Creative Project – Post 7

And so it begins.

I staged several experiments of how best  to burn and destroy the photographs. Having left the previous experiments for a matter of months, there was no change. My erasing was mostly a failure other than the bleach. Therefore bleach was carried forward to the next round of experiments (diluted bleach, as I learned from last time.)

In this round of experiments the following took place:

  • Glue on the back, bleach and burn the front
  • Wallpaper paste on the back and front (to distort)
  • Paste on back and front bleach and burn
  • Paste on back and front bleach
  • Paste on back and front burn

The following images depict the results:


I found that the best result was achieved by using paste on the back, and several layers on the front, followed by burning with the blow torch. The paste must be left for several days between layers and burning so that it is set.

Creative Practice – Post 6

“WHERE IS THE BURNING?” – It’s coming soon, but in the meantime here’s what I’ve been reading, watching looking at etc.

Hollis Frampton – Nostalgia (1971)

A film in which Frampton burns photographs, while a narration provides a description for the upcoming photograph simultaneously.


For a bit more context, I’ve also been reading the following about Frampton’s work. They have been insightful, not only with understanding the nature of destruction within art and burning the photographs, but also the disjunction created by the narrative with the audio and visual components portraying a different narrative.

Auto-destructive art and Gustav Metzger

I have also been reading articles and viewing artworks that would fall under the category of Auto-destructive art, taking inspiration from the pioneering artist in the movement Gustav Metzger in particular.

Of all the work I viewed, one in particular, in conjunction with the line of one quote, had an impact on my outlook towards this project more than any other did.

“The important thing about burning a hole in that sheet was that it opened up a new view across the Thames of St Paul’s cathedral. Auto-destructive art was never merely destructive. Destroy a canvas and you create shapes.”

Recreation of First Public Demonstration of Auto-Destructive Art 1960, remade 2004, 2015 Gustav Metzger

An integral part to my work is the view, and challenging perceptions of how domestic photographs are viewed. I have taken a large amount of inspiration from how Metzger perceived the destruction of the sheet altered how a view was observed. It has encouraged me to experiment with using a sheet to cover my photographs, and in turn destroy the sheet as a metaphor for breaking down the concealment within domestic photography and the family album, and also as an expression of looking at the images with an alternative view.

Creative Project – Post 5

“The Erasure… Or…?”

Somewhere along the lines of experimentation I decided that I didn’t like the way that the project was progressing. The Erasure is something that I will no doubt go back to, however, I feel like I need to both broaden and reduce the scale of it simultaneously.

So where does that leave me?

I believe that in order to do The Erasure justice, and to truly comprehend the effects of land displacement, I need to take a step back and look at the wider picture of my heritage, family background, and family album on the whole. I am using it as a tool without necessarily first understanding what it contains and how it can be used as a tool. This is where the Creative Project become a new project entirely – or at least a different branch of the project.

From here I began looking at the theory of family albums. Jo Spence and the Social Album in particular, which is demonstrated through her 1979 work Beyond the Family Album. (See link for details)

The Social Album presents the idea that there is a large amount being screened out of domestic photography and the family album. Families are indoctrinated with the idea that they must only present a positive impression of their life and the negative aspects cannot be displayed or documented. In opposition to this, the Social Album celebrates all aspects of family life and therefore can be used as a genealogical tool to understand the lives as lived of those before us.

In the shifting direction of the project, I therefore decided to create a response to the Social Album using my own family album. I have decided to use four frames, each incorporating a different theme of the Social Album. Cragside is the starting point, as this was the starting point of the initial project. It presents what an idyllic family life appeared to be, as this is the impression Cragside has always given me. Over the last 23 years I have romanticised it to the extent that I have created my own Domestic Myth. However, the frame speaks of displacement, and other negative aspects of family life that in my romanticised vision, I did not usually associate with Cragside. This includes untimely deaths, miscarriages, unwed mothers (in the 1930s shock horror) and hidden adoptions. The following 3 frames deal with adultery & divorce, breakdown of family ties, and illness & death. The images used are symbolic of the themes and do not depict them explicitly, as my family album mirrors the traditional albums that do not show negative aspects of family life.

