Collage Workshop

Our first workshop of the year was on collage. Students were asked to have a look at Solent University’s Southampton content and take three sentences from it to use as the foundation for the workshop.

I took ‘the polar bear was yellow and dirty’ and ‘dirty concrete enclosures’ from Anna Vicker’s email about the zoo that used to be in Southampton.  I also took ‘ Southampton is a 1000 year old nowheresville’ from Owen Hatherley’s book A Guide To The Ruins of Great Britain. From those sentences, I then generated two mood-boards.

Author’s mood-boards of Southampton stuff.
Author’s mood-board of zoo stuff.

Following that, we were asked to do some sketches to show how we would combine the imagery we had.

Nowheresville sketches
Polar bear sketches
Dirty concrete enclosures sketches

Following that, we were asked to create three collages. I opted for one of each sentence.

Polar bear and Nowheresville
Dirty concrete enclosures

The imagery isn’t exactly earth shattering, but I know as much about collage as you know about American wrestling. And there’s probably quite a lot of unfair and callous assumptions being made regarding both of those things (but not altogether untrue).

We were then asked to add one colour to each image to try and alter/enhance the meaning.

Yellow for polar bear, red for nowheresville
Does the elephant’s red shadow represent animal cruelty? Well this is all starting to look like ‘art’ to me, so you tell me.
Comic sans for the win.

It was at this point that we were invited to use some text. We were to change the delivery origin of the words to change the message of the imagery.

6 image ‘narrative’
The final task was to crop an image several times to create a narrative without the use of words again. 

Up to this point, I’ve let the images do the talking. Now, I think it’s time to use some words to do some talking.  Firstly, I wasn’t actually present at the workshop and relied on the brief which was given out in preparation for the workshop, secondly, all my image creation was done digitally. Has this intrinsically changed the outcomes I’ve ended up with? Absolutely. Have I misinterpreted the brief, quite possibly. For the worst? Who can say.

It seems silly to me to have to print stuff out, ( at cost) to cut up, to stick back together again, to digitize, to then upload. That said, I understand that one gains greater understanding of one’s craft through the process itself. It’s just that collage isn’t one of my processes. I googled ‘collage’ and the first page was basically pictures of stuff made out of smaller things (Steve Jobs out of Apple products, the Joker out of quotes from The Dark Knight, you know what I’m talking about). Neil Buchanan did that every week in art attack, no? Who’s Neil Buchanan? Never mind that.

My point is this: collage is a combination of tools and techniques that I simply have a very limited experience with. Being acutely aware of how limited my knowledge of my core tools and techniques are, it concerns me to have to take away time from becoming proficient in my chosen area of expertise.  ‘Genius lies not in the deep knowledge of one subject, but in the potential realised by combining disciplines.’ I’m aware of this, whoever I may be paraphrasing this week, but that doesn’t alleviate my concerns about my shortcomings.

The doctors prescription for this is simple, then: do more of everything. Problem solved. Next Question?


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