Field, Beyond Fiction: Found Images.

For our Beyond Fiction project, we had to gather and collect different objects in order to create a narrative with them. I visited Jacob’s Antique Market for my research and bought the following items. A few postcards, one depicting a medieval illustration of Henry VIII’s warship Mary Rose, a postcard of Anne Hathaway’s cottage, another featuring a portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Otero and a postcard featuring the poem The Loreley by H. Heine, translated by Mark Twain.

I also bought an album of cigarette cards featuring English Kings and Queens from 1066 to 1935, and a pack of cigarette cards featuring film stars from the early 20th century, the majority of them being silent film stars.  In terms of a narrative, I haven’t  thought of something that could include all of these objects yet, but my first idea was to focus on the actors and maybe create a narrative where they act out stories relating to the other objects, for example they could be staring in a film or play adaption of The Loreley, or they could be playing English Kings and Queens. My next step will be to research each of these objects individually and then see if I can make any kind of connection between them.


Field, Beyond Fiction: Collage Workshop with James Green.

We started our Field Beyond Fiction project with a workshop in collage with James Green. The main objective of the workshop was to create two collages involving a narrative of a familiar and special personal place of ours, one depicting it in the past, the other illustrating how it might look in the future. I choose my home village as my narrative because of it’s history compared to how it is currently. Though my two collages, I told a story of how Romans once lived where my small village is currently. They built a fort and roman road, compared to how it looks now and how I think it will continue to look in the future, full of nature, quiet and peaceful with very little civilisation. The majority of the images that I used for the collages were taken from The Technique of Wood Engraving by John O’ Connor and The Children’s Encyclopedia, Volume 7.

I really enjoyed this workshop and really like working with collage, even though I don’t do it very often. I continued to create a few collages at home inspired by the workshop using left over images and images of Victorians I had used as research for my Heart of Darkness project. These collages don’t have a particular narrative like the previous ones, but I think they are very open to different interpretations in terms of story.

Folio Society, Heart of Darkness: Final Images


These are the final three illustrations that I submitted to the Folio Society Heart of Darkness competition. I was pleased with the final three illustrations mainly because of  I think that the composition and colour of each worked very well and I like the consistency of them. I think that these images also work a lot better than my initial image ideas, and it is very interesting looking back on how my work has developed through this project. For the binding, I just cropped one of my development images and used that instead of any of my previous book binding images and believe it works a lot better and is closer to what I initially wanted to do for the binding.

Final Image 1

Final Image 2

Final Image 3


Heart of Darkness: Development Images.

These are development images inspired by the research I did on the Bapende and Mangbetu  people, which I then used as a basis for the look of the native people in Heart of Darkness. The images of the Mangbetu women helped me to develop the characterisation of Kurtz’s African mistress, particularly the description of her helmet shaped hair, which the Mangbetu women have due to their elongated heads. The Bapende people served as an inspiration for the male natives because of their interesting body paint patterns and masks which I recreated using bleach. I also created some rough thumbnails based on my previous images as well as creating new compositions and began to play around with placing the characters in the jungle scenery as well as creating the light and atmosphere with the bleach and ink.

Sketchbook Development Work

These are two images that are improved versions of previous images using a more realistic style and less line work. I think they are a big improvement on my previous images and work a lot better as illustrations for the book but need to be developed further. My lecturer encouraged me to study other paintings to help create my compositions and figure so I looked at a lot of Pre-Raphaelite paintings for inspiration as well as Victorian photographs for the second image. I want to work bigger in the future for this project so that I can have more detail in the image and be able to capture that detail in scaled down, scanned versions of the final images. Also, for the competition, we can’t illustrate a scene from the last ten pages of the book so I won’t be able to submit an illustration for the scene with Marlow and Kurtz’s intended, which is a shame because it is a scene that stood out to my since the first reading of the book.

Folio Society, Heart of Darkness: Initial Images.

We were given this brief as an opportunity to enter the 2014 Folio Society competition to illustrate Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I used a dip pen to draw the images of a ink wash background and then added some light and colour with bleach and watercolours. I found starting this project very difficult at first because I was unsure how I wanted to produce the work, so I used a dip pen and ink as a starting point and to just get some composition ideas.

After reading the book I composed a few scenes that stood out to me and have posted them below. One scene, which involves two women knitting really stood out to much and I produced two different compositions for it. I pictured the black wool they are using to knit with as a representation of the dark Congo river and wanted it to be the main focus of the image so in the first composition I had the black wool weaving in between the two women in a fluid way to foretell the journey of the story. I wanted to emphasise this even more with the second composition with the hands knitting and the wool and the river merging into one.

Here are some more images showing the journey through the Congo river and jungle. I really wanted to play around with using the jungle in the foreground to create depth to the image and give the audience different perspectives and interesting view points into the story.

The final two images depict the moment Kurtz’s African mistress and the natives emerge along the shoreline, another stand out moment of the story for me, and Marlow visiting Kurtz’s fiancée and the end of the book. I like these images because of the contrast between the two and the focus on the two women who were involved in Kurtz’s life.

I wasn’t too happy with the final outcome of these images because I think the style of them doesn’t suit the source material. I found my critique on them very helpful and was told to try not too use so much outlines and work with shapes more and to try to depict a more realistic style and to work with fluidity to fit in with the book more, but I was told that the colour scheme and composition was working very well, particularly in the image with Kurtz’s mistress.

Constellation Week 5 with Cath Davies: Dissertation Preperation

November 8th 2013

The final week of our constellation sessions consisted of us coming up with ideas for our dissertation and how to start the preparation for them. We began by taking notes on how to start out preparation using the column system that Cath taught us. In the column system, we take a case study, for example an image, and then describe the characteristics of it, followed by an analysis of the meanings/connotations of the image and finally researching academic theory on the topic to back up our statements.

