the approach to studying four artists was justified. 

Demonstration of creativity: As part of his feedback on Part 3 my tutor commented on “the ‘exploratory approach’ to developing my ideas and said I should continue to investigate this in future work”. I enjoyed the Bright and Barthes exercises in Part 4 and think that these will help to further develop my creativity. I believe that I will be able to develop this furtherwith the self-directed project in Part 5.

Context: I carried out considerable research for Assignment 4, there aren’t quotes from all the papers in my bibliography, but I have read all of the relevany=t parts and they informed my overall knowledge of photomontage and the individual artists. I believe I have put this knowledge to good effect in the critical review. I also learned how to make full use of Paperpile  which has been made available to OCA students via the UCA website . I found it of considerable use.

Assignment 4: Critical review comments


I embarked upon this project knowing a little (but not a great deal) about the topic. I had previously attended an OCA study visit to the Whitechapel Gallery to see the Hannah Hoch exhibition. I had also seen David Hockney’s collages, including Pearblossom Highway, in his exhibition at the Tate. I also came across Romare Bearden’s work at Tate Modern when I visited the Soul of a Nation – Art in the Age of Black Power exhibition. I had not come across his work before, but it was very striking and left an impression on me. I also knew of the work of Jeff Wall (but might not have called his work photomontage before writing this essay!). These all gave me the idea of tracing the development of photomontage over the years and looking at the changes that have occurred.

I learned a considerable amount through writing the essay . I had not come across Henry Peach Robinson before and I was fascinated by the dispute between him and Peter Henry Emerson over ‘straight’ photography or the use of artifice. It was interesting, at the conclusion of my essay, to note how this debate continues! With the number of photos being taken on mobile phones today and the widespread use of apps to digitally manipulate the images; I would have thought that nobody would expect photographs to still be the product of ‘straight’ photography. But it would seem that even the art critic Waldemar Januszczak still wants to believe that ‘the camera never lies’.

I also discovered how photomontage was used for propaganda by studying the work of John Heartfield. I hesitate to use the term propaganda as it usually has negative connotations – perhaps it would be more appropriate to describe it as ‘political work’. In either case the message of the work has not detracted from the aesthetic merits of the image.

It is interesting to compare present day works and what may have influenced them. For example Peter Kennard has used digital manipulation technology to combine images, but I would classify his work as being in the tradition of John Heartfield. Jeff Wall uses the same technology but I think his work is more in the tradition of Henry Peach Robinson than that of the Dadaists.

I believe that I have researched the subject thoroughly and presented the outcomes in a clear and coherent manner. I have tried to take on board the feedback from my tutor’s last report by making my critiques more analytical rather than simply being descriptive.

The Critical Review can be seen here: How Has Photomontage Been Used in the Creation of Landscape Images?

Photographic images have been remove from the document for copyright reasons

Exercise 4.6: Proposal for the self-directed project

*****  Following comment from my tutor I have revised my proposal for the self-directed project. The revised proposal (Self-directed project – amended version) can be seen here .


Revisiting the Norwich School


The Norwich School of Artists is the name given to a group of artists, mainly landscape painters, who were active at the beginning of the 19th century. The two best known members were John Crome and John Sell Cotman. Their paintings “were in a low-key realist manner inspired by Norfolk landscape and the life of the Norfolk Broads and rivers” (Tate [s.d.]). In this project I propose to revisit and photograph some of the scenes painted by members of the Norwich School.

In an earlier History of Art module for this course I produced a critical review on the Norwich School of painters, looking at their work in general, but also looking in detail at paintings by John Crome and John Sell Cotman. I thoroughly enjoyed researching their work and saw many of their paintings at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. I have also visited local auction sales to view Norwich School lots, even buying a couple of etchings in the process (the History of Art module have given me the knowledge and confidence to do so). This project would, therefore, have a special appeal to me.


I will select a number of sites that feature in paintings, or prints, made by Norwich School artists and produce a landscape photograph of that site today. The aim is not to try to replicate the scene painted in the 1800s, but imply to use that as the starting point; I would then decide how to produce the photograph. I would aim to produce around ten final images.


I envisage the process being undertaken in four stages.

Stage 1. In the Appendix below I have listed a number of paintings featuring local scenes. I will visit the sites and select around ten to photograph. On that visit I will also decide on the equipment needed for each site and the best time of day/weather conditions to photograph the scene. This is likely to take around two weeks.

Stage 2. During this period I will be taking the photographs at the chosen sites. Depending on weather conditions, this will take four to six weeks.

Stage 3. This stage involves the processing of the final images and will take about two weeks

Stage 4. This is the production of the hard copies of the final work. I envisage the final product being a photobook which on one page shows the original Norwich School image and on the facing page shows my contemporary interpretation of the landscape at that location.


The main costs at stages 1-3 will be travel expenses. The costs of stage 4 will relate to the production of the photobook. I envisage this to be a personal project, were the book to be made public then significant printing and copyright fees could be involved. This would be researched during the project.


479 words


Appendix 1: List of sites painted by Norwich School Artists


Site Artist 
Norwich Cathedral David Hodgson
Briton Arms, Elm Hill Henry Ninham
Yarmouth Sands Joseph Stannard
Haymarket John Thirtle
Mousehold Heath John Crome
Fye Bridge, Norwich John Thirtle
Norwich Market Place John Sell Cotman
Bishops Bridge, Norwich John Sell Cotman
Carrow Bridge James Stark
The River at Thorpe Joseph Stannard
Wymondham Church John Sell Cotman
Norwich River Afternoon John Crome
New Mills John Crome
The Yare at Thorpe John Crome
Whitlingham E T Daniell
Trowse Meadows George Vincent
The River Wensum John Crome
Bishop Bridge Norwich John Thirtle

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