This was the first iteration of my project focusing on the River Thames, made during the final year of my degree in Graphic Design at Camberwell. I wanted to go in a more sculptural direction even at this point but I felt like I needed to stay in the realms of 2D work, given the course I was studying- I do tend to prefer quite physical, handmade processes though and I spent a lot of my final year in the darkroom learning how to create work. The above images are all photograms, created by laying photographic paper on the bed, placing objects on top, and then exposing the set up to light. The first 12 images are the final images I submitted to be marked as my final work, the rest are some of my tests- I varied the strength of the light, the size of the aperture, the kind of photographic paper (fibre based or resin, and matt, glossy or semi gloss) and the exposure time for each set of objects creating multiple prints until I was satisfied. I developed all of the photograms by hand using the traditional black and white process in the darkroom, which was something I particularly enjoyed. For me this project was about exploring the forms of the objects, and the idea of curating them into groups based on different things- such as material, form, and what kind of exposures worked best. I visited quite a few museums to research how objects and artefacts are organised for public displays, and whilst this definitely informed by approach I enjoyed playing with different groupings and layouts through many test prints.
I researched into mudlarking for this project too- I am interested in the act of scanning the foreshore as you walk to discover things, particularly objects that other people might not be interested in such as bones, pieces of glass, and plastic waste. I wanted to highlight the issues of pollution in the river and the impact that we are having on the ecosystem, as the Thames is such an integral part of the city of London, yet it remains largely ignored as we pass over and under it on our daily commutes. Walking on the foreshore forces you to see the city from a whole new perspective- it feels like you are in a whole new world with the city above you and the occasional boat passing by. I also wanted to highlight the beauty in these different objects- plastic bottles for example are something some commonplace in our every day lives, and yet the plastic bottle print is one of my favourites, and took many attempts until I got a print I was happy with. I wanted a strong black background on each final print, whilst capturing as much of the detail as possible, particularly on the translucent and transparent object- none of the final images have been digitally altered, only scanned. It was important to me that the final set of prints be unaltered as I wanted to master the process as much as possible in the time I had.