PHO704: Week 4: Show and Tell

In Canvas (the VLE) I posted on my beginnings in photography. I began by posting images of the rural environment I was to explore as a young child and to which I returned in my photographic project work.

Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 1 to 4 Inspired by the Rural Landscape and Home Town Camera Obscura

I noted another influence by way of the camera obscura I visited taking in the experience while viewing the busy riverside town, with tourists and a tidal river with a mini waterfall. I contrasted this with the fact that early television if anyone had one, was black and white.

Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 2 Inspired by Camera Obscura in Home Town

I then recounted the experience of having my work office operate as the camera club shop at lunchtimes and my fascination with the customer’s needs and apprehensions usually over a stuck film for which a solution could be found.

My interest in photography remained mostly theoretical as I’d only ever borrowed a basic camera and it was a while before I saved up for an SLR camera which I still have and is currently loaded with film.


Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 5 Photographic Beginnings

My digital photographic work is very recent, but my experience of digital technology is quite deep and longstanding from my career – I started out in the research laboratory of a computing firm. For me, experimentation was to the fore as I started out with a few 3MP smartphone camera images. With these, I learned to work creatively in post. I also learned to program pictures.

I dedicated myself to reawakening skills from an earlier age, and I was more than ready for DSLR camera photography. Gaining an ability to express myself through stills has been the primary thing for me, and I love to create images I hope might be considered as a form of art.

Image reviews

My latest abstract work has been put out there as to seek an early review of trauma abstracted. Many viewers like colourful images within the sets.

Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 5 to 20 Current Abstract Practice

This is quite a cohesive and ever-growing set. Within the MA Photography course, I’ve not presented thus to date, preferring to explore as I find a voice.

Talking to the images is the main challenge due to discussing numerous strands – commemoration, history, family, genetics,  abstract art.

In review, it was apparent that discussing my work prompted a bond between two members of the audience and myself. In separate reports, age was a disengaging factor. Slightly younger reviewers do not associate well with the Great War. I’m likely the same over earlier events of the Boer War although I’m probably more tuned into ancient battles, Culloden being an example.

In the work of Chloe Dewe Mathews, a project title has three words “Shot at Dawn”. Everything talked about relates directly back to the title as do the visuals. So an excellent example of the simplicity of the concept, even if the commissioned work required to travel and use of a larger format film camera and lots of research of records and map positions. So the task is substantive.

The work of painter Rachel Howard I often refer back to. This is because of a similarity of look and visual content between the paintings in the series Repetition is the Truth via Dolo Rosa. This work features repetition and places the viewer in the position of thinking each new image looks like the previous and may require an examination to determine what is different. The theme of repetition is a success. The work is substantive due to the large scale nature of the paintings and the control used to maintain repetition.

I now relate my work to that of an abstract artist

Rapid mini project.

Coming soon a write up on a water droplet themed series of close-up (x15 magnified) images. Given the challenge of a breezy day and outdoor shooting at high magnification, I did capture some quite sharp work, but in post-processing, I decided to process the images with an oil paint filter and in doing so increased consistency when moving from one picture to the next. I’ll place the result in the Project development area of the blog.

Short Project

Fig WK4 Show and Tell – 21 to 24 Microscopy Mini Project

PHO704: Week 3 Research – Contextual


Paulo Leonardi Borderlands

Paulo is course leader in photography at London Metropolitan University, has had several Arts Council grants and works with Anthropologists on a migration work. It was as much a chance encounter as anything at The Regents University, on Saturday but after her giving a presentation I was able to spend time during lunch and again after my own showing of current photographs. Let’s be clear there is no comparison as her work is top-notch, and I am currently developing my visuals, and I work in a totally different way.

However, I was glad to be able to engage in discussion and picked up many points of areas of development I can pursue. A point of inflexion was that both our sets of images come alive once there is some spoken narrative. Paulo carefully selects an edit to build and maintain engagement and picks stories that bring home the gravity of her work and personal connection is clearly demonstrated.

