Square Mile – Second Thoughts

In which I chat to other people, sketch out ideas and change my mind.

(Be warned; this post is a jumble of notes!)

I looked at an ariticle on the OCA blog; an OCA student, Li Ma had gone back to visit her school in China  (1). I think this has influenced me because I think about images from my junior school. I had discussions about the ideas with C. What does she think about it? She thinks that perhaps the reason they mention the place you know as a child is because children see in more detail. They notice more (is this because they have time to notice more? Would my children notice more? – she thinks they would;  that they know Blandford better than I do).

I Google ‘Professor Mike Pearson + Y Filltir Sgwar’ and look briefly at the work of previous students (2); there’s a lot about the effects of people on a place and how a place has changed. I find this difficult; why are we so surprised by change and progress, by people having an effect on place? All organisms effect place – and are in turn affected by them. This isnt’ what this means to me.

I watch Abstract, Netflix on Ez Develin (3). This is mainly because I think it will be interesting for my son, but I notice that spaces and how people relate to them are what she works with.

I sketch out some shots I’d like to take in Northwood. Really I’d like to take them with a similar camera to one I used to use when I was a child. I’m not sure what I had, but I know it had a sort of film cartridge that doesn’t exist now. I want to be able to show exactly what I saw.

Sketches of images I’d like to take of my childhood surroundings.


Some of these I could take if I could get back to school and get permission. Some can’t ever happen. The summer holidays are about to start, so the chances of getting into Holy Trinity are slim. I email and ask, but I think about the space I occupy now, because going back might not happen.

If I just show this place, how does that say anything about me when I feel I have no connection to it? Is this assignment really about place, or is it about person? I think if it’s being used as an introduction to me, then it’s fundamentally about person and this place says nothing about me in the way Northwood would. I think of people in town and places in town and make a list to come back to later, because perhaps I should give it another go being here as I know I am stuck here while the children finish school. So my list of people has a few people I know, and some people I know of. I want to make images of them in their environment in Blandford. Then I have people and I have space. That might say something about them, but I realise that it doesn’t say anything about me.

I think of my house, of my vision as a series of snapshots. What images do I see over and over again every day? Opening my eyes in the morning and seeing the roof window above me. The view across the breakfast table. The view from my living room window in the evening after dinner when I lie on the sofa and wish I didn’t see buildings outside, or that I saw more buildings outside. What I see feels like the worst of, rather than the best of, both worlds. Really this house is my square mile; it’s the only place here I can claim to know well, and that doesn’t include the garden – I never venture out there as it’s overlooked and I get hayfever: twin evils. I make a mental list of these images. Then I think about places I do know in Blandford, and I pick up How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith (4) because I’ve looked at it before and I hope it will encourage me to see detail in my local environment and might get me psyched about it again. Page 5 has a list: How to be an explorer of the world. It makes me think about the Trailway as I use it a lot outside of hay fever season. I think about stories of the people I meet on the Trailway that I can tell. But the thing that really comes to mind about the trailway is scent. I wonder how I can represent scent in an image without some cliche? What about the other senses – I know there are more than 5. 5 is just a made up number. We have balance, we have temperature, pain, vibration, kinaesthetic. I look up senses on Wikipedia just to check (5). This number of senses matches up with the number of images I am supposed to produce. I know when I cycled in January I came home and I wrote a list of all the sights I’d seen, sounds’ I’d heard, things I’d smelt. If I went through that list now, what images would marry up with them? Perhaps not images from the trailway, but images from elsewhere in Blandford that gave a clue to those sensory inputs.

  1. https://weareoca.com/student-work/li-ma accessed 13/7/17
  2. http://www.graemehoose.co.uk/blog/ on 17/7/17; https://joysphotographyblog.wordpress.com on 18/7/1; https://lucyslearninglog.wordpress.com on 18/7/17; https://profstoff.wordpress.com on 18/7/17.
  3. Abstract, The Art of Design,’Es Devlin: Stage Design’ (2017). [TV programme] Netflix: Netflix.
  4. Smith, K. (2011). How to be an explorer of the world. London: Penguin Books.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sense 18/7/17

Published by Sarah Cassin Scott


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