I gave myself a soft landing into my project, and to the outside world I may have looked disorganised, but there was a pattern in the chaos.
As soon as I got over handing in my dissertation, I started painting. I already had an idea about what my project would look like, and thought about themes, but I didn’t feel very confident about it. I wanted to do a travel journal, but I was concerned there would be a lack of narrative and it would feel a bit flat. I didn’t want to give a specific number of how many illustrations I would be producing, as it would either restrict the quantity if I chose too low a number or the quality if the number was too high.
I’m really glad I started painting early because it gave my tutors an opportunity to give me feedback before I was committed to a particular way of going about it for this project. It was really motivating to very quickly have techniques at my disposal I’d not used before.
While I was at this initial stage, I did some tests on how to go about recording a journey. I had a day trip by car between Hereford and Worcester using a viewfinder to illustrate what I saw, and this was great for capturing the slower moving parts of the day, eg when we were sat down drinking coffee, but not so great at 60mph. I didn’t finish the day with enough to work with for my project.
My second test was going through various memory cards and seeing if I’d ever accidentally recorded enough of a single journey while trying to get photos of something else. The answer was… kind of? I had a lot of images from a specific 6 mile stretch of the A38 one evening – not quite reaching far enough into central Birmingham that most people familiar with the route would consider it the complete journey.
I had hoped I had a lot of images of the coach ride from Digbeth (Birmingham) to Dublin, a journey I’d taken a few times overnight that is well known to many Irish immigrant families in Birmingham and London. I just about had enough, but was pushing it a bit, and with no opportunity to fill in the blanks I decided not to risk it at this stage of the project.
My third test was to record a day out on the weekend. My housemate Gail wanted to go exploring local quarries for her own project, so I recorded that trip with my camera. Although it was a day of exploring and learning, the narrative throughout it all was a bit too weak and messy to fit with what I’m trying to achieve.
Through all of this I’d managed to pick out what was important (the journey and the act of moving forward) and what the likely pitfalls were (not enough source imagery, lack of chance to collect extra imagery if I’m missing something).