I had looked at the former MG factory site for an earlier exercise and did already have this in mind to use this as the basis for this assignment. As an alternative I had in mind using a nearby housing estate and park that had been constructed for unemployed Welsh miners to move to Oxford for work in the car factory in the 1930s. However I did decide to stick with my original plan.
My local library has been extremely useful in providing local history books as well as confirming the exact location of the factory site. I had already been out taking photographs of the area when I found out that some of the locations I had been photographing weren’t on the actual site at all! Proper research does help…
A significant problem I encountered was avoiding traffic; one thing that does signify the economic growth in the town over the last thirty years or so is the almost constant stream of traffic around the former site. Even going out at 6:30 in the morning only reduced the traffic a little bit but did give problems with the constantly changing light. I wanted to mostly use fairly bright sun as a way of getting across the idea that life in the town is better now than it was when the factory closed. This meant discarding some images from that early morning shoot as they were inconsistent with the others.
The image below is of the MG Car Club offices, which is close to the original main gate to the factory. Although this has strong links to the original site, I decided not to use this because it was too static, and because the age of the building meant it did not fit with the idea of ‘rebirth’ that I intended for the rest of the set.
Once I had chosen my final set I experimented with text. My first idea was to accompany each image with a word or phrase taken from one of the local history books. Each text would be from a story or anecdote associated with the exact former use of the location of the image. I also tried out placing the text in different directions.
The overall effect seemed too random; there was not enough in the image itself that gave any sense of why the text was there or what it meant.
My next attempt I then published on my blog and asked for feedback from my fellow students. I had found a number of adverts for MG cars, MGB GT in particular, and had adopted the text from some of these.
I got some useful comments that did cause me to rethink slightly but in the end I largely stuck with what I had. One was a suggestion to cut and paste directly from the source adverts but I didn’t want to get into any copyright issues over this. Given that each was in a different typeface, colour, and font size it also seemed like it would result in a far too inconsistent look to the set. However I did decide to rework the set with a different font, one more suggestive of 1960s and 1970s.
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