Part 5. Project 2. Ex 1

In this exercise I am to read a specified article from the Guardian newspaper and answer a series of questions on it.

McGuirk, J. (2019). The art of craft: the rise of the designer-maker. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/aug/01/rise-designer-maker-craftsman-handmade [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].

Do you believe there is a demand for hand made objects and work? Why do you think that some consumers seek out these qualities in the objects they buy?

I think that there is a demand for hand made objects. They have character, they tend to be of higher quality than mass produced items and they often allow you to engage in recycling, for example by buying a great piece of furniture from a charity shop.

When it comes to a new item, the craftsmen more often than not make a point about engaging in sustainable behaviour so you can be assured that choosing their work means that you are putting the planet first too.

I haven’t a clue if there is a demand for work as craftsmen! I would assume that if there are still items being manufactured and sold then people are still required to fill those positions? I discovered from watching BBC’s ‘Have I Got News For You’ that where there are niche interests and hobbies there is a whole underground world of magasines, conventions, societies etc, maybe its the same for the world of craftsmen?

Do you think the desire for hand made products is based on a romantic perception of the hand made and a sense of post-industrial nostalgia for the pre-industrial? Why or why not?

I think every person has an element of craftsman within them. Even if they don’t make items, on some level everyone can appreciate a well made piece. For as long as I can remember there has been a constant interest in how things used to be done. I believe this is because we are so saturated with mass produced products, so used to the items that are designed to break so that we have to get a new one, that the idea that things used to be built to last is like a romantic fantasy.

I also think that people admire the skill in a handcrafted object. A machine does not care if it leaves burrs on the side of a chair leg, but a craftsman will see them and smooth them down. A machine can vacuum form plastic into a mould to form a rosette but a craftsman can chisel it by eye out of a piece of pure wood just using hand tools. A machine can make a prosthetic hand, a craftsman can make it look alive, or paint it to look like a fantasy creature!

In my opinion, so much that is hand made is better, and I guess a lot of that opinion is based on a romantic notion about someone putting their soul into something. So, to answer the question, yes I do think that the desire for hand made goods (well mine anyway) is based on a romantic perception of the hand made!

Do you feel that hand made products are viewed as luxury or value added products? How do hand made products compare with mass produced items in terms of their value, life cycle, cost and ethics?

Yes I do feel that hand made products are viewed as luxury or value added. There is an understanding that the price includes the value of the craftsman’s labour and skill in addition to the product components.

In everyday marketing there are often phrases such as ‘hand made’ or ‘crafted’ etc used to underline the luxury value of the item they are selling.

Years ago I brought a chess set from a market in Kandahar, Afghanistan. There were two available, one was obviously carved by machine out of marble, the pieces were identical and perfect. The board was made of precisely cut marble squares set into its board. The alternative chess set was obviously made by hand, very badly, potentially by bashing rocks together. Now, although I love a bit of hand-made, what I wanted was a pretty chess set so I wanted to buy the machined version. It was more expensive because it was obviously better but the man running the stall swore to me over and over again that it was hand carved. The reason for this is that people view hand made as better than machined, this market trader didn’t need to lie to me, but I could see why he did.

Hand made products are generally more expensive than mass produced counterparts, but they also tend to last longer. They are kept for longer by their owners because they have made a conscious choice to invest in that piece rather than just fill a need, that piece has greater value for them. An example of this would have been if I had brought a £5 chess set from Amazon, it probably would have found itself in the bin on my way out of the country whereas I still have my marble set 10 years later.

Hand made products have a greater chance of a longer life cycle, they are more likely to be donated or passed on rather than disposed of. Even if they break, if someone has hand made a product there is more chance that its owner can figure out how to repair it, after all, its only been built by another human!

The ethics behind the two types of product are very different too. A mass produced item is from a factory which consumes natural resources to function. If that factory is in the East then it is often not subject to the same environmentally aware regulations as the West. One example of this is in India where there are issues with textiles factories dumping waste water from the dying process into local waterways.

A hand made object is more likely to be from sustainable sources and to be made with care and attention.

Reflect on any hand made item that you own (not necessarily textiles). Can you remember why you were drawn to it? Did the fact that it was handmade make it feel ‘special’ or did you just buy it because you liked the design? How did its price compare with the industrially produced equivalent?

I have a slightly unusual item for this exercise. It’s a generic plastic moulded Egyptian Pharaoh bust, painted to look like it’s made from wood.

