Edges Shifting: East Anglia

‘Edges Shifting’ is a documentary project about the East Anglia coast dealing with social and environmental issues that shape local political responses to issues like Brexit and climate change. It continues earlier work on Norfolk and Suffolk, particularly Aldeburgh and photographic series on different locations dating back to 2009.

‘Walking on the Edge’ about environmental and socio-economic changes on the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts – very diverse but interlinked locations that are very easy for me to reach on a regular basis throughout the year from Cambridge. Focusing particularly on the environmental challenges of this part of the coast and the social challenges and contradictions surrounding Brexit, compounding pre-existing issues of rural poverty, inequality and neglect.

The area has been the subject of work by other artists, photographers, poets and writers who have seen it in different ways.

Art, photography and books of varying types on the area have a strong potential local as well as wider market.

The East Anglia Coast is very varied, alternating between remote stretches of shingle and marsh and tourist destinations on beaches. The whole coastline with its shallow sea and soft rocks has always been vulnerable to changes in sea levels as a buffer that also protects the rest of East Anglia as far as Cambridge. With global warming this vulnerability has significantly increased and many of the landmarks photographed even as recently as 2019 are now disappeared into the sea. Part of my interest in edges is therefore environmental the ways in which the coast can be managed to reduce incursion by the sea and provide habitats for humans as well as wildlife.

Facing the North Sea and continental Europe, East Anglia has also been a place of immigration dating back to the very first people to come to the British Isles, particularly the Netherlands and defence against invasions and World Wars. East Anglia is criss-crossed by Roman Roads and linking paths along the coast, some dating back to prehistoric times, some built by the Romans. More recently the Norfolk and Suffolk Coast Paths.

Historically its main industries were fishing and ship-building, now very much in decline and a key issue in support for Brexit. The marshes along the North Norfolk coast now silted up, were the busiest ports in Europe in Tudor times trading wool from Suffolk to weavers in Netherlands. Orford also a major town….

Recent additions of the nuclear industry and tourism.

Areas linked by sea and coastal footpaths.

local for me, easily reachable by car with convenient campsites, and providing obvious markets for a range of work I might do in future.

There is a thriving tourist market for art, prints and photography. Art and music festivals in Southwold, Aldeburgh and Snape. Norwich?? There were also plans for an exhibition in August 2020 with other OCA students in the OCA East Anglia Facebook group where I planned to contribute photographic and screenprints. As well as my own ZemniImages portfolio blogs and Facebook Page and more media-specific on-line social networks for digital work like Cambridge Camera Club, iPad art and Adobe Forums.

I bring together a body of work in different media: sketchbooks, photography, printmaking and video. I continue to explore approaches to creative workflow, and potential interactions between image and text. I identify and develop a range of potential audiences and markets for my UK-based work, exploring ways in which my own personal voice can be communicated, including people who often have very different views from my own.

Norfolk

Emerson

Suffolk

The Suffolk Coast is a minimalist and haunting remote shingle landscape along the North Sea shaped by its role in World War 2 and currently a somewhat elite tourist hideaway. It has been the subject of work by other artists, photographers, poets and writers who have seen it in different ways. There are also a number of historical and environmental books by local people

I initially thought of doing some comparative work including Orford, Aldeburgh and Dunwich, looking at the multiple interactions between these locations and their distinctive ‘Southfolk’ identity. They are linked by history from prehistoric times and trade with Europe, particularly the Netherlands. The swallowing up of Dunwich by the sea and Orford silting led to the rise of Aldeburgh. The locations are all linked by the Suffolk Coast path and tourist development, the decline of fishing and the work of artists presenting at art and music festivals in Southwold, Aldeburgh and Snape.

See Suffolk Coast BackNotes: https://zemniimages.info/suffolk-coast-notes/

Edges Lost: Norfolk Marshes
Edges Drifting: Colours of Shingle

Photobook, photographic prints, concertina collage sketchbook and solar plate prints reflecting insider and outsider views of Shingle Street.