We keep adding to the columns as we go along, showing skill in our ability to research and quote academic debates on the subject field. We won’t be the first or only person to write about a certain subject so we have to explain how our research is similar but also how it differs from previous examples.

Cath used examples her own research and interests to help us get an idea of how to go about starting our own. Her research consiteted of the desgins of Alexander McQueen, Japanese designers Kawakubo and Yamamoto and dress defining body shape. We made notes on the extracts about these subjects, again to help us practice for when we need to analyse our own research notes.
We discussed deconstruction, breaking or changing the rules and trashing ideologies within our creative practices and used the Japanese designers as an example of this. Yamamoto created an evening dress made of felt as oppose to silk which moves with your body, felt does not. It’s all about body shape and how clothes can redefine and create new body shapes as well as the different connotations of different fabrics.

For my dissertation, I have decided to focus it on folk lore and fairy tales, something I have been interested in since a young age. I made a few notes on the different areas I could look into such as how they have been told and retold, portrayed and refashioned over time, using reworking’s and retellings from literature and film as examples.
The representation of gender is also something I would look into as well as how it has changed over time, comparing and contrasting it. The different themes in these tales would also be interesting to research such as, good and evil, dark and light, monstrosity and glamour, life and death, children and parents and the hidden meanings and connotations to name a few.
I would also like to examine the sudden rise of popularity of the film adaptions of these tales and how they compare to the film adaptions in the past. Walt Disney’s animation films would play a great part in this and it would be interesting to see how they became the foundation and example for how fairy tales should be adapted into film.
In terms of academic and theoretical research, I would start by reading The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Betteleheim and From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers by Marina Warner. I would also look into literary retellings of popular tales, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber being an example, as well as the original stories themselves by The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson.

The five constellation sessions have been a great and helpful start to how I should begin my research and preparation for my dissertation and I shall be using the techniques learned in them to help me with my own work.

Constellation Week 4 with Cath Davies: Phallic Panic and The Vagina Dentata.

November 1st 2013

Phallic Panic and the Male Monster

What is Phallic Panic?

We started this weeks lecture with the study of Phallic Panic, using and extract from B. Creed’s Phallic Panic; film, Horror and the Primal Uncanny (2005). We summarised phallic panic as the following:
Civilisation tires to control nature, females are associated with nature in visual culture while male are associated with civilisation. Male monsters adapt female characteristics, they are affiliated with nature, not civilisation. For example, the werewolf is associated with and control by nature due to the full moon cycle bringing about it’s transformation.
Birth and reproduction are all part of the male monster and it is there female traits that make them monstrous. The source of monstrosity for the male is the female.

Phallic panic is the undermining of masculine order. It is cause by the fusion of masculine and feminine. Women are considered monstrous and otherworldly because they are not like men, masculinity is a construct and is unattainable.
The male viewer believes that if a males body can become monstrous (feminine) then so can his. He is castrated symbolically, this causes castration fear and anxiety and shows that masculinity is as vulnerable as femininity.

The Vagina Dentata

We moved on from phallic panic to study the theory of Vagina Dentata, while continuing to use extracts from the work of B. Creed, The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis (1993). The female genitalia terrifies men, not because the female has been castrated and is missing male genitalia but because she herself has the ability to castrate – vagina dentata.

The theory is that within the vagina are a set of teeth that will castrate the male when he enters the female. The ultimate monstrous feminine is the woman who can castrate men with her body. Vagina dentata exists symbolically, the fear of the female because she is more powerful than the male. This has been evident from the beginning. Eve brought the destruction of man, and an example of the female as the site of man’s destruction. This comes from her ability to use her sexuality to trap him, the males desire for the female body is his downfall. Femme Fatal – the females use of sex to get what she wants. The female becomes more masculine while the male is symbolically castrated. The female body is a sight of anxiety in numerous forms.

We looked at an image by Salvador Dali titled The Ants (1929) as an example of vagina dentata. The image depicts a woman with ants emerging from her body and dispersing all over the image. This suggests themes of death and the decay of the body as well as destruction and downfall, suggesting the danger of females.

Summary of Vagina Dentata extract by B. Creed (1993).

What is it?
– vagina taking form of a woman, represents the power females have.
– suggests transformation and liminality.
– also suggests women as dangerous and evil, femme fatal.
– a duplicitous woman is a source of fear that can be hidden. Also a source of pleasure that will cause the male pain when his guard is down.
– lots of imagery of teeth and gaping jaws
– discusses fairy tales and the female role, Evil Queens, Enchantresses and witches.
-Medusa: phallic woman, snakes also represent toothed vagina, turns men to stone, she stops life, de-masculates and castrates.
– Castration fear: pubic hair hides the genitals, a source of the female castrator. The source of evil and anxiety is hidden.
– Importance of pubic hair, not a sight of desire, any anxiety must be erased. Erasing the pubic hair allows the male to see in and can be interpreted as attractive to men.

Lastly, we discussed how the female genitalia is used as a term of abuse in society by males to de-masculate other males. It’s use is very misogynistic and is based on a fear of women.
We also continued our discussion of examples of vagina dentata in visual culture, one of them being Ridley Scott’s Alien, like last week. In the Alien series, the main alien is often referred to as a ‘she’ and is seen laying eggs, depicting the reproductive systems as a source of terror.
We also analysed a picture by Salvador Dali involving a lobster placed over the female genitals representing the female as being a the castrator not the castrated.
We ended the session by making a brief note on the duplicity of women and the hidden fears and anxieties associated with them such as the vagina dentata.

This session discussed themes that were completely different to our very first session and put both the female and the male in a new and very interesting light. The growing relationship and contrast between all we have looked at is also fascinating.