RPS SW Visual Art group

This is a ‘show and tell’ I took part in yesterday. We were asked to bring along some images and talk about them, so here goes: it was dark in the hall and I forgot my glasses so I couldn’t read my notes properly, so this is an approximate transcript!

“My name’s Lois – I’m probably the furthest east member in the group, living within walking distance of the Dorset border. I’m a geology graduate and professional technical author (still working part-time at 70, which wasn’t part of the plan). I’m a self-taught photographer but have benefited greatly from the RPS’s online talks and tutorials more recently.

This is my first venture into Visual Art, at least in any formal way. I enjoy quirky and abstract subjects, some of which have now developed into ongoing projects. For example, bricks, concrete, fences, dilapidation, railings, rust and downpipes (you can tell I don’t get out a lot!)

It was difficult deciding which subjects to present today, so I decided to bring a representative sample of my more recent work and to try my hand at panelling in some way (see above for the whole thing).

  1. This is a bit of social history – MAIN was a make of cooker in the 40s and 50s and as soon as I saw this fragment I recognized the typography. I spend some time on the beach at Lyme Regis seeing what’s been eroded out of the old municipal rubbish tip, and this combination of rusty enamel and dried seaweed caught my eye.
  2. Another project inspired by tip finds – I call this project “Rusty Planets”. There are lots of circular artefacts to be found on the beach. This battered metal lid reminded me of a moon, and I put it on one of the many photogenic limestone slabs on the foreshore to photograph.
  3. Using the rocks again as a background, but this time with two ammonite fossils as the focal point. Sometimes, organic remains are replaced by iron pyrites, and under certain circumstances, you get this bubbly appearance because the new mineral takes up more space than the original organism. I like the veiled appearance of the ammonites, only suggested by their new clothing.
  4. More limestone, this time the waterworn wavecut platform at Lyme, and sporting a tiny rockpool. I liked the combination of curves and lines here, and the big cobble surrounded by small flint pebbles.
  5. Sandstone, this time at Crooklets Bay in North Cornwall. The geologist in me was interested in these patterns, called Liesegang rings, which are thought to be formed by iron-rich fluids migrating along cracks in the rock. The photographer in me was just interested in finding a composition in such a busy subject – I could have done many other crops.
  6. Another ferruginous subject and another project – corrugated iron. This is a barn roof in West Dorset that I was able to see from an unusually high viewpoint as there was a bank at one end. I enjoyed the receding lines and the contrast between rust and uncorroded zinc. I do like it when I can get a compositional line to end on the corner of the frame for these square images.
  7. More corrugated iron, this time in close-up. The practice of painting with bitumen leads to some lovely patination as seen here on this clifftop barn on Purbeck.
  8. No iron this time – just weathered concrete. In 2015, new sea defences were finished at Lyme Regis, and over the years, they have developed a wonderful sea-washed patina that is still evolving. This is just one of many abstracts I’ve made over the years. I like the cloudiness contrasted by the geometric edges of the cast slabs and the round peg mark.
  9. More cloudiness – this time a coffee-shop window in the winter before the inside has warmed up and dried out the condensation. One of a pair of portrait rather than square images that I’m showing you today.
  10. The second one was a find in a yard in Axminster. Can you guess what it is? I know the highlights are blown, but this wasn’t a repeatable shot. I’ve printed this and have it on the wall at home!
  11. I realise this has been rather a monochromatic set, so to finish up, here are two from another ongoing project called “Waterline”, close-ups of boat hulls out of water. This has already furnished me with two local exhibitions. The first one is all about texture and pattern and using your imagination to see something in nothing …
  12. … and the second is just about glorious colour. Anti-fouling paint comes in very strong shades and makes for interestingly drippy images, especially on a cold dewy morning when skylight makes the drips look almost iridescent.

(Number 10 is a wrecked hollow-core door – one audience member identified it for us!)

Anyway, many thanks to Marija Lees and her team for organising a very interesting day of talks and displays – I’m looking forward to the next one.