Dibs Photography

A masters essay. Winterton and my mind

       Dibs McCallum

Winterton and my mind 

Written in August 2018 as part of my Master’s degree in the arts at Norwich University of the Arts

Printed and submitted, this was a 17-page essay, but due to online formatting this is how it looks in November 2020

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Table of illustrations …………………………………
Introduction …………………………………………….
Chapter One ……………………………………………. 
Chapter Two: ……………………………………………
Conclusion ……………………………………………….
Bibliography ……………………………………………..

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Table of illustrations.  

Fig 1. hwww.theoutdoorguide.co.uk. 2018. the outdoor guide. [ONLINE] Available at: http://theoutdoorguide.co.uk/britains-favourite-walks/norfolk-coast-path/. [Accessed 9 August 2018].

Fig 2. Dibs McCallum. 2018. Instagram. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/BjdVUhTgIEW/?taken-by=photographer_dibs. [Accessed 12 August 2018].

Fig 3. Moorhouse, P. (2002) Richard Long: walking the line. London: Thames and Hudson (pg.109)

Fig 4. Dibs McCallum. Winterton on Sea, Ariel image. 2018

Fig 5. Caspar David Friedrich, Solitary Tree (or Lone Tree), 1822, oil on canvas, 55 x 71 cm


Introduction

My initial concept was to look to the local to the area I live in, it is an area of outstanding natural beauty and of historic interest – that needs to be documented to preserve. This is the area of work that motivates me as I have an interest in the use of photography to catalogue history and previous landscape for future generations, focusing on the ruins and remains of the Cold War era in East Anglia, my intent was to document everything that was now enveloped within the landscape. 

However, there was a framework by which I had to set my work and unfortunately, due to reasons beyond my control linked to access rights of the land I had to change the whole project. 

 It is at times such as these that the depth and professional attitude of the photographer will either make or break the concept. I could have adapted the viewing points, taken less than perfect images, which in turn would now place limitations on the creative concept of my initial idea. Instead, I put this on hold and reflected on new ideas. It’s astounding how motivating the pressure of a looming deadline and the desire to produce work to the highest of calibres can get the creative ideas flowing. 

 It has long been known that exercise and an outdoor lifestyle is good for physical health, but more recently the associated benefits for the mental health and well-being of a person has been key to the concept of the use of the ‘arts’ as a medium for societal well being. The great inclusion of society through the medium of fitness and arts combined. So, with this in mind, come with me on a journey, imagine a walk, reflect on the exertion and the feeling that this exercise gave you, a sense of joy, are you starting to feel ‘happy’ just from the memory? Well, once out walking I have found that my mind does start to slow down and I can start to think in a more creative manner. 

It was through these long walks that I managed to relax and start to subconsciously think about making work. I was beginning to get stressed out and was anxious about what work I was going to be creating. It became apparent that it was not just about the making and of the work in a physical sense or the final finished product, but it was about the whole process including the state of mind one is needed to be in to be able to make the work in the 1st place. This enabled me to drill down to the actual primary driver to my work, to identify the actual ‘givens’ in my personality that would be the starting concept for my work, my love of walking and being in the great outdoors. This realisation helped me to get a better understanding of myself and what was really important in both my life and the making of work, my new concept was born, Winterton, named after the area I have documented.


Chapter 1 

The work looks at public walks along a specific part of the United Kingdom’s coastline. However, for
the purposes of this project, I am focusing on areas of Norfolk. I wanted to draw in the emotional
element to being outdoors and the feeling of vibrancy without limitations that this area of the UK
can instil in a person’s core being. The vast open space, the harsh reality of an eroding coastline and
the beauty and sense of calm this can evoke. Even when walking alone you are never lonely. The
landscape is a friend to us all, a provider of nourishment for the soul. It was said by Charles Lamb
that ‘I am in love with the green earth’ and I couldn’t agree more, the world and the landscapes
within will never cease to provide wonder and inspiration. 

Lamb, C., 1835. Essays of Elia (Vol. 88). Baudry’s European Library. 