I aim to approach this as an investigation: is it possible to create a full Social Album and not exclude negative aspects that one would otherwise hide? Can the family album be used as a genealogical tool if it does not give an accurate overview of the family life? Can a Social Album (or a reverse Social Album) be read within the family album through absences and negations? People disappear from the albums – why is this? Can a narrative be uncovered through learning how to read beneath the surface of each image and the album as a collective?

Next: experimentation. I have ordered a blow torch and plan on experimenting with how burning can be included in the work.


Creative Project – Post 4

“Dissolve my pretties!” – Me (2017)

The second round of dissolving photographs had a much more immediate impact than the first round did. I predicted that the bicarb and vinegar mixture would have some immediate effect, however, they didn’t. Which was disappointing. I thought that once the foam settled it would leave some form of alteration on the image. How disappointing…


Bleach, however. The dissolving with bleach is my new favourite effect. It is immediate and once all of the image has ran, it is left as an entirely erased white piece of photo paper. It was quite astounding to watch.

The result of this experiment was much closer to the effects of Seung Hwan Oh – Impermeance (2012) (see Post 2). I like this look, although it may be difficult to preserve the photograph with this effect in the long term as the bleach eventually leads to a complete erasure. This could be further experimented with as different dilutions of the bleach. The physical act of immediate erasure could also be incorporated into a performance element within the exhibition itself.

Creative Project – Post 3

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The Erasure – Experiment 1

There is something strangely cathartic about drowning a photo in red wine.” – Me (2017)

My bulk order of photographs has arrived. All versions of the same photo, which over the course of this project will be mutilated, mauled, drowned and otherwise abused as a means of illustrating a tangible reflection of erased personal connections to landscapes, memories and material objects.

This first experiment is done using what I found lying around in my kitchen. Eventually I’ll progress to using harsher chemicals and substances, but as a control I wanted to see how the photographs reacted to everyday liquids. I have also placed a photograph in my South facing window to see how much of an effect sunlight and fading has on it.

Annoyingly the photos didn’t fit into my scientific containers (Chinese takeout tubs) and had to have their edges trimmed and rounded.

Red wine

Anyone that has ever received a gift from me will know that I save up all of the bottles of wine I’m given for Christmas and re-distribute them as gifts to other people throughout the year. As there are no upcoming birthdays, celebrations or whatever, I thought I might as well put the nasty red wine to good use. Pouring red wine over the photograph was oddly cathartic. I’m not a wine drinker/enjoyer, so this is probably the most fun I have ever had with wine, which says more about me and my idea of a good time than it should. But red wine is one of those shady bastards that you’re never meant to spill on anything because YOU WILL NEVER GET IT OUT! So intentionally pouring it over something with the purpose of destroying said thing was so freeing. I don’t think white wine would have had the same effect.

Boiling water

The boiling water was the only liquid to have an immediate effect on the photo. It immediately became flaccid and lost paper quality. In the long term, I think this will most likely change the least.

Bison grass vodka

The awful vodka someone gave me as a 21st birthday present finally has a use, almost 3 years later. This experiment essentially became a way to get rid of the unwanted alcohol that has been sitting at the back of my kitchen cupboards. Apparently mixes well with apple juice (the bottle lies about this, it tastes bloody awful and has grass floating in it.)

