Moot Tales is a body of work that brings together:

  • imaginative ‘tales’ developed from ‘found narratives’ in textures of objects scattered around Aldeburgh in Suffolk
  • life sketching that produced a series of single image narratives for printmaking.

The name “Aldeburgh” derives from the Old English ald (old) and burh (fortification), although this structure, along with much of the Tudor town, has now been lost to the sea. In the 16th century, Aldeburgh was a leading port and had a flourishing shipbuilding industry. Aldeburgh’s importance as a port declined as the River Alde silted up and larger ships could no longer berth. It survived mainly on fishing until the 19th century, when it also became a seaside resort. As a tourist town it has a thriving artistic as well as festival tradition on which some of my work draws.

Aldeburgh is ‘on the edge’ in a number of ways:

  • geographically it is extremely vulnerable to encroachment of the sea. Half the land originally occupied by Aldeburgh in the middle ages has now disappeared through both gradual erosion and storm disasters. The sea is currently held at bay with barriers and groynes, but the area is threatened in the longer term by global warming.
  • to the North the skyline is dominated by Sizewell nuclear power station – with periodic leaks though none so far serious. The current strategic government focus on nuclear energy and likely development of the new nuclear power station at Sizewell C will lead to profound ecological and economic changes.

Found images from sources like the flint stonework of the Moot Hall, rusty tractors, wooden boards propped outside fish houses and nets lying on the beach inspire a range of imaginary  and ‘truth’ narratives. ‘Moot Tales’ develops texture snapshots in Procreate on my iPad as historical imaginings, Suffolk Folk Tales about mermaids and sea monsters, well-known poems and uncertain futures. 

The main focus of this SYP project is a series of illustrated books and single image that develop narratives from iPad photographs of found textures in Procreate. Some of these images were presented as single illustrations for assessment in Illustration 2. But these have been significantly reworked to create the narratives compiled as books in InDesign for SYP, with many new images added,.

Moot Histories: imagined historical events based on the flint stonework in the medieval Moot House that was originally in the centre of the town but is now next to the sea.

A Mermaid’s Tale: an imagined version of local mermaid and wild man tales based on found images in old wooden boards propped up around the fish houses.

Rust Poems : images of rust on an old tractor on Aldeburgh beach reworked to illustrate three poems :

  • Poem 1: Ozymandias  by Percy Bysshe Shelley 1818
  • Poem 2: Kubla Khan excepts from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1797
  • Poem 3: Crow’s Theology, excerpts from ‘Crow by Ted Hughes 1966-69

Nets : images of fishing nets, shingle flotsam and sections of old boats lying on Aldeburgh beach. Ultimately beyond SYP these will be developed as a narrative dealing with issues raised in Alex Tabrizi’s Netflix documentary ‘Seaspiracy’.

The narratives also draw on video and life sketching in Aldeburgh since 2016 that have informed the sorts of issues relevant to the place, and also the types of topics likely to be interesting to the local tourist market. This was important for me to make decisions on how the images could be developed while still fulfilling the requirements of my Manifesto and wider work.

Moot Tales

Moot Tales

 ‘Moot Tales’ is a series of books and image portfolios developed from photographs of ‘found narratives’ in textures of objects scattered around Aldeburgh.

Found images from sources like the flint stonework of the Moot Hall, rusty tractors, wooden boards propped outside fish houses and nets lying on the beach inspire a range of imaginary  and ‘truth’ narratives. ‘Moot Tales’ develops texture snapshots in Procreate on my iPad as historical imaginings, Suffolk Folk Tales about mermaids and sea monsters, well-known poems and uncertain futures.

Full resolution book page spreads and images have been uploaded to my SMUGMUG website with shop.

The padlet below gives links to the books and images, together with links to research, inspiration and pdf overview of the development process and narrative issues.

Made with Padlet
narrative concept and process

The aim is to retain enough fidelity to the original textures to be intriguing, but manipulated enough to create a meaningful narrative that provokes questions about life in Aldeburgh, and more generally.

Moot Histories is based on photographs of flint stonework on the Moot Hall. The narrative started started by selecting and photographing portions of stone that had interesting shapes and textures with lines and translucency that suggested stories relevant to Aldeburgh – the sea, boats, storms, people and faces. These were then further worked to create imagined versions of the past based on information about Aldeburgh in the past from books and on-line websites.

A Mermaid’s Tale is based on photographs of selected sections of an old wooden board propped up against

inspiration

The main source of inspiration were the textures themselves, coupled with background reading and research. This included the sketchbook work below which informed some of the general tone. The style also draws on ‘Reflections in Grey’ about a Lockdown stay in Aldeburgh for VCAP.

As the narrative imagining from found images in Aldeburgh itself is a key feature of these projects, photos of the original textures and background to the narratives are given in text at the end of each book. Potential readers are likely to be interested in this.

Still to do

Finalise the text

Background work: Previous projects Reportage Sketchbooks

Aldeburgh is a very good place for sketching people. A key regular element in my practice going forward will be sketching of people in locations along the derives together with notes on conversations as the basis for developing narratives. Some very preliminary rapid sketches together with supporting photos and video clips are being developed into more considered drawings in different media for Illustration Sketchbooks Assignment 3 (see drawings on the right).

Psychogeography Walks: Aldeburgh with an iPhone 2021

To be done September together with sketchbooks: My starting point for this project will be a series of Psychogeography walk experiments with my new iPhone 12 as I work through the OCA Psychogeography short course. I will contrast and compare my experience of each of the following techniques, and what they teach me further about a place that I have often been to as a tourist.

  • Starting in a place you know, and then going forward for one minute, left for one minute, right for one minute; repeating this pattern until you are actually lost.
  • Doing absolutely everything that each street sign tells you to do.
  • If the sun is out, walk keeping your shadow on your left at all times.
  • Get a tourist or google map of your home town/village, take a ruler and draw a diagonal line right through it. Try to traverse that line.
  • Using the same technique above, draw a circle, shape or letter on the map – walk that route.

Other walking ideas and techniques will be added eg from participatory transect walking used in community development projects.

These will form the basis for a documentary narrative for further inquiry on-line and discussion with local people.

Text from my diary in 2016 – notes on walks and also art exhibitions, radio programmes and books I read at the time. These provide some possible starting points, but my aim is to substantially add and update these to the context in 2021.