250MC Site specific.

Site Specific Brief (personal practice) 40%

Building on previous experience and concerns, your task is to make a peice of work, which integrates your personal interests with an assigned site in Coventry. You will need to download a map, a slice of Coventry from the 250MC moodle home page.

To help clarify your personal response, you are encouraged to research your site fully before you start taking photographs. Consider using local social and cultural history, myths and/or the landscaped geography as starting points.

Your project needs to be lens based but there are no restrictions about which direction you develop your project; it has been specifically designed to encourage your own personal interests and direction. However, it needs to be original to you. You are advised to use this flexibility as an opportunity to explore your own photographic direction and investigate an area of photography which interests you. The presentation of your project should be appropriate to its development.

Initial thoughts/ideas

My first step for this piece of work was to decide upon which map I wanted to use. With a choice of 15 maps, there was a good range to chose from. Most areas I were familiar with, however some others not so much and some harder to access than others in terms of distance. After looking through all the maps and seeing what drew my attention, I narrowed it down to 3.

Map 3 

This map covers some of the Stoke area of Coventry, as well as being the area I am living in this year. Therefore, I am already quite familiar with the area and potential places which could be of use. I can initially see differences from this map in 2012 to now, as it does not include the newly built student houses therefore this could be something I could look at. Although it is quite a residential area with many houses, it also features Far Gosford Street which is lively and full of history with many interesting points to photograph.

Map 6

This map features some of the city centre and Coventry University. This map has a huge amount of places of interest, including Coventry Cathedral which is thriving with history. Two current changes I noticed with the university – The Hub is not on the map, neither the Ellen Terry Building therefore I could focus my assignment on these. However, one of the negatives of the locations on this map are often very busy throughout the day so it could be difficult to capture empty images if this is the approach I choose to take.

Map 7

I thought this would be an interesting map to consider as although it again covers the area  I am living in, I have not explored/seen this area properly. The map also features a park and a graveyard which could be good places to photograph, or investigating further around the more residential areas.

After considering these 3 maps, I decided that I want to focus on Map 3. As I know the area, I feel this will be beneficial rather than exploring somewhere I am not so sure about as it will allow me to broaden my ideas combining both my own knowledge and research. As I also live in the area, this means I can easily go out and shoot whenever, as well as going back to touch up ideas if need be. I would also like to investigate the history of Far Gosford Street and the Stoke area.

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Following the choice of my map, I needed to decide what approach I would like to take towards the assignment. Usually, I find myself steering towards a fashion genre and although I enjoy this, experimenting with clothes, shots, lighting and editing – I felt this is becoming a bit repetitive in my work and want to try something different. Therefore I have decided to take a more documentary approach and explore the idea of ‘human presence’. This allows me to photograph many things – firstly, I can look at the changes that have been made since the map in 2012, whether this be new changes, or buildings becoming run down. I can also make comparisons to old photographs if i am able to find any, and photograph things like litter or graffiti which are all elements of human presence.

Research

History

Gulson Road

  • Formally called Brick Kiln Lane, renamed in 1900’s as Gulson Road in tribute to John Gulson, a great benefactor.
  • ‘Town Wall’ which still remains today after centuries.
  • Previously would have been a watch tower opposite Harper Road. On a right angle to this, there was Gosford Gate. The gate was demolished in 1765.
  • The wall followed the direction of the River Sherbourne. This river acted as a moat for the east side of Coventry.
  • St George’s Chapel, demolished in 1822, River Sherbourne flowed underneath.

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Town Wall.

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Gosford Gate.

Along Gulson Road, you come across ‘The Whitefriars workhouse’ which continued to be used throughout the Poor Law Amandment Act (1834)/Poor Law Union (1874). During this time, the parishes of Holy Trinity and St Michael united, and “guardians of the poor” elected 18 directors whom sold off alternative workhouses, whilst Whitefriars remained producing various textiles. A report was made about the workhouse such as the silk mill using up one of the best rooms in the house, and workers being treated too well as they were allowed to drink and smoke. Over the years, the workhouse grew larger with a fever hospital, infirmary, nurses’ home and children’s ward. In 1930, control of the workhouse changed hands converting one part into a Salvation Army Hospital. The hospital became the main base for casualties during WW2 due to bombing ruining both Coventry and Warwick hospital. This hospital later on became Gulson Hospital. Gulson then went on and closed in 1998.