Gary Fabian Millar (thank you, Sophie, for making the association)

Gary Fabian Millar does work or has done work for some time in fact that in abstract style is not too dissimilar to my earlier adventures into abstract imagery.


I think any similarity is in the look of our work. Beyond that, our techniques and end products are totally different. I’m a digital worker compared to Gary, who works more practically with the physical: making photograms, working camera-less and producing textile artefacts.

What I might take from researching his work is triggering or reinforcement of some ideas I’ve yet to promote within my work.

Nature of Creativity

Creativity happens in a burst of energy for me, during which my output is highly productive. I often wonder if I can repeat the work as I take from it intuition and do not record the simple steps. This makes each work unique and even going back to the same starting position I’d not be able to fully recreate an image.

Creativity I have learned has its ups and downs, and I no longer am surprised to discover others have had the same or similar idea as myself. In passing, I mention my informal series of crafted small planet images based on closeups. In Gary’s work, I spot he too has created several planet style images, and there are other areas of overlap.

I think my efforts are a nod to the cult radio series H2G2, where a character is engaged in custom made planet building. It was just a passing phase for me.

This was a while ago but serves to illustrate further: I explored combined portraits, three into one. This can be done in-camera, or in post-processing and through my established interest, the latter is always going to be my preferred approach. I say this because if I can, I like to introduce technology into my work. It is an expression of who I am and my professional background. Anyway, having experimented earlier in this manner, I guess I should not have been surprised to find the identical style imagery done by an Associate of the RPS in one of the journals.

My current work abstracts minor trauma, and while others have explored what I might term blood and guts, I tend to bring out the beauty of the healing process and the warm glow of life within. I’m wondering about controlling the intensity of light in my work to represent life.

Part of what I do seeks an element of medical observation as the type of processing I do amplifies structure otherwise unseen by the naked eye.

Extensions I’d like to try to my work and supported by review comments pre and post the Week 3 Tutor Webinar,  would be the addition of context. I want viewers to take what they wish from my series of abstracts without my literal explanation and let the pictures speak more. I’d intend to increase the variety of media from the text (of poetry perhaps relating to a place and make my images sing similarly), a series of stirring titles or outtakes from recognised work, or write my own lines – I like to write my own stuff with feeling or effect I suppose. I’d maybe also extend to audio as I always strongly associate sound with visuals and hope an audience might too.

PHO704: Week 3: Digital Possibilities

Week 3: Update

I mentioned below doing a comparative campaign on Instagram, yet in the event, time was at a premium, so I took forward the Campaign Flyer approach.

I put the flyer out on Instagram (on a personal account @foto_graphical I have reserved for the serious photography items). I put the flyer out on my photography Facebook FaceBook

Beyond this, the image QR code references my portfolio site, where there is more background information. I then put out there a series of Abstract images that reflect my work made for this module.

Week 3: Digital Possibilities

Here we are Week 3 already, and a digital campaign is in the making. It will appear at foto_graphical on Instagram.

The campaign starts week commencing Monday 8th October 2018. Advance information leaked – campaign image in the making at present to be themed on Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment). There’s a proposed face off too, between a commemorative historical theme and a more rough and ready theme believed to play on the common mishap of the busted zipper #bustedzip – this won’t be as racey as it might seem (I hope).

The audience is targeted, of course. Various representative roles in the world of photography I’m bound to aim for (a requirement really of this weeks work), but, and there always has to be a but, I really target you all in a public campaign, and maybe there is some fun to be had. Who says learning has to be all serious? I suspect someone might just step in on that.

Campaign Case 1   Commemorative Historical

It would be great to air the build-up work for the project on this MA Photography course I’m thoroughly engrossed in. How good would that be? Well, no expectation here as the appeal is designed to simmer away and bring others their own link to relatives past in connection with a chosen event from history. While I major on narratives from the Great War, others can choose their event, probably something they heard a distant family member was tied to. Then they can discriminate amongst any close relatives and compare. It might be expected that they all feel (or reject) a connection with those in the past imagining equally right connections. However, the information supplied will allow them to determine who is a manifestation by mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) and X Chromosome and who amongst them switches to a different family line altogether – male blocking just won’t keep out of it.

