Tag Archives: rework

Assignment 5 – Only Angels or Demons; reworked

This commentary has been altered to reflect the formative feedback of my tutor. The significant changes have been the inclusion of references to performance photography and collaborative feminist photographers, and the addition of two new images to the series, bringing the total up to seven. We also decided that they would be easier to present as a series of cards in a box, rather than collected together in book form.

Reflective Commentary

This piece of work was conceived and begun as a furious response [1] earlier this year to the way that women are treated differently in public life to their male counterparts. Since I wrote the original post in late September, the #metoo campaign [2] has taken off and women’s voices are being heard loud and clear for the first time, revealing the ways our lives are routinely subjected to harassment and sexual abuse, artificially created limits by men, and to different and much more exacting standards of behaviour in both public and private life. (See Mary Beard’s (2017) essay Women and Power: a Manifesto [3] for a full discussion on how this has been built into our culture from ancient times). We seem to be at a potential tipping point at present, with enough women being willing to stand up and share the ways in which so many of us are ridiculed and objectified both in the work and the home environment, that men hopefully will begin to understand a little of the limitations to which we are subject, but of which they have often been entirely oblivious.

The images for the piece were made during an all-female photo shoot, where we had gathered to explore our creativity through the use of props and lighting in a studio environment. The collaborative, non-judgemental nature of the event enabled us (the photographers, the studio owner and the model) to simply play and to explore our creativity together through performance without any input  or direction from men. The group follows in the footsteps of feminist collaborative work such as that of Jo Spence and Rosy Martin’s Phototherapy [4], as well as the performative work of, for example, Marina Abromovic and June Calypso [5], who used costumes, props and very considered poses to make their point.

Thereafter, I used some of the images to make a series of objects that are rooted in feminist avantgarde photography, but which refer to totally current feminist considerations.  The use of the female body as a means of making a political statement has been a feature of Third Wave Feminism, but I have concerns about the concept of reclaiming the body through the deliberate use of overt nudity – we have been there and done that – and I feel that there are other ways that a statement of feminist intent can be made without using that historic symbol of objectification.

The materiality and uniqueness of the handmade objects symbolises aspects of how women’s identity and function is represented in social culture, through themes such as performance, two-dimensionality and entrapment. At the same time, the handmade book makes reference to the tradition of women’s craft work, and the recent surge in enthusiasm for paper arts such as scrap-booking and card making. In both this assignment and Assignment 4, I use the form of the book and its connotations of credibility, gravitas and permanence as a means of expanding the semiotic aspects of my work beyond the images themselves into how they are displayed.

Separate posts here [6] and here [7] discuss the background and photographers that informed this work, but I must make specific mention of the Feminist Avantgarde in the 1970s exhibition political pieces [8] and Albarrán Cabrera’s use of gold leaf [9] to add depth, mystery and value to their images. which have directly influenced this work.


  1. Woodward, Holly (2017) ‘Exercise 4.5 – Fictional texts: Holly goes off-piste, again.’ [online blog] In: hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com At: https://hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/category/coursework/part-4-image-and-text/project-3-fictional-texts/ (Accessed on 07.01.18)
  2. France, Lisa Respers (2017) ‘#MeToo: Social media flooded with personal stories of assault.’ In: CNN Entertainment [online] At: http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/15/entertainment/me-too-twitter-alyssa-milano/index.html (Accessed on 07.01.18)
  3. Beard, Mary (2017) Women and power: a manifesto. London: Profile Books.
  4. Spence, Jo (1980s) ‘Phototherapy’. [online] At: http://www.jospence.org/phototherapy/phototherapy_thumbs.html (Accessed on 26.01.18)
  5. Woodward, Holly (2017) ‘Assignment 5 – Performance Photography’. [online blog] In: hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com At: https://hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/2018/01/25/assignment-5-performance-photography/ (Accessed on 26.01.18)
  6. Woodward, Holly (2017) ‘Assignment 5 – Background Research’. [online blog] In: hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com At: https://hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/assignment-5-background-research/ (Accessed on 07.01.18)
  7. Woodward, Holly (2017) ‘Assignment 5 – Photographic Influences’. [online blog] In: hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com At: https://hollyocaidentityplace.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/assignment-5-photographic-influences/ (Accessed on 07.01.18)
  8. Güner, Fisen. (2016) ‘Feminist art of the 1970s: knives, nudity and terrified men.’ [online] In: theguardian.com. At: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2016/oct/03/feminist-art-of-the-1970s-knives-nudity-and-terrified-men (Accessed on 09.01.18)
  9. Lensculture (2017) ‘Albarrán Cabrera.’ [online] At: https://www.lensculture.com/albarrancabrera (Accessed on 07.01.18)

