Evolving Incident

Pickering_Ships Galley

Pickering, 2008. Ships Galley

‘I tried lots of different printing processes with these.

So I photographed them originally on medium format in colour, and because the lighting conditions shifted quite a bit I ended up trying to print them in black and white and I couldn’t find a good digital inkjet paper to print them onto and I then looked at the Ilford fibre based matt paper and I realised I really needed to print them on that because it’s just got such a gorgeous sooty, soft surface and I went back and re-shot everything on 5 x 4 so I could make large scale prints from these.

So, I didn’t want to just kind of get in the groove of doing something at the time which sort of followed on from the public order work, I didn’t want to do something which just replicated that. So, I challenged myself and kind of looked at the way that the space that was being photographed could be really brought into the surface of the photograph, onto the actual surface of the paper and sort of create this kind of breakdown between subject and object. So, yes the prints really are quite special in that series’ (Pickering, 2018).


As a guest lecturer, Sarah Pickering provided contextualisation for projects including Public Order, Art & Antiquities, and Explosion which was informative and insightful.

Especially interesting, as well as being timely and relevant as I endeavour to develop the images for my final major project, was hearing her describe the evolution of the images for Incident in uncompromising pursuit of a particular aesthetic.

‘Pickering’s Incident pictures (2009) are shot at the Fire Service College, but in facilities designed less for forensic analysis than for logistical and tactical training. Sparse rooms built of concrete and metal contain simple forms such as a steel framed bed, filing cabinets, chairs, and human-shaped dummies made to withstand fire for future use. The only evidence of human presence is seen in finger and foot-prints in the ash, traces of life that activate these charred spaces. Pickering takes inspiration from the grayness of the scene by pushing the contrast of her matte silver gelatin pictures to emphasize the expressive markings and their relationship to drawing’ (Irvine, 2010).

Describing it as a ‘push/pull’, Pickering suggests that her work has dual qualities, being both ‘seductive yet repelling’, with the ‘troubling’ nature of the images being an aspect which elicits the viewer’s attention.

Again, I feel this is relevant to the development of images for Jo-Ana, which will provide a visual description of life with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa from the viewpoint of a recovered anorexic.

Finally, I am able to relate to Pickering’s view on the development of her practice, development based as it is on an approach which balances intuition with hands on experimentation.

Reflecting on the development of her practice over the course of several projects, Pickering advises ‘you can step away but you can’t do everything in one go’.






Irvine, Karen (2010). ‘Incident Control’. Museum of Contemporary Art [online]. Available at: http://www.mocp.org/exhibitions/2010/04/sarah_pickering.php (accessed: Wednesday 14 February 2018)

Pickering, Sarah (2018). ‘Guest Lecture (Research) – Sarah Pickering’. Lecture to PHO705 17/18 [online]. Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/86/pages/guest-lecture-research-sarah-pickering?module_item_id=8342 (accessed: Wednesday 14 February 2018)

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