The solutions will now sit and wallow until something happens. Afterwards they will be air dried, and potentially sculpted into something, depending how they look. There are 5 months until they’re due to be submitted so they have plenty of time to form cultures or dissolve or sit there and not do anything. (Yes this was written in March but scheduled to be posted in July because I’m predicting that I will have no free time during the summer). According to the North-East Document Conservation Centre:

Photographs in water will quickly deteriorate: images can separate from mounts, emulsions can dissolve or stick together, and staining can occur. Mold can grow within 48 hours at 60% relative humidity and 70°F, and it often causes permanent staining and other damage to photographs.‘ [ Last Accessed 10th March 2017]

So hopefully something should happen if they are left submerged for long enough. There are 5 months until they’re due to be submitted so they have plenty of time to form cultures or dissolve or sit there and not do anything. (Yes this was written in March but scheduled to be posted in July because I’m predicting that I will have no free time during the summer).

Also a little shout out to the really cool way the water one reflects back onto itself. May have to experiment with projecting into water.

Coming up next time… Vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Plus maybe a little dabbling with bathroom cleaner and bleach. Perhaps adding salt to the water solution to see if this has any effect.

Once I have sourced better containers and better chemicals to play around with this should get more exciting. Going back to Jennifer Bouchard’s work from the last post, I may also begin to play around with physically manipulating the photographs using temperature – sticking them in the microwave, oven, freezer etc.

Creative Practice – Post 2

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The Erasure – Contextual Research

Seung Hwan Oh – Impermeance (2012)

“The visual result of the symbiosis between film matter and organic matter is the conceptual origin of this body of work.

This project is about the superimposition of a moment in microbial growth upon a moment in the life of a person through the projection of one spatial-temporal reality onto another.

The process involves the cultivation of chemical consuming microbes on a visual environment created through portraits and a physical environment composed of developed film immersed in water. As the microbes consume the emulsion over the course of months, the silver halides destabilize, obfuscating the legibility of foreground, background, and scale. This creates an aesthetic of entangled creation and destruction that inevitably is ephemeral, and results in complete disintegration of the film so that it can only be delicately digitized before it is consumed.”

– Boraam Han & Seung-Hwan Oh (2012)

[ Last Accessed 10th March 2017]


Jennifer Bouchard – Dancing Emotions (2015)

“As an homage to old school print photography with a modern twist, her series of instant film emulsion lifts represent fading memories, personal to her, altered in such a way that they are cleverly concealed.

‘To differentiate myself I decided to put my Polaroids through the ringer; starting with Impossible Project 600 film. I did everything to them I could think of: I put them in the microwave, in the oven, I set them on fire and even put them on ice. I shoot my original subject and then proceed to photo process through the use of emulsion lifts, scanners and photoshop to create a kind of “hybrid” photo. These shots are layered and create a depth which seems almost tactile and forces the audience to really stop and contemplate the subject of the photograph.

I decided to call the series “Dancing Emotions” as it is a representation of a set of secret memories. I wanted to toy with the line between tangible vs. digital in an ever-expanding digital world.'”

– Jennifer Bouchard (2015)

[ Last Accessed 10th March 2017]


I initially came across the above two artists whilst researching different ways to dissolve photographs. They both appeared in the Art & Science Journal article Dissolving the Photographic Medium. []

What started as a methodology search for the best chemicals and substances to use in order to dissolve the surface of photographs led to the discovery of two very similar artistic practices in theory with vastly different final outcomes in practice.

This has led me to think more about how I want to present my mutilated photographs after their experiments have been carried out. My initial hope was that their surface will have a similar reaction to Seung Hwan Oh’s work; the image will distort and become unperceivable. However, having seen Bouchard’s style of working, I have been inspired to attempt to transform them into beautifully disjointed sculptures to further enhance the idea of these distorted intangible fading memories.

This step won’t happen until after my initial experiments with different substances to alter the facade of the image, yet it has given me a lot of material to think about in terms of pushing the photographs further, mutilating them further, and presenting them as beautifully distorted sculptures.

Creative Project – Post 1


The Erasure

The Erasure serves as a tangible manifestation of the trans-generational effects of land and heritage displacement in rural North-East England.