Assignment 3, reworked

Home is Where the Art is


Marlborough Open Studios is an annual collaborative event in which forty local artists open their homes and studios over four weekends to allow the public access to them and their work. It is a selling event, but the artists are all happy to talk about what they do without any commitment to buy. Over the course of two weekends, I was lucky enough to see the work of twenty two artists; two were photographers, and the others used a variety of media including printmaking, glasswork, sculpture and collographs. I have discounted the photographers from this project, as I did not feel comfortable about asking them if I could photograph their work. Men were also discounted, being in the minority (less than 30%) in what turned out to be a very female event. Other artists were happy for me to do so and were very willing to explain their techniques for me.
The background work which informed this assignment is outlined in the following posts:


This project is based on a series of visits made under the umbrella of the Marlborough Open Studios Art Trail. Each artist in the Open Studios has been selected by her peer group as being worthy to be a part of a group which showcases the best of what North Wiltshire artists have to offer. My thanks go to the following artists who allowed me to photograph them and their work environment:

Arran Miles, Susie Whimster, Sue Lashmar, Rosalind Hewitt, Belinda Harding, Julie Smith, Rebecca Spicer, Mary Wilkinson, Jacqui Melhuish, Jane Renwick, Mary Thorne, Arty Pumpkin, Kim Pethbridge, Lisi Ashbridge, Meriel Balston, Bryony Cox.

The 20th century rise in women’s autonomy based on their increasing presence in the formal workplace, and the consequent financial authority this brought has begun to allow women to demand the same amount of personal space within the home that men have always had, whether it be their own study for private contemplation or a larger space to explore artistic pursuits. It also brings into focus how women and their partners view the work that she does in “her” space. Allocating a specific, unique room for her creativity gives the undertaking a legitimacy which has previously been absent in the historically gendered view of art pursuits. As a woman, the possession of a personal studio in the modern world takes art from being a plaything to being a serious undertaking, which indicates independence and personal autonomy as well as financial stability. Her own studio is a strong representation of her identity and the value of her work to herself and to her partner, if she has one. Each of the women below has turned either a room within the home or an outside space into a studio, which enables them to combine work and domesticity. As noted in my response to my tutor’s comments, these women have comfortable lifestyles, with both time and space to pursue their interests, and an avenue for further study would be to investigate how, where and whether more economically deprived women express themselves creatively.





Rosalind Hewitt, glasswork



Kim Pethybridge, sculpture


Belinda Harding, glass sculpture


Mary Thorne, ceramics


Bryony Cox, drawing


Arty Pumpkin, mixed media



Sue Lashmar, glasswork


Reflective commentary

The purpose of this assignment was to reveal either a mirror of a community one knows and how it affects the photographer personally, or a window onto a community that the photographer did not previously know. A review of my blog posts for this assignment reveals that I struggled to settle on a subject for several months. My initial idea of using mirrors in the literal as well as metaphorical sense using photography en abyme is something I would like to return to later when my skills have improved, and I was advised by fellow students that the next iteration using my village’s annual carnival was not working. Thanks are due to fellow student Kate513940 for her suggestion that I look at the Open Studios for a more revealing subject, and something upon which I could base a windows project.

This was not a linear project, in which the order of the images is important. Of more interest to me was the question of whether to include some of the artworks or to focus purely on the spaces themselves. I decided on the latter because it was better reflective of my background research. My original plan had been to produce a series of diptychs, each showing the artist and one of her pieces, but this seemed too static , on reflection. I also looked at the possibility of showing the artists directly relating to me, the photographer, as the process of capturing the images was so voluble and enjoyable but did not have enough good quality images to produce a series. Like all events of this type, one is having to work “on the hoof” and allowing other visitors to speak to the artists, and so there was a limit to what could be achieved. However, the organiser of the event asked me if I would like to produce some photographs for next year’s catalogue, and suggested that it might be mutually beneficial for me to go back after the Open Studios was over and to spend some time watching and photographing individual artists at work. I may do this over the winter as part of my rework for assessment.

I have done some rework as suggested by my tutor, and have reshot the last one, of Sue Lashmar as I was unhappy with the lighting in the first version. The focus in no. 6 is not quite as sharp as I would have liked, but I think the image should be included as the composition and the artist’s expression are revealing. Conversely, I am pleased with numbers 1, 2 and 4, which I feel capture the personality of the subjects as well as their environment. Finally, the image of Bryony Cox has been changed from portrait to landscape orientation, to fit in with the rest of the series.