Edges Enjoyed: A Very British Day Out

Video and prints

?? depends on response from National Trust

Project Plans, Evolution
and audience engagement

Making the World a Better Place

My work on this blog is an attempt to reconnect with some of the more beautiful, funny and light-hearted aspects of Britain, as well as dealing implicitly or explicitly with some of the serious social and environmental issues we face. Much of the work is concerned with ideas of ‘Place’ and linking subjective and objective narratives. Whether image-making is based on illustration or photography or even where the aim is ‘objective documentary’, many choices are made in terms of what is communicated and how image design and technical aspects of the particular medium can enhance that communication. I aim to pose some serious questions about our lives in England, our use of the environment and the ways in which we relate to each other – posing the same questions here as in my international work.

The project continues my interest in different subjective and objective ‘outsider’ approaches to documentary, focusing on environmental challenges, social challenges of marginalisation and rural poverty. and the changing and conflicting identities and interests that have underpinned debates around Brexit and future visions for our countryside and environment. But – further my response to First Things Next – I am aiming for different types of outputs that fulfil different purposes: direct messaging, for different audiences linked to a broad ethical commitment. Provoking questioning from the viewer rather than imposing one single message.

I look at how my creative process, particularly documentary work, can be significantly improved through working with other people to help me to develop alternative narrative threads and visual approaches, building on some of my professional qualitative research skills.

Audience engagement

My body of work looks at different ways of engaging with audiences to improve my work in terms of:

  • refining the ‘messages’ by getting a range of local views and information on social and environmental issues through conversations and interviews and engagement with relevant local social networking sites.
  • feedback on the effectiveness of the ‘communication aesthetics’ from local, national and also international overseas audiences to improve my technical and visual communication skills through ZemniImages Facebook page crosspasted to other social networks.
  • finding different marketing, promotion and advocacy outlets for the different dimensions of the body of work. Including campaigning organisations like National Trust, RSPB and Rural England.

Developed over a six month period January 2020 to September 2021 through and beyond Brexit and the COVID crisis, I bring together work by local people available on-line as the basis for my own subjective work that I then share for feedback in my social networks.

Audience engagement in practice

Owing to these interruptions and stops and starts in lock-down projections, the work went through a series of planning and re-planning, further reading about the area and research into different potential outlets for my work in general. But most people in my normal on-line networks were too busy and concerned with current events to be able to give more than the odd smiley face to the few photographs I posted. For a time I therefore considered doing a completely different project linked to my professional work, but as professional work was also put on hold in June 2020 till 2021 those ideas are now planned as the basis for Module 3 Sustaining Your Practice.

Apart from some further posting of Aldeburgh and Orford photographs from Assignment 2.2 on Shutterstock and photographs from Shingle Street on ZemniImages Facebook page, I did not do any further audience outreach until October 2020.

Brexit

The issue of Brexit has loomed over the whole period of my work on this module. As my own sense of identity has always been ‘global European’, the thought of suddenly becoming narrowly ‘English’ or even ‘British’ fills me with claustrophobic dread. Particularly at a time in my life when health issues restrict my travel beyond Europe.

I wanted to further develop my approach to landscape documentary photography and psychogeography, focusing on communities and environments along the Suffolk coast between Southwold and Felixstowe. Focusing particularly on the environmental challenges of this part of the coast and the social challenges and contradictions surrounding Brexit, compounding pre-existing issues of rural poverty, inequality and neglect.

