I have continued the process of collecting primary visual research by returning to Broad Street to sketch and photograph. This has been useful both to provide me with resources to draw from in workshops as well as giving me a better feel for the topic of Stamford and furthering inspiration.
We were set the task of producing a line drawing to be traced onto a perspex plate for a dry-etch print. I chose to draw from a piece of text from The Stamford Mercury in 1871 detailing the events of riots against the anti temperance society. I selected the line “stamping the floor” and “the demon drink” from the text and depicted a pair of stamping feet and a menacing shadow. I researched into the style of footwear common during this era and found sources stating that hessian boots were common.
This piece of text, along with exploration of the nature of Stamford as a town, has inspired me to explore the topic of binge drinking culture in modern society. I have done an initial search into studies on the topic and there appears to a wealth of resources. I also have in mind a number of primary resources that I can draw upon for this purpose. I want to explore this idea because I am interested in the way that in contrasts with Stamfords image of being a quiet, idyllic, historical town that is well known as being highly desirable in terms of property.
I would like to explore the possibilities of pottery and ceramics further and while considering this the work of Grayson Perry came to mind. He is well known for his ceramic work; at first glance intricately decorated pots, however upon closer inspection they often depict scenes of social comment or discord, at odds with their beautiful appearance. This style harks back to the classical pottery of the ancient Greeks who immortalised myths and legends of their society by illustrating them on ornamental pots and urns.
For centuries reading & writing was reserved for those with wealth and status so the majority of forms of communication were visual. For example it was not until The Reformation in the 16th century that The Bible began to be translated into English (Latin being the preferred language of the educated of the time), allowing ‘common-folk’ the opportunity to read religious scripture for themselves. Before this they relied upon sermons in church along with the aid of the visual interpretations in stained glass windows.
However paper books as we know them were still rare and expensive in Medieval times as they had to be written by hand. It wasn’t until the development of the printing press in the mid-15th century, credited to German inventor Johannes Gutenberg, that printed material became more common. It was at this point that literacy rates began to rise.
In the centuries that followed came the invention of the newspaper and, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, the rise of recreational reading; that is, reading for entertainment rather than education or religious study.
This concept of story-telling combined with my interests of graphic novels, pottery and the work of Grayson Perry have inspired several new avenues of exploration:
- The traditional pottery of the Stamford area
- The work of Grayson Perry along with other artists involved in ceramics and/or graphic novels
- History of storytelling, illustration and publishing
- First hand experimentation with clay and the potters wheel