Bateman Gold Unit 1 Part A

My art form

My main art form is Photography.

My new art form will be Surrealism.



My Strengths and Weaknesses

My strengths

Fine Detailed Work – A student at my school held a drawing contest and I ended up winning. I submitted a picture of two dogs and a toad. The organiser of the competition noted that I had paid attention to detail.

Telling a story with art work – When I visited the Tate Modern, I felt inspired by Olafur Eliasson’s tunnel of fog which led me to make a mood board which conveyed a story from pictures I found of the exhibition.

Expressing emotion – In GCSE media studies, I made an advert about old age and loneliness, and how it could be prevented. In the advert, I took a picture of a dim empty cup with a black background and a faint hand holding the cup, saying the percentage of seniors who feel they have no one to talk to.

Creating abstract or surreal art – In my Philosophy lessons I like to use surreal artwork to aid my work. I have made several revision posters using surrealist drawings.

My weaknesses

I would like to develop these skills in my Gold Arts Award project

  • Using studio equipment independently
  • Using Photoshop independently
  • Understanding light and shadow
  • Working in black and white and using contrast
  • Choosing the right materials
  • Being free and experimental

How my project will help me to achieve my goals

Using studio equipment independently – I will have to practice this in order to take my photos.

Using Photoshop independently – I will be editing my pictures so I will pick up what different features are which.

Understanding light and shadow – This is something that is used a lot in surrealist photography

Working in black and white and using contrast – Again, these strong contrasts can contribute to surrealist imagery

Choosing the right materials – I will learn about the materials I need for this project

Being free and experimental – My teachers say that I am reluctant to take risks and experiment. I hope to do that here.

Evidence of Progress

Working with a practitioner: Melanie Jones, abstract photographer.

About Melanie

Melanie Jones is an abstract, landscape and portrait photographer and is also the art teacher at Treasure House School.

Pictures from Melanie’s website

The first picture I have chosen shows surrealism a lot, because a ladder would normally not be seen on a beach, it feels out of place. I like how the background is misty, it gives off slightly eerie vibes which often goes hand in hand with surreal photography. I hope to learn how to create different feelings in my photos, like Melanie has with the mist. I have included some other photos I like that demonstrate Melanie’s ability with abstract photos.

About the project

Melanie gave me a brief that would help me to learn new surrealism skills:

For this project I used photography to capture pictures and Photoshop to edit the pictures to get the desired surrealist effects I wanted. I researched beforehand into different surrealist photography to give me an idea of what i’m doing and to also to get inspiration.

Learning how to use the studio equipment and camera

My school received new studio equipment and camera which I took part off setting up almost completely independently, this was a useful experience and a good lesson to learn, navigating around problems that I encountered helped me learn to adapt and learn more about the equipment itself.

I took pictures of Aidan to practice different types of lighting. In particular, I was focusing on 3 point lighting. I also watched other students use different types of lighting so I picked up on quite a few different types of lighting, and how to set the lights themself up.

One point lighting

Three Point Lighting


Three point lighting with hair lighting

My photo of Aidan using three point lighting.

Adding a Surrealist Element

I used a Photoshop filter to add a surrealist element to this photo making Aidan’s eye the focus of the image.

Feedback from Melanie

The final picture of Aidan with three point lighting is very competent. Aidan liked the photograph and you certainly created a mood. Even though the surrealist element was just a case of adding a filter, the effect is quite interesting and shows me that you have started to play with Photoshop and have fun.


How this project helped me to achieve my goals

Using studio equipment independently – By the end of the project, I could work on my own. Helping to set up and learn about a new set of lights that even the teacher hadn’t used before helped me with this.

Using Photoshop independently – I did get to use Photoshop by myself here and I can do the basics on my own now. I am also more comfortable with experimenting.

Understanding light and shadow – The lessons on different kinds of lighting really helped with this

Working in black and white and using contrast – Although my photo isn’t black and white, it does have a monochrome effect

Choosing the right materials – I had to choose the right lighting set up

Being free and experimental – I was able to play around in Photoshop

Working with a practitioner: Federico Von Borstal P.H.D

Due to the Covid-19 school closures, I completed a Udemy online course instead of working with a surrealist practitioner.

Screenshots from the Udemy Course

Understanding light and shadow – I learn about how artists like Dali use light and shadow in pictures like this one:

I enjoyed this course but sometimes it was a bit dry.

Preparing for the New Work

My project plan

Generating Ideas

I wanted to take inspiration from surrealist images like these ones:

I like how these images express emotions that are difficult. They also have social commentary. I want my images to comment on the covid pandemic and have decided to include an old-fashioned plague mask and a model who is accusatory towards the viewer.

How my project will use my strengths

Fine Detailed Work : This will make sure I pay close attention to all the small details, which then adds up into the bigger picture.

Telling a story with art work: I want to tap into the narrative of the pandemic and make connections, through use of props, to the plague and the spanish flu. I also want to make implicit reference to the politics surrounding these pandemics.

Expressing emotion: I have been told that my artwork is good at tying into emotions. I hope that the serious nature of my topic encourages viewers to feel emotions.

Creating abstract or surreal art: As I am doing surreal photography, this will come in handy as i already have some previous experience with it.

