Gundagai’s Historic Bridges

Gundagi Bridges 8

A different angle for the Road’s Edge theme today. When approaching the edge of this road and it’s danger sign, you can’t see what awaits over the fence.  You can’t be sure how dangerous the danger will actually be.

In this case, the road’s edge on which the fence is sitting is pretty tame.

I was drawn, instead, to the tense predicament of the railings, stitched it seems, to the crumbling structure of the bridge.

Gundagi Bridges 10

Gundagi Bridges 9

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Related Posts

Collage Process 1

Tracing my love of collage

For this game, you have to think of a fun and creative thing you do! The next step may take a while. Trace it back through the years, right back to its genesis.

At this point, I should make myself clear. I don’t mean the first time you ever did whatever it is. Instead, look for when the essence of that fun and creative thing first appeared in your life.

It’s a tricky game. I know how difficult it can be. The consequences may, or may not, be useful. They may even be a bit alarming.  Yet, for me, it has been a worthwhile pursuit … to find out how creativity adds to my life.

Tracing back my love of collage

One of the creative things I love doing is collage. It’s only an occasional past-time. Nevertheless, I very much enjoy it, enough to have added a few examples to this blog some time back.

The first time most of us try collage is in our early school days. Did you have Construction Paper at your school? Bright colours that were a bit hideous, perhaps because of cheap printing processes for non-important school children.

The next time, for me as an adult, was in art class. It’s an efficient way of teaching beginners about colour. You mix the paint and paint some swatches. You cut up some swatches and arrange them, and re-arrange them. It’s efficient because there is little wastage, the swatches can be re-arranged time and again to try different effects. Eventually, glue is applied so you have something solid for your assignment.

Both those situations were rather technical in their focus. They were designed to teach. I love to learn, but that’s not where the essence of my current collage practice began.

When I was young, we had to wait patiently for the television broadcast to start. There was no such thing as 24/7 media. At some point in the afternoon, the test pattern changed to a pretty photo. This signalled that proper TV would start in 15 minutes. But until that singular point each afternoon, there were lots of hours to fill. Spending those early childhood years on a farm was a great help … a big outside world and a big farmhouse to run around in.

It wasn’t until I sat down to the latest puzzle that the penny dropped. Jigsaws were one of the many time-filling activities we loved. I realised this was where my love of collage began.

Children’s jigsaw puzzles

There are a few reasons for giving children jigsaw puzzles. The puzzle process encourages brain development, problem solving, etc. It also demonstrates – physically – that it’s possible to make sense of the seemingly disconnected world in which they live.

It is a lie, of course. It is impossible to find all the pieces we need to make sense of the world. Every piece we find adds a little more clarity to the overall picture, but the world is too big. Sometimes, what a piece means is not clear until it’s placed into context. Sometimes, we place a piece, happily, until another comes along and we see how wrong we were.

I wonder, having placed the last piece, did that neurologically hardwire the now highly opinionated to believe they had everything under control? Perhaps jigsaw puzzles should be forever missing a piece or two.

Yet, we should give a child that sense of surety, even if only for a little while. “OK you’ve solved that one. Let’s put it back in the box. Now, here’s another jigsaw puzzle with a new picture to assemble.”

Collage without the mystery

Does knowing make any difference? Surprisingly … Yes. It’s that sensation of the fog lifting. Things seem clearer; less fuzzy, less muddy, less mystery.

And that last point points to a new problem. I’m not sure I like this feeling of less mystery. It was very appealing, the idea that my collages were somehow outside the rest of my life. I’d sit at the table with scattered pieces of paper or photos. Immerse myself in the colours and lines. Remove all sense of the three-dimensional world, perhaps even a sense of self. The process was a place into which I could withdraw and hide.

Now I find it springs from hardwired experiences that date back to my early childhood. I don’t feel as if I’m escaping anymore.

All is not lost

I tried an internet search using two words – collage art. (Including art in the search criteria eliminated the photo collage software sites that topped the list!). I found an entry on the Museum of Modern Art’s website that was helpful …

“Despite occasional usage by earlier artists and wide informal use in popular art, collage is closely associated with 20th-century art, in which it has often served as a correlation with the pace and discontinuity of the modern world.”

I’m not interested in how the writer wants to distinguish high art from popular art.

I am interested in how the writer links collage to the “pace and discontinuity” of our lives.

Perhaps I was never escaping when I indulged in this playful art. Perhaps the world came with me, covertly. Perhaps I was responding to pace and discontinuity. However, when I titled some of my pieces, I felt terribly uncomfortable with this imposed connection back to the world.

Deconstruction

To make my collages, I must first destroy something – a magazine, a photo. This brought to mind deconstruction, and I searched out its meaning.

I found a useful definition at Oxford Dictionaries …

“Deconstruction focuses on a text, as such, rather than as an expression of the author’s intention, stressing the limitlessness (or impossibility) of interpretation and rejecting the Western philosophical tradition of seeking certainty through reasoning by privileging certain types of interpretation and repressing others.”

When I’m preparing the collage pieces, I have no interest in the photographer or artist’s intentions. Each discrete piece pulled from its context contains limitless possibilities and absolute uncertainty in what it will eventually become. It’s probably not what Derrida had in mind when he put forward his theories on deconstruction back in the 1960s, but it’ll do me.

It means that, even though some of the mystery has gone, ie I understand where my love of collage started and why I’m drawn to it, there remains plenty of limitlessness and uncertainty into which I can still lose myself.

Collage Process 1

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I’ve been looking at this image. I took it to illustrate this post.  It could be argued that the image it is not balanced – the cardboard templates on the right dominate and hold the eye.  Yet, I’m drawn to that pile of collage pieces that seem to be spilling past the left-hand frame. Occasionally, my eyes dart back to the potential piece at the centre of the template because the stack of shapes seem resolved, ordered, restful.