The series is inspired by the loss of the my traditional family home in the years prior to my birth. My family lived and worked on the Cragside Estate for generations, until it was taken over by the National Trust during the late 1970s. The work cements the notion of the family’s existence upon the landscape, and therefore their heritage and identity, being erased.

The photograph above is of myself with my Mother, circa 1995, visiting Cragside. I never knew the place as a home, yet going there always feels like a homecoming. My family history, my heritage, my identity, is ingrained within the land. But it is neither visible, nor known to those who are not connected to it. We have been erased.


This image is a starting point for the series. It builds upon my previous work, Human/Nature (2016), where portraits were overlaid with images of nature, illustrating humanity’s metaphysical relationship with the natural world. It originates the work in something familiar, yet has an unfamiliar resonance. Our features have been obscured and the landscape has been overlaid with a present-day counterpart, illustrating how the family connection to the landscape has been obscured by the tourism sector, leaving those who once lived there as faceless forgotten memories. But the metaphysical relationship between people and landscape persists.

The series will progress by looking at what it means to be erased.

The photograph will be manipulated, mutilated, experimented upon, as a tangible instrument of the erasure of identity.

HSS8121 – Seven Stories

This one stumped me for quite some time. I’ll admit, when the Seven Stories call for works was first mentioned I was sceptical. Yes it was a fantastic opportunity but the list of current exhibitions and themes just didn’t strike any inspiration in me. It was probably the mention of it being family friendly and centred around children’s books. Anything relating to children makes me want to run a mile. I take ‘never work with animals or children’ very seriously. Although out of the two, give me an animal any day.

By happenstance (aforementioned suicidal pheasants) I ended up missing the visit to Seven Stories, although I did visit on my own at a later date.

The idea generation we had with John before the Late Shows submission date was really useful. A lot of unusual, lateral thought processes went into it which took the themes further than the basic concept of bears and aliens underwear. But it still didn’t strike with me. I ended up not submitting for the call for works because I couldn’t come up with anything that would have enough substance to warrant being pitched.

When I saw the assignment brief and that this was on it, I felt really deflated. If I couldn’t come up with something worthy of being submitted as a pitch, what chance was there of thinking up an idea that I could be graded on. I left it until last hoping that something would come to me.

I’d been thinking about how the art piece had to appeal to the whole family, but there are so many books over so many generations, how could you select one to have universal appeal. I decided that I wanted to work with the ethos and aims of Seven Stories rather than the current exhibition themes because they were doing nothing for me. I was drawn to ‘discovering new books’ and ‘bringing books to life’. My first idea was to create artworks based upon the children’s books that best represented each generation and bring them to life through projection and animation.


The following is my thought process/notes from this time:

Initial ideas

Respond to the ethos: Bringing books to life

  • How can 2d words on a page become lifelike? This will be the starting point for the proposal.
  • Initial response to this: make them move. How can this be achieved? Projection – use moving images, animation and recordings to project onto an empty book page. Can this become 3D? Use pop up parts to the book to make it look more like a realistic scene.

Which books should I use?

  • Respond to the age range of the target audience: this must appeal to everyone.
  • Ethos: discovering new books.
  • Create the theme of favourites across the generations. Select books from various different generations so that it is both a familiar and new experience for visitors. They can see familiar books come to life and be introduced to new works. Parents can share their childhood favourites with their own children, even if the children have children of their own. It will spark conversations, nostalgia and memory sharing across the generations.

What are the classics?

Reworking the idea

  • Are there copyright requirements involved in using authors work to be adapted and projected? Probably. Let’s look at the 7S archive and use authors and illustrator’s work from there!
  • This also promotes the use of their collections and highlights the diverse range that they hold


I looked through a lot of websites to find the classics from each generation. The lists were really interesting and surprisingly diverse. There was no universally agreed defining book. What interested me even more was the Golden Age of childrens literature being in the Victorian and Edwardian times. Before that all of the kids books were really bleak and no entirely kid friendly!