I was in a dusty dingy shop in Luxor, Egypt when I brought it. I was looking at some actual hand carved figures and attempting to choose a decent souvenir. Everything was fairly average until, I looked up and spotted the Pharaohs head on the shelf above me. The colouring on this thing was perfect, it looked like someone with a lot of skill had carved something quite special out of a lump of wood. I wanted it. I wanted it because things made from wood are beautiful, I wanted it because it had been produced with skill, I wanted it for all the romantic associations of smelly men on camels hawking wares to adventurous white girls. As soon as the proprietor put it in my hands I knew exactly what it was, plastic! Mass produced, injection moulded plastic. It made me laugh, and the more I pointed out to the proprietor the plastic markings from the mould, or the paintbrush marks, the more he swore that not only was it made from wood he had cut it down and carved it himself. The worse the lies got the funnier I found it, and, strangely, the more sure I was that I wanted to buy it.

Initially it was the hand made aspect which drew me into that shop. When a craftsman has made something well, it really is beautiful. What drew me to the head inparticular was the wonder at what I believed to be the craftsman skill. What made me buy it was the amusement at the sheer cheek of the man flogging it to me!

The nearest I could find to my Egyptian head online is this pottery version from the European Vintage Emporium priced for approx £55. Mine was approximatley £20 but as I said, it was mass produced plastic!

Europeanvintageemporium.com. (2019). Vintage Egyptian Pharaoh large stoneware pottery figurine head bust ornament decor circa 1980-90’s | European Vintage Emporium. [online] Available at: https://www.europeanvintageemporium.com/product/vintage-egyptian-pharaoh-large-stoneware-pottery-figurine-head-bust-ornament-decor-circa-1980-90s/?doing_wp_cron=1574145913.9684751033782958984375 [Accessed 19 Nov. 2019].

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Part 5. Project 2. Research Point: Slow Design

In this exercise I am to do some research into Slow Design and make some notes on the following questions;

  1. What are the guiding principles of this movement?
  2. Do you believe this approach to design and making could have a positive impact on our consumption of products?
  3. Would you place more value on a product that has been created with this principle in mind? Why or why not?

What are the guiding principles of this movement?

The guiding principles of this movement are about greater thought. More thought has been put into the design, it is often from a more sustainable source. More thought and often time has been put into the craftsmanship, pieces are more likely to be made by hand than mass produced by machine. More thought has been put into the visual aesthetic, the materials used will often be chosen for overall look and performance rather than solely on cost. Because of this greater investment in the quality of the piece, the item will often last a lot longer than a mass produced item.

Do you believe this approach to design and making could have a positive impact on our consumption of products?

Yes. I believe that when people put more thought into what they are buying, and choose an item that suits all their requirements, they are more likely to be satisfied for longer. This will mean that they do not require a replacement product and therefore do not need to shop for alternatives, using more resources. The satisfaction of the customer could be down to the look of the item, the quality, or the performance.

Recycling is something which Im pleased to see gaining more prominence lately. The idea that you don’t need to buy new furniture is one which has been a long time coming. This is one way for people to show their commitment towards sustainability, having a look at the second hand market first to see if they can find something which meets their needs.

As an example, I brought a beautiful old carved wooden and red leather armchair from a charity shop. I love it, it looks incredible, it’s wonderfully comfy and the only way I’ll be parted from it is if my house burns down. The quality of the product means I will not need a replacement anytime soon and the handmade look is so good that it is in no danger of being disposed of.

When people are surrounded by a world in which they are constantly bombarded by key messages such as ‘plastic is bad’, they are less likely to choose to purchase it themselves. The more companies that make a point of explaining how they consider sustainability in their products, the more likely consumers are to realise that it is an issue they need to consider. The 1990’s and 2000’s were full of consumerism and mass production of faceless articles. In recent years there has been a noticeable swing back towards the handmade, I believe this is the desire for individuality reasserting itself. We could all have the same bookshelf from Ikea, or you could get one for half the price and twice the quality from the nearest furniture recycling depot. Individually made items have more soul in them, an identity that cannot be cloned by a machine, and that is one of the things that makes them special.

Would you place more value on a product that has been created with this principle in mind? Why or why not?

Yes I would place more value on a product that has been created with this principle in mind, providing that it met both my budget and my visual taste. Budget is king for me, if I need a kitchen table then ideally I would love a handmade beast with carved table legs, the kind of thing that looks like its been dragged out of Blenheim Palace. What I have instead is one which I made out of railway sleepers and some batons, because they were free. Thanks to a disc sander and a pot of wood stain it is the same colour as the tables at Blenheim Palace and I don’t get splinters every time I pick up my soup spoon, but there the similarities end!