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Coventry Whitefriars, 1906.

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Coventry Whitefriars, 2002.

Gulson Hospital was also knocked down in order to build a temporary car park as part of Coventry University.

  • Vacant for several years.
  • Purchased by the university.
  • Engineering and computing building built next to where the hospital used to be.
  • Permission granted in May 2012 to demolish the leftovers of the hospital.

hospitalknockedown

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/university-car-park-built-site-3022113

Charterhouse Road

  • Useful image for my own comparison in terms of shooting.

charterhouseroad

Far Gosford Street

  • Used to be the main route out of Coventry to London/Leicester.
  • Houses appeared along the street in 12th century.
  • Became Far Gosford Street following its expansion beyond the Town Wall.
  • Began with craftsmen trading, followed by metalworkers and locksmiths in the 13th century, then weavers and drapers in the 14/15th century.
  • 18th Century, the French brought trading of silk and ribbon weaving.
  • ‘Top shops’.
  • Followed by cycle manufacture, then motor cars. Early factories built here.
  • One of the only streets that escaped the serious damage of the Blitz in 1940. Thrived whilst the centre was rebuilt.
  • 1986 – Sky Blue Way opened which gave through-traffic and trade an alternate route.
  • 1992 – Far Gosford Street Conservation Area. Following the street’s deterioration, any further proposed plans had to preserve/enhance what was currently in the area.
  • Home to medieval Grade II listed buildings.
  • Appearance/economy of the street is forever improving.

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fargosfordst(2)

“Have your say on £1.1m Far Gosford Street regeneration project” – an interesting article on the money invested to further improve and preserve one of Coventry’s historic streets.

  • Already spent around £7.5 million in regeneration.
  • Another £1.1 million secured.
  • Coventry City Council want a public opinion on the current plans of how to spend the money.

http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/your-say-11m-far-gosford-6258792

Photographers

Paul Polotis

  • Currently living in Ottawa.
  • Began photographing since 1988.
  • First experimented in the darkroom, moved to digital in 2005.
  • Produces work in black and white.
  • Work has appeared in several magazines internationally.

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graffiti_door

graffiti_bridge

Paul has an album named ‘Graffiti’ and I knew this would help me with my own approach to human presence. The grafitti in which he photographs are on quite large scales, but add a sense of art and identity as people have left behind their mark. I love the industrial feel of the images, captured by the geometric shapes of the buildings in the photograph. I also think having the shots in black and white works brilliantly as with the graffiti this creates a great range of tones. Paul’s shots are kept quite simple with basic angles however they capture everything necessary. This is an approach I may consider when I am doing my shoots.

Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

  • Born in 1981 and 1987.
  • Grew up in Paris.
  • Interest in photographing ruins began in 2001.
  • Met in 2002 and began working together.
  • Explored Paris, Belgium, England, Spain, Italy.
  • “Ruins are the visible symbols and landmarks of our societies and their changes, small pieces of history in suspension.”
  • Decided to photograph the ruins of Detroit in 2005.

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ymrm2

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These images are so interesting and full of detail, you could spend a long time looking at them. Something that stands out to me are the textures in the photograph which are quite hard, or soft in the image with the chair which I think gives the photos more of a feeling as overall they are quite cold and eerie. The photos capture remains and that sense of abandonment as well as allowing you as the viewer to image people using the spaces. Again here the shots and angles are quite simple however it works for these kind of photos. I also think the fact the images are kept in colour works really well here because it shows the decay and ageing of the objects. Although this won’t be the sort of style and approach I will be using in my shoot as I am not photographing abandonment, it has been interesting for me to look at this work and be able to develop my own ideas with regards to human presence.

