Collecting • Keith Arnatt


I had looked briefly at Arnatt’s work in connection with Assignment 1 (Square Mile) but it occurs to me that two of his projects are equally relevant to Assignment 2 (Collecting)

Walking the Dog

A set of images (samples below from Tate website) of dogs and their owners, presented in a  very uniform style – full length pictures of both, with a minimal background. Individually, the photographs are banal, the stuff of family photograph albums, but viewed as a set we can appreciate the similarities and the individual differences between them.


Similar in concept, but illustrating gardeners in a favourite corner of their gardens (samples below from Tate website) either working or proudly showing off their work. There are, necessarily, greater differences than we see in ‘Walking the Dog’ but there is still evidence of a typography, and the possibility of making comparisons.

Both sets appear to be human-subject versions of the sort of work done by the Bechers in their building typologies.


Tate (s.d.) Search Art and Artists, Keith Arnatt [online] at: (accessed 3 April 2016)


Square Mile – looking for inspiration II

Some examples suggested by the course notes:

Keith Arnatt

Images on Tate website

For this exercise I have considered Arnatt’s work in image series, where there is relevance to the “Square Mile” brief. My general impression is that the images are individually banal but gain significance when considered as part of the whole (or a reasonable subset of the whole) series.

Walking the Dog” (40 mono images 1976-9). Dogs and their owners, posed rather self-consciously, against deceptively bland backgrounds. It is interesting to see just how little background is required to give a sense of place.

Gardeners” (40 mono images 1978-9). Figures, mainly in gardening clothes, posed against a detail of their home gardens. Again, a lesson in how much or how little background is required for an adequate description of place.

AONB, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” (23 mono images 1982-4). A “square mile” type of series. If the images are of an AONB then the series is poking fun at the classification process. We see dilapidated structures and uncontrolled elements such as informal signage, overall rather shabby. There is a sense that this is the real place, rather than the views of an AONB that might be printed in a tourist brochure.

Miss Grace’s Lane” (16 colour images 1986-7). Scruffy cut-back banks, weed undergrowth and fly-tipping. There is a sense of place, but would you want to go there?

Venetia Dearden

Own website at

Somerset Stories Fivepenny Dreams” (book, 128pp, 56 colour images 2008). A series of images exploring the haunts of Dearden’s youth and their current inhabitants.

It is reassuring to witness the pioneering spirit of those living on and within the resources of their surroundings, and I wanted simply to capture intimate moments in families striving to create a way of life they believe in. My journey takes me through seasons, rituals, gatherings and day-to-day life. I witness a sense of belonging and identity within these rich bonds of family and community. (Dearden, pull-quote from website)

People, animals, caravans and “shanty” houses and pub. A romanticised view of a hard and (to me) unconventional lifestyle. Very strong sense of place and connection.

Other recent works include “Glastonbury, Another Stage” and “Home Again”

Jodie Taylor

On WeAreOCA blog at

Link to learning blog is now out-of-date or broken. Three images only on this page.

Also at

Blog concentrates on methods of presentation (not relevant to Square Mile, where mode of presentation is prescribed) but also shows some other images.

Taylor’s year 3 work focuses on places of her childhood. Available images appear to be of country-town back alleys, garage blocks etc, which older children are likely to know better than adults. Evocative of teenage years.