Well, that’s the seriousness of the two cases.

Campaign Case 2 Popular (Trivia)

Why a second case. Again it is vital to contrast and compare. Hopefully, there is more to learn by this even if my motivation is to promote Case 1. I’m sure marketing professionals would recognise the approach.

With Case 2, it is just that the internet is awash with the popular, maybe that much-loved pet, cats photos are everywhere, aren’t they? Memes are popular too. So giving this campaign option a fair go it is bound to win, won’t it? What does winning mean in this context? Well more likes or follows on Instagram.

It is already out there the Busted Zipper. Type it into a search engine and straightaway the topic unfolds in all directions from memes to YouTube videos including handy tips on zipper repair.

The idea comes alive for me as a result of three recent coincidences:

  1. Railway station pick up, where a  suitcase bound with a belt had a good go at spilling personal effects on a platform and concourse.
  2. The wardrobe failure – yes, crawling around in the studio and a trouser zipper gave out. Why does one only notice on returning home? It must be that others see but are too polite to draw attention.
  3. Unpacking a wheelie case to find that although the little travel padlock was intact or should I say secure, the zipper track had burst open.

So that’s the narrative behind the choice of subject. How is this campaign going to work? I favour a hashtag competition, where followers outdo each other in hashtag creativity relating to the subject matter the Busted Zip #bustedzip.

I’ll seed the competition with examples: #embarrassed, #redface, etc

It’s an unabashed race to the most follows and likes.

There has got to be an educational purpose around all this, but why not too have a bit of fun and enjoy the campaign competition? That’s a rhetorical question by the way.

PHO704: Week 7: The current commercial environment

Week 7: Your Market

We were challenged to think about our Audience and Market and about the future. My work is currently in the abstract but as a theme of sports emerged in the discussion I’ll begin here with a retrospective

Rugby Union Retrospective

There have been several opportunities to dabble in sports photography. In particular rugby union has afforded me practice in photographic technique and practice helped establish the limitations of shooting action. The work I did do got a reasonable coverage internationally which seemed an accomplishment at the time especially considering it was mainly an unplanned entry into the genre. Shooting was in my own style of introducing an art approach with a bit of  respectful humour. My market covered players and playing staff. Management liked to have a record of events and players loved to see themselves in action!  Payback was not monetary so much as that of gaining practice experience.  Reflecting back now reinforces how social and any collaboration element were really important. The opportunity sprang up quickly and sustained for a while on an opportunity basis.

K for Kick

An opportunity was also created to photograph from the stands at an international track cycling event. This was quite entertaining but did not sustain my interest at a professional level. It was quite good getting the chance to sample both rugby and cycling. My sustainable interest is in other areas of photography.

Contemporary Abstract and Abstract Expressionism

Contemporary abstract is a recurring theme for me and for which my audience would be the thinking observer/viewer.  I’m not ready for this audience yet as I develop and refine the art. I’m finding my way and gaining confirmation over validity. During the Sustainable Prospects module I’ve reached out in several ways to gauge the validity of this work as art through:

  • Exhibition attendance – helps establish the accepted standard
  • Showing images to individuals in ad hoc setting helped too. At the time of writing both excitement and criticism occur in equal measure.
  • Presentation at group level – established some consensus.


The market for Abstract work ought be art gallery, exhibition or book. Up against trained professional artists though I’d say there is a long journey yet. In my favour is growing acceptance of a wide range of photographers resulting from a proliferation of cameras and relative affordability of post processing tools.

Personal work in abstract provides an opportunity for self expression. Images presented before the camera often have potential for abstraction. This is a personal outlook. 

I strive in my current work to obtain a larger set of images that stand together, Colour palette, saturation and square format, provides a level of consistency. Clearly my approach is still in early days of development. 

