Tag: Coventry

250MC: Trip to the Herbert History Section + Third Idea

As part of 250MC, to get us thinking more about the idea of site specific in Coventry, we went to the Herbert’s History section about Coventry to provide us some more context as to what happened here in the past, and to give us some more ideas/inspiration if needed. For me this was particularly needed, as I was beginning to struggle as to where my ideas could lead me next. I had managed to get up to scratch with the technical ideas, however I was lacking the backbone of a story.

The first area of interest for me was based on the history of Coventry’s football team. Last year I did some volunteering work with the club, so the idea of creating a piece on them was intriguing. As a football fan myself for Chelsea FC, a football clubs history is quite rich in various aspects that happen on the years. Compared to football today, in the 1960’s football was still popular, but yet it was more based on local grown players that were more idealistic in the idea of traditional football (today we look at teams that are more focused on buying the best players for the most amount of money, or the players that can produce great bits of skill; both which were non existent.)
For Coventry, it was more important period for them as they had recently gained promotion into the top division in the English league. For any club, this was a great achievement which showed off the status as a good club who could play football. However for Coventry, it was a high yet the beginning of a low, as they battled to avoid relegation in the seasons to come. So a decline in the leagues were on the cards for the club, as well as receiving top recognition.However this changed in 1987 when the club recorded their highest achievement to date, when they knocked out Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup to win the trophy for the first time. This created a massive gathering in the town when the club brought the trophy home.
Nowadays, the club isn’t struggling (even though it has had a few financial problems throughout the years) but also it isn’t doing brilliantly. Even though they have moved into a much bigger stadium, the fan support is mixed, however you still get the atmosphere that can’t be missed.

To see items such as the kits, older balls, programs etc, it does show a change in time. However I feel that this isn’t really a history section as such; really I just see it as giving some additional information that I didn’t really know. If I was to compare it to Chelsea’s, the difference is major as they cover every single major point in the club’s history, whereas here there is nothing. This exhibit did inform me though in brief parts, but not enough for me to feel confident in making a project out of it.

The second, and possibly the most interesting idea, was based on watches. To me, what stood out for me actually wasn’t the history, but more from the technical side. Seeing as I have delved into macro photography in an essence, but wanting to have more of a story running through the image. So I thought that with these, I could begin to look at the more intimate part of the watches possibly. But firstly I decided to look more at the history surrounding these watches, as they were pretty unusual.
In Victorian Coventry, watchmaking was an intricate part of society, as it was one of the most important industries at the time, with a rough estimate of 3500 workers being employed. These workers were chosen because to make a watch you had to be extremely skilled and patient as these were complex jobs; however on the flip side these were well paid jobs so competition was high for them. Most of these watches were all hand made as their wasn’t really any technology at the time (late 1800’s) in the small workshops that were located mainly in the Spon Street and Butts area. Afterwards the areas of Earlsdon and Chapelfields began to become well known for watch making as well. However towards the beginning in the 1900’s, factories in other countries, such as the USA, began to arise and make over millions of watches for a much more cheaper price as well in a quicker time period as well. As this began tot threaten jobs in the area, some of the local watchmakers tried to retaliate by setting up their own factories instead. The most successful one was Rotherham and Sons, who went on to employ over 500 workers, including women as well. However, this was set up too late for it to have any effect, with the business eventually collapsing in the 1920’s and dying out.

This was just a beginning point to look at for my new idea as I definitely think that there is something to examine here with regards to a story, as I think a narrative could be built up. However I feel like I need to do more research into the history first so that I can begin to build up a better well of knowledge before I go onto the next step in this process.

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Talking to lecturers

So in order to get an outside opinion on my work so far, I decided to speak with my lectures so that not only could I give them an update on what I was looking at, but also so that I could get some opinions and criticism on my work.

I spoke to Anthony first as I wanted his opinion more so on my actual pictures rather then the idea at the minute as it was still early stages. With the whole project being based on the history of the sites, I personally wanted to get more of a story being shown in my pictures, which I was lacking in already, plus I was struggling to see how I could begin to show this in my work.

Anthony said that on the technical side, the pictures were good and it was obvious that I knew what I was doing. However, like my own thoughts, he said that really the pictures told him nothing at all. Only the main spider and the sea snail offered some sort of narrative, but the others were something that you would just see in a National Geographic magazine.

The thing with macro photography is that it is such a common theme to go in the photography world; it no longer stands out as much (unless you have a stunning image.) SO he suggested that if I were to go down the macro route, I would have to think about it differently; with the snail shot it was quite obscure as to what it was plus what was going on. What I had to look at was making things slightly more obscure so that the viewer had to work out things more on their own.

Afterwards, I went to speak to Caroline as well, but this time it was more based on my actual idea to see where I could head next. Again, like with my pictures I was slowly beginning to reach a wall in where I could head next with my ideas. Trying to base the idea of the history of a place and getting a story behind it is quite hard for wildlife I found, as it was more documentary based.
Caroline agreed with my thoughts here, saying that as a starting point it’s a good idea and it shows I can work with the technical part of things. However there was a lack of research that could be done on the site specific part which would affect my grade; so she suggested that I head to the Herbert as they had an History of Coventry section which could give me more of a better idea as to what I could move onto next.