I really liked the idea of parents, grandparents etc etc sharing their favourite children’s books with each generation. They would be discovering new books, sharing nostalgic stories and bonding over it. But I wasn’t sure how the copyright for this would work.

Seven Stories has a fantastic archive. I think archives are under utilised. They’re viewed as being stuffy and inaccessible and it brings up thoughts of someone wearing a little white glove and turning pages of a big dusty old book for you. I’d like to work on changing that impression of archives, making them more accessible and useable for everyone. Since I wasn’t sure about the copyright of external literary materials, I turned towards using the Seven Stories archives instead. I still can’t pin down exactly which book I’d choose as the final one – my shortlist wasn’t much of a shortlist. It was closer to 30 tabs open on my laptop as I scrolled through their impressive collection. I was surprised to see the extent of what was in there, Angelina Ballerina was probably the most surprising though. Although she’s too well known so I wouldn’t have chosen here. I was also very drawn to Little Bear, but again, too well known. I want something that is going to be new to the majority of people so that they can discover new books.

I was quite adamant that I wanted to project onto the books and animate them, but wasn’t really sure of the logistics. So to Google I went. This is what I found. Watch them, they’re fascinating!

The Icebook is the first one that I came across, rightly so as it was the original.

I find it so beautiful and so enticing. It has such a simple look to it, but is so poignant. I like that there is no speech, just music to create an atmosphere. The even better part is that the website had a guide on how the artists created it. This gave me the chance to get my mind around how I could propose this work, and how I could do it.

I then came across this TED talk by Marco Tempest (side note Marco Tempest looks like the love child of Alan Cumming and Martin Freeman):

It led me to start looking at Tanagra Theatre. I’m not usually a fan of TED talks but this was captivating. It had more of a story teller vibe to it than The Icebook, and to be perfectly honest I’m not sure which I prefer. they’re so similar yet so different at the same time.

I finally ended up looking at Macbeth. But rather than the final projection book in the link below, I watched the video of the actors recording for the projections.I have since learned that the artists are the same that made The Icebook, and there is a larger range of them!!

After watching the range of videos I was pretty set that this was the idea that I would pitch as my proposal. I would condense a little-known book from my shortlist in the archive and develop a pop-up book to represent it. I would then retell the story through projection, using actors to illustrate it. I decided that I wanted the scale of the book to remain small, to the scale of a standard children’s book so that it would be an intimate experience. I didn’t want it to become cinematic. I would use the Seven Stories Studio space as this would allow for projection and sound. I think I would use music definitely,but whether or not I, or a reader, would speak a form of narration would depend on the book chosen and how it all came together as an experience.

I pitched the idea to a friend who runs Shabby Cat Theatre ( and he absolutely loved the idea, and offered the hypothetical support of his actors if the project ever came to fruition. He also offered the services of his boyfriend – a musician and sound artist.

I am now slightly regretting not looking at this sooner, and not pitching it as a real project. I have wanted to work with alternative forms of theatre for a while, and have dabbled in projection in the past but not to the extent that I would like to. This is a project that I really really would like to do,and will probably look into developing it further in the future – especially since I have the backing of potential collaborators.

HSS8121 – The Research Proposal

Rather than doing my documentation is a series of smaller posts, I’m going to do them as several massive ones to get the gist of my work across.

I absolutely love that we had to do a research proposal for this assignment. Sad, I know.

I’ve been working on my research proposal for a while. Since November. Granted at the time it wasn’t for this module, it was for my PhD application. My application jumped ship from Culture Lab across to Media Culture Heritage (sorry guys), where it seemed my research interests had a better fit.

Background to My Research

Somehow these blog posts keep transitioning into me rambling and giving nostalgic anecdotes… And this one is no different!

[Side note, until I started this course I turned my nose up at blogging and thought it was a bit of a vanity project for people. Turns out I love a good vanity project, thanks CAP for introducing me to the blog world. I have plans after this to start my own (maybe (probably not though)) and call it ‘The World According to Willy’ (that’s me, btw).]

