Exercise 1.3

To complete this exercise, use readily available images to make a short narrative series of four to six collages based on a recent or contemporary news event.

If you can, look also at British artist Lisa Barnard’s recent book Chateau Despair. Barnard used found archival news images of ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher alongside shots of the then Conservative HQ to construct her narrative.

This exercise was well out of my comfort zone, for the first time in a very long time I am using functions of Photoshop that I was only slightly aware of.

To start with I collected a number of images about current news events, using various news sites I was able to start collating ideas and collecting images which I could then chop up digitally and manipulate into a series of photomontages.

  • Refugees coming to UK.

One of the news events which caught my attention was refugees crossing the channel on small boats, risking their lives for a better future. At one point both BBC and Sky news were out in the channel, pulling nearside to the refugee filled rubber dingy and asking them what they were doing and what kind of life they wanted. It seemed to me that we were seeing a newsreel as predicted by George Orwell in 1984, I suspected that both news companies were desperate to capture footage of one of these dinghies sinking with all hands aboard.

The starter for this flurry of news cycle was Nigel Farage who had been out in a boat the day earlier trying to drum up support for the prevention of refuges crossing. I was not surprised that the BBC and Sky news rushed to follow in his dramatization of the narrative to gain support from little England.

Having compiled a number of images, I remembered the sad footage of Alan Kurdu, who drowned at the age of 3 while his family were trying to cross the Mediterranean to flee the war in Syria. At the time there was a wave of sympathy which quickly receded when the news cycle moved on, it rose again when the BLM movement started in America and there were cries from some parts of the population of “All lives matter”. However, these very same people were protesting on social media that the refugees should be turned back. On top of this came the news that the Westminster Home Secretary Pritti Patel had called upon the Navy to intercede in the crossings.

All of these events brought together the idea of “Warship” Britain, guns over Dover to protect the country from the very people who were fleeing war zones created by British weapons and armaments. All of this started by the millionaire “man of the people”.

Farage sits on a pile of money on a stony beach. At sea, boats filled with refugees struggle to stay afloat. A dead child lies on i the mid ground, body washed ashore. In the background stands the cliffs of Dover, gun emplacements pointing out to sea, Pritti Patel looks over the horizon gazing out to sea over the humanitarian disaster.
Warship Britain
  • Coronavirus in Schools.

The next subject which attracted my attention was the comment made by Westminster Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who said that “There was little evidence that Coronavirus spreads in Schools”. This statement surprised me, as there had been an outbreak of Covid-19 in Aberdeen after lockdown rules had been eased, which caused some individual publicans who flouted the social distancing rules much to the pleasure of their customers, who then became inflected.

With this in mind, I am not sure that Gavin Williamsons statement makes much scientific sense to me, it is, in my mind, very risky to send children into schools with little to no restrictions in place to prevent any form of Covid transmission. I find that the lax attitude could cause the loss of life.

Headshot of Gavin Williamson against a primary school classroom. The coronavirus floats in the air, while part of the floor is an infected human cell.
Little Evidence says Williamson

This image went out of my comfort zone as I had to learn a couple of new skills in text manipulation and following paths in Photoshop. I found it very frustrating to begin with as I did not understand the process.

  • Mauritius Oil Spill

I was shocked by the news and images from the oil tanker spill in Mauritius, where MV Wakashio a Japanese owned oil tanker ran aground on a reef. 1,000 tonnes of fuel oil were spilt during the operation to pump out the oil from the ship. A lot of the oil spill has come ashore at the protected sanctuaries of Mauritius; the crystal clear seas now stained black. The environmental impact is huge both to the local economy and on local wildlife which was now a threat to the biodiversity of the seas, lagoons and bays.

I ended up making two images here, I struggled to get the right feel for the final composition, so I have posted up both for analysis.

Small Mauritius island with a large oil slick in front of it. At the bottom of the image sits a damaged oil tanker. On the right are two men in oil stained overalls attempting to contain the oil spill damage
Mauritius Oil Spill 1
Mauritius island  beachfront covered in oil from the oil In it sits the damaged oil tanker. In the foreground are two men in oil stained overalls attempting to contain the oil spill damage
Mauritius Oil Spill 2

On first reflection I am happier with the composition of the second image.