If I had the budget for it, and visually the item appealed to me, then I would choose the handmade table over the mass produced version because I place more value on the principles behind it. I support the sustainability cause where I can, but frankly it comes down to budget, needs and necessity on a case by case basis.

En.wikipedia.org. (2019). Slow design. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_design [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

TreeHugger. (2019). What is Slow Design, And Where Did It Come From?. [online] Available at: https://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/what-slow-design-and-where-did-it-come.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Archiblox. (2019). The Slow Design Movement. [online] Available at: https://www.archiblox.com.au/slow-design-movement/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Diopd.org. (2019). [online] Available at: https://diopd.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Book_of_Inspiration_SlowDesign.pdf [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Spacey, J. (2019). What is Slow Design?. [online] Simplicable. Available at: https://simplicable.com/new/slow-design [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Anon, (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/the-5-principles-of-the-slow-design-movement-240942 [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Raaf.org. (2019). [online] Available at: http://raaf.org/pdfs/Slow_Design_Principles.pdf [Accessed 11 Nov. 2019].

Part 5. Project 1. Ex 2

In this exercise I am to choose a product which has been marketed as environmentally sound, ethically produced, green or sustainable. I am then to determine its credentials, and through research, determine whether or not the marketing/labeling is accurate.

My subject for this exercise is peanut butter by Meridian.

Image result for meridian peanut butter"

I chose this because in the supermarket I normally go for the cheapest variation of a product I can find but choose to ignore this when it comes to peanut butter. What makes me choose this brand is the marketing, I get a combined message of healthy ingredients and planet friendly.

The planet friendly message is communicated through the use of the monkey on the right hand side holding up the message ‘no palm oil’. The consequences of unsustainable palm oil harvesting was recently highlighted through last years (2018) Christmas advert by Iceland. This sparked a consumer move away from products containing the oil.

Youtube.com. (2019). YouTube. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oA10-oZi4Xc [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Examination of the label shows that the image of health is promoted through several different ways. The ingredients list has only three (all naturally occurring) items. The photographs on the label are of healthy items. The illustrative elements of the label show a basic representation of happy people emerging from a rising sun, and as previously mentioned, there is a smiling monkey holding up a sign that announces the lack of palm oil. In addition the item appears to be ‘Made in the UK’ which implys that it should have a low carbon footprint.

I then proceded to the website http://www.meridianproducts.co.uk to attempt to learn more about the origin of their ingredients.

There is an entire page dedicated to their avoidance of Palm Oil and their work with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation who rescue orphans displaced by Palm Oil harvesting and, after rehabilitation, return them to the wild. Meridian have adopted 8 of the 8000 orphans currently looked after by the charity.

I was interested in how, after the emphasis on the UK manufacturing, they would cover the origins of their nuts which I believe mostly originate from far abroad. Within their own FAQ’s I found a list of their nuts points of origin;

seeds and nuts
Meridian. (2019). Frequent questions. [online] Available at: https://shop.meridianfoods.co.uk/pages/faqs [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

There was also information about the honey harvesting. The website states that they ” do not advocate wing clipping or the killing-off of weak, older queen bees to re-strengthen colonies. We do our utmost to ensure that our partners and suppliers in origin have ethical policies in place, which we audit”. I would be interested to know quite how the audits are carried out, one of my secondary duties at work is on a process audit team so I know what a nice woolly statement like “do our utmost” can be.

I looked around online but could not find any further information about audit policies or inspection criteria.

To answer the question at the start of the exercise, I believe that as a company Meridian are taking the most sustainable approach that they can, however their product, due to the nature of the beast is one which is doomed to have a high carbon footprint.

Wonderopolis.org. (2019). How Many Peanuts Are In a Jar Of Peanut Butter?. [online] Available at: https://www.wonderopolis.org/wonder/how-many-peanuts-are-in-a-jar-of-peanut-butter [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Greenerpackage.com. (2019). Peanut butter jar lightens up 90% | Greener Package. [online] Available at: https://www.greenerpackage.com/source_reduction/peanut_butter_jar_lightens_90 [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Cars.uark.edu. (2019). [online] Available at: https://cars.uark.edu/resources-reports/Peanut_Report.pdf [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Part 5. Project 1. Ex 1

How would you define sustainability?

I would define sustainability as a process which does not cause depletion or damage to resources or environment. For example, if you throw away a damaged book it should be recycled into a new book, not thrown into landfill.

In what contexts is sustainability an issue?

Sustainability is an issue in many areas thanks to the worlds obsession with money (which I totally understand, I just wish people were a bit more thoughtful about how they go after it).

