Friday, 26 August 2011

Assignment 4: Holmfirth – more research & planning

I have been keeping a handwritten notebook in parallel with this online log for People & Place and, in there, have been doing some more work over the last couple of weeks to plan my approach to this assignment.  Since the detail is in the notebook, I’m not going to repeat it here, but I have scanned one or two pages (below) just give some idea what I’ve been doing.

In line with the conclusions above, particularly the last one, I wanted to have some themes in mind, some view of my subject, Holmfirth, that I could have as my guiding direction with the assignment.  As a first step, I started to do a mindmap, following anything that came to me in relation to Holmfirth.  This was the result.

I havn’t reproduced it here to be read but just to show that it became quite complex & detailed.  We’ve lived in Holmfirth for more than twenty years, so I feel quite familiar with it, but perhaps too close.  I asked my wife to come up with three or four words that she associated with the town.  She paused for quite some time and then said ‘Hmm, it’s complicated.’  So, given where my mindmap ended up, ‘complicated’ seemed like quite a good place to start.  She then said ‘It’s such an ‘eclectic’ place’ – which gave me a second word.  My conclusion is that representing Holmfirth in a series of images is going to be more about variety and the representation of a number of themes than seeking one overall message (apart from complexity eclecticism!).

This complexity manifests itself, potentially, under a number of headings:

History & Tradition – the town/village has been around for more than 1000 years and has been very much ‘on the map’ since the last quarter of the eighteenth century when industrialisation arrived in a big way.

Change & Variety – the last 100 or so years has seen – textile manufacturing, followed by film production (early silent comedies, for example), postcard design & printing (the comic seaside variety), TV location (Last of the Summer Wine); tourism (largely as a result of the latter); arts and music.

Location – at the end of a steep-sided valley; in a scenic setting; equidistant from three significant conurbations.

People – valley-based, hill-farming families that have been here for hundreds of years; industrial worker families that arrived 200 or so years ago; some ‘moneyed’ families associated with ‘ownership’ of latter; some artistic types; and in ever increasing numbers over the last 20-30 years, commuters/professionals and their families.

To that one can add that it is an exceedingly busy place, rarely quiet, with streams of traffic (including heavy vehicles crossing the Pennines), regular coach loads of visitors, an increasingly popular rock music venue, and some very popular bars & pubs that keep things buzzing into the early hours.  Also, one has to say that it has a ruggedness about it – not necessarily quite the right word, but it certainly isn’t genteel – not the architecture, not the people, not the climate and not the landscape!

Having lived here for 20+ years, I’ve already taken lots of photographs of the place – naturally. I will, of course, be taking fresh images for the assignment, but researching what I’d already done seemed like a sensible starting point.  I’ve been selecting all sorts of ideas and have then pasted them into my notebook, under various headings.  It is, I guess, the equivalent of doing some preliminary drawings before designing something, producing an artwork or whatever.  I’ve scanned and reproduced the pages below – again, not to make them readable here on the blog but to illustrate my approach,

It has certainly been a useful exercise and whilst it hasn’t (and wasn’t intended to) produce all the answers, it has given me some very clear directions I can go, as well as pointing up some obvious gaps (pictures involving people, for example).  I do now have a good idea of how the series of images will be structured, but I’ll post that as a separate item, since this one is getting very long.

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