Assignment 3: Parklife

Brief: Within a series of photographs, explore a landscape which you believe to have some kind of significance. Engage with the question of how a 'space' becomes a 'place'. 

Riversley Park is like an oasis in the heart of Nuneaton, the largest town in Warwickshire. It was donated to the people of Nuneaton by Alderman Edward Melly in 6th July 1907.  Edward Melley's only stipulation for his gift to the town was that it was "to be used as a public park forever". 

Ever since then, Edward Melley's stipulation has been adhered to. Riversley Park has been a number of things to a number of people. It is a meeting place for friends and family. Parents and children bring bread to feed the duck that wait on the banks of the River Anker. It's also a short-cut to the town centre and the location for Nuneaton's gallery and museum.

For me, Riversley Park is a place where I spent my childhood, and now spend time there with my own children. Even though my own childhood was a long time ago, there are certain 'landmarks' there that have remained, as well as being new features that have been added to the area. 

Not only is it a place for leisure and pleasure, but also somewhere to reflect, remember, and be alone. Within this assignment I wanted to consider the variety of reasons and viewpoints of the many of people who use the park. At the end of my previous assignment, I had experimented with creating a composite image, using the photographs in that assignment. However, I felt that the overall effect was disjointed and not very clear to the viewer, This might have been because the composite image was not part of a series. I hadn't planned it, it was an afterthought. A jumble of images put together with no clear purpose. 

Despite this, I liked the idea of combining more than one perspective being viewed within the frame. I needed to investigate the work of other photographers, to see how they approached this technique.

Pep Ventosa

Catalonian photographer, Pep Ventosa, overlays a series of images to create a new image. For example, his series, the Round, Ventosa walks around trees, photographing them for each new viewpoint. He then combines the images to create a new view of the subject. His style gave me the idea of photographing and combining different viewpoints of the park. Whilst Ventosa focuses on a specific feature, such as a tree or lamppost, I started to then think about the static subjects within Riversley Park. The artefacts that have remained there since I was little, and the features that everyone excepts to always be there. 

Standford, Five by Pep Ventosa

Standford, Five by Pep Ventosa

Stephanie Jung

Berlin-based Stephanie Jung takes multiple exposures of dizzying cityscapes and landscapes, to illustrate the hectic pace of life. By layering multiple exposures, Jung creates unique interpretations of places that have a sense of depth and chaos. I wondered if I could use multiple exposures to portray an ethereal atmosphere. 

Forest II, by Stephanie Jung

Forest II, by Stephanie Jung

As I looked I compared my composite image at the end of Assignment 2 with the work of Ventosa and Jung, I realised that I needed to develop my post-production skills to achieve the effect that I wanted to create. At first I used Photoshop to create multiple layers of an image of the cenotaph, adjusting the opacity of the top layers so that elements of the ones below could be revealed (below). However it didn't produce the effect I was after, so I found a YouTube clip (below), which made me realise that I needed to blend the layers together.

Once I realised how I needed to combine each image, I went back to Reversely Park to take the photographs I needed. I chose various features, such as the bandstand, cenotaph, rubbish bins, and benches, and photographed them from different viewpoints. This was to illustrate how a communal place can be perceived in a number of different ways. 

Final Images

1. The Undergrowth

When I was younger, 'the park' seemed to be a forest, with its towering trees and overgrown bushes. It was a green oasis, beside an urban, pedestrianised town centre. The image above creates the sense of growth of the vegetation, almost consuming the River Anker, which attempts to wind its way along its shallow channel. 

2. The 'Wonderer'

People go to the park to walk, and lose themselves in their thoughts. It's an escape from the busyness of everyday life. I photographed the elderly man (in the image above) at different points along the footpath. It was to illustrate how we come across strangers for a brief moment, with very little knowledge of why they are there. 

3. The Bandstand

The Bandstand is a central landmark within Riversley Park. It has been a place for gatherings for many years. When I photographed it on a Sunday morning, I was shocked to see the amount of litter that had been left lying around from youths who had gathered there on the night before. I walked around the bandstand, photographing it at different positions, and then blended the images together. It represents how people who visit the park have different perspectives, and these influence their behaviour there.

4. Confetti

Confetti still lay on the ground from a wedding at the registry office in the park. I decided to use this image after the bandstand one, because what was left on the ground by wedding guests seems more acceptable than the rubbish around the bandstand. 

5. Remembrance

Nuneaton's cenotaph s located in the park. I photographed it from many perspectives to achieve the image above. To illustrate the varying viewpoints of war and how we remember those who were close or strangers to us. 

6. Louis' 

Louis' is a children's play park that was created in memory of Fusilier Luis Carter, who was killed by a landline in Afghanistan. It seemed logical that this image should follow on from the one of the cenotaph. 

7. The Tunnel

The tunnel connects the park to the Pingles leisure centre. It's a place where people have used graffiti to try and take ownership of it. 

8. Recreation

9. Wasteland. The image above is a combination of the rubbish bins in the park and the litter lying on the ground. 

10. Yeah, Yeah! Once again, the need to demarcate territory. This time much more discretely. A private place that is only known to a chosen few.

Reflection

Overall I think that I have been much more creative with this assignment. With the influence of work by Pep Ventosa and Stephanie Jung, I have been able to use a consistent style throughout the assignment which is appropriate for communicating my message of how communal spaces have differing perspectives. 

Response to tutor feedback

I had taken a risk with this assignment and I was really pleased to find out that my tutor liked what I had produced. It has helped me to understand that I need to carefully how I am going to present my photographs and what treatment to use. 

My tutor had suggested revisiting my confetti shot and emphasising the multiple exposure. However, my external hard drive stopped working and I was unable to retrieve the original image. I must make sure that I back-up my images in more than one location. I shouldn't put all my Jpegs in one basket!

Following my success with multiple exposures, I would like to develop this further and possibly use it for my fifth assignment.