That got me wondering.  In which section of the photograph are you most comfortable?  The smorsgasboard of line and colour on the left, or the contained and hierarchical pile of shapes on the right?

Curious.

Recapturing life’s jewel moments

The idea is to value add, to get more in return for the investment of time and energy.

The jigsaw puzzle process has positive benefits for brain function.  It hits many hot spots, including memory, attention, focus, observation.  Rather than leave it there, I also wanted to tap into the creative and reflective centres, and the result is the Mini Jigsaw photographic series.

When I opened the latest box, each piece seemed like a little jewel.  The colours shone from their shiny surfaces.  Right away, I selected a few to photograph.  These seemed to jump out from the jumble as particularly striking colour combinations.

But the photographs didn’t work.  There were technical problems with exposure and background colour.  After shrugging off the disappointment, I proceeded with the puzzle.

Weeks later, puzzle now connected and spread out on the table before me, I’m looking again for those gems … or any gems.

The problem now is that I cannot see the individual pieces as individuals.  Each is encumbered by its context.  What was a striking arrangement of colours and brush marks, a mini abstract full of intrigue, is now a plant or a path.  Even when removed from its setting, my memory and experience bring the setting with it.

With every interaction, there is change.  Recapturing that jewel moment now seems impossible.

Nevertheless, I have attempted to capture the sense of it in this collage of three images.

Jigsaw gems

The Set Up

The background of black textured card is now white printer paper.  The natural light in my earlier attempts had accentuated texture, so today I opted for flash.  The angle of the shot then changed to reduce surface glare.  However, I neglected to change the white balance to the flash setting, so the paper is a little blue.  To compensate, I’ve heightened the contrast in the photo editing software.

In a photographic world where sharpness rules, these seem excessively out of focus.  There may have been some camera movement.  The limited sharpness of the pieces may have contributed – it is a photographed oil painting, and the edges of each piece are rounded.

Perhaps the solution is different camera equipment.  A macro lens might be the answer.

With every interaction, there is also the option of further change.  I wonder how much macros cost these days?

The Puzzle

It is a Crown Andrews puzzle called “Space for Reflection” – log cabin, lake, geese and an imposing snow covered mountain range.  The painter, Chuck Pinson.  A Christmas gift from my niece.  To be honest, it’s not one I would have selected for myself, but it has turned out to be a delight.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflection

Reflection is the challenge topic this week from WordPress’ Daily Post.  Early thoughts turned to shiny objects and still water.  These make for interesting photos but are not the things or places that trigger in me moments of personal reflection.

Before there can be reflection there must be immersion, and I usually walk quickly past reflective surfaces in case the view today is too alarming.

My challenge contribution is not the outcome of reflection or even the trigger for a reflective moment.

Instead, my contribution is about the process of reflection.

I walk past these protruding lumps of metal on my way to work, every day.  They were once traffic bollards on the edge of a pedestrian area.  A handful were cut off, probably years ago.  I didn’t give them much thought.

One day, when the light was right, when I stepped over one rather than around it, and I looked down …

I noticed something that had been there all along.  I saw the potential for strong and interesting images.

Patina

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We are surrounded by information and insight but, until the conditions are just right, we probably won’t notice.

The question then is … do we float along in our little world until life catches up with us, or do we actively look for insights that will make a difference?

Do we avoid and ignore; or immerse and reflect?

The Set Up

A tripod is an excellent addition to one’s photographic gear.  The effort it takes to set up slows me down.  The creative brain then has time to navigate the technical stuff.

Perhaps it also helped that it was a Sunday morning, with no-one around.  I didn’t feel self-conscious – what would people think!  … strange old lady taking photos of dirt instead of scenery.

Notebook

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

The theme for this week’s WordPress Daily Post photo challenge is Inside.  Rather than an image of the inside of an object, I think the aim is to get us thinking about the relationships involved, that is the relationship between the thing that is inside and the thing it is inside.

I haven’t got anything in stock that fits that criteria.  It was time to give some thought to producing an image for the challenge.

Inside is often associated with warmth, security, protection – “safe inside”.

It is also associated with restriction – “stuck inside”.

The “inside running” involves an advantage, similar to but more legal than “insider trading”.

The “inside leg” brings up images from that old British comedy, “Are You Being Served”, and the delicacy required when measuring from ankle to groin, thereby ensuring correctly fitting trousers.

Inside can also be linked to the distinction between public and private.  Our public persona is not necessarily the same as our private or inside self.  Who we are at work may not be the same as who we are at home.

At this point in my writing process, I looked around and absent-mindedly picked up a notebook.  It has a magnetised latch keeping it closed.  As I moved the latch aside and opened its pages, many still blank, I remembered another inside – the inside of a book, the world beyond its cover.  It’s an inside we can easily overlook in this computer age.  How many of you thought of a small laptop when you read “notebook”?!

The notebook represents the private world of journaling, the ultimate inside when compared to the blogosphere where we can now make public that which was once shrouded in taboo.

Notebook

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The Set Up

I sat the notebook on my desk and pulled the desk lamp across so it shone directly down.  The camera was hand-held, because I couldn’t be bothered to get the tripod out.  I eventually settled on a F-stop of 3.5, after starting at 1.4 and finding it too tight.  As it is, I don’t mind the out-of-focus red ribbon at the back.  If it had been too sharp, the image would be too flat.  I tried the White Balance on both the auto and indoor light settings.  I opted for the warmer feel of the auto setting.

The bit of blue in the background that acts as a contrast for the yellow of the desk – pure accident.