Summer Project: Letter to Self – 154 MC

Dear Alex,

Well here we are then, about to head off to university! It’s a new challenge in my life, one that I am certainly looking forward to. But I can’t shake off the nerves that are kicking in as well. Leaving home to be on my own… it’s quite a daunting aspect. It’s not like a school trip where you would go away for a couple of days then come back. No, this is the real thing now and I’m “leaving the nest”. Not having my parents there all the time is going to be challenging, but I’m sure I’lll find a way around that.

I think what also doesn’t help is that I’m the only person from my group of friends going to Coventry, with none of them nearby as well. So the fact there will be no one I really know is scary as well. It is an opportunity to start anew I guess, but trying to talk and make new friends is going to hard. But then again, everyone will be in the same boat I guess? I won’t be on my own in that aspect, so it does make things a little bit easier I guess.
And finally… well I’m scared as to whether my work is good enough I suppose. Will it be up to the standard of everyone else doing photography? I know it’s silly, but I can’t shake off the feeling at all, especially with this summer project. I look at the ideas I’ve gone with, and I just worry if my work is too simple, boring, or just not right! I just worry that I’m going to be the worse one there… But then again, I got into the course didn’t I? So I must be good enough then? So I think it’s a confidence factor here, so I need to try and get more confident with my own work!

Ok, let’s move away from the negative stuff shall we! I’ve looked at what the course involves for the next year, and what I really am excited for. Hopefully it will be different from the usual A-level requirement, with the usual “here’s your theme. Follow this or else.”
I mean, I guess there will be times where I will have to do it, but this time I feel it’s going to be more on what I, the photographer, wants to do. And that’s what really excites me. As it can be on what I feel comfortable with, rather than having to try so many different things just to show development and progres to get some silly marks that might not even put anything towards my final peice at all! Don’t get me wrong, development is good and very useful, but when you are pushed in every lesson to do some different, rather than sticking to something which you know has worked well and find enjoyable, it can be kind of annoying not being able to focus on that.

Another thing I am looking forward to is finding what my “niche” area is going to be. Forensic photogrpahy is my ideal path if possible, but I know it’s going to be hard to get into something like that. But if you don’t try then you won’t ever know I guess? I remember at my interview with Paul that I mentioned this, with his work of the broken up bullets and flesh comes to mind, so perhaps it doesn’t have to direct forensics possibly, but something involving both fields possibly? It’s hard to get a sense of what career I really want to do at the minute, simply becuase I enjoy everthing too much! Any time something new comes up, I’m like a kid in a candy shop, wanting to try as much as possible with it. So before I make any rash decisions, I need to thinks things slowly, and discus everything with the teachers on what I might want to do, as at the end of the day thet have tons more experience then I do!

Writing this letter has actually been quite helpful in getting all off this off my chest; it’s actually made me relax somewhat before I go in a weel’s time! Rather I feel more thrilled about being able to go now. This is an opportunity in a lifetime really; there’s no point in worrying about things at all for the time being. No, I need to look at all the good things that are heading my way, and I need to grasp it by the head and make the most out of everything, as I don’t want to look back and regret at not doing something at all!
So what am I hoping to achieve by the time I come back to this letter? Well, here are my hopes:

1)      Let’s get into the second year! It might sound silly, but it’s always a possibility! I know I need to have a laugh, but I want to push myself with all my work. I want to make sure that I don’t slack off, and produce the best photo’s that I am capable of doing! As long as I can say “I tried my hardest with that, and I’m proud of it” then I’ll be over the moon.

2)      More of a personal aspect here: Try and make some new friends! Seeing as I’m going to be in the deep end when I start, I want to make a good group of friends who I know I can hang out with and just be myself for the rest of my uni life. If Ican manage to make that happen, then I’ll be happy!

3)      Enjoy myself! I don’t want to be waking up dreading  the day, so I want to do things I know that I will enjoy. So this means taking part in different lessons, going out with people, playing the sports I love. If I can have a varied lifestyle in which I will be doing all sorts of things, then I know that I will have a blast!

Well I’m nearing the end on this letter, so I’ll begin to finish off here. I’m going to be nervous. It’s natural. I’ve just come out of Sixth form, and going into Uni where everything is going to be different. But in a good difference though! But I need to make sure I build up my confidence quickly, not only in speaking to people, but also with my work, as I know sometimes I can be quite negative with my own work quite badly. I know if I get this confidence up and running, then everything will flow smoothly from there onwards. If there’s any advice I can give myself now, it’s take some pride in everything I do! I want to be proud of myself at the end of the day, being able to do whatever I want to do, knowing that it will be the best that I can give.

I’m going to follow with that, so hopefully it will prove right!

Speak soon (more like in May!),

Alex