I have had an interest in my specific research field since the first year of my Undergrad. Back then it was a photography series based around Cragside. They style of it has become a bit if a cliche so I’m not sharing it here. My family has a large collection of photographs of their time at Cragside so I went around the Estate photographing the locations of the old photos and mapping the two together. It looks a cliche but my intentions were quite political. I wanted to show how the National Trust had ‘destroyed’ the Estate in terms of it’s original purpose. A home. Two notable images show the entrance to the Manor, formerly with my great-great-aunt and her son sitting on the steps with a little dog – now there is an access ramp and queueing instructions where they once sat. Similarly there is a photograph of my grandmother as a little girl standing outside her house. Now her old home is a NT office, a woman can be seen through the window working on her computer.

Over time this series developed, with the input of families who lived there before/at the time of the NT’s arrival (1970s). I approached the NT to try and get the work exhibited but this was met with a resounding ‘No’. It didn’t ‘fit’ with the ethos they wanted to present the site as.

From that point, (this is where we get to the recent/relevant section) my research interests became more theoretical as opposed to merely practical. I looked at Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag, and Jo Spence. Jo Spence in particular had a strong influence over my direction with this: namely her ‘social album’. Her work stated that a family album should contain all aspects of family life – the good and the bad. Family albums in the current style are archetypal to a time, place and social class. The are intermittent and interchangeable, the only differences being the names, faces and exact locations that the photographs were taken. With my Cragside work, I wanted to apply this idea of the social album. Use the images, and the stories of those involved as an archive to discover the social context of those who lived there and what the social constructs of their community was.

This is (vaguely) what my initial research proposal was about. An ethnographic research study to understand this now lost community, and how this loss impacted the former community across the following generations. What made it a more prevalent, and allowed it to become more of a social study critical to the understanding of the power struggles currently taking place across rural England was coming across several news articles from 2013 onwards which stated that other NT owned lands across the country were facing similar struggles to what my family and the former Cragside residents faced during the 1970s. This has taken place in Staffordshire, Gloucestershire, Norfolk and other areas of Northumberland.  Rent control, forced evictions, loss of jobs, the removal of communities. This is a continuous social issue within England today and very few are aware of it.

From there I started to look into forced displacement. How viable is this as a PhD proposal? Has this been done before? Not here.

There is a lot of research into large scale displacement. I have looked at Gentry’s study of Maori displacement and Anna Bohlin’s study of District Six in South Africa to name but a couple. The closest to home research I a came across was an extensive amount of studies on the effects of the Highland Clearances in Scotland.

Back to CAP and the Brief

As I said, a lot of the work proposed for my PhD was theoretical. One of the aims in that proposal considered conferring with the former community and discussing whether or not they would like to be represented onsite, similar to the District Six Memory Cloth and Barossa Valley Wall Hanging which I had previously looked at. If they did decided that they would like to be represented (which I have discussed with them during my past work and they were very keen on having their story told, I would then approach this using research through design.) My supervisors and i spoke about this point, and said that it was secondary to the research I was actually going to be doing – understanding the social community make up in rural England and analysing the effects of their displacement trans-generationally.

When the HSS8121 brief came through, I knew that i had to acc a digital and creative aspect to the proposal. I didn’t want to submit what I had for my PhD proposal, I wanted to alter it so that it included the creative representational aspects that i had left behind the first time around. The background and context remains the same – it is the same study after all, just taken from a different angle. I re-worked and re-worded my original proposal and used it as a draft to build this version from. I looked further into community memory projects – Barossa valley Wall Hanging, District Six Memory Cloth, and re-visited an old favourite: the work of Nicky Bird. Nicky Bird was my original inspiration in first year, and I had the pleasure of working with her for my dissertation in third year. The projects provided visual guidance for ways that I could approach representing Cragside, and in turn other displaced, however they did not work with the constraints of being placed on land owned by the NT. Who have previously made it clear that they don’t want my artwork physically in place onsite.

