Practice Development : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

As we move towards completion of the masters degree, the cohort was invited to submit to Source Magazine.  We held a poll to decide who should organise the submission and Jo Sutherst and I came out with the most votes, thus we undertook a joint submission of 10 students’ work.  The resultant web page can be found here (accessed on 19th August 2018)


The page relevant to my submission; see fig 1.

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Figure 1


I was delighted to hear a mention of my exhibition on the Monocle Magazine audio, via an interview with Chrispoher Beanland, fig 2.

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Figure 2

The mention is 24:55 minutes into the narrative.



Art Blogger’s Review

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5


Figure 1

Ruth Millington is a very active art blogger and, following on from the previous piece she wrote for the show, she visited the show in order to write her more independent, fulsome review.

On the projected series she writes  “This is my favourite part of the show. As each set of images are paused, silently, the eye is drawn to shafts of natural light, which illuminate aspects of the architecture. The film requests a meditative, reflective response. Within the space, a solitary coat hanger or empty duo of chairs mark moments of humanity, the objects acting as vessels of memory. The transience is transfixing, celebrating the nuances of life”.


Link (accessed 8.2.2018)

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A Film

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

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Figure 1

It was a good agreement that we reached with the gallerist – to allow my erstwhile agent to make a film of me talking about the show for her website.  With a view to renewing the commercial arrangement, Jaanika Okk spent about 90 minutes filming me talking through the whole raison d’etre and details of the show.

Okk has made judicial edits and placed the film on her website, fig 1.  It is circa 11 minutes long.

An introductory still – fig 2

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Figure 2


Reference – accessed 8.7.2018


Feedback Cards

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5


Figure 1

The date; 30th June 2018; the melting pot of emotion was packaged away, literally and metaphorically, into a box as the whole content of the show was carefully wrapped and stored, leaving that space, fig 1, looking soulless. It is quite an endeavour hanging, presenting and selling one’s work.  The resolve, however, is to press the ‘repeat’ button.

It was heartening to read three of the comment cards on leaving, to add to the previous one. Figs, 2, 3 and 4 interestingly evoke memory and imagination in these viewers; ideas about childhood, Hoovers and the people that made those places.  These were all very positive and it is rewarding to read of the impact the work has had on viewer’s minds.


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Figure 3


Figure 4

Social Media

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5


Figure 1

Visits continue at the show, fig 1.

I was pleased to see two other pieces of media activity; Leon Trimble (AV artist) , who advised and taught me to use Madmapper, visited and commented on Twitter, fig 2 and his Great Expectations character citing was insightful.  He also noted his favourite concrete piece.

Grain, the regional photography hub for the Midlands also attended (notably ‘swiveling one of my images!) and the Gallery promoted the work too, fig 3

All of this is pleasing progress.

Figure 2
Figure 3


The serendipity of browsing Twitter sometimes unearths nice surprises; in this instance, from a person, I do not know, fig 4


Figure 4


Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Considered, measured, informed and applicable feedback is highly important for my own growth and to form the submission to my university as a critique of this exhibition, not only as a final product, but the ongoing evolution of practice.

Warm and lovely words were spoken to me at the launch and subsequently.  Yet the cold, analytical word is harder to come by.  I did solicit it in several quarters and some came.

figure 1

A senior tutor from the Birmingham City University photography BA course was the only person, to date, to use the feedback cards left for noting upon.  Figure 1 sets out his note and observations.  I do agree with his analysis; my ‘style’ is not wholly evolved and I am aware that it is not visually managed to the extent that I believe I can develop.

The director of New Art West Midlands came to the launch which was welcome as he gave me a portfolio review in December 2017.  He asked me to meet again for coffee and we talked about the 2019 Coventry biennale and related issues.  Interesting he and I talked whilst holding the demonstration concrete tablet I placed in the upper gallery – this was a strong reminder of the tactile quality of the three-dimensional work and the disadvantage of it being displayed on the gallery walls.