When I started this project in November 2019 at the height of Brexit frustrations I envisaged a documentary-based project with in-depth interviews with both local people and tourists that would help me understand the very different perspectives on Brexit, and use these as a focus for developing my work, building on:

  • personal documentary work on Aldeburgh from Illustration 2 and the photographic and slideshow experiments in Assignment 2.2, putting this into a social documentary context around impact of tourism on the local fishing community.
  • work on Orford Marshes and Orford Ness I had started to do as ‘A Very British Day Out’ in Assignment 2.2. Developing links with National Trust through further visits and art and photography study workshops to Orford Ness

I envisaged a documentary-based project with in-depth interviews with both local people and tourists that would help me understand the very different perspectives on Brexit, and use these as a focus for developing my work, building on:

  • personal documentary work on Aldeburgh from Illustration 2 and the photographic and slideshow experiments in Assignment 2.2, putting this into a social documentary context around impact of tourism on the local fishing community.
  • work on Orford Marshes and Orford Ness I had started to do as ‘A Very British Day Out’ in Assignment 2.2. Developing links with National Trust to develop a Photobook and video through further visits and art and photography study workshops to Orford Ness booked for April 2020.
  • adding then some new documentary work in photographs and printmaking media on Dunwich to the North and Shingle Street and Bawdsey to the South where my partner was planning to do his OCA level 3 art project with holidays and day trips planned. I started this work in January 2020 on the eve of Brexit with a photobook: ‘Outsider on the Edge’, made contacts with local people, booked a campsite with a view to starting the work in March 2020. With a view to producing photographs and prints for the tourist market there – numerous books and cards are sold at the campsite shop and pub – also a second collaborative exhibition of my photographs and prints alongside his paintings.

COVID pandemic

But then in March 2020 the COVID pandemic struck. As the majority of the local population on the coast are now older retired people who are vulnerable, and my partner and I also decided for specific health reasons to self-isolate, all the documentary plans had to be put on hold. The print studios were closed, exhibitions cancelled and our daughter was living separately in our house and needed my art washing space for her kitchen, so any painting or printmaking was also not possible. I was granted a COVID extension of 6 months, so I focused on other projects.

I was able to do some further social-distanced sketchbook and photographic work mid-September and beginning of October 2020 when we judged it safe to visit in a narrow window between the school holidays and tourist season crowds and threats of further winter lockdown.

In-depth work was only possible March 2021 and over that summer???

Creative process

Aim to significantly extend my technical drawing, photography and printmaking skills.

Photography, photobooks and slideshows

I continue to explore the range of effects of digital black and white and colour processing in Lightroom, Photoshop and DxO FX filters on interpretations of images. I look at different Photobook designs.

  • how do different media affect how people interprete messages
  • how do different media affect how we see and interprete things
  • How does mood affect what we see and how we use media
  • How do our expectations about audience perceptions affect what we communicate and how

photographic interpretations from the first set of impressions.

Sketchbook drawing, painting and collage

Potential for serious drawing in sketchbooks on location was limited because my only access was in the winter when there were no crowds. Quick pencil sketches and notes as the basis for collage that can be used to interrogate my photographs. And be of interest in themselves as product. And some of the sketches and photo references worked up as ink drawings and/or graphite and/or gouache.

Karen Stamper sketchbook site

Mapping and abstraction

Documentary Print-making

Prints: solar plate, cyanotypes, screen print, cardcuts, linocut based on photographs and sketches that and woodcut over the summer of 2021.

Video and moving image

Documentary animations from these different outputs for Vimeo channel.

Inspiration

Painting, charcoal/pastel, printmaking, Photoshop compositing, Stop Motion, video, Premiere. sketchbooks. Photobook. Online gallery.

Photography, video, moving image

Colour photography:

I started by reading books on the Suffolk coast including Sebald’s Rings of Saturn and sections on Suffolk in Daniel Defoe’s A tour thro’ the whole island of Great Britain (1724–1727) work by Robert MacFarlane and Stanley Donway on Orford and extensive reading (Suffolk Landscape and Walking books), Life on the Deben and You Tube surfing on different locations to further understand the social and environmental context and tourist impressions.

The area has been the subject of work by other artists, photographers, poets and writers who have seen it in different ways.

Art, photography and books of varying types on the area have a strong potential local as well as wider market.