My course details are on their way to OCA for November assessment. It’s a strange feeling, now they have finally gone: something of an anti-climax. I am not as happy as I had hoped to be with the work, mostly because I have not yet completed the two books that were to have been the culmination of my work on the course (and to an extent on the previous course also). I discuss the books in in my opening blog for the course Surveying the Landscape. Looking back at this I see I stuck pretty well to the plan, except that it all took much longer than expected. The opportunity to take my life in a different direction and work in Tanzania came along and for the last year I have been living in Dar es Salaam. Most of my pictures for the course had been taken by the time I left and one would think that a year might be enough time to pull it all together and maybe start on level three, but I have found it immensely difficult to focus on this work. I think my brain has been overloaded with new experiences and learning, including learning to drive, learning Kiswahili, coming to terms with a new culture and a new work and home environment. That said, let’s for a moment move on from what I didn’t do and look at what I have done, and what I’ve learned.
If you want to see for yourself, all the assignments are accessible via links on this page. http://www.eileen-rafferty.com/p/landscape-oca.html In addition I have collected some of the Bognor and Norbury pictures taken during this period into two Dropbox folders – Bognor, and Norbury. The folders are not in any particular order at this stage – I am in the process of gathering all the pictures and still some way from ordering or organising into any coherent form.
What do I think went well? Overall, I do think I followed my own path and have made a body of work that consistently explores themes that are important to me. I was not very happy with the Norbury Brook assignment when I completed it, but find on looking back at it that it interests me and does I think tell a story. I feel the experiment with the book format worked quite well – the text adds a whole range of different contexts and readings to the pictures. I think that Assignment 5 – the New Estate – hangs together well as a set. In preparation for this blog I found my feedback from PWDP. Among other things, the assessors suggested I “Continue to pursue ideas and personal projects to strengthen further your personal voice, (and) try harder to articulate your rationale or motivations, both textually (and) in the editing and presentation (i.e. context) of your work, considering different options as appropriate to the work.” I think I have gone some way to this end, certainly in following my own projects and ideas so that overall this is a more coherent set of work than I did for PWDP. However I think there is some room for improvement in terms of exploring different options for presenting the work.
As for personal motivations: while revisiting my review of Mark Power and trying to understand why 26 Different Endings pulls me in a way The Sound of Two Songs does not, I came across this picture of my own:
Looking at it, my chest tightens at the thought that this might define me in some way – small and narrow and grey. I don’t want to live in a house like this. But like Mark Power (and David Chandler in his excellent essay accompanying Endings) I have been here. This is like a posher version of my granny’s house. And on some level I fear that maybe some part of me is resolutely suburban and small. I don’t articulate thoughts like this when taking the pictures – often I feel like I just recognise them and they take themselves – but I do think that identity and a whole wealth of social and cultural references are what these pictures are about.
Which leads me on to thoughts of where next? I have an idea for an exploration in Tanzania which might form part of my level three work. I have really struggled to see a way to take pictures that mean something to me and aren’t just tourist vistas, but have now had an idea. Unlike the UK, I can’t just wander safely round with a camera taking pictures and I find the thought of an escort inhibiting in lots of ways. But I do hope to make myself start exploring a particular place in a month or so. Once the books are well under way… I hope to start level three in January or February 2016.
More dust than mud for my next level, I suspect…