Areas I can think of where sustainability is an issue

  • CO2 emissions in the atmosphere – pollution levels in the air- air quality made unsustainable
  • Fossil Fuels – depletion of a finite resource – unsustainable
  • The destruction of the worlds trees – oxygen production – air quality made unsustainable
  • Plastic – lives forever in landfill – infiltrating the ecosystem – food source quality and landfill capacity made unsustainable
  • Textiles – requires vast natural resources to realise – capacity of the natural environment to absorb the toll made unsustainable
  • NHS – attempting to fix a society increasingly subject to large quantities of lifestyle based disease in addition to normal illness/injury – capacity to cope made unsustainable
  • Housing – the planet has too many people yet there is still relentless breeding taking place, so people build on green spaces to house the people, which kills the environment, which people then complain about, and somehow it’s always someone else’s fault – Unsustainable
  • Meat consumption -currently a hot topic – linked to toll on atmosphere and the ridiculous number of people on the planet – meat production has been made unsustainable
  • The public interest in Brexit! – endless debates over a course of years with no real decisions – interest in Brexit is rapidly becoming unsustainable 😉

How do you think sustainability might be addressed in relation to the production and consumption of textiles and other manufactured products?

I can think of a few ways in which the sustainability of textiles and manufactured products could be addressed. First, increased public awareness. As I said previously, I would class myself as reasonably well informed about matters concerning the planet, I had absolutely no idea about the toll the textile industry has on the environment. If I don’t know then there will be others that don’t either. With increased awareness will come more local efforts at recycling, more individuals donating clothes to charity shops for a second life and more awareness about choosing the right article to buy in the first place.

This leads me on to shopping choices. When people became more conscious of the need to eat less meat, they brought more vegetarian meals, when plastic became a known issue, franchises had to do away with straws. If a similar demand can be made in the area of textiles, more response will be required from the textile industry to look at sustainability. This could be something as simple as recycling more cloth and including it in their new creations as either a whole or a percentage such as Levis who now use recycled plastic to make jeans . It could even be a feature item such as a ‘jumper for life’.

H+M are one store which are making a public move towards a more sustainable approach with recycled elements in their clothing and a lot more information about their manufacturing processes on their website.

Another way to aid sustainability could be by varying the materials used to make the textiles. I found an interesting article entitled ‘The top 10 sustainability trends coming out of textile exchange’. In it it describes the notion of the circular economy and how companies are starting to move towards it. There were some interesting examples of these moves towards sustainability involving crops such as a company called ‘Orange Fibers’ which makes a silk-like fabric out of orange peel. Another named Vegea has used grape skin to make a fabric similar to leather, this initiative is being backed by H+M.

Making recycling easier for people could be another way to help sustainability. Maybe something like a recycling deposit box in-store? If. for example, I’m going to Primark for a replacement top, it’s easy enough for me to take my old broken one there at the same time and put it in a recycling bin.

The last method I can think of to aid sustainability is to relocate clothes manufacturing. If English peoples clothes were made in England the monetary costs would be higher, but the carbon footprint of each item would be a lot less. A byproduct of that would probably be that we’d not be able to afford to buy clothes…which would drive us all to the charity shops….which would cause better recycling but then unemployment within the clothing factories….oh it’s complicated!

( Study.com. (2019). Textile Industry & Sustainability | Study.com. [online] Available at: https://study.com/academy/lesson/textile-industry-sustainability.html [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].)

Donaldson, T. (2019). The Top 7 Sustainability Trends Coming Out of Textile Exchange. [online] Sourcing Journal. Available at: https://sourcingjournal.com/topics/sustainability/top-7-sustainability-trends-coming-textile-exchange-td-74311/ [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Part 5. Research Point: Stages of textile product life cycle

In this research exercise I am to briefly summarise what I think each stage of the cycle is, and then research online to see if I am right.

Textiles is completely new to me and I have no idea what the product life cycle might look like, so I hit Youtube to look for some educational videos on the topic.

Initially I watched this one;

It introduced me to lots of the vocabulary involved but didn’t really go into detail – though the information about the global impact of a t-shirt was fascinating.

I then moved onto explanatory videos more about the production of fabric. Initially I went a bit too basic and watched this one;

Whilst this video explained very well how to take fibres from wool on a sheep to a woven piece of fabric, it did not cover several of the terms listed in the course manual such as ginning.

I then used the more traditional Internet text searching to get some answers.

Agriculture/raw fiber production – I would summarise this as the process of growing cotton in fields as a crop.

Common Objective. (2019). What Are Our Clothes Made From?. [online] Available at: https://www.commonobjective.co/article/what-are-our-clothes-made-from [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Ginning – I had no idea about this one so I had to go straight to the internet.

