Assignment 5 – Constructed image

The journey I took to produce this image is documented in the blog posts located under Coursework>Part 5>Assignment preparation here. It began with an image I made of two monks in a temple at Angkor Wat earlier this year, which seemed to say something about time, history and the ephemerality of an individual’s life in comparison with some of the buildings they are associated with.

This led to an exploration of how I might make a conceptual piece on the subject of how we, as humans, fit into time and space, using some of the elements of that image. I was interested in the relationship of the people with the buildings and each other and how the metaphysical notion of The Now could be conveyed in a dynamic way. The plan was also to incorporate the Japanese fable of the Red String, which can be described thus:

According to this myth, everyone’s pinky finger is tied to an invisible red string that will lead him or her to another person with whom they will make history. (1)

I wanted to use an old building, natural light and two people to bring this story to life, and fortunately Lacock Abbey, the birthplace of photography, is near my home and is a perfect location.

The use of over-sewing on the image came from the perspective lines of the architecture, and emphasise the idea of the past and the concept of separation in time and space. The lines of arch and floor tile all merge together in a doorway, beyond which one can make out the form of an open stone coffin.

The location of the male figure, his iPad and watch all point forward towards the future, while the shadowy female figure walking away is a reminder that the past is an ever-receding place, never to be revisited, but which may retain links which are difficult and painful to break.  There is an ambiguity to the whole image, which I hope asks one to wonder what the relationship is, or was, between the two figures.


(This is a three-dimensional image that required physical viewing to fully appreciate. The original has been sent to my tutor.)


Monasterio, Lucia Otriz (2015) The Legend of the Red String in Japan [online blog post] In: At: (Accessed on 18 April 2016)

Wikipedia (2016) Red String of Fate. [online] At: (Accessed on 3 May 2016)


Demonstration of Technical and Visual Skills

This assignment tested my technical skills significantly. I had to merge parts of three different images to produce the visual relationship I was looking for between the different elements of the scene, which took me well beyond my comfort zone in Photoshop, while also devising a system of thread work that would add to the image, rather than detract. I am very grateful to some of my OCA course-mates for their input in this process. The final image is one which I hope is pleasing to the eye, and where the different parts work together to produce something that both tells a story and provides a degree of ambiguity.

Quality of Outcome

After I had put away the final image for a few days and then come back to it, I am reasonably happy that it works as an idea, and is an attractive piece of physical art. One  can worry endlessly about the tiniest of details, but having had a bit of a break from it, it looks as I had intended – clear, minimal, and with some mystery. My biggest difficulty was finding a colour palette that looks interesting, given the limited tonal range. The process of learning what worked and what did not when oversewing a photograph was interesting, particularly as I had to decide how to achieve a stable, yet solidly attached effect without reference to anyone else’s work. Trial and error was the only way to find out what did or did not work.

Demonstration of Creativity

As with assignment 3, I felt that this project was pushing both my own creative boundaries and that of the photograph as a piece of physical art. One of my fellow students remarked that my current work made her think beyond the photograph as a two-dimensional thing, and consider how its physicality might be manipulated along with the content of the image. This is an area I would like to explore further, and my background in stitchwork is proving to be fertile ground for potential subjects.


I have thoroughly enjoyed the research process for this assignment. As can be seen from my research blog posts, initially I was planning to produce a straightforward image, but there are many photographers working in collage and mixed media whose work I admire, and who provided the background to my decision to start adding to the a physical overlay to the image. The three modern photographers who have really inspired me in this are Sarah Sense, Melissa Zexter and Diane Meyer.  Sense uses techniques borrowed from the patchwork and quilting field, while Zexter and Meyer use embroidery and cross-stitch respectively to overlay another layer of meaning on top of their images. In my future work, I would like to continue my experiments in this area, and in particular to look at ways of extending the work outside the Frame, as Sense does.

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8 Responses to Assignment 5 – Constructed image

  1. Catherine says:

    The red thread does make a difference. the whole process of this assignment for you has very much made me think of photograph as object in itself and how this changes the way I look at an image.
    I hope the photograph arrives safely with your tutor.


    • That is a very good point about the photograph as object, Catherine. I need to think more about this, as both my last two projects have used the physicality of the images to say something apart from the main subject. Something to take through with me to my next module.


  2. I like it very much! I think that it is cleaver and imaginative. Best of luck!


  3. well done for finishing


  4. Judy Bach says:

    Excellent Holly, well done !


  5. Pingback: Work for the Thames Valley Group project | Holly's OCA I&P Blog

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