So I turned to the intangible. Tim’s sound walk session really inspired me (see previous post) to start thinking about sensory memory walks. This would offer both a research method and a creative output.By transforming the data captured during the sensory memory walks, I could then develop this into a locative media device. The same applies for the ethnographic work I had planned to do using photographs as discourse tools. The content could be digitised into an app meaning that the narratives could be accessed onsite in the specific location intangibly without the need to place anything physically on NT land.

This started off as a theoretical ‘I’m doing it for the assignment’ idea. Having developed it and thought about it extensively over the course of the last few weeks, I think this is the direction I want to progress with. Especially after the presentations and finding out how closely this connects to Tom and John’s work (I think we need to have a conversation about this!!). Speaking of the presentation, that is hands down the least nerve wracking presentation I have ever given. I think it was because this is something I am so passionate about, and have spent the last 5 or 6 months (or 4 years) working towards.

As for the PhD, my proposal was accepted by MCH and I have been offered the place, but since I don’t yet have my Masters, Northern Bridge did not grant the funding. So I’m postponing until 2018 when hopefully I will be able to secure the funding for it. This gives me more time to develop the direction that I really want to go down.


As an additional note, I have enjoyed reading the edited Heritage Matters volumes published by Newcastle University. Notably:

Displaced Heritage: Dealing with Disaster and Suffering, 2014

Edited by Ian Convery, Gerard Corsane and Peter Davis
First published: December 2014




Making Sense of Place: Multidisciplinary Perspective, 2012

Edited by Ian Convery, Gerard Corsane and Peter Davis
First published April 2012


I have also been researching rural studies, looking in particular at Liepen’s work around the construct of community and sense of place.

HSS8121 – Responding to the Lecture Series

Sound Walks with Tim Shaw

The first lecture gave me a lot to think about in regards to how sound walks can be implemented and the purpose for them. I liked the idea of zoning out from usual life and focusing on the sounds around us which usually go unnoticed. But for me this idea seemed skin deep. It’s great for re-focusing the mind and appreciating finer details but I want more from it than that. To me, the personal experience and what it means to an individual partaking in the walk is more important tna listening to sounds. Perhaps a  meaning that the person leading the walk, or all others taking part aren’t aware of. Which in this case was true.

To me, the sound walk was like being forced to walk through a set of memories: not in a good way, but not necessarily in a bad way. In all honestly I can’t remember the sounds I heard other than saying to myself: Oh my God are we heading to Leazes Park, then shit yes we’re going to Leazes Park and finally don’t cry they’ll think you’re weird. It is a  place that has a lot of significant and sentimental value to me, but a place that I have only managed to force myself to visit 3 times since 2013. I’m not an open book kind of person, I don’t talk much let alone about myself or my sentimental connection to certain memories. I liked the irony that I was being led through a landscape that I have chosen to avoid for almost 4 years and was being forced to face certain memories yet no one in the group was aware the context that the walk had for me.

This inspired me to look into sensory memory walks, an element that I have chosen to include in my research proposal. My thought process behind this was, if the sound walk caused me to relive and walk through my memories, it has the potential to do the same for others. My research proposal focuses on investigating the effects of rural displacement in Northumberland, and working with members of displaced communities to create memory projects. I plan on using this technique as a method to gather data relating to their memories of their former homes and environments. By taking the participants on sensory memory walks, hopefully it will inspire a stream of consciousness from them relating to the surroundings and their social history.

Jupiter Recordings with Serena Korda

I found this lecture intriguing in theory. Other than what this course has exposed me to, I have no experience working with sound and I am finding the different sound based workshops really eye opening. Serena’s work and aims were really interesting and quite unexpected to me – I didn’t walk into the seminar room expecting to hear recorded sounds of Jupiter. I can imagine how profound, inspirational, and even the level of achievement it must have felt to those hearing it first hand after waiting all night for the device to pick up the recorded sounds. Purely for curiosity’s sake it is something I would like to hear first-hand.

