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Three case studies


For Peter Mansell (OCA, s.d; Student work uncovered – Peter Mansell, s.d) creating images of his life as a paraplegic is:

cathartic. I had not realised just how much emotional pressure I had repressed for so many years … In a way it sort of objectified my situation or experience and by so doing released me emotionally (OCA, s.d: 63).

Photography is a form of communication between photographer and viewer and in the work Mansell uses photographic technique as well as imagery to communicate his experience and emotions. For example in the ‘Landscape Assignment Three: A Linking Theme’ he employed a square format in order to evoke a feeling of claustrophobia and compression (OCA, s.d: 64; Student work uncovered – Peter Mansell, s.d )


Dewald Botha – Ring Road

The images in the series (Botha, 2012-13) capture the contrast between the built and the natural environment very well. For example Figure 1 shows mist with reflections of trees and distant buildings in still water — components of a garden scene. However, the buildings are high rise blocks, and framing the image is a massive concrete structure, perhaps a road overpass or elevated railway; the mist may well be polluted air. There is conflict and incongruity here. Figure 2 shows struggle between the natural and the built environment — a small tree reaching for the light and the green ground-plants growing where the light penetrates between the built structures. Other images are of areas where nothing grows (see fig.3.), or of where the view is severely restricted, almost claustrophobically so (see fig. 4.). The series of images tell of oppression, struggle, survival and I think predominately choice. Similar to the photographer/camera we can choose where to look and what to see: ‘mist on reflected water’ or ‘smog viewed from a underpass’ (see fig. 1.). Nothing has been decided, no particular outcome is preordained. Any definite outcomes or answers can only be glimpsed on our metaphorical journey, but also, Botha suggests in this work, while walking the actual 27 kilometre distance of the Ring Road.


Jodie Taylor – Memories of Childhood

The subject of this series is nostalgia (Boothroyd, 2013) and Taylor revisits places of her childhood in order to photograph them. The style and presentation is that of a family album typical of a particular time and socio-economic group. Similar to Peter Mansell’s choice of the square format (above) the choice to shoot on 35mm colour film, print as 6×4′s, and present in a cheap and flimsy black album, is:

very much in keeping with what would have been the norm for working class families in the 80′s and 90′s.  These technical decisions have enormously helped to evoke a feeling of an era and, as well as the pictures themselves, really add to the feeling of nostalgia and give a strong sense of British history (Boothroyd, 2013).


Which of these projects resonates most with you, and why?

Of the three studies the one that resonates most with me is Dewald Botha’s ‘Ring Road’. The reason is that I find it the most imaginative in its choice of subject used to evoke the unseen. In the other two studies the choice of subject (‘life as a paraplegic’ and ‘nostalgia for childhood’), once chosen dictated to some extent the choice of imagery– that it revolved about mobility and care in one case and teenage hangouts in the other. This is not to detract from the artist’s success in these cases but to show where Botha’s work differs. While living in China Botha often:

felt like an outsider. He found the busy-ness and intensity of life in China smothering so began to use his camera to explore this personal issue (OCA, s.d: 65).

The range of ways he could have chosen to do this photographically is very broad and therefore required a very imaginative response — for example there are no people in his series. Many themes are present and many of the images are evocative and open to metaphoric interpretation (above).

This post continues with ‘Project 3 Photographing the unseen — #2’ at: https://cormac513273.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/project-3-photographing-the-unseen-2/


Boothroyd, Sharon (2013) Photography and Nostalgia [online] At: http://weareoca.com/photography/photography-and-nostalgia/ (Accessed on 10.11.14)

Botha, Dewald (2012-13) Ring Road [online] At: http://dewald.weebly.com/ring-road.html (Accessed on 10.11.14)

OCA (s.d) Three Case Studies. In: Photography 1 Context and Narrative [online] At: http://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/oca-content/course-pdfs/ph1cn_270314_red.pdf (Accessed on 10.11.14) pp. 62-68

Student work uncovered – Peter Mansell

OCA (s.d) 3 mins At: http://www.oca-student.com/resource-type/student-work-uncovered-peter-mansell (Accessed on 10.11.14)

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. Botha, Dewald (2012-13) Ring Road At: http://www.dewaldbotha.net/uploads/2/6/9/8/2698787/931524_orig.jpg (Accessed on 08.11.14)

Figure 2. Botha, Dewald (2012-13) Ring Road  At: http://www.dewaldbotha.net/uploads/2/6/9/8/2698787/2625760_orig.jpg (Accessed on 08.11.14)

Figure 3. Botha, Dewald (2012-13) Ring Road  At: http://www.dewaldbotha.net/uploads/2/6/9/8/2698787/2509963_orig.jpg (Accessed on 08.11.14)

Figure 4. Botha, Dewald (2012-13) Ring Road  At: http://www.dewaldbotha.net/uploads/2/6/9/8/2698787/7299409_orig.jpg (Accessed on 08.11.14)