More Collage work

The Cass students with the suitable temperament and the necessary financial means went to visit the Solent University students in Southampton this Friday. The rest of us were left to our own devices. I had a little look around the collective student database and came across an old account of a stagecoach journey from London to, or through, I should say, Southampton. This journey was recounted in Stage-coach and Mail in Days of Yore: A Picturesque History of the Coaching Age by Charles G. Harper.

John Taylor makes the journey to the Isle of Wight in 1648. He records the event in rhyme, detailing his travels from London to Southampton. I was struck with the idea of trying to illustrate each rhyming couplet (apologies if that isn’t the correct term. My knowledge of poetry doesn’t extend far beyond be know that I like the sound of the phrase ‘iambic pentameter’).

Harper’s lead-in text to John Taylor’s poem. This is something of a placeholder, a way to move towards the bits I know how to do, without worrying about the bits I don’t.

I envisage all the images on a wall in a gallery in order, left to right, starting with this one, which attempts to give a little context to the poem.


First two lines of Taylor’s poem and my collage to represent them

The hope was to blow through the whole poem, not overly considering any single element too long. I did make an attempt to employ the diagonal rule here. Perhaps the background counteracts that? Anyway, moving on.


Alternate version of the first two lines

I’ve further abstracted the horses to cutouts of stagecoach paraphernalia in the shape of chess pieces. I had intended to stick the queen or king piece in my representation of London somehow, but it seems there may have been something of a period of interregnum at the time… More on that… right now.


Continuing the narrative using the existing elements, but also trying to hint at the historical context of the lines and Taylor’s reason for his journey in the first place. Diagonal rule in play again.

John Taylor was making is way to the Isle of Wight to see the recently deposed (former) King Charles I. Oliver Cromwell was doing all that famous history stuff he’s famous for at the time. It was at this time where my inability to conceive a suitable sophisticated way to employ the text began seriously slowing me down. In the hopes of continuing apace with my output, I decided to call it a day with the poem.

I went back to the shared documents folder and saw that another student had made a rather long list of evocative phrases from Spike Island by Philip Hoare. I thought I’d like to try and match the language used to one of the images from the book simply by altering  the colour of the image. While it’s not technically collage, I do think it’s a worthwhile endeavour to see how to apply the visual metaphor in other ways.



This is the base image of Netly Abby as it appears in Philip Hoare’s book Spike Island: The Memory of a Military Hospital

The first quote I used was “More wondrous and magical, as if it were a vision revealed at Nature’s whim” The conclusions I drew weren’t the most imaginative, I’ll admit, but crawl before you run, right?


I deferred from bordering the image with actual plant life

‘Magical’ represented with an aura around the ruins, the green borders symbolic of nature revealing the ruins to the viewer. I tell a lie, also. this wasn’t the first one I did. The first one used the phrase “Veiled in its ghost stories”.


‘Veiled in its ghost stories’

I just put the image in negatives. Now’s as good a time as any to stress that the goal with these images is the thought process and also to generate work to be put back into the shared student archives to be used by other students. This image could be used as a base for some other visual experiment,


“Silent, neglected and forgotten”

To represent the phrase “Silent, neglected and forgotten”, I made the image a night-time view, where the only attention the abbey gets is the occasional glance from the moon. Coming in with a bit of white allowed me to subtly highlight elements of the abbey and make the image more readable. I will definitely look for opportunities to apply this technique in the future.

As before, but with moon and fog

I added fog and the moon to this image to mage it mire eerie. In my defence, Dracula has been brought up in one way shape or form to me for the last three weeks, and that’s completely independent of how close we are to Halloween.


Alternate take on ‘Veiled in its ghost stories’

Finally, I took another shot at ‘Veiled in its ghost stories’, by adding a veil of sorts. It shares the same semiotics, to me, of manga characters talking with their mouths visible but their eyes either out of frame or obscured by shadow. This usually denotes some sinister or troubling revelation or demand from the character in question.

In conclusion,  I’ve tried to mess around a bit and work on some more visual metaphor stuff. While I’d rather steer clear of photoshop this year, the ease and flexibility in which it lends itself to the processes that collage requires is just too much to pass up. It has invariably changed the outcomes I’ve achieved so far, but it’s the best way for me to get to something half decent in the time I have available. I would love to do some more work with the cut-out techniques and element of drawing as well. We’ll have to see how well I can manage my time.


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