Sophie Calle

  • Born 1953.
  • Lives and works in Paris.
  • Uses elements of her own life in public places.
  • Named as a detective and a voyeur.
  • ‘Suite Venitienne’ – 1970. Followed a man for 2 weeks photographing him.
  • Got a job as a chambermaid ad photographed the guests’ possessions.
  • “For each room there was a photograph of the bed undone, of other objects in the room, and a description day by day of what I found there”.

calle2

I find this piece of work really interesting because whilst it is an invasion of privacy, it also makes it personal and intimate. The selection of photographs work well to tell a story and tell you about the guests that were staying in the room which originally strangers. The layout also works well, with same size photos, because it allows you to compare and contrast and form an opinion on the work. You can easily look between all the photos and make any connections. Sophie has also used black and white creating interesting contrasts of light and dark – I definitely want to use this in my own work, as well as possibly considering this type of presentation.

Nicholas Goodden

  • Living in London.
  • Obsession for detail and composition.
  • Urban photography.
  • Began photographing seriously in 2008.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I decided to look at the album ‘London Street Art & Graffiti’ to help me develop ideas for my own shoot with regards to human presence. I really like these images because they’re quite quirky and interesting. Particularly with the image of the pigeon, Nicholas has been creative with perpesctives making the sizes appear unnatural which works really well. With the rubbish in this image, and the graffiti in the other two, he captures human presence well through urban photography. The images are presented in colour which work well to highlight the essence of urban landscape, as well as enhancing the hard and rough textures of the walls.

Photoshoot

Following my research and the images I came across, this gave me a few indications as where to visit for my photoshoot. However, as well as these specific areas there may be elements of human presences I could come across, therefore I decided to do a ‘photo walk’, allowing me to photograph things which I feel are relevant as well as my main points of Gulson Road and Far Gosford Street.

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There were a few problems that I encountered during my shoot. The sun was quite bright, which occasionally meant that there would be strong shadows in my images which detracted away from the main focal points. It also meant that my shutter speed had to be fast so that the image wasn’t over exposed,  but this resulted in the shadows becoming too dark so I decided to steer away from these for my finals. On my photo walk, I did come across some evidence of human presence however not so much on my main points of Gulson Road and Far Gosford Street. Also on Far Gosford Street, I wasn’t so inspired with things to photograph so I decided to focus more on making photographs to compare to images I have found. Often there would be people/cars present in the pictures which I didn’t like as I feel it lost the essence of ‘evidence’ of human presence however this could rarely be avoided as all areas are fairly busy. I don’t think my approach of a photo walk was so successful, if I had planned more specific places to visit this may have been more successful. With post production, I made a few edits to my images however with each one I decided to put them in black and white to create interesting contrasts in tone, as well as looking similar to my found images.

Final Images

DSC_0016

I decided to compose this photograph because it shows a new development which does not appear on my chosen map. The framing of the photograph creates main focal points, as well as allowing the viewer to image what is beyond the edges. The sign signifies the new area, whilst the digger and rubble in the background adds the element of human presence as it shows what is being done/happening in the area. I also like the strong contrast between the fence which is closer compared to the background in the sunshine – this also adds the sense of a deep space  along with the layering within the photograph. The shapes present in the photograph are mostly geometric, which adds to the industrial feel of a building site.

charterhouseroad

DSC_0040

With this image, I wanted to create a comparison to the image I found in my research of Charterhouse Road. Whilst there are quite a few differences, there are also similarities which I find so interesting. For example, there have been no changes to the layout of houses and the chimneys are exactly the same. Differences include road markings, wheelie bins, phone lines, lamp posts and tall buildings in the background which all also contribute to human presence. The photo includes an incredible amount of detail as there is a lot to look out therefore there is no main focal point, however this draws upon the comparisons which can be made between the two images. The only disadvantage I feel to this image is how the left side is in shadow due to lighting not the day and doesn’t feel as ‘clear’ as the older photo.