“The process of separating the cotton fibers from the cotton seeds. Perfect ginning operation would be performed if the separation of fibers from seed was effected without the slightest injury to either seeds or to the fiber. A cotton gin is a machine that quickly and easily separates the cotton fibers from the seeds, a job previously done by hand.”

Textilelearner.blogspot.com. (2019). Ginning | Cotton Ginning Process | Types of Ginning. [online] Available at: https://textilelearner.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-is-ginning-cotton-ginning-types-of_8829.html [Accessed 7 Nov. 2019].

Spinning – This one I remember from tours of sheep farms with Primary school – the process of turning (unintentional pun) original fibre whether it be cotton or wool etc into a long usable yarn on a reel. A process traditionally carried out by all family members.

Liverpoolmuseums.org.uk. (2019). From cotton to cloth – Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool museums. [online] Available at: https://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/maritime/exhibitions/cotton/material/cloth.aspx [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Weaving – The process of transforming a yarn into a sheet of cloth. It requires two sets of yarn, the warp and the weft. Traditionally done by hand on a loom, now controlled by computer.

Processing – I would guess that this is the dying, printing and emroidering of fabric garments?

I discovered online that I wasn’t quite right. It seems that fabric, freshly woven, is known as ‘griege’ which is discoloured and full of impurities. This fabric is bleached to achieve a base colour, it is then treated with chemicals to remove oil, wax, and other naturally occurring elements from natural fibre.

Garden, H., HowStuffWorks, Garden, Decor and Techniques (2019). How is fabric created?. [online] HowStuffWorks. Available at: https://home.howstuffworks.com/home-decor/decorating-styles-techniques/how-is-fabric-created2.htm [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Stitching – I would assume that this is the process of turning sheets of material into items of clothing? What springs to mind are the news stories about the India sweatshops full of people who are working for pennies per day.

What also springs to mind though, are the good news stories about people who are choosing their own path and making their own clothes…like Zack McLeod Pinset who manufactures and creates Regency clothing. In an interview he says that he does it because he feels like himself and he likes to look smart, I think that is fabulous. I’d love to make my own clothes but do not have the time, I’m saving that and learning the piano for when I finish this degree, so when I see other people successfully doing it I just want to stand up and clap! Fabulous!

Kalia, A. (2019). ‘I don’t see jeans in my future’: the people who wear complete historical dress – every day. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jul/04/i-dont-see-jeans-in-my-future-the-people-who-wear-complete-historical-dress-every-day [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Distribution/Retail – I assume that this covers the shipping of created articles of clothing back to the UK, distribution to stores and their marketing.

Good On You. (2019). What On Earth Is A Clothing Supply Chain?. [online] Available at: https://goodonyou.eco/what-is-a-clothing-supply-chain/ [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Use/Consumption and end of life – I assume this covers the average life cycle of a piece of clothing and what happens to it after it has been discarded.

This research point was eye opening. I found a government report on the economical cost of fast fashion and was aghast at some of the facts and figures. I consider myself quite well informed on matters related to saving the planet but I had absolutely no idea about the toll of clothing manufacturing on the environment.

The report is full of big hitting points but this one line made me feel physically sick “Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined”. I will never casually buy an item of clothing again!

More in relation to the point of the research exercise, I learnt that 300,000 tonnes of clothing end up in household black bins each year, less than 1% of clothing is recycled and retailers burn new unsold stock to preserve the brand. Shocking.

Publications.parliament.uk. (2019). Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability – Report Summary – Environmental Audit Committee. [online] Available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/report-summary.html#heading-2 [Accessed 10 Nov. 2019].

Independent Research. Work Experience. Basic Prop Making.

I know I’m an adult, I know Harry Potter is a kids film….but it was these films that helped me realise what exactly I want to be. I love the props in the film and I love the graphic elements, what I didn’t know was which of these two elements had the strongest pull. To help narrow this down I took myself on a Basic Propmaking Skills course via a company called Creative Media Skills at Pinewood Studios.

The course was overbooked (25 students instead of 8) and dreadfully run with very little basic Health and Safety applied – I had to stop someone drilling through their own foot. Despite this, thanks entirely to the superhuman efforts of the industry Propmaster who came in on occasion to give guidance, we managed to create some articles.

Initially we were briefed to make a flat clay item that could be used to make a mould from. I chose to make a penny coin.

I’m aware of all the errors in this recreation. Aside from the intial 5 minute brief there was zero guidance or assistance provided, we were left there until 5pm to muddle along – seriously this was a dreadful waste of about £1000. But my point is, bearing in mind all the errors and circumstances, I’m happy with my penny, it’s a miracle it exists!

From that we made silicone moulds;

After this we eventually made hard plastic casts of our creations. Well we tried to, the venue initially didn’t have enough chemicals in stock to make the casts. On acquiring the chemicals they were then the wrong ones or out of date so the moulds didn’t work. Maybe I’ll try it myself in the shed at some point!

After that we moved onto making foam weapons. Made from blocks of roof insulating foam we were given a range of images to work from. I chose to make a battle axe from Warhammer.

Whilst I enjoyed making the items, the course was so badly run that I would not want to repeat it. In the future I may at times make props to amuse myself, or for exhibitions, however I would not wish to have to churn them out on an industrial scale.

I will stick to the visual imagery side of the house from now on!

Independent Research. Gallery. House of MinaLima

The House of MinaLima is a free gallery in Soho, London. Owned by the graphic design duo Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima (most well known for their work on the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts franchises) this is a small but endlessly fascinating venue to explore.

It was these films which made me realise that a) Graphic Designers are actually employed in tv/film in the first place and b) the thing which I like about fantasy films is all the ‘stuff’ that surrounds the main story line. For years I’ve tried to explain to my adult friends why I enjoy them so much, the closest I got to it was “yes the child acting is awful but look at the talking paintings and the flying cars!”. It was MinaLima which made me realise that it is the props and graphics which appeal to me.

Initially I wasn’t sure if it was more the props or the graphic elements which held the appeal. To narrow this down I took myself on a week long basic prop making course at Pinewood Studios. This is covered in a different research post. The summary is, it’s more the graphics that I want to get into (although I can now make a mean foam battleaxe if you ever have the need….).

YouTube. (2019). Behind the scenes at the House of MinaLima exhibition. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aroMyH5tW4 [Accessed 1 Nov. 2019].

This video from Youtube gives a basic guide to the inside of the venue for anyone that hasn’t been…

Image result for house of minalima
Jones, R. (2019). The House of Minalima – The Graphic Art Of Harry Potter.. [online] The-magician.co.uk. Available at: https://www.the-magician.co.uk/house-of-minalima.htm [Accessed 1 Nov. 2019].

Not only is each individual piece of work highly skilled in its own right, the layout of the pieces inside the venue is visually delicious. Every surface is utilised, a trail of the famous letters lead you up the stairs whilst the stairwell itself is plastered with the ‘Wanted’ posters and ‘Daily Prophets’.

Facebook
Mentalfloss.com. (2019). The Harry Potter and <em>Fantastic Beasts</em> Easter Egg You May Have Missed. [online] Available at: http://mentalfloss.com/article/89598/harry-potter-and-fantastic-beasts-easter-egg-you-may-have-missed [Accessed 1 Nov. 2019].

One of the things I love about their work on this franchise is that they have had to create so many different aspects. They have designed book covers, newspapers, maps, posters, packaging, logos and even props amongst so many others. One of the hero props of the series is an item called a Marauders Map which was inked entirely by hand. As someone who has attempted to create several small drawings using dip pen only to be thwarted by the rogue ink blob, this meticulously drawn perfect prop absolutely blows my noggin. In one room of the gallery it is displayed at giant size and on the floor, I mean…why not!

Image result for inside house of minalima
Pacific Northwest and Beyond. (2019). The House of MinaLima. [online] Available at: https://www.pnwbeyond.com/galleries/house-of-minalima-photos/ [Accessed 1 Nov. 2019].
Image result for the marauders map
The Noble Collection UK. (2019). Marauders Map 1,000pc Jigsaw Puzzle — The Noble Collection UK. [online] Available at: https://noblecollection.co.uk/product/marauders-map-1000pc-jigsaw-puzzle/ [Accessed 1 Nov. 2019].

Within the story there is a joke shop run by two teenage boys. When it came to designing the joke shop products packaging MinaLima say in interviews that they had to think like these characters, to design something as they would have. This piece of knowledge made me understand something I hadn’t before. I’d always looked at the packaging and assumed that the designers were having an off-day, because it’s fairly naff. Now that I understand the approach behind it, it makes a lot more sense!

Image result for weasleys wizard wheezes
Wheezes, W. (2019). Foap.com: Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes stock photo by devoncr. [online] Foap.com. Available at: https://www.foap.com/photos/weasleys-wizard-wheezes-e0878b87-4755-435f-ae2b-a92f84370120 [Accessed 1 Nov. 2019].

