Using Collage to Quickly Generate Imagery
After reading through my selected three texts and making notes, I then used these to inform my visual creations in the first workshop of the year lead by Emily Evans. Collage is usually something I find difficult as drawing is a strength of mine, so to push myself out of my comfort zone into a technique I don’t feel I have any control over, because I don’t feel as successful at it, is somewhat challenging for me. However it is an effective way at generating large quantities of work in a short space of time which can be used to inform the next development process of my idea.
Before tackling the task of the workshop ahead, we were shown some examples of how collage is used effectively by renowned artists and illustrators, which made the thought of doing the collage workshop less daunting because I had something in mind to reference whilst doing it. Hannah Hoch was mentioned as a reference, one I noted down as soon as she was mentioned having previously researched her collages in the past. I really enjoy the fragmented nature of her illustrations; they look misplaced yet fit together so well. This could work well in the way I’m interested in the relationship between the man made and nature and how the two are confused in Philip Hoare’s Spike Island.
However, considering drawing is a strength of mine, I was more intrigued by the work of George Douglas and Margaux Soland because of the hand drawn and painted elements that were worked into the collage successfully. I think if I attempt this, I need to think about how I add drawn elements, whether I paint them in, use pen, ink, brushes, and which is the most appropriately suited.
Initially the brief asked that we used a sentence to work from and then break it down and use the key words from it. However I picked three sentences to work from:
“Dark romance of the ruins” – Spike Island
“Rising out of vegetation”- Spike Island
“It had no existence in my mind as a real town”- New Ruins (Owen Hatherly)
I liked how, together, these sentences formed in my mind an idea of Southampton. It makes it somewhat easier that I’ve not been there before so I allow the texts to inform my ideas visually. Based on this, I had collected images to use for the workshop beforehand, which included pictures of ruins (some of Netley Abbey itself), nature, forests, dusk, the moon and brutalist and Gothic architecture. I think it was helpful using my texts as a basis for image collection for this workshop as it made me feel confident that I would hopefully produce work I could develop further.
Before getting into the actual photocopying and collaging of the images, one requirement of the brief was to do preliminary composition sketches so that the collages were considered. I found this helpful as I had something to loosely aim for when collaging. It meant that I didn’t feel like I would run out of ideas of what to do. This is definitely something I should do more of in general to help me generate ideas quickly, regardless of the technique I’m using.
Overall, I was surprised at how I captured the nature of this fragmented new vision of Southampton I got from my selected texts. At first I worked from colour photocopied images and I was concerned with making sure there was a balance between the imagery and negative space because I didn’t know what I was gonna do with the images afterwards but I was aware that adding text was something that would come later. Beyond working in colour, I found that photocopying my images after they had been collaged enhanced the sinister Gothic nature of Spike Island but also resonated well with the Owen Hatherly quote referencing the industrial nature of Southampton. Also made me think of concrete.
Asides from the way I collaged my images, I think some of my most successful outcomes were where I manipulated my images on the photocopier (see below), moving the image as it was copying. This then created a wavy distorted image. This instantly made me think of the dystopian, abstract way I think of Southampton based on my readings. The images were also in black and white which heightens the moody tone of the text, which is what I wanted my imagery to do.
The stage after the image generation was to add text to the images and see how adding a word or sentence could change the way the image is read. I really didn’t understand how to add the text and figured it was something I was gonna figure out for myself at home. At the end of the workshop, everyone put their work up in the studio so we could talk about what worked well. I looked around the room and saw that Logan had managed to begin adding text. This gave me some idea of what the brief meant to do. I also liked that her type was hand drawn. With this in mind, I decided to keep things simple and just play around with my sentences and figure out how I could add the text.
I was pleased with my final text experiments (below) because I felt like I grasped how to add text to the collages effectively. I realised that the benefits of being in the studio for this particular task were helpful as had I not seen another student’s use of text, I might not have ever understood what I had to do.
In terms of further development, I would really like to work into m collages, adding drawn elements like George Douglas and Margaux Soland or solely just using the collages as compositions to draw from if the drawing isn’t successful.