Winterton-On-Sea in Norfolk makes up part of the coastline that is on the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coastal Path and has been marked as an area of scientific interest. Winterton - Horsey Dunes - Special Area of Conservation - SAC - Habitats Directive http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/ProtectedSites/SACselection/sac.asp?EUCode=UK0013043



Fig 1

Usually when I go out to shoot I research the locations and weather forecast, how the light will fall
and perhaps an idea of what I will shoot. For this project, though there were no restrictions, I just
wanted to feel free to explore. I have enough restrictions in my day to day life and part of this
attempted workflow is about breaking free life’s shackles. I found I started to make images or at
least test shots that allowed me to start getting ideas of what work I could build upon. 

In his book ‘The rings of Saturn by W.G Sebald’ talks of his own experiences with the clearing of the
mind and how essential this is after long periods of stress at work. 

“I set off to walk the county of Suffolk, in hope of dispelling the emptiness that takes hold of me
whenever I have completed a long stint of work. And in fact, I have seldom felt so carefree as I did
then, walking for hours in the day through the thinly populated countryside” 

Sebald, W. and Hulse, M. (2007). The rings of Saturn. 20th ed. London: Vintage Books, p.3. 

I love taking my dog on the adventures that I go on; she is a great companion. She loves the long
walks and when we are shooting images, she just sits there waiting to walk to the next spot,
wherever that may be. 

‘Additionally, compared with less active people, physically active adults have higher levels of cardio
respiratory (aerobic) and muscular fitness, more favourable body composition and body mass, better
quality sleep, and better health-related quality of life for older adults…’ 

Johnson, R, Beck, A, & McCune, S 2011, The Health Benefits Of Dog Walking For Pets And People :
Evidence And Case Studies, West Lafayette, Ind: Purdue University Press, eBook Collection
(EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost, viewed 31 July 2018.

Fig 2

When I set out to walk I go in a Northerly direction, this takes me away from civilisation and into the
parts of the dunes, I find more interesting due to the vegetation and shape they take. After finding
something of interest to shoot I just listen to the surroundings you then get to hear such as the sea
in the distance, the grass blowing and the distinctive sound of the nightjars flying.

Richard Long is well known for walking in this way, his practice started out in the 1960s when he
took himself outside of the city he was living in and walked, then photographed this walk.
He walks with freedom and no planned ideas of where to go or what work to create, he will just be
aware of the fact that something just feels right about what he is about to make and he knows the
time is right to do so, as he mentions in the interview with William Furlong in the book ‘Selected
statements & interviews’

WF: When you go out into the landscape to make work, to make a piece of sculpture as opposed to a
walk 

RL: Actually, often the two things happen together; the sculpture is found by being on the walk. In
other words I discover the landscape through walking through it and often I will find the place of the
sculpture just by chance along the walk but perhaps wouldn’t have any preconceived ideas about
when the work would occur. 

Tufnell, B. (2007) Richard Long: selected statements & interviews. London: Haunch of Venison.(pg59) 

This can be evidenced within Fig 3 when Richard mentions that using the map, each day he would
walk within and to the edges of that day’s circle, so he evidently had no preconceived plans of what
he might see where he initially walked.

Fig 3

After a few ‘recce’ walks I was starting to realise that the area I was visiting was a special place,
when I started to look closely at it I would be able to see a lot of interesting subjects to shoot. I could
see compositions nearly everywhere that I looked. I noticed there are a lot of paths that cross all
over the landscape and by chance I had just recently purchased a drone that I was using for some
Ariel photography. I was really intrigued by the ariel patterns in the landscape, the hidden
landscape. This inspired me as it meant I could place my own interpretation without others influence
of the area, it was fresh and new. I wanted to evoke curiosity within the audiences of my work, what
is that light? Where it coming from? What is that line exactly running through the shot? I am a
photographer who documents places and logs sites for the enjoyment of others to see, but to be
able to be an innovator is priceless and most enjoyable 

Fig 4

Chapter 2 

I have to come to understand that there is importance to layer the subject and textures within my
own work. I like to start with a blank canvas and add what I believe is important for the viewer to see
into my creation with the use of light, depth of field or even with the basic use of the framing of the
image. I believe that this is a modern way to how Caspar David Friedrich worked. He would make
rough field sketches of parts of the painting he would be creating, then create the larger image while
based in the studio. The most important and striking part of a chosen image I am cross-referencing is
the description of how the image – in this instance a tree is portrayed and can be evidenced within
my own work and even within me as a person, as I have come to realise that I am the tree. (MIND
BLOWN

It is mentioned in this art review by Dr Steven Zucker and Dr Beth Harris as it is taking a central
position and standing like a lone sentinel dominating the landscape but showing its weakness due to
it blooming at the bottom, but it is not until you start looking up towards the top of the tree that you
see its scars, like me. I had some striking self-realisation over the last few months I stand tall and
proud but keep a lot inside me, the tree is a personal illustration and there must be a representation
of that within my own work. 

Dr Steven Zucker and Dr Beth Harris, “Caspar David Friedrich, Solitary Tree (or Lone Tree),” in
Smarthistory, December 4, 2015, accessed August 3, 2018, https://smarthistory.org/caspar-davidfriedrich-solitary-tree-or-lone-tree/.


Fig 5

I certainly have a distinctive form to my work, regardless of it being an open vista landscape or gritty
cityscape. They tend to be dark and moody, something placed in the central point of the frame with
a leading line running through the image. These are characteristics that make my work unique and
through talking with my mentor Hanna Jedrosz she pointed out that if I ask myself about the images  I shoot, why have I shot the image, it will usually be a case of the fact that I have been
subconsciously looking for a representation of the self within the frame. 

By returning to the same sites time after time I start to see them in a different way much like the
way Jem Southam is noted for in his own work, where he visits the same location at times spanning
over a decade, this way as he says you can see what there is to see in the location. 

Bristol-born photographer Jem Southam visits rural sites, mainly in the south of England, several
times over the course of months or years and shoots large-format images from about the same spot
to document the natural and man-made changes that have taken place. 

MCCLISTER, N., 2004. JEM SOUTHAM. Artforum International, 42(10), pp. 248. 

Lately, he mentioned in an interview that he is now trying to shoot in a different light to the majority of
photographers who chase the light as he describes it, he likes to show something different to his
views, this is what I am intending to do with my work, shoot a location that is well known but in a
different way.

There are particular conditions I like to photograph in, in which I may, if fortunate, make a good
picture. In fact it has got to a point within my family where they look through the window of house or
car and say to one another – “Photographers light!’ - And then they all pointedly look at me because
they know I will start getting twitchy and grumpy because for whatever reason I cannot get out with
the camera. 

On Landscape. 2018. Jem Southam Interview | On Landscape. [ONLINE] Available at:
https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2013/03/jem-southam-interview/. [Accessed 12 August 2018].
 

The other consideration with my work is that I want to be regarded with admiration and deep
respect from my contemporaries. After all as artists we seek on the whole a positive thought or
statement affirming that a desired goal has been reached or are within reach from those we respect
– or who will pay the bills! 

I challenged myself throughout; I could have taken an easy option and gone with the 1st project even
though it would be less motivating for me as an artist. I don’t know why I put pressure on myself –
maybe it’s a motivator. My mentor has taught me to question each step of the creative process, to
ask myself why? 

If it is too easy to make pictures it is I think less enjoyable. Surely this is the same with all endeavours
- as humans we want to be challenged and to work through problems, and the tougher they get the
more they demand of us and when we work though them the greater the reward. If it was easy to
make great pictures how many of us would bother? 

On Landscape. 2018. Jem Southam Interview | On Landscape. [ONLINE] Available at:
https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2013/03/jem-southam-interview/. [Accessed 12 August 2018].
 

My artist statement states that I like to challenge people’s perceptions within the work that I make. I
have kept this body of work close to my chest for a while now and not let the public see all of it;
previously I have been less protective of my work and shared it with peers, colleagues and the internet. This project is more about me, I have held it back from the public’s eye, the work is slightly
different to what I would normally shoot, so it going to be good to showcase it, The snippets I have
shown to the public has been received very well though and people have been asking about it and
wanting more information.