Abstract and Surrealist Imagery

Sale potential

Working an abstract signature style did result in a recent request to apply this to a portrait. The work was appreciated. It was shared and resulted in positive comment.   Personal service works quite well although audience is limited to one or two potential sales. I enjoy being able to create empathy like this.

Commercialisation is possible to a level.

I’d pencilled in two opportunities to “force” a sale during the week but decided against it. 

A level of commercial opportunity exists through the Studio account for art web support. On this MA Photography course I place the whole of the emphasis on personal work.


Current research through reading is helping to evolve my work and leads to quite frequent bouts of experimentation. An interest is currently developing in the Surreal. All photography is, or becomes surreal as the camera creates surrealism through the act of framing and by capturing the fleeting.

Work at present is leading to a deeper passion for contemporary abstract art images. Potential audience and market can be re-examined as this develops. Already I look back on the blog posts as a baseline for change.

Experimental Surrealist Work

PHO704: Week 2: Research – Contextual

Module Constraints

My best work, continues to fall down the gaps, as the flashes of creativity experienced have so far occurred in natural order, in very close proximity to module start dates but not close enough to qualify for publication. As a continued source of frustration, I’ve tried to slow down to coordinate with study module dates.  Potentially, what has happened is that inspiration is drawn from within, without necessarily referencing the Module content, only due to circumstance


Having got the above out into the open, let me turn to two areas a) the continuing development of practice in Abstract Impressionism, and b) the following up of advice to simply continue shooting, following one’s intuition.

 Abstract Expressionism

 Stage I Art

This is the area in which I initially linked the beauty of the bodily healing processes to soldiers from the family who were wounded, and repaired and who repeatedly continued on into battle in the Great War.

Let me see if I can illustrate developments. Initially, I’d concentrated on impressions from the battlefield alongside the soldiers perspective on memories of home.  My initial technique was Conceptual in using relevant images of colour and texture that in my artistic judgement provided scope for post-processing into the abstract. I preferred methods, including pixel stretching. Both vertical direction, representational of the environmental conditions and horizontal, representational of the landscape. Then combined, there is a layered intent similar in form to patterning found in Scottish tartan that might be missed by the viewer but conveniently supports the underlying Scottish theme.

This is just a base level of processing into image layers. These are then recombined with the original image in which line edge effects are enhanced. As required,  layers are hand-painted using masks. The impact I obtained at first I found to be visually stunning. Through planned shooting, I had a wealth of relevant images within my personal catalogue. Overshooting proved necessary as the success rate can be low as not all source images provide enough inspiration for abstraction.

This was the first area of creativity excluded by the course. However, the technique was well practised and is available to reuse,. Having said that it does take time to read the base image and in the application of skill when applying post techniques.  Often, and in favour of the work, the methods are not wholly repeatable. If I worked the same image again, the outcome would be different. I like that in this digital age. Although not a deliberate act of destructive editing, practically to resolve this, it might take a video recording of the creation process to accurately capture the steps.

 Stage II Art

This is the next development in abstraction, and by chance, I discovered that post-processing colour beta value and applying simplification recreated an effect I’d long ago practised and had enjoyed. As I photograph minor trauma concerning mitochondrial DNA as the cellular powerhouse and generational link and do so in terms of the beauty of bodily healing, I find this technique can work really well in bringing out a healing glow alongside a feeling of layering and looking into the image. I like this direction a lot. One or two copies have immediately given this result. As experimentation continued, other trauma made for highly saturated representations of colours.  An outcome obtained here is in drawing out areas of interest that the eye alone would miss. The camera records surface features and layers in post-processing that we do not ordinarily see. Again there is the same channelling of post-processing towards destructive editing.

Two more steps to go. The first relates to potential garishness in colour saturation which is not readily eliminated. A jury is out for me on this, but I may use this as a signature theme. Otherwise, I should experiment in further degrees of subtleness.  In this sense, the image continues as a crafted piece of work, which I think adds to its value.

