Research Report Proposal

Within this report I will be researching into the interpretation of hand drawn VS photographic reportage, specifically looking at the images produced during the second world war. I will be using my research to reflect upon my own practice and, as a result, will be writing a reflective report. I have chosen this subject as reportage has become a frequent focal point thus far in my practise and alongside my passion for history, particularly World War Two, I have combined these two interests to explore a question I feel will enrich my practise further by understanding the relationship between my creative practice and my chosen topic of research as well as how my own work is interpreted. I feel my previous projects have also informed the converging ideas for this reflective report. War Reportage contains statements of routines and risks of daily life: as resources were in short supply, civilians killed, weaponry being designed, manufactured and fired and buildings and homes destroyed. In amongst these striking images are often deeper clues about the forces at work and the way people adapted, lived and died. Reportage as a ‘medium’ allows us to explore war as seen through the eyes of the artists.


Beginning my enquiry with an overall analysis of Reportage during this time. And its overall importance. Under the guidance of the National Gallery Director Kenneth Clark, The War Artists Advisory Committee was established in 1939. Chaired by Clark and administered by the Government Ministry of Information and The British War Advisory Scheme. Initially their purpose was to create images for use of propaganda however by employing so many of the country’s most talented artists, the committee were not only allowing the creation of an important and lasting record of the atrocities faced at home and on the front line, but also trying to preserve the lives and talents of the artists themselves for future generations. By 1945 the collection had amassed more than 5570 works. Of, Ways of seeing, written by John Berger, has proven to be a highly useful text. Berger states “Images were first made to conjure up the appearances of something that was absent. Gradually it became evident that an image could outlast what it represented; it then showed how something or somebody had once looked ~ and thus by implication how the subject had once been seen by other people.”

My second text ‘Against interpretation’ is written by Susan Sontag whom quotes Nietzsche – “There are no facts, only interpretations.” “ Photography, Susan Sontag holds, is not a mere copy of reality but rather a recycled copy. We consume photographs at an ever-increasing rate and they are therefore consumed and need to be replaced. Meaning, the more we take photographs the more we need to take photographs, and this accounts for what is known today as the “pictorial turn”. Images were first made to conjure up the appearances of something that was absent. Gradually it became evident that an image could outlast what it represented; it then showed how something or somebody had once looked ~ and thus by implication how the subject had once been seen by other people. I will also look to alternative texts like ‘The heroism of vision’ another written by Sontag, as well as ‘Truth and falsehood in visual imagery’ written by Roskill.


It is my belief that Hand drawn reportage often had more personal approach to documenting a scene and despite not being a completely precise representation, the emotion conveyed by the creator of the piece and the emotion of the creator All this must be taken into consideration at the time the overall emotional effect it can have on its interpreter. I will be looking closely at Artists that specifically documented their experiences by hand, Henry Moore, Anthony Gross and Joseph Grey.


Photographic reportage unlike hand drawn captures literal truth on a precise and historically accurate level. However, there are similarities to Hand drawn. A critical examination of war photography demands that we accept war photographs as mediated records and recorded mediations in equal measure, by turns sources of information and vaults of testimony, aesthetic productions that alternately magnify and diffuse acts of war, dramatize and deflect them.  A critical approach demands that we register the complexity of the commands to make photographs of war, and that we not reduce war photographs to overdetermined messages, illustrated propaganda or self-reconciled rhetoric, much as these are in evidence, or the opposite, innocent guides through suffering.  In this chapter I will examine photographers work like the likes of Wayne Miller a George Silk whom as individuals differed in stylistic form but both were constant in their mediums when tasked with the same breif to support my argument. Looking William Mitchell’s investigations of how we understand, reason about, and use images, The Reconfigured Eye provides the first systematic, critical analysis of the digital imaging revolution.

Given the breadth of my research so far it has allowed me to make a surprising conclusion that despite the amount of reportage produced as a whole, during the second world war, information produced specifically about hand drawn reportage and the artists behind them has been extremely limited. In contrast information on war Photography has been plentiful as are my resources that argue photography is the superior medium. Interestingly, as an artist whom references hand drawn reportage a lot through my personal practise I have found it surprising that for a medium that is so assessable it seems it was not something that was a celebrated. I must now find more sources for the hand drawn medium but broaden my searches further and visit collections in gallery’s that may provide more context and balance to my report.

People shelter and sleep on the platform and on the train tracks, in Aldwych Underground Station, London, after sirens sounded to warn of German bombing raids, on October 8, 1940.


The Atlantic . (01/17/11). World War Two Battle of britain. Available: Last accessed 15 mar 2017.

Susan Sontag (2009). Against Interpretation and Other Essays . london: Penguin. 1-5.

Mitchell, W.J.T. (1992) Reconfigured eye : visual truth in post-photographic era. Cambridge: Mass Mit Press

Roskill, M. and Carrