We recently had a guest lecture with Sian McFarlane about her work mainly the MA work she did called We Will Meet Sooner Than Two Mountains. The final piece for this work was in video form and was shown at the MA exhibition using projectors on the wall and floor.
This work is very site specific and the name links to the idea that people can still meet through time this therefore links to a welsh proverb – Two men will meet sooner than two mountains. Here is the link to a video interview with Sian about this piece of work.
This piece uses speach and music along with the natural sounds of the environment over the top of the video footage. This project really tells us a story. In the lecture we had with Sian she said she was really trying to achieve a piece that gave a feeling for one place and how she could photographically show a place that may not always have been there or will still be there for future generations. For this work she looked at archival photographs, letters etches was her main focus throughout the MA course leading up to this piece of work.
She first went to the area 4 years previous and started to take photographs with found cameras from junk shops. She would manipulate the film and do things to it e.g. double exposure, burry it, expose on purpose and many other things. The main focus was the lanscapes and places she was familiar with before.
Sian created a piece of work called Llyn (means lake in welsh) This work was depicting a place where she would go and visit constantly as a child. Near to her grandmothers house. This means it was a place she was familiar with and the different ways that it had changed over time. She said that she was looking at depicting the invisible sense of place and started to see links to others work especially landscape painters. For example Caspar David Friedrich – Wanderer (shown below)
Sian McFarlane looked at the idea of us just looking out at the landscape possibly something that you own, rather than being a part of it and being part of the bodied experience of the place and how you think and feel when there and when experiencing it tat place this then links back to how your memories give feelings of a place. She also looked at how the place has been used in multiples and finding similar things that pop up again and again or when people visit again and again and how this brings back feelings of previous visits.
Sian told us that she was very interested in looking at found images and that she found one particular set which were 1-30 something. They were all tracking a journey and were all numbered on the back and included the date, f-stop and shutter speed. Also a description of the area and what the day was like. She went particularly to Betws-y-Coed and revisited the found photographs that had been taken and re-took them trying to do it at the same time during the year and day.
This project then led to further research in to the artist groups that met there and in particular one called Henry Clarence Whaite (1821-1912) she found letters from his daughter (Lily Whaite) to him from the age of 6 to around the age of 30. Sian read through the letters and found out about how the life of lily and her life would have comparisons, for example having an english father and welsh mother, so having that link back to Wales and the place the work is focused on. Sian went through these and found the interest in certain places and she went out in search for Lily in these places.
When visiting these places that were talked about in the letters there was the feeling and idea that even though time has separated them by going to the places they can still meet the people there through the time space.
Sian McFarlane has a new ongoing project which is again focused on archives this time it is the archives of photographs of carnivals and fetes in Walsall she is beginning to revisit these places and photographing and videoing them. Looking through the archives and finding things of interest for example the exerts of the scripts from the carnivals and reenacting them and going back in time and pulling it through to today and doing kind of a compare contrast of then and now.
This lecture was very interesting because it felt a lot with the ideas of bring the past to the present and revisiting the place and trying to link it in to modern day. This links to my work in the way that I want to focus on bringing the past of Allesley Park in to the present day life of the park today. This linked to my idea well and helped me think of how I could use the things I had found when accessing the archive to link to my work for example the photographs of the house, and overlaying those with my images of the house at present day.
At the end of this lecture we took part in a short workshop where we looked at our own personal archives and started to deconstruct them and think about how we felt looking back in to the past and comparing it to today. I took in some photographs of me and my brothers (shown in the scans below)
These photographs all link in to the same memories for me. When discussing them with Sian we spoke about my memories of going to see my two younger brothers in hospital when they had just been born. These memories are very similar in that I stayed at my grandad and grandmas both times and went to visit with them after they had been born. There are three years between me and the oldest younger brother and then three years between him and our youngest brother.
The first photograph is of just me on the sofa this was taken a few weeks before my oldest younger brother was born, this makes this one of the last photographs taken when I was an only child. The second photograph is of me again but this time I am not alone I am reading to my little brother just a few weeks after he was born. I remember going to see him in the hospital and remember walking up endless amounts of stairs and knowing that I would have a brother when we left the hospital. The next photograph is of my youngest brother when we went on an outing to Abby Fields. I have a similar memory of him being in hospital after he was born and going to vista but this time we went up in a lift instead of up millions of stairs which is quite different to the memory of my first brother being born. I also remember helping my mum and dad to bath him when we got him home and me and my oldest younger brother wanted to help but then we saw the peg on his belly button and were really freaked out so we ran away screaming that he was an alien. I think it would be quite interesting to recreate these images now because quite a lot has changed since then as one of my brothers is now 6 foot and the other one is well on the way there.