Plans for the photo

The Model: I want to create a contrast between the serious subject matter and the innocence of the victims. So I want t model who has a childlike, innocent look. There is a girl at my school who fits the bill called Kristin:

This is Kristin in a photoshoot completed by another student at the school. I think she will be perfect for the project.

To tie in with current affairs and the surrealist element, I would like to use a plague mask. I looked on Amazon and picked this one.

Lighting Plans

Lighting diagram showing backlighting for hair and softbox lighting for faces.

I like the lighting diagrams you have produced and wonder if you might combine them? Think about how you can create the sillohuettes you are hoping for without loosing all detail in the foreground.


I have thought about this. I want viewers to see the mask so I will put a softbox at the front. I will have this at a much lower lighting setting than the backlights so that they are the main focus. My model has soft curly hair that is quite fine. I want the light to shine through it so that her hair looks almost angelic so that this will contrast with the dark plague mask.

Creation and ongoing evaluation

The first set of images – these were created in the studio using basic three-point lighting

The second set of images – After reviewing these images I decided there was not enough emphasis on the models hair so I added an extra hair light and turned the softbox down lower.

I used a mixture of techniques in Photoshop:

Layer Blends – This allowed me to merge images and filters in different and creative ways

Colour gradients – This allowed me to add emotion through the use of colour

Noise Filters – This disrupted the grains of the photos making them look like old TV stills.

The First set of edited images


Alice, you have done a great job with this set of photos. I like the way you have used lighting to highlight Kristin’s hair and you have directed her poses very well. The mask and gloves are striking and I especially like the photos where the mask is in profile. The use of colour is interesting and clearly inspired by your visit to the Olafur Elliason exhibition. Some of the images have marks in the background that can easily be edited out to improve focus on the subject. The image with red on the face feels a little forced and I wonder if you can present this in a more subtle way. I like the noise filter you have used and the nod towards the media’s response to the pandemic but I wonder if you can push this idea further?

Melanie Jones

Overcoming Challenges

Editing – I am a bit of a perfectionist. Editing took a long time and I wanted them to be perfect. I was able to let go a little and listen to feedback but this is still something I need to work on.

When to finish – I wanted the images to make a comment on society but not to be too heavy-handed, it was difficult to find the right level.

Covid – Covid was the subject of my images but it also halted my work. School closures meant that I had a lot of time where I didn’t have access to the studio or to Photoshop. I used this time to research and complete my Surrealism course.

The Final Images

Instead of the red paint, I added a more subtle colour gradient. In Philosophy I learned about miasma and how people used to think it caused illness which is what I am trying to refer to in these misty images.
I removed marks from the background
I removed marks from the wall that drew attention away from the model
I made the reference to the media more explicit
I cropped the image and worked to create a more monochrome effect to highlight the praying pose.

Click here to see my online exhibition!

Under my exhibition, you can see comments from staff and students.


Alice created a set of deeply creepy photos for her project and she learned a lot about photography along the way. For her final project, she worked completely independently for the first time, setting up lights and camera settings without assisstance. She also helped several silver award students teaching them how to use the lights. She is a meticulous editor who took the time to perfect the images. The use of the plague mask, combined with the young and innocent-looking model shows an understanding of contrast and dualism often found in surrealist art. Alice benefited from a study of surrealism as an art form and this gave her project more context.

Melanie Jones

My photograph was included in Treasure Magazine, the magazine created by Gold Art Award Students for their leadership projects. This magazine was launched at an exhibition where my photos were also on display.

My photo in the school art magazine
My photo in the end of term exhibition

My Evaluation of this project

How I met my goals

Using studio equipment independently – As can be seen from my Feedback from Melanie, I can now use the studio equipment independently to a professional level.

Using Photoshop independently – I used Photoshop independently during this project.

Understanding light and shadow – My mini photography project taught me a lot about light and shadow. I was pleased to learn about the different lighting points, and I found it interesting that a hair light can be used to create interest in an image. I used a hairlight in my project.

Working in black and white and using contrast – I used a mixture of colour and black and white. I also learnt that you can have monochrome images, even if the single colour is not black. Limiting the colour palette can have the same effect.

Choosing the right materials – I had to chose several different filters to get the effects I wanted. And I had to find the right Photoshop brushes. Instead of just using I was told, I made these decisions myself.

Being free and experimental – I think I took risks with this project that I hadn’t done before and the final images reflect this. I can be a perfectionist but I allowed myself to take risks in this project.

Working a professional photographer like Melanie meant that I found out lots of technical information. This information meant that I was able to make my own choices in my project and didn’t need to rely on anyone else. This enabled me to be more free and experimental because I understood what i was doing.

The surrealist course was informative although it was a bit dry. The best bit about it was that it introduced me to surrealist artists that I recognised but didn’t know much about. These artists, like Dali and Khalo inspired my work.

It was good to see my photographs on the wall in the exhibition. I was able to spend time with the photo and talk to students and teachers about my work. People were very complimentary. One person who really liked it was the model, Kristin, which meant a lot besaue Kristin is a great photographer.

Overall, I am happy with the results. However, as I looked more into photographer, I found that I was frustrated by the studio set up. It felt like the photos were not authentic. During my research I discovered the work of Cartier Bresson. I think that in future, I would like to do work that explores the decisive moment and presents more realistic work. I think that I can use my experience of studio lighting to understand how lighting can work in the world outside of the photography studio.

Unit 1 – Part B

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