Saturday, 4 June 2016

Chapter 9 : A Resolved Sample

The image below is a photograph of the many spiral staircases giving access to various buildings at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.  It was manipulated in Photoshop for my photography course some years ago and when I last discussed this resolved sample seemed like the ideal material.  However, a year's a long time and having taken other photographs of this and other spiral staircases at UEA I'm feeling less certain.

1. Manipulated close-up Spiral Staircase

2. Window Exercise

I tried out the windows exercise not only exploring the idea of composition but also trying to look at the range of tones.  The triangle, semi and full circle produced the most dynamic compositions, but I was rather disappointed with the tonal drawing: it seemed to lack boldness  Maybe it is true to the image?  Maybe the tonal range is subtle which I would like it to be but does it have enough interest?  I was also unsure about how much movement there was in any of the compositions.  Hence the expedition to photograph these other spiral staircases.

3. Mid-distance Spiral Staircase

4. Mid-distance Spiral Staircase

5. Close-up showing glimpses of landscape

As you can see there's a surfeit  of spiral staircases at UEA, and yes I do have even more!

Below is an attempt to create the spiral staircase in image 4 as a paper cutout.  I used a semi-circle taking an off centre position on its diameter and using Fibonnacci sequence divided the shape into imperfect sectors.  Each shape is larger than the next and placed to make a repeating pattern.  The background can clearly be seen between the imperfect sectors.  (By imperfect I mean they don't actually fulfill the mathematical definition for a sector.)

6. Paper cutout version of Image 4

This idea seems more fluid than the initial one, though in being fluid it might simply look muddled.  While waiting for some advice it might be worth trying out some paper cuts to test out my ideas for image 1 of the spiral staircases, and what a difference colour makes.

7. Paper cut of Image 1

8. Paper cut of Image 1

9. Paper cut of Image 1

Paper cut 9 is orientated in the same way as Image 1 and below interpreted in fabric,  The background dark grey is fabric strips which have been overlapped and stitched.  The lighter grey element is strips stitched along their centres and folded in half.  Finally the ice blue element is cut from felt, now half the width of my original design and more in proportion as a result.  All are bought fabrics from stock.

10. Paper cut interpreted in fabric

11. As above with the addition of a rich brown cord

My concern with taking this design forward is that it may not sufficiently convey movement.  With that in mind I traced Paper cut 9 and then extended the lines beyond the circle.

12. Tracing of Papercut 9 with extended lines.

This does, I think, give a sense of movement. The result is almost like a planet orbiting.

Two possibilities occur to me as ways of interpreting this idea.
Firstly, mount the circle offset on another larger circle which is printed and stitched. possibly including some Tyvel treated with the heatgun.  This larger circle will be tonally paler and will include the extended lines.
The second is not dissimilar to the first except that smaller circle is cut out of the larger one.  In both cases the treatment of the circle edges will need great care as to their finish.


  1. What a super design source you have in your spiral staircases and I love how you have developed them. Your photography work must be really helpful and it's nice to see how they merge. I like how you have used the extended lines to indicate movement and I love the idea of an orbiting planet.

  2. Hi Catherine, Thank you for your kind comments. I'm just about to do some cutting up - all a bit tentative. I hope your work is going well.