The second step is possibly reasonably intuitive, which is to cross, that is combine, stage I and stage II art. In fact, this has now been tried, and I like the outcome as it does tone down colour saturation which can overwhelm the senses. In retrospect that could be quite representational of any hurt suffered. The crossing does give the mellowing effect and refinement I thought I was looking for. Either way, there is no loss from learning how to control an image.


There are challenges when photographing even minor trauma not least in my project, is getting relatives onside. As a photographer, I’m more acutely aware of those minor accidents to self as they can hurt. Now instead of saying ouch and moving on, I immediately go for the camera, and as a person, my reaction has already been conditioned to this.  The challenge is in photographing when a position may be challenging to deal with. There are circumstances where a smartphone camera is ideal, yet pixel resolution might show. Turning to macro techniques increases the challenges already faced as equipment becomes cumbersome and unwieldy in the circumstances.  Problem-solving though is a part of photography to be enjoyed, isn’t it?

Image Audit

Not mentioned thus far, I feel I need to instigate a method of auditing from original file through to abstract. Earlier techniques were non-destructive, and most of the working could be preserved in saved layers, but no longer is this the case. I do need an audit method even if only for my own sanity if publishing later on.

Developments in Ongoing Shooting – the intuitive  part

This topic ran parallel to my project and welcomed as it gives another frame of comparative reference compared to abstracting images of trauma.

This also hopefully demonstrate I’m active in photography in other ways throughout the current module.

Lending Support

I had an interlude photographing trees or large shrubs where gravity was getting the better of them, where the intervention of a gardener meant metal supports were provided. I found a temple garden where this was common.  The plants flourished as nature adapted to the support provided. An initial motivation in the shooting was around the interesting triangular composition. This evolved into observations of how successful the ways are in which the assistance was provided. Then I tried to liken this to the support society gives to those in need. Thus a parallel is opened on a social or political comment.

The photographs were the first pass, and as the lighting was bright and contrasty. I would need to return with cloudier skies with more even light to obtain the desired exposure.

 National Charity Engagement

This is an area I previously mentioned in a tutor group and which was viewed as a  good thing in providing a backup project if the current work cannot proceed for one reason or another. It was also advised I be wary of being used as a photographer to the charities own ends.

Preliminary test shots were made, and I was due to go back when the time was right – here note the earlier comment about progressing a little too soon.  Meanwhile, though, I managed to have a long discussion with one of the volunteers who was very helpful. I’d talked in terms of continued interest. And during our discussion, various narratives unfolded although at least one I’m sure I’d seen in their publicity somewhere.  I gained a broader understanding of how I might embed. Without causing interference to the working processes. No further photographs have been taken at this stage.

PHO704: Week 2: You are a business

This week, the work is predicated on the assumption that as students, we intend to start-up in business.   If we go with the premise,  it is necessary to realise, of course, that some already operate professionally, and others do not intend to go this route.  In my case, I considered this in-depth back from 2010 to 2011 and made a firm decision not to start up in the end. Mostly this was based on the fact that my efforts would be mostly philanthropic and as borne out by an income and expense graph, that showed the venture operating at an ongoing loss. Meanwhile, I’d be putting myself at risk in litigation, a sphere extending from the USA.  It was also a time when technology was moving apace, and the major players were in hard competition, changing offerings by the month while mopping up business in the area of the market I’d spotted in advance.  Okay so that was a bit of history and includes a firm decision, and in some respects, viability findings carry forward into photography practice.

For me in photographic practice, I  continue to seek to fulfil the philanthropic ideal, and as such, I registered with the society as a volunteer worker, alongside providing support to a commercial organisation that supports education towards the organisation’s charitable objectives.

My actual photographic practice is basically an adventure into personal work as a means of self-expression. I attempt to finesse and create images of artistic merit, that in contemporary terms are creative images that carry layered meaning. I resist stifling this creativity by distracting myself through a business start-up.