DSC_0042

I like the simpleness of this image and how it captures the essence of human presence. The straight on angle frames the main focal point of the image simply but effectively, and the pole in the middle acts as a line of symmetry. This also makes the image balanced, as well as the equal tones. The graffiti on the garages show human presence as people have made their mark here as well as giving the image a grunge feeling. The textures in the image of the rough wall and hard surfaces make the photo feel quite gritty. The style of this image reminds me of the work I previously looked at by Paul Politis – the black and white tones and industrial feel of the graffiti. This is one of my favourite images of my shoot due to it’s simplicity and interesting contrasts of light and dark, whilst capturing my theme of human presence.

DSC_0064

This is another simple image that I really like, also one of my favourite images. When doing my photo walk, I came across this can which had just been left on top of a wheelie bin. This immediately indicates human presence as they have left something behind showing they have been there. The Coca-Cola symbol acts as something the viewer can recognise which I think allows you to connect with the image better. I also really like the how fine detail and textures in the can and bin have been highlighted by using a wide aperture, creating a small depth of field and blurring the background. The framing works effectively here with the can acting as the main focal point, whilst detail in the background makes the image more interesting without detracting away from the main focus.

DSC_0082

For this image, I visited what is left of the Whitefriars’ workhouse. This is probably one of my least favourite images as I don’t find it very visually pleasing or creative, however it captures the combination of both the history of my site and my theme of human presence. I like the rough textures present in the image from the walls as it highlights the history and age of the building. However, this image indicates the problem I had with the strong lighting. I chose to shoot from this angle so that I could capture the two pieces of graffiti to fit my theme of human presence, however this meant a strong shadow from the tree cast on the building which does not work in the image. If i tried shooting from a different angle, this either meant my own image appeared in the shot or I couldn’t capture both bits of graffiti.

DSC_0121

I decided to take this photograph in order to resemble the area in which Gosford Gate used to be and how the new changes being made represent human presence. The ‘construction site’ sign indicates the effect that human’s are having on the area, and the sign indicates their presence – therefore when composing the image, I framed it so that the sign acts as the main focal point. I also used a wide aperture so that further into the image, it is out of focus so it adds interesting detail but doesn’t detract away from the main purpose. I don’t feel this is a very visually pleasing image but it captures the essence of my project.

DSC_0137

This is another simple image which I feel works quite well. Whilst most of the time the strong lighting was causing a problem, in this image I think it works quite nicely creating repetitive contrasts of light and dark with the shadows and light shining through. The great number of cigarette ends all indicate evidence of human presence, and together create a sense of unity. I also think it adds a sense of neglect, to an area that holds so much history which works interestingly. With my composition of quite a close crop, the image doesn’t feature much however the wall, rough ground and drain gives the image an urban feel.

hand-and-heart

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I had the idea for this image in mind when I came across the selection of images in the ‘Before and After’ section of the Far Gosford Street website. I recognised the building instantly and knew there had been changes more recent than the image above. It was also really interesting to see what it had previously looked like when it was a pub. With the shapes that are present in the image, they are all geometric however the domino’s logo is recognisable therefore the viewer can connect with the image more and I think it adds a sense of warmth to something that feels quite cold with such solid shapes. The textures are also very rough and hard, adding an industrial feel. By being able to compare it to the previous image, you can see the evidence of human presence through the change in the use of the building – it has now become more commercial, a popular food destination.

DSC_00282

With my theme for my project in mind, I passed this house quite a few times and thought it represented human presence quite well. The balloons add a sense of celebration and joy to an image that is quite hard and simple. To highlight this, whilst editing my images I tried leaving the balloons in colour and turning the rest of the image black and white. This worked quite well, however when I put it with the rest of my images it was the only one that featured colour and did not fit in with the others. Therefore I decided to turn the whole image black and white. Although I feel this detracts the attention away from the balloons slightly, it gives the photo quite a vintage feel. I decided to use quite a tight crop when composing my image allowing the viewer to focus on the main focal point of the door with the balloons and how they represent evidence of human presence.

