D I & C: P.21 Exercise 1.1

Using a list of artists as inspiration, create a series of 6 – 8 images using layering techniques.

I have chosen Helen Sear as my inspiration & have created my own series: “Nature under threat”. What I found interesting about Helen Sear’s work & what I have tried to achieve also, is the magic created by her layers and  which makes you believe that the work is in 3D.  What I have aimed to do in my work is to give the photographs a quasi-tangible surface which is often lacking in straight photographs except, perhaps, the original prints of Ansel Adams which, in  my opinion, challenge you to see them as 3D objects.  Sear’s work inevitably has a portrait over which is layered an image of a textured object which together create what David Company has called ” magic and realism .. never pure, fixed or entirely knowable.”(http://davidcampany.com/helen-sear-inside-the-view/).  Combining portrait and landscape make you inevitably create a narrative, thus a third image, of that faceless person in an often unidentifiable landscape.  I have used the same principle and have chosen portraits of flowers, with one exception, on conventional landscapes, with one exception.

Macro Hawthorne flower on confluence 1 1400px DSCF6070.jpg
May flower at the confluence of East and West.
Fishing nets and plane trails DSCF8204.jpg
Work and leisure.


Wild flowers on rextiles IMG_1674.jpg
Wild no more.


Wild flower network 2 IMG_0288.jpg
Forsythia and destruction IMG_1819 1.jpg
Make way for progress.
Industrial lace IMG_2851-1.jpg
Industrial lace
Magnolia sunsetIMG_2851-1.jpg
Magnolia sunset.

Produce a 500 word blog post on the work of one contemporary artist-photographer who uses layering techniques. (This can be any of the artists cited in any section of D I & C)

Peter Kennard


Paradoxically this exhibition was set in the Imperial War Museum which, through its war memorabilia exhibited, glorifies war.  It was set in four spaces each dealing with different aspects of Kennard’s take on wars in general & the Iraq war in particular.  The spaces were relatively small so you were very close to the items on display which enhanced the oppression.

What I found exceptional was:

•The immense talent of the author in his ability to make us react to his work through the vast range of his expression.

•The relentless commitment of the author.

•How words are of secondary importance (but the concept of numbers is essential) in understanding his ideas.

•How superb his art work is & I had not realised that his Decoration series was a series of paintings.

•The collages & photomontages were exceptional for their time & are still relevant & valid today.  Unlike Helen Sear’s work, there is no magic here but the directness in the realism punches unambiguously the author’s message.

•His blunt use of numbers everywhere echoes the apocryphal statement:” A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic” attributed to Josef Stalin in 1943.  The magnitude of the statistics made me feel incapable of comprehending the scale of human suffering – I felt number numb after having seen the exhibition.

•His small oil paintings of faces emerging from the black background without a context, titled Face (2003), are starkly different from the rest of the work.  It still talks of globalisation – where does the face come from – Kurdistan or London?  The mouth is absent : referencing the lack of communication or learning from one atrocity to another – and still trying to tell a story.  We are implicated in their story – are the powerless trying to emerge or are they going back into obscurity?  They are, nonetheless,  voiceless – Kennard has not given them mouths or allowed them to speak – can we empathise? Is the author the only communicator?  This is the question the author forces us to ask ourselves throughout the exhibition.

Kennard’s anti-war posters are striking and unambiguous: there is nothing glorious in war: not in the medals, not the missiles, not the money made from munition sales.  His collages are stark, brazen and are designed to offend.  Their very nature makes you examine every component both separately and as an assemblage and it is the process brings home the product’s message.


In his last space, there is a spatial layering of free-standing images, business cards and statistics; the material is made of perspex, paper, transparencies and collages: the arrangement resembles a collage about to be put together: images, text and numbers waiting to be glued together to form one composition except that the composition varies depending on where the viewer is standing in the room which gives the composition of the complex space a myriad combinations making it a thoroughly unique application of the layering concept.  Whichever way you look at it, the profound subject knowledge of the author and his mastery of collage are beyond question.





Kennard,P.: 2015. Unofficial war artist.IWM.



4 thoughts on “D I & C: P.21 Exercise 1.1”

  1. I felt the force of Kennard’s commitment as I read your words. I wonder what it must be like for him to keep giving the same message over and over again in different ways and yet nothing appears to change.
    I think you’ve produced some very interesting images using Helen Sears as a reference point. Is it possible for you to link larger images, rather than embedding them directly into the post, as I would love to see them larger.


  2. It’s not only his commitment which is laudable but also how he comes up with new ideas – if he were to give up would anybody else step up? I doubt it – through anti-war fatigue/numbness? Are the simulation games counter-acting the effects of his appeals? I feel it’s the same story with the appeals like those of Oxfam – do they achieve anything? He rails against corruption and double standards and cynicism – don’t we all? He creates art through it & we admire the artistry.
    Do you think my images are just images or can you feel the 3D and do you feel you can touch them?


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