For the purpose of this week of the course then, I’ve gone ahead and engaged knowing that I’ve written my piece for practice only. If work does take off, then I will be well prepared being reminded about forms of business and how to manage them, and I’ll have gained a bit of current practice and be confident of how to get going if circumstances arose.

Nevertheless, and unspoken, it is probably true that as photographers, we do personally represent ourselves. We express ourselves and endeavours whether that be as an actual inaugurated business or not.

PHO704: Week 1: Research – Contextual

Okay, let’s see how this works structurally and content-wise. Structurally, and I need to get this out of the system at the start, I’m doing a week by week blog entry on this headline topic. When I see other examples of other students work say, I might reform and change, if it can be done more efficiently.

Content-wise I’ll match up with the topics and Talis and revisit at each appropriate step.

Here we go then.

Will Hartley taught me (probably most of us) something.

Guest Lecture with Will Hartley

This guest for me resonated immediately because as a pre-university student Will studied nearby. I liked the advice offered and I’ll tighten up my act when supporting studio work. Another point that resonated was his having studied in Wales.  A short but intense Community Journo course I did was with Prifysgol Caerdydd – ah, Newport not Cardiff.

I kind of figured before this course that I might fall nicely into a Picture Editor role (dream on) with John G Morris being a personal hero if I may be allowed such. There again, I would enjoy digital editing too if time allowed, and I have other unformed plans to go freelance. How good would it be to give up some time studio hosting for more practice at assisting or even grow practice at filming?  For what it’s worth, I tend to think that human vision is more akin to video and ultimately an attractive prospect. Mind you, there is a good deal of talent out there already.  I diverge, but please forgive, this is inspired by the lecture.

Advice to focus on personal practice was given and is genuinely inspirational really. I’m acutely aware the method breathes life back into the photographer’s job. I had for a short while taken to creating boards planning out this area of practice and keep it in reserve. One time the method failed me in trying to do 3D photography in a London graveyard, the subject in the main was nearly always too flat. But at least I tried and can eliminate this idea. I might spot the specific item that I know now that it can be effective with. Trail and error but on my own time. Another diversion I know but I’d love to build in 3D work to a project as it really draws in a viewer who can linger within the image examining detail – with the right subjects it can be rather entertaining and maybe qualifies academically under the banner of semiotics.

I liked the way editorial work was described as a shared workload when giving over editorial Instagram or web resources of contributing authors (including photographers. Given trust can be established, it is a smart idea to share the workload. I liked the balance between writing and photography mentioned in the talk. I liked how thought was given to the concepts that run alongside photographs.

Post this MA I could envisage making a studio and training centre print magazine. It’s the sort of thing delegates would likely pick up and peruse over lunch or after a visit.

I have a suggestion in reply to Max’s what can we do question. While I like novelty and am certain multimedia could be somehow incorporated into the editorial scene, one perhaps more sensible thing would be to feature poetry. Can you imagine opening up to a whole raft of new contributors and like Viveca Koh on this in her fellowship book submission, there could be everything from her work through to budding poets in school? Serious contributions with substantial cultural work in line with culture identification and development. This is really important to society. I might just pinch my own idea there.

___ ends for now with more to follow on other things from this week ___

PHO704: Assessment Period 1

It may still be summer and the break, but there is soon a new module to study on the Falmouth Flexible MA. Up next is the study of  Sustainable Prospects.

Adobe Certified Associate Visual Design with Photoshop

Meanwhile, I’ve put the time to reasonable use, doing some catching up from the first module. I then got myself down to the Falmouth Penryn Campus.

As a Falmouth Flexible postgraduate student studying via a virtual learning environment (Canvas), it has been good to get out, see the campus, meet other postgrads, including Alex from the second year of my course and writing and illustration and media students. We worked for our Adobe accreditation in Photoshop. We were instructed by software trainer Susannah Travis ably assisted by Lisa Wallace, who is taking on the teaching.

I wanted to broaden my skills from Photography to other areas of visual design. We studied very intensely and touched on areas of web design, illustration, page layout and video.