  • Britians Flee from holiday destinations in France.

This news came out while I was working on the other images. The Westminter government has ruled that a number of countries be added to the restriction list. This means that travellers from these countries have to submit themselves to 14 day isolation on their return to ensure that they are not infected with Covid-19. As the rules state that as long as you are back in the country by 4am on Saturday, you will be able to avoid the 14 day self quarantine.

This has been reported in the news as travelers “Fleeing” France. I used one of the most commonly known images of France the Eiffel Tower to represent both Paris, the major weekend getaway but also the cultural center of France. To get the idea of fleeing I placed multiple planes in the sky and travelers with bags and suitcases in the foreground. All of the subjects in the image are coming out of the scene, the planes fly toward the edge of the image symbolising the flight to freedom and escape.

The Eiffel tower stands in the background, surrounding by airliners as they fly out towards the edge of the image. The foreground is filled with tourists, bags and luggage, all of them trying to get out to the image.
British Tourists flee to avoid restrictions

Again, I struggled a bit with getting clear backgrounds for each of the elements of the scene. It took a bit of back and forth working to get the elements clear and for me to be happy with the results.


Aberdeen local lockdown to remain in place. (2020). BBC News. [online] 12 Aug. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-53742143 [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Clark, N. (n.d.). Mauritius oil spill: An alarm bell for environmental safety. [online] http://www.aljazeera.com. Available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/mauritius-oil-spill-alarm-bell-environmental-safety-200813121603805.html [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

correspondent, P.W.P. (2020). Little evidence Covid spreads in schools, says Gavin Williamson. The Guardian. [online] 10 Aug. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/10/little-evidence-covid-spreads-in-schools-says-gavin-williamson [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Dahir, A.L. and Peltier, E. (2020). ‘This Is Unforgivable’: Anger Mounts Over Mauritius Oil Spill. The New York Times. [online] 14 Aug. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/world/africa/mauritius-oil-spill.html [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

editor, J.W.M. (2020). BBC and Sky accused of “voyeurism” in coverage of migrant boats. The Guardian. [online] 11 Aug. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/aug/11/bbc-and-sky-accused-of-dehumanising-people-trying-to-cross-channel [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Featherstone, E. (2020). Travel news: Quarantine threat sparks surge of Britons racing to get back before deadline. The Telegraph. [online] 14 Aug. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/14/travel-news-uk-had-no-choice-add-france-quarantine-list/ [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Jennings, B. (n.d.). Ben Jennings on Priti Patel’s plan to use the navy to stop migrant crossings – cartoon. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2020/aug/09/ben-jennings-on-priti-patels-plan-to-use-the-navy-to-stop-migrant-crossings-cartoon [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Kate Bussmann, D.E. (2020). “I’m currently racing back to Calais to beat the French quarantine – but the trip was worth it.” [online] The Telegraph. Available at: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/france-lax-social-distancing-rise-in-infections/?li_source=LI&li_medium=li-recommendation-widget [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Khadka, N.S. (2020). Why the Mauritius oil spill is so serious. BBC News. [online] 13 Aug. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-53754751 [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Life, T. (2015). How a Photo of a Drowned Syrian Boy Became the Defining Photograph of an Ongoing War. [online] 100 Photographs | The Most Influential Images of All Time. Available at: http://100photos.time.com/photos/nilufer-demir-alan-kurdi.

Little evidence of school transmission – minister. (2020). BBC News. [online] 10 Aug. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-53718066 [Accessed 9 Aug. 2020].

Patel takes on Ben and Jerry’s over migrant boats. (2020). BBC News. [online] 11 Aug. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-53741180 [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

STV News. (2020). Covid cases linked to Aberdeen outbreak rises to 165. [online] Available at: https://news.stv.tv/north/covid-cases-linked-to-aberdeen-outbreak-rises-to-165?top [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Use of navy ships to stop migrants “dangerous.” (2020). BBC News. [online] 10 Aug. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-53719575 [Accessed 14 Aug. 2020].

Zorzut, A. (n.d.). Priti Patel derided over Royal Navy threat towards France as Home Office’s approach to migrants is questioned. [online] The New European. Available at: https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/priti-patel-mocked-on-twitter-over-daily-mail-royal-navy-threat-1-6782330.

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