Conclusion.

In conclusion, I mostly want to make people aware of what beauty there is to be seen on our
coastlines. For us as a nation to start to look after those areas, they are a delicate ecosystem that
needs our care and attention, much like our own bodies, if we respect they will remain and protect. 

The process behind making the work is very relaxed, but there is a methodology, layering and personal
reflection. It is also a reminder that we do not need to be getting carried away with having all the
latest technology to create work, we don t have to have Sherpa’s carrying more equipment than we
will ever use, we can just be and see. 

After I have graduated I intend to further these walks and seek the self in other areas of the UK
coastline. I would like to look into the idea of a publication based around therapeutic mindfulness
walks, maybe even work on some form of a short moving image piece that will have some of the
sound recordings of the things that I hear while out walking. 

On a personal level, this is some of the strongest and most honest work I have created, it translates
back to an individual at the core, a personal journey, having a sound and open-minded approach to
the artistic journey. An enlightening experience, something that I never thought I would openly talk
about or try to photograph. 

The images I have created show me in a position of vulnerability, exposed of folly and support. From
this I have increased my confidence as an artist and can glean deeper understanding of how future
work will be created. I have internal buoyancy and personal conviction to my work as an artist to get
out there and create work that is going to have a place in a market and how to prevail at times when
there is artistic obstruction.


Bibliography:

Brodatz, P. and Watson, D. (1968) The elements of landscape : a photographic handbook for artists.
New York: Reinhold. 

Brugger, I. and Steininger, F. (2015) Landscape in my mind : landscape photography today : Hamish
Fulton to Andreas Gursky. Vienna: Verlag fur moderne Kunst Nurnberg.
Chaix, J. (2004) Call of the desert: the Sahara. New York: Abrams. 

Depardon, R. et al. (2000) Desert. London: Thames & Hudson. 

Lamb, C., 1835. Essays of Elia (Vol. 88). Baudry’s European Library. 

Land : twentieth century landscape photogaphs selected by Bill Brandt. (1975) London: Gordon
Fraser. 

Moorhouse, P. (2002) Richard Long: walking the line. London: Thames and Hudson. 

Otway, N. (2008) Landscape photographer of the year: collection 2. Basingstoke: AA Publishing.

Sebald, W. and Hulse, M. (2007). The rings of Saturn. 20th ed. London: Vintage Books 

Schuster, P. (2003) Wim Wenders: pictures from the surface of the earth. Munich: Schirmer.

Syring, M.L. (1998) Andreas Gursky : photographs from 1984 to the present. Munich: Schirmer
Mosel. 

Tufnell, B. (2007) Richard Long: selected statements & interviews. London: Haunch of Venison. 

Wells, L. (2004) Photography: a critical introduction. London; New York: Routledge. 

Dr. Steven Zucker and Dr. Beth Harris, “Caspar David Friedrich, Solitary Tree (or Lone Tree),” in
Smarthistory, December 4, 2015, accessed August 3, 2018, https://smarthistory.org/caspar-davidfriedrich-solitary-tree-or-lone-tree/. 

Johnson, R, Beck, A, & McCune, S 2011, The Health Benefits Of Dog Walking For Pets And People :
Evidence And Case Studies, West Lafayette, Ind: Purdue University Press, eBook Collection
(EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost, viewed 31 July 2018
On Landscape. 2018. 

Jem Southam Interview | On Landscape. [ONLINE] Available at:
https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2013/03/jem-southam-interview/. [Accessed 12 August 2018]. 

Wells, L. (2011) Land matters; landscape photography, culture and identity. London; New York: I.B.
Tauris. [E-book] Available at:
http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/norwicharts/detail.action?docID=830122 (Accessed: 12
August 2018). 

Winterton - Horsey Dunes - Special Area of Conservation - SAC - Habitats Directive. 2018. Winterton
- Horsey Dunes - Special Area of Conservation - SAC - Habitats Directive. [ONLINE] Available at:
http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/ProtectedSites/SACselection/sac.asp?EUCode=UK0013043. [Accessed 12
August 2018].