The Formal Bit
About this site
This site is my online ‘learning log’ for the Open College of the Arts photography course ‘Expressing Your Vision’. It’s arranged like this:
- Home is, I hope, self-explanatory.
- About is the section you’re looking at now. If you scroll down there’s some personal info about me so you have some context should you need or want it.
- Assignment work is under ‘assignments’. For each assignment this is a collection of initial planning, images I was seriously considering using, contact sheets of images specifically shot for the assignment, images I gave my tutor, tutor feedback, my initial written response to that feedback to document planned changes and then my final images with ideas for further exploration.
- Course exercises are (rather predictably) found under the tab ‘exercises’ and are in appropriate places for the section of the course they come up in. I tend to work on several exercises at once, so I do add to them; they’re not ever really ‘complete’ for me. They are part of the learning log, but are not put into that same blog format because the WordPress template for photography courses from the OCA doesn’t have them put in that way.
- Learning Log is a blog. A record of what I think, what I’m learning, why I’m doing what I’m doing, ideas I’m having for approaches I could / did take, and images I’ve taken for various reasons at various times. It’s all inspired by the course, it’s all about learning.
Unless marked otherwise, all photos on this site are mine. If they are taken before I started course and used for any reason (which is never in assignments, obviously) then that is clearly marked.
The Informal Bit
I was born in west London and grew up in Ruislip Manor and Northwood, which was an idyllic place to grow up really. I went to a strict school and I hated every single moment of it. I had to wear a tie (a proper one, not one that clips on), a beret and a blazer. The headmistress didn’t like me because my parents were divorced.
These are my parents.
My dad was a telecom engineer for BT and he spent most of his working life installing and fixing phones in strip clubs and porn shops around Shaftesbury Avenue in London. That goes some way to explaining the scrapbook full of business cards from prostitutes collected from phone-boxes in Soho. It doesn’t explain the excessive Bob Dylan habit. He now lives in Germany with wife number three who is not mad, which makes his hit rate for non-mad wives 1/3.
My mum worked for Max Factor as a make up artist which I’m sure she loved. She also worked for Lloyds Bank which I can only imagine she utterly hated. But I will never know as I cannot get any sense out of her. She hears voices and her current job includes shouting at people who aren’t there and avoiding psychiatrists and any medication they choose to prescribe for her. She is incredibly talented in these areas due to 30+ years of practice. Rather predictably, she lives alone.
Because of her illness I started to use my camera (it had 110 film cartridges) to take photos of what was happening around me to use as evidence for the various social workers, doctors, psychiatrists and police that I would have to deal with to try and get her treatment that she needed; it’s easy to ignore the words of an eleven year old girl, but not so easy to deny the evidence of a photograph. Or that’s what I thought anyway, but it seemed I was assuming a level of common sense that was not forthcoming in most people I had to deal with during those years. I ended up in a children’s home.
Anyway, despite hating school, I was very good at it and so I eventually found myself at Brunel University where my initial intention had been to study physics. However, that’s quite difficult when they close down the physics department so I ended up studying computer science instead. It turned out I didn’t like sitting at a computer coding all day so I left Brunel, moved to Dorset and studied with the Open University instead. I did a lot of courses in science, I got distinctions in all but one course, but I never actually properly finished my degree. When I began my OU studies I got myself my first SLR (film, not digital) a Canon EOS 300. I used to black out my kitchen to use as a darkroom and I loved it.
I will always be studying something, but I had a break from ‘proper’ studying to:
- have three children (and home educate two of them).
- do my ABRSM violin exams.
- live in New York for a few months.
- work as director of an occupational psychology consultancy.
I’ve decided to add studying for a BA Photography with the Open College of the Arts. I didn’t do this sooner because I didn’t know you could study arts courses at degree level via distance learning. Had I known it before I probably would not have shelves quite so full of books on physics and maths.
So now as well as the photography
- I am still studying music. I’m working on my ABRSM diploma pieces in violin, plus exams for cello and piano. I play classical music, but I like listening to Radiohead and Muse although at the moment I am having a bit of a retro moment musically and am listening to Japan, David Sylvian and the Cure quite a lot.
- I paint; I’m really at the very beginning of doing this, I don’t think I’m very good at it but I love it so I’m taking a beginners art class (you can read about the classes on my learning log). Looking after my mum meant I missed out on so many things that other people take for granted that I feel like I am permanently playing catch-up.
- I am still a company director.
- I am still very, very busy being mum and doing mum stuff which I love as I have three brilliant children who are all very different and all amazing.
- I have a small part to play in a subversive psychology blog that is launching very soon.
- After a massive clear out, I still have several thousand books so I obviously spend a lot of time reading (often about economics, politics and mysticism which I appreciate is an odd combination).
- I’m a mainly non-practicing Jew.
- I hate Brexit so much I just cannot describe my despair.
- Despite living in Dorset I still spend a lot of time in London, usually camera in hand in my new favourite areas along the South Bank.
So hopefully that is some context to what you might see on this site.