An Interview With: Caitlin Davies
Who are you and where did you study?
My name is Caitlin Davies, I am 21 and from Port Talbot. I studied Photography in the Arts at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Swansea College of Art. I have recently graduated with a First Class Bachelors Degree. I will be going on to do a Masters Degree in Curating at University of West England in January.
What is your artist statement for the body of work "Ford Road“?
My work considers themes of memory, identity and space. The memory and identity of family is core to my practice. Looking back through my family archive; choosing images that I can relate to or the places I find familiar, this work talks about community and the rich feeling of family. Eternal Return is playing a large part in this project, this is the theory that everything we do happens over and over again an infinite number of times over an infinite number of time or space. I have noticed this through some of the primary research for this project. Eternal Return could be small things such as in my work there is a pattern around the doors and windows of the homes repeated over and over again. There is also some more obvious things such as my great grandfather outside the same house holding a dog however in one image he is around 20 years old and in the other he is in his late 60’s/ early 70’s. Another topic I have been looking at in relation to this project is Roland Barthes ‘Punctum’. Trying to find my ‘Punctum’ in the images from my family archive and experimenting with a number of different ways of highlighting this.The main outcome for this work is a book which is very complicated but shows all different aspects of this work and makes the view think and question the images, the fragments and the ties between them.
Who/what inspired this work?
I have had a number of inspirations for this work, but my family and home are the main inspiration. The street I live in called Ford Road is where I have lived for 21 years of my life, and my family have lived here for around 80 years before that. From the images that I have collected from my families archive I can’t see much difference in the architecture of the street but I know the people and community element of the street and the town I live in has changed within my lifetime let alone the difference from when my great grandmother and great grandfather first moved here; This is the first thing that inspired me to start this project.
I have had a number of different influences from theorists for this project such as Roland Barthes, particularly his theory on the Punctum – this is the theory that all images have a ‘Studium’ this is something can be described on the surface of the image such as a blue sky or a man with black jacket however the ‘Punctum’ is a little more difficult to describe it is something that stands out to the viewer, it’s something that ‘pricks’ them, gets their attention this ‘Punctum’ is completely subjective for each person and each image. A lot of images may not have this which is something a found out while doing this project.
Another theoretical inspiration for this project is Eternal Return – this is the theory that everything happens an infinite number of time across and infinite number of time and space. This is spoken about in a very broad sense however I focused on smaller details within the images I had collected such as the same man holding a different dog outside the same house with around 60 years in between each image.
Do you think this project would of worked with out archival imagery?
I think that this work could be recreated with more modern images or images that I had taken however they would be less true to the titles and ideas behind the project. All of the different sections of this work were created from the archival images themselves without those I don’t think this project could have been made however I think now that the ideas have been set and the concept has been created it is possible for me to continue with this project with more recent images.
However I would not be as passionate about it, the images wouldn’t mean as much to me, I would struggle to edit the book the that created together without the images being of my family and my street and finally I think the way I showed the work using the original images within a frame and concealing everything but my Punctum wouldn’t have worked as if more modern images were used they would not normally be printed as most of the images we view now are digital.
Could you explain a bit on how "Everything But" was developed?
‘Everything but…’ is part of this project that was derived from the research into the ‘Punctum’, I went through around 150 images that I had collected from my family archive that were only shot in the street and park that my family have occupied for the last 100 years, only 13 of these images had a ‘Punctum’ to me so these are images that are used for ‘Everything but…’, ‘Nothing but…’ and ‘Punctum’.
For this section of the project I removed what I saw as my Punctum from the image, I think this made the views question why that section of the image was missing. This was put me more into the viewer’s position as I had removed the detail from the image that made me connect the most with the image. I can’t say it completely removed my connection as I still recognized the space and people that were in the images. This did make the images feel a lot less personal to me.
What do you want the viewer to gain from this project?
My biggest fear for this project is what a viewer would think or gain from this project, I was worried that it wouldn’t be very interesting for a viewer to look at images of my family. However after working with the images and figuring out the different sections of the project I realized that, that was going to be the hook, especially between ‘Punctum’, ‘Everything but…’ and ‘Nothing but..’ as these all link up but are jumbled up within the book. The viewer can see the matching details throughout the project but it particularly strikes you within the book as you feel the need to switch back and forth between pages to try and find the matching details.
Everyone understands family, that connection and community feeling whether that is a good or bad feeling for each individual. That is one of the reason I made the amount of visuals is book quite overwhelming and confusing as to me family is a very stressful, happy, confusing, loving, overwhelming dynamic so I wanted the amount of images and different layouts to try and portray the difference in emotions and feelings within each different persons family dynamic.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently preparing to start my Master Degree in Curatorial Practice at University of West England, I am also Volunteering at Chapters Arts Centre in Cardiff where I will continue to do a placement while studying at UWE. This course is a yearlong, when I have gained my Master degree I would like to get a job within a contemporary art gallery, my perfect location would be either Cardiff or Bristol so I would love a job in either of those places however the main goal is to be work with contemporary art so I will focus on that before the location.
What is the best piece of advice you could give the viewers of The Pupil Sphere?
Networking is everything, you can gain a lot from knowing the correct people, and making an impression on those people. Someone who is hard working and is genuinely interested in what they are doing is easy to see whether your meeting in passing, for a coffee or for a more formal interview. People appreciate an interest someone to listen or talk to or compliment them on their work and somethingthey have written or a talk they have given or whatever it may be, this will help you start a conversation with people and form a network with them.
Also volunteering gets you places, it gives you enough experience to get a foot in the door and shows true commitment to the profession as you are willing to do it for free; but you can gain so much knowledge and insight about the given field which can sometimes be better than getting paid.