That being said, I wasn’t particularly invested in the practical side of this session. Again, setting up the equipment and the theory behind what we were doing was interesting and exciting, but the execution and the final result were slightly underwhelming. We heard the atmosphere. I understand we had the constraints of being in the built up inner city during the day, with noise pollution and overhead wires etc. providing interference – under those conditions we’d never be in a clear enough space to hear another planet. But when you’ve just heard the sounds of Jupiter, hearing the atmosphere is a bit of a let-down. Field trip to the countryside to recreate it, anyone?

Playing with the sound recordings at the end of the session was – confusing, in a good way. Like I said, I have no experience working with sound so the whole process eluded me, but I quite enjoyed not knowing what I was doing and seeing what happened.

Ethnography with John Bowers

Along with the sound walk lecture, this is the session that I took most away from. Ethnography is a research method that I will be implementing into my practice further down the line, which I have also embedded into my research proposal. It is a methodology with which I am already familiar, but it was useful to get a first-hand account of how John has applied it to his own work.

I found the exercise of going out into Newcastle to practice ethnological research under the context of planning a piece of artwork located in the city centre particularly interesting and engaging. It was good to be given the chance to experience this in practice rather than just in theory. It allowed me to develop observational ethnographic skills in the community which will be particularly useful further down the line in my own research. Possibly my favourite, and without a doubt most relevant and useful lecture of this module to me.

That Speaker who’s name I can’t Recall So Shall Refer toAs ‘Ice Girl’

This was probably my least favourite lecture of the guest speaker series. I found the speaker’s background, practice and enterprise interesting but it felt more as though she was pitching her biography and list of previous work than providing something that would be useful in the context of individual future practice. I do think it’s helpful to understand the work and background of other practitioners, particularly within the area, but this somehow fell short. Perhaps it is because this was mostly a lecture based session rather than involving something with practical substance or perhaps it is because I am comparing it to particularly strong lectures given by the other speakers.

The practical aspect, melting the ice cube with hand and mouth, was quirky but I’m not sure I understood the significance. Maybe that was the significance – to not understand it and infer what you do from it. I have notoriously cold hands (anecdote time). Flash back to 2008, a 15 year old Megan sit’s in GCSE Physics class doing an experiment on the fastest method to warm ice to a certain point and cool boiling water to the same point. The aim was to see which happened quickest. So in my group of me plus 4 guys we applied man logic which consisted of ‘she’s a girl she’s probably warm, Megan put your hand in the cold water and heat it up!’ As I said, I have freezing hands, somehow the cold water got colder. Which prompted ‘Megan put your hand in the warm water and cool it down!’ which actually did work. I’m not a scientist so this probably has no scientific logic behind it. It may have been coincidence, or maybe I’m secretly Killer Frost (comic book geek logic).

Back to my actual point, I spent my ice-melting time during the session fondly remembering my high school days (or rather, one particular Physics lesson) and hoping that the ice would actually melt. The time of the session ran out before it melted fully so I can’t attest to the final results. I ate the remainder.

I would love to respond to the remainder of the guest speaker lectures however, I was either absent or can’t remember them. The four accounted above were the most memorable and had the most profound lasting effect. I do regret missing the Seven Stories session, that day is regretfully now known as the day I ran over a pheasant on my way to Newcastle, dented my car and cried from Amble to Kingston Park (RIP Pheasant, that’s what you get for running across the road between cars). However, I have since visited Seven Stories and really enjoyed the experience. I would like to spend more time in the future investigating the materials they have in their archive. I have been working on the Trevelyan project in the Newcastle University Robinson Library Archives and have since developed a strong interest in the representations of archived material.