Image result for weasleys wizard wheezes packaging
Pinterest. (2019). Harry Potter Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes packaging. Each piece of the packaging has so much detail and are really beautiful. | Joke Shop in 2019 | Harry potter events, Harry potter book 2, Harry potter dolls. [online] Available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/442900944577538367/?lp=true [Accessed 1 Nov. 2019].

Because I’m a huge MinaLima nerd I’ve watched a lot of their Youtube interviews. In one of them which I found particularly inspiring Miraphora Mina talks about how as a graphic designer you have to get really geeky about things like using the right type of paper, nerdy about fonts and typography, even about characters handwriting. The prop example which she used to illustrate this was a Paris postcard from the Fantastic Beasts films. It was reiterated again and again that authenticity in making the prop helps towards the characters getting properly into the role, how it gives them something of that era to relate too and use whilst surrounded by all the paraphernalia of a film set at work. I found this incredibly interesting to think about. Being from an engineering world, a lot of these very obvious things do not occur to me until I hear someone say them in an interview or read them in an article. These were messages which were repeated when I read articles about the work of Annie Atkins on the film The Grand Budapest Hotel. Food for thought!

Tutor Feedback Part 2. Reflection

I was very happy with my tutor feedback for Part Two.

Reading ‘The Toymakers’ again for the Assignment was an absolute pleasure so I will gladly revisit it to apply the suggestions made by my tutor.

My other main areas to work on are; primary research on something of interest which relates to the topics of time and place, and to just generally get out and looking at exhibitions more. I absolutely agree that I do not do enough primary research either online or in person. This cant be blamed entirely on my job, when I do get time at home the prospect of going out to visit a gallery often slips down my list of things to do…..after sitting on the sofa and catching up with Great British Bake Off….

One area which I would like to learn more about is Typography so I might use this as my theme to investigate.

I do have a quite easily accessible local gallery, so I do need to get myself down there more to check out the different exhibitions that travel through the town. I would also like to visit the gallery ‘House of MinaLima’ in London which is owned by the two graphic designers who worked on the Potter/Fantastic Beasts franchise. It was this duo which made me realise that graphic designers can also work in film, which I find very appealing. Reading abut their work has led me on further to artists such as Annie Atkins who worked on ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ amongst other things.

Assignment Four. Reflection

Well isn’t La Jetee thoroughly depressing! What a miserable film. Doing this assignment reminded me strongly of studying English GCSE in school. We had to read several books, one in which a man shoots his dog and then his best friend, one in which a character spirals into negative behaviors and then they ruined Shakespeare. They could have shown us Shakepeare live as it was designed to be seen, but why do that when you could make classrooms full of people thoroughly depressed analyzing every single line of a play in which two people pointlessly (and needlessly) kill themselves!? It took me about 15 years to realise that actually, Shakespeare is really good…but anyway, I digress.

Part Four has been more enjoyable than Part One. With only one stunningly bad (for me) exercise to complete this has been a lot more tolerable than I was expecting. I have even managed to find a bright side to the hours of my life spent despairing over the fame of the work of Richard Long, telling people about it. They either think it’s mental or don’t believe me, both of which reassure me that I’m not losing the plot. I’m sure that someones response to that would probably be ‘ah so now the actual artwork itself has become verbal…your words too are art…they have transcended the physical form’…..but luckily I don’t know that person, because if I did I would have to pick up one of Richard Longs carefully placed rocks and throw it at them.

If I had been interested in studying Photography with the OCA then to be honest this part of the module would have put me off. I think that I just don’t have the ‘high art’ bit of brain that people seem to need to properly engage with it. One positive influence that I will take from it is that I will try more black and white landscapes. I found the picture in the course manual of John Davies power station to be a lot more visually striking than I initially appreciated. This was enhanced by the use of black and white as opposed to colour. When I get back to Photography again, probably after this degree, this will be something that I consider a lot more.

Assignment Four

In this assignment I am to choose one of 6 options, write a short essay that expands on my opinion of the relationship between the creative aspects of the artwork, the message the artist is trying to convey and to what extent I feel photography is a necessary part of the process.

The option that I chose was;

2. Accumulating photographs together as a way of producing a hybrid between film and stills. See La Jetee, a 1962 French science fiction short film by Chris Marker.

I used Youtube to view La Jetee and then started to read around the topic of the film to gain a broader understanding of the messages it contains. Several online articles referred to the Terry Gilliam film ’12 Monkeys’ which was inspired by La Jetee, I found it online and watched that too. I was glad I did because I think it has helped me to better understand a lot of the insinuation of Markers original.

