Assignment 5 – Tutor Feedback and Response

Overall Comments

Your final assignment for Context & Narrative has been received well; you set yourself a challenging piece, both thematically and technically, in which you followed through with dedication and conviction. The tableau is great and offers some interesting signs; there are a couple of areas that could be investigated further. The supporting research is your most successful element, with a good balance of visual and theoretical sources investigated, well done.

Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

Your tableau is a very competent piece that is indicative of a well-planned and executed project; this has come about through focused observational skills and a good visual awareness.

The merger of the separate images is not that noticeable, only the authority figure stands out slightly and looks displaced. You have noted about the placement of the figure against the dark tree line; indeed, this element does distract from the overall composition. The choice of the 14mm lens is OK, however as you have commented upon, it has distorted the figures to the right of the frame.

The scene is quite favourable and has yielded a very good compositional setting for your piece. As guided by your research into mediaeval religious art the placement of the pillar in the centre has made for an interesting central focal point, highlighted more so, through the flash lighting. However, I did find one of your reconnaissance shots taken of the interior of the west range ‘nk1_1911b’ to have more compositional potential, something about its symmetry.

Given the nature of the project the selection of the compositional setting was an important decision. There were a number of alternatives that would have been better compositions for a one off shot the abbey ruins but my final selection was based partly on the desire for a central pillar as mentioned above and partly on being able to fit the three scenes into the set.

Quality of Outcome

You have realised your ideas to a very competent level and have evidenced a sustained and coherent workflow. The work has been presented well and the quality is good; but have your thought how best to physically present this piece?

Looking at the religious themes in this piece, I would consider doing something, which could be considered rash, that is to cut it up into three separate images. As an investigation into presentation I would like you to turn this into ‘triptych’, I can see that as a panel of three it may make for a more enticing narrative. Try it; cut your image into three, portrait ratio pictures and lay them out side-by-side. If it does not work, then at least it is something extra for your growing learning log.

This is an interesting observation and I particularly like the idea of creating another link to medieval religious art. I will test out this idea before finalising assignment 5.

Demonstration of Creativity

This is no arguing your imaginative and very creative ability with this assignment, coupled with a strong experimental approach with the technical elements. Some of your semiotical considerations have not been that successful; I seldom use this word, but I find the bones to be a bit of a cliché in terms of their reading. Compositionally they work, as the bottom left of the frame is unbalanced without anything there.

This is a fair comment and in hindsight one that I agree with. I had printed off a significant number of “posters” referring to immigration (see here) and had intended to try using these on the floor in the large empty space to the front left of the image. The bones were destined for the fireplace that was deeper into the set. Unfortunately on the day there was a strong wind that blew all afternoon and the posters wouldn’t stay in place.  If the triptych experiment is successful I will remove the bones in Photoshop and see whether the empty space becomes a compositional  issue.

Through the clothing there is a subtle timeless feel, but with the shoes and your underlying message about contemporary discussions on immigration, the piece is to be read as a current representational narrative. When I read the image, it is the cloaked figure that comes across as being too ominous and dark. Although you intended for the figure to be ‘monk-like’ and provide a link to the past, I typically see a ‘death’ like presence occupying the scene. Perhaps this needed a contemporary dressed figure to serve as the authority in granting the supplication.

Again, very interesting comments. Perhaps a death-like presence is a little further than I wanted to go but it is intended that the black figure is an ambiguous and ominous presence to communicate the idea that migration is dangerous and that the individual’s future is in the hands of a faceless and potentially threatening bureaucrat.


Your research has been an excellent element to inspect, you have made some in depth investigations into pertinent practitioners that evidence a very good range of research sources. You have evidenced an intellectual understanding of the source material and have made some topical lines of enquiry.

Using Fish’s pamphlet as a thematic comparison and also its title is interesting, but I would consider changing it. You have expressed very well the importance of the word ‘supplication’ but not so much ‘beggars’, perhaps just title it ‘The Supplication’ or ‘Supplicated’, the latter could hint towards the act being successful, where the right hand part of the scene evidences this.

Worth considering. I like the simplicity of “The Supplication”

Learning Logs or blogs

Your learning log continues to grow into a strong and well-informed resource, which is documenting your progress very well. The post ‘Jeff Wall and the Cinematographic’ was a good entry. Look into the notion of hyperreality and the facsimile of the real. Have a read of Jean Baudrillard, in particular his text on the Simulacra and Simulation.

A slight digression, but his work came to mind thinking about staged or the appearance of staged photography. Have you seen the work of Ogle Winston Link? If not, then check out his well-lit scenes, I feel that Crewdson may have been inspired by some of his images, see:

Referring back to the notion of turning your tableau into a triptych, even if you do not, still investigate this alluring presentational format. For a great artist that uses this technique in creating some wonderful tableau styles pieces, see:

Also look at these beautiful portraits: captured-in-three-frames/


This final assignment has been very good to assess, it has a very topical theme to continue and develop for a later project, perhaps with less symbolism and in a documentary style. Finding the balance between the coded and noncoded iconic messages within your work is a challenge but an interesting one. Of course, the translation of the message is dependant on the reader and their symbolic vocabulary but sometimes the obvious signs and signifiers can become too blatant and they begin to loose their power.

Overall, well done, I have enjoyed seeing your progression throughout this unit.

To conclude this final formative feedback, it is OCA’s policy to assign you to another tutor for your next unit. So I wish you well with your continuous studies.

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