1. Feedback

Received 7 Feb 2020

Overall Comments

A really good start to C&N with through research throughout.

Assessment potential

Assignment 1

You may want to get credit for your hard work and achievements with the OCA by formally submitting your work for assessment at the end of the module. More and more people are taking the idea of lifelong learning seriously by submitting their work for assessment, but it is entirely up to you. We are just as keen to support you whether you study for pleasure or to gain qualifications. Please consider whether you want to put your work forward for assessment and let me know your decision when you submit Assignment 2. I can then give you feedback on how well your work meets the assessment requirements.

Feedback on assignment
Nick Blackburn – Assignment 1 Context and Narrative

I think you’ve tackled this first assignment in Context and Narrative in a really interesting way. It’s clear you’ve thought very carefully about the brief and considered a selection of different subjects and approaches, testing one of these out (the interiors of churches) before finally – and correctly, I think in the case of this first diagnostic assignment – developing your simple but effective idea focussing on the two views of the male body – one through the idealized and romantic view of the male body as seen through a series of close ups of figurative sculpture on the collection of the V and A and a set of close up images of part of your own body.

As you describe in your LL, stripping the colour out of both sets of images allowed you to bring the two sets together in a way that makes sense (like you, I think that the very different colour casts and palettes of each set would have meant that converting them to black and white was in fact critical in making this idea work.

You write engagingly about your working processes and provide good evidence of ongoing research. Here, I’ve given you several references on the theme of the male nude. Wrote a 500-word blog post on one that you think is particularly relevant for this assignment submission and upload this to your LL before we meet again. [see here]

(NOTE: Are you  interested in darkroom printing? You might really enjoy the different types of paper etc that wet printing would allow you to experiment with. I notice in your notes that you’re interested in working on a larger format. It may be useful to join a community darkroom if you have one available to you).


1_John Coplans: Coplans was interested in photographing the human body in macro and in black and white and often worked in a highly abstract way. He would then bring these pieces of information together in grid formations (see links below and here:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2003/sep/05/guardianobituaries.obituaries (‘A major element in the fascination was an obsession with one of our few remaining taboos: the process of ageing and physical decrepitude. And with the anonymity of identity: in Coplans’s words, “To remove all references to my current identity, I leave out my head.” The blow-ups of sagging flesh, creased folds, odd protuberances and body hair of an old man become the documentary tale of the decline of Everyman’).

2_Craigie Horsfield’s large scale monochromatic portraiture: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/craigie-horsfield-2318

3_ Robert Mapplethorpe’s square format, black and white male nudes: http://www.mapplethorpe.org/portfolios/male-nudes/

4_You mention in your notes that you thought of documentary photography as perhaps ‘to me, factual and dispassionate’. Can I suggest you have a look at  Chloe Dewe Matthew’s project Shot at Dawn – a project which is both a poetic but also factual exploration of her commissioned subject: http://www.chloedewemathews.com/shot-at-dawn/

5_One of your initial assignment 1 ideas looked at religion and the interiors of churches. You might be interested in looking at Anton Laub’s interesting documentary project exploring the history of so-called mobile churches in Bucharest : https://www.kehrerverlag.com/en/anton-roland-laub-mobile-churches


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Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

Student Feedback:
Thank you for the feedback tutorial which I found very useful.
I was a little concerned that my choice of project for Asg.1 would be considered too distant from the brief and so was pleased to be reassured on that point. I had a Rework idea to hand and will try to run that anyway if time allows [see here]. We went through my list of possible projects for Asg.2 [see here], some of which are far more likely to be pursued than others. I’ll aim to get that in at the end of March.
One of the most helpful aspects of the course in learning more about this craft is discovering the work of other photographers and tutors’ suggestions are particularly on point. Of the names you suggested, I only knew Mapplethorpe and Coplans. I am a great admirer of Coplans’ work and had intended to be influenced by him in C&N Asg.3, but I have already used up that option now on Asg.1.
Thanks again, Nick. 7 Feb 20