Usually a documentary maker, Marker both broke his own trend and joined French cinemas New Wave with this new experimental method of working. I have never seen a film made entirely from stills before, during my initial viewing I was struck by how much it reminded me of a storyboard, an idea for something else as opposed to a finished product. In this sense it also reminded me of Eadweard Muybridge’s ‘Jockey on a galloping horse’, the use of still images to imply motion. This was again highlighted to me during my research in which I found it referred to as both a photo-roman (picture novel) and a cine-roman (film novel).

Initially I wondered if the use of stills as opposed to film was due to a lack of resources of the Director, as I explored the potential different messages the film contained, I came to believe that it was an intentional choice to emphasise the points that he wanted to make.

The depiction of the scientists reminded me very strongly of the Nazi bad guys in Indiana Jones films. As it was made in the 1960’s I wondered if this was a bit of a statement on fascism and control? The use of stock imagery gives a documentary feel to the film whilst the narrator ties the sequential imagery together, and gives it meaning, just as it does in a factual documentary.

 There is a recurring theme of an individual not being able to escape their present. A person can escape into memories of the past or daydream about the future, but the present is the ruling narrative of the moment. Peoples perception of the past can be altered depending on at which age and in which circumstances they review the same memory. The increase in life experiences will alter both your perception and interpretation of it. This was demonstrated in La Jetee with the recurring use of the same photo frame at different points as the story progressed but with new narrative attached. It was further repeated in 12 Monkeys in which the two characters hide in a cinematic showing of Hitchcocks Vertigo (this film is also referenced in La Jetee) and one character feels like he has seen the film before but also that it is different and new because he is older.

The message of not being able to escape the present is further reinforced by the entrapment of the male character in his circumstances. Whether it is as the character attempts to break free from the course of La Jetee’s events and accidentally fulfils them or getting physically returned to his time by the scientists, the message of ‘not escaping the present’ is relentless.

Another message that I found was around memories. Memories are a form of time travel, to recall a previous experience is to move mentally in both time and space. In a way each memory, a mental snapshot of a moment, is like a film still. A singular scene captured and open to new interpretations as the life experiences of the individual who references it evolve. Several articles that I read referred to this as the idea that when we return to the past we realise we do not understand it at all.

A slightly more depressing message that I noticed was that even when attempting to change circumstances for the better, an individual is trapped on a pathway dictated by fate. Hopefully if this is remade again, it’ll have a slightly happier overtone.

The relationship between the creative use of photographic stills and the message that the Director had is essential to the final product. If the message of the film was different to that of time and space, then there would be little to be gained from using still images in the place of motion picture. The photography is required to reinforce the idea that time is made up of individual moments, each of which can be remembered differently and need a narrative to make sense of them. Without the narrative of an individual to give context it is just a jumble of images to which many different contexts can be applied.

In this way it is reminiscent of peoples photo albums. One moment is chosen over another in which to make a recorded image of a scene or occasion. With a narrative, these choices can be explained but without that they are just a random series of recorded memories.

In conclusion, in my opinion, photography is essential to the success of La Jetee and the strong message which Chris Marker wishes to communicate. Individuals can manipulate time and space temporarily but in the end they must always return to their present. Memories are like film stills in the reel of a life, requiring context for better understanding and whilst allowing temporary escape, unable to harbour the individual from their present life.  

Word count – 888

YouTube. (2019). La Jetée (1962) [english subtitles]. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLfXCkFQtXw [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].

En.wikipedia.org. (2019). La Jetée. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Jet%C3%A9e [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].

Dillon, B. (2019). Brian Dillon on the French director Chris Marker and his enigmatic masterpiece, La Jetee. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/mar/28/chris-marker-la-jetee-film [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].

The Criterion Collection. (2019). La Jetée: Unchained Melody. [online] Available at: https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/485-la-jet-e-unchained-melody [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].

Hinkson, J., Cameron, R., Rose, K., Rocket, S., Mikalatos, M., Rocket, S. and George, J. (2019). “There’s No Escape Out of Time”: La Jetée. [online] Tor.com. Available at: https://www.tor.com/2014/11/03/theres-no-escape-out-of-time-la-jetee/ [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].

Palmer, L. (2019). Criterion Files #387: La Jetée. [online] Film School Rejects. Available at: https://filmschoolrejects.com/criterion-files-387-la-jet%C3%A9e-da697b989ee3/ [Accessed 30 Oct. 2019].

Anon, (2019). [online] Available at: http://m4uhd.net/watch-movie-wyta-twelve-monkeys-1995-online-free-m4ufree.html [Accessed 31 Oct. 2019].