Evaluation

Overall, I am unsure as to how I feel about this project. There were quite a few challenges I faced initially. Although choosing a map would seem quite simple, there may have been potential ideas I could of explored in areas I did not necessarily know so well, however I do think I made the write choice about the site I used. Secondly, it took me a while to come up with my theme, evidence of human presence. As I previously discussed, usually I would take a fashion approach and do something with people, however this was slightly more challenging working with buildings and objects. What I did enjoy about the project was researching the history of the area as I actually found this rather interesting as this enabled me to learn more about roads I have been using for the past year but didn’t know. Doing research also helped me develop ideas as to where/how I could shoot. I decided to approach my photo shoot as a photo walk, allowing me to photograph things which evidenced human presence on my journey. Whilst this meant I captured quite a few interesting, unexpected images, I also don’t think it had much structure and didn’t let me photograph at my best ability. Therefore if I were to approach this again, I would want to properly plan my shoot. I would also use a different theme as I don’t think this allowed me to produce my best work. I also feel the collection of my final images were quite choppy because there were a mix of some presenting human presence, and then others were comparisons to old images I found and I don’t feel this was consistent or flowed well. Due to my current budget, I was unable to present my images appropriately however if I were able to I would like to have got my images printed, and presented in a way that can show comparisons similar to the work of Sophie Calle. With my images showing human presence, I would like to have them printed the same size and presented together to create a sense of unity and repetition through the photos. In conclusion, I do not feel that I completed this work to my best ability – I feel that my strengths are working with people however I am quite pleased with the images I produced, and how I linked them to the history of the site and my theme.

References

The Workhouse (2013) Coventry, Warwickshire. [online] <http://www.workhouses.org.uk/Coventry/&gt; [10 October 2013]

Wikipedia (2013) History of Coventry. [online] <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Coventry&gt; [10 October 2013]

Coventry Telegraph (2012) University car park to be built on site of former Gulson Hospital. [online] <http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/university-car-park-built-site-3022113&gt; [10 October 2013]

Coventry’s Town Wall & Gates (2012) Gulson Road to Gosford Gate. [online] <http://www.historiccoventry.co.uk/wall/gulsonrd-gosfordgate.php&gt; [10 October 2013]

The Coventry We Have Lost (n.d) [online] <http://www.thecoventrywehavelost.co.uk/?attachment_id=995&gt; [10 October 2013]

Far Gosford Street (n.d) Far Gosford Steet, Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. [online] <http://www.fargosfordstreet.com&gt; [10 October 2013]

Coventry Walks (2013) Far Gosford Street Conversation Area. [online] <http://www.coventry-walks.org.uk/conservation-areas/far-gosford-street.html&gt; [10 October 2013]

BBC (2013) Coventry’s historic Far Gosford Street redevelopment. [online] <http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/coventry/hi/people_and_places/newsid_9386000/9386244.stm&gt; [10 October 2013]

Coventry Telegraph (2013) Have your say on £1.1m Far Gosford Street regeneration project. [online] <http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/your-say-11m-far-gosford-6258792&gt; [10 October 2013]

Paul Politis (2013) Black and White Photography. [online] <http://www.paulpolitis.com/bwgallery/graffiti-photography/&gt; [23 October 2013]

March And Meffre (n.d) Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre. [online] <http://www.marchandmeffre.com/detroit/index.html&gt; [23 October 2013]

Facebook (2013) Yves Machard & Romain Meffre Photography. [online] <https://www.facebook.com/pages/Yves-Marchand-Romain-Meffre-Photography/177668655598539?id=177668655598539&sk=info&gt; [23 October 2013]

Dare (n.d) Sophie Calle. [online] <http://www.iniva.org/dare/themes/space/calle.html&gt; [23 October 2013]

Nicholas Goodden Photography (2013) [online] <http://www.nicholasgooddenphotography.co.uk/photo_9348558.html#photos_id=9348558&gt; [23 October 2013]

~ by victoriasimkissphotography on November 22, 2013.

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