I managed to touch on the subject of InDesign PDF interactive files. I need to improve image resolution (as pixelation was evident in my experimental work in abstract expressionism).

InDesign has more control over export file size and resolution than Acrobat only.

Full print resolution files can be used at 300 PPI with great user control over file size reduction.

The (Photographer’s) Apprentice

I’ve been working with a professional photographer, and Managing Director of the Studios and Training Centre based near London (end of the Metropolitan line).

I had planned to spend a day working in support of a training course on still life but plans changed. Instead, I can readily relate to prior experiences.
Another option is to do something with other activities during the Assessment Period:

A)  Adobe certification training in Visual Design with Photoshop (mentioned above)
B) An Open Day “interview” with the marketing manager for a national charity. We established the charity would willingly use my photographic support.

PHO701: Week 11 Introducing Proposal and Audience

Aid to Understanding Genetic Relations:

Genetics can be a very complex area to grasp. In light of this difficulty, I reference a BBC documentary on the subject.
I watched it several times over a few years back. In video form it provides an explanation of genetics in action as a body under constant invasion, acting in defence and under repair.

Here also for anyone interested is Wolfram Alpha (a web page – there is also an app) showing how to calculate genetic relationships in this example for my:

great granduncle genetic relation

Click the link, wait for the computation and click more for genetic detail. This has examples and you are invited if you wish to select other relations and compute these.

Original post:

Hello, I’m back again and on my quest to catch up as the course is starting to go well again. I’ve ditched some troublesome IT equipment that was causing me to spend a lot of time resolving technical issues. Many of these were deep and blocked progress. Faults from overheating computer eliminated, I could start on the content of the course.

I guess some students will have found a project that evolves and runs quite nicely. I started off with firm ideas but had these shaken at the foundations. Criticism came from various angles: of photographic theory and academic or general worth.

I make commemorative historical work on my relatives, the Cosh brothers who fought and died in the Great War. The Cosh’s still underpins my work, which has taken on a new direction in:

A) analysing DNA connection. DNA brings a great deal of focus on my father as a living manifestation of these people past. Regards my siblings, in particular, my sisters have a percentage chance of relation, which I do not have. Such is the nature of human biology.

B) in connection with this a strong theme in the Cosh story is of wounding and injury, repair, and dusting down, and going back into battle as many did. I’ve taken this theme and have begun establishing family member DNA analysis and seek to photograph the beauty of our bodily repair mechanism. I then make abstract expressionistic art from the photographs. I shall place these alongside some original photographic work to give contextualisation.

C) in doing this work on behalf of others, I considered my own connection. The Cosh’s are directly in my father’s genetic line. To make my photographic imagery more pertinent, I turned to the maternal ancestral line. I sought out descendant males on my mother’s side. Those again who fought in the Great War. This maintains consistency, and now makes me, in living flesh, a manifestation of these people.

If I am to shake my father’s hand, I am connecting with the last living expression I know of the Cosh brothers. And now my own body biology is not unique within my siblings, an expression of the soldiers and their stories in my Maternal line.

What began perhaps naïvely as a parallel to commando comic portrayal of military endeavour has taken on a more profound significance. My surprise has been the whole aspect of diaspora and the uniting effect this work has on family members, and this has grown in importance.

Of course, my family are an audience for this work, and through the tentative connection, the Black Watch (Highland Regiment) Association has expressed an educational interest, particularly in the academic narrative. There are distant relatives, more connected than I, who migrated to Buffalo, New York State at the beginning of the 20th century, ahead of the war. As they remain unknown to me, there is potential outreach to them.

Finally, though there is a broader educational standpoint on genetics. The technicalities of mitochondrial DNA and X chromosome can be challenging to understand at times. My visual project now serves to illustrate how others might seek out living connection to events in their past. I recognise that many like to leave the past in the past. Personally, I have gained a deep emotional connection with the past. Outcomes within my family, my diaspora, are that of healing and helps us understand who we are and what makes us what we are today.