Gill Golding

Gill Golding’s entire oeuvre is quite similar to my current body of work as well as Assignment 3 for my Documentary module. Similarities between my work and her’s include addressing themes of regeneration and the use of urban spaces. Also the manner Golding chooses to address them favours wider landscapes. As well as this she has chosen to photograph Deptford for one of her projects. I will look closely at Golding’s Deptford: A Town in Transition (s.d.) project as well as one other to see how they relate to my current body of work and any differences there might be.

Looking at Golding’s Deptford: A Town in Transition (s.d.), I immediately recognised a lot of the locations she’d photographed at. This might not seem a surprise (seeing as my body of work is concentrated there) but Deptford is a big area and its boundaries are quite loose. Another thing that struck me was how much a couple of these locations have changed, even since I had commenced my body of work there. Specifically the photograph of Deptford train station did indeed look ‘in transition’ and is now complete. Luckily for my project, which also chooses Deptford train station as a subject, there are developments to the arches beneath the train station which add interest.

© Gill Golding (s.d.) 'Deptford: A Town in Transition I'
Fig. 1 © Gill Golding – ‘Deptford: A Town in Transition I’ (s.d.)

Golding has selected a lot of new developments as the subject for many photographs and contrasts this with ‘the vibrancy of the town centre’ – (Golding, s.d.) in other photographs. I think her depiction of Deptford is more accurate because it shows both these sides. In creating composites, I am somewhat limited in my subject matter (there can’t be many cars crossing in front of the lens for instance). As well as this I wanted to juxtapose the old with the new in single frames, thereby further limiting the location choices and framing. This could be a potential pitfall in my project I am starting to realise because it isn’t an accurate depiction of Deptford changing.

I suppose the question I should be asking myself is whether I want to create an accurate depiction of Deptofrd’s transition or a subjective one. Golding’s project is more accurate in my opinion but it is still of course subjective. She has deliberately chosen locations which show off development and contrasted these images with cold, modern-look, gentrified areas as well as warm, vibrant community-based areas, with signs of change only if the viewer looks closer. I would say these layers of change Golding has depicted is quite accurate from my experiences. However, Golding could have gone another step further to creating an accurate depiction of Deptford by introducing a map-based sampling process to help select an average of Deptford. Having said this, the project could become too scientific and stifled with map-based choices like where Deptford begins and ends and how many sample points to use. Also this hypothetical project would have to take into account the angle from which the points that make up the sample are photographed from and their framing. It would be easy to miss significant developments in Deptford’s transition following this methodology. Therefore while Golding’s project is subjective, it remains quite accurate on a social level to the changes I have experienced are taking place in Deptford. My body of work is just as subjective but limited by the juxtaposition of old and new and the composite approach.

© Gill Golding (s.d.) 'Deptford: A Town in Transition II'
Fig. 2 © Gill Golding – ‘Deptford: A Town in Transition II’ (s.d.)

My work introduces a composite approach to capturing people. I have listened to Golding speak at the Engaging in Urban Image Making Symposium (2019) and her approach incorporates people in a way which isn’t totally dissimilar from mine. I remember her describing waiting in a suitable location for the people to arrange themselves in a manner which was suggestive of a billboard or hoarding advertisement for Golding’s Welcome to the Fake (s.d.) project. My approach is the same except I have more control over how and where they appear in the image because I am incorporating them into a composite after the fact. I feel both approaches work well; Golding’s because people are less intrinsic to her practice so such a level of control isn’t necessary and mine because people are a contemplated feature of the landscape images.

Whether or not the limiting factor of creating composites of people/juxtapositions of old and new is worth sacrificing creating a more accurate depiction of a changing Deptford for my project is questionable. Golding’s approach does allow for more narrative between images in their ordering and layout, because there is more contrast between images and what they connote. With my images so far, I feel there could be narrative within images as well as between diptychs or grids denoting change in the same location but not across images. In my opinion it would be prudent to attempt to find perhaps two more locations where change is apparent but which shows an estate (an important part of Deptford’s history). Although these estates change less drastically in my experience, I feel they are largely missing from the project so far but were important in the first wave of regeneration of Deptford.

While observing Golding’s latest project: Welcome to the Fake (s.d.), I noticed a lot of the photographs appeared as though they would fit right in with a lot of the hoardings that were present in her images. This notion got my mind racing a bit when I began to think about how work like this might be presented. Because my body of work is somewhat similar (although typically of less gentrified space), I also think it is applicable to me. My thoughts were along the lines of making a statement by somehow presenting a photograph in the form of hoarding where a new development had sprung up. The image on the hoarding could say something (either positive or negative) which was meaningful to do with the new development. Obviously it isn’t immediately feasible to create a massive print to put on a hoarding in the real world but I could imagine it would be possible with the aid of Photoshop to make this happen within an image. The style of the image could be self-referential in that I use the same techniques in photographing the development hosting the hoarding as I did for creating the image that goes on the hoarding (via Photoshop). This could include a grand landscape framing and the composite approach to incorporate people in front of the hoarding. These types of ideas may or may not come in useful when thinking about presenting my work or incorporating it into my work for the Sustaining Your Practice module but I feel it is useful to write them down now.

© Gill Golding (s.d.) 'Welcome to the Fake I'
Fig. 3 © Gill Golding – ‘Welcome to the Fake I’ (s.d.)

Other visual cues Golding implemented into Welcome to the Fake (s.d.) were an idealised world, straight out of the designer’s vision. For me this says either the development in King’s Cross went extremely well or that it was all a little too perfect; a facade for consumerism and social segregation. Features of the idealised world like the ‘gentrified trees’ – referring to a term Golding used at the Engaging in Urban Image Making Symposium (2019) and the presumably deliberately uneven green spaces making up this space contributed to this impression. Even the lighting and processing Golding used highlighted, perhaps with a touch of sarcasm, that the King’s Cross development is basically ‘perfect’.

Overall I found Golding’s 2 projects I looked at in depth to be very compelling and they also made me think about my own work in relation to them. This is not only because they were similar but because of the clever techniques and visual cues Golding utilises to suggest how she thinks the developments are changing the place as well as the people.

References:

Fig. 1 Golding, G. (s.d.) Deptford: A Town in Transition I. [Photograph] At: https://www.gillgoldingphotography.com/work#/deptford-a-town-in-transition/ (Accessed 16/01/2020).

Fig. 2 Golding, G. (s.d.) Deptford: A Town in Transition II. [Photograph] At: https://www.gillgoldingphotography.com/work#/deptford-a-town-in-transition/ (Accessed 16/01/2020).

Fig. 3 Golding, G. (s.d.) Welcome to the Fake I. [Photograph] At: https://www.gillgoldingphotography.com/work#/welcometothefake/ (Accessed 16/01/2020).

Golding, G. (s.d.) Deptford: A Town in Transition. At: https://www.gillgoldingphotography.com/work#/deptford-a-town-in-transition/ (Accessed 16/01/2020).

Golding, G. (s.d.) Welcome to the Fake I. At: https://www.gillgoldingphotography.com/work#/welcometothefake/ (Accessed 16/01/2020).

The Centre for Urban and Community Research (2019) Engaging in Urban Image Making. London [Symposium at Goldsmiths, University of London, 3 May 2019].

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