I received two email responses to the show, which I extract thus;

“Apologies for leaving early on Thursday. I had to get down to the Conservatoire for a concert. It was important for me to be there.

You were downstairs chatting when I left so I didn’t feel I wanted to interrupt you.

I thought your exhibition provocative in that amongst the fossilised remains of past architecture and the witnesses to human occupation and activity (Dundee Cake particularly appealed to me ). There was a yearning for something to come next.

Quite why this quotation from Orwell comes into my mind I really do not know——-“who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past”. The course of inspiration perhaps and story telling rather than political control  that Orwell had in mind .

It was good to see old friends and better to see the exhibition.”

This was a cheering receipt – as the reference to ‘fossilised’ was an appropriate word applied to the work, given that I had not used it myself.   It is always interesting when people pick out one image for particular celebration or examination.  I am pondering the Orwell quotation and it will rest with me.  The ‘Dundee Cake tin’ was referenced by others as being appealing – I clearly would, if I had the opportunity, ask why, meanwhile I assume it was because of its textual reference, orange colour ad the fact I found it percted on dim wooden structures that helped it stand out.

The second email was thus;

“Firstly thank you for your kind invitation to the opening of your exhibition at the Argentea.  I imagine it has required a huge amount of effort and a great deal of self-confidence to be able to publicly display what is, in reality, hugely personal work.

I heard many positive comments during the discussions I had, and you must have been pleased at the large turnout. I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to give you my feedback by email rather than on the reverse of the card.

I thought the exhibition was professionally curated, the images on concrete in particular being very striking not only in their presentation but also in concept. I felt the images all bore a warmth that spoke to the affection you felt for your subject, almost as if they were shot on film.

I’ve seen many abandoned buildings during my career, and all the items just left behind when the people and processes move out. Your work captures something that is truly fleeting, that evokes a moment in time when all that was, at one moment, useful and maybe essential is just left behind as something no longer needed and unimportant. All of the material will be consigned to the skip.

Well done for this evening and I really hope you enjoyed what I thought was a very successful event.”


This was appreciated as it noted the effort and sense of exposure that made the show what it was in terms of a personal endeavour and time investment that risked or conveyed a personal observation, journey and development.  The film reference I believe came from the nature of the decal film that was commented upon my a handful of people I spoke to, as it has a mat finish and a degree of translucency that allows the concrete surface and patina to bed with the images as viewed.

RH 9Figure 2

One person who attended told me he though this image, fig 2 (Roundhouse) was the “saddest on show” which was intriguing as it is not how I read the image, I believe he was seeing a dying ember at the death throes to extinguishment.  Plus to refer to it as the saddest perhaps calibrates it to a show of sad emotion and this is perhaps the most extreme example, in his mind

Social media tends to be engaged with when people have been provoked in a response, positive or negative two were notable as they resulted in retweets and comments.  The first, fig 3, was the outcome from a rather nice surprise in that Beanland said the nicest things which perhaps do not further one’s critical awareness do however help promote th show and the practice, thus (I encountered this on Instagram and Twitter).  The second, fig 4, referenced my history of working in regenration and thus having an involvement with change and thus demolition and refurbishment.


Figure 3



Figure 4

Other Reflections

Because there had been debate amongst tutors and the gallerist about the mounting and framing of the three prints that had while lines around the edges (between the photographic frame and mask) I felt prepared to address and acknowledge it.  It did not come.  This clearly does not indicate acceptance, but it was not highlighted.

I watched a number of people in the projection space and the dwell time tended to be over 5 minutes.  The stream of images was under 4 minutes, thus they were watching the full diptych roll all the way through.  Some walked through the two projector beams to position themselves at the far side of the space, others tucked in to the left side of the space entry opening which, in my view, having tested locations, was the optimum viewing point for two screens.  It is perhaps a little ambitious an observation but people seemed to be entranced by the roll.


Viewers’ Value

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5


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The gallery created a profile and pricing handout, figs 1, 2 to give to viewers (using the novelty of grey paper to complement the concrete work).  Pleasingly this assisted in asale at the first weekend of a limited edition print.

I attended the gallery on the open days following the launch to show people around.  I also spent an hour talking to the camera to create a short movie in 4 parts introducing my background the approach to the body of work and the 3 media used.  This was done with Jaanika Okk of Okk Arts as we will use it to promote a selection of my work with a new contract, fig 3.

IMG_3945Figure 3


Images Philip Singleton via iPhone

Launch Day

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

IMG_3906IMG_3908Figures 1, 2

The 14th June at 18.00 people began to arrive.  60 glasses were used (figs 1, 2) which represented an excellent turnout.  It seemed the PR and direct communications paid off and I was very pleased.

I was especially pleased that the write and journalist, Christopher Beanland came up to the launch.  He is based in London.  I had used his quote in my writing “if we turn concrete to dust, where do those memories go?”

The images below provide an overview of the evening;


I delivered my speech, fig 3, then gave everyone a zine to take away.  I also promoted the comments cards, explaining that this show was for my masters degree and comments were welcome and important to my own critique.

me talkFigure 3


All images by Helena Singleton, with the exception of figs 1 and 2 – Philip Singleton



Installation – Episodes 2 to 5

Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

The first day spent hanging at the gallery created a residual anxiety.  I enlisted the help of a friend for day two, which proved invaluable.

Much progress was made with spacing all of the concrete tables but also rehanging them on new wires and new hangers which created a  far more satisfactory practical and visual solution.  A laser level was applied throughout the day and this created an opportunity to perfect levels on the tablets, prints and projection mapping.

Three timelapse videos were made, the first – Episode Two – shows the rehanging of the tablets, thus;

The second – episode Three – the hanging of the cloth on the grey walls (from the hanging rail) for projection in the anti-space, projector testing and tuning using MiniMad Raspberry Pi controllers, then the rehanging (using Velcro applied to the rail and skirting board to create a tension and reduce the creases) and the final set up.

The third – Episode Four – illustrates the final hang and leveling of the concrete tablets and prints along with the installation of the spotlights.


Learning Points

Working in three media creates three sets of challenges with the install, each has to be tested, thought through and in many cases revised and solved.  This takes time and thus allowances have to be made.  Whilst complex the final solution actually looked relatively slick and simple, proving, for example, my belief that simplicity is manifest out of much refining and often complexity.

I had allowed ample time in the production and installation but had I been allowed only one day for installation that would have resulted in failure, without a doubt.  I estimate the ‘person hours’ on install to be a total of 22.


Final Preparation

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The clean-up, fig 1, was done on the launch day (14th June 2018) using micro-fibre gloves.

Before people arrived I shot a short film on the iPhone, see Episode 5 below. It opens with a view from the spiral stair down into the lower gallery space where I was pleased to be able to mount a concrete tablet onto the wall, reversed to show its texture (which proved a subsequent talking point to viewers)


Image Credits

All short films created via a Go-Pro type tripod mounted camera shooting every 20 seconds.

Fig 1, Helena Singleton






Installation : Final Major Project

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 5

Related image

I am quite familiar with writing and delivering speeches.  It is, from experience, unusual for launches of shows at Argentea for the artist to speak.  Yet I always value hearing the words of the creator of any work; it provides insight and analysis that may not be otherwise apparent, especially at an opening when there is little quiet time to read catalogue citations.  So I shall be delivering a speech.  Knowing that the audience will, all being well, be a mixture of people that are familiar with me along with those I have never met, I need to be friendly but not too informal.  I know too that there will be art and photography specialists and practitioners in the room, so the talk needs to be informative but as a counterpoint, not too esoteric, to avoid losing the wider audience.

The first draft is done and it is a blend of thank you’s, context, invitation and celebration. It may yet alter but it has been satisfying making a draft.

I shall rehearse it during Thursday morning, the day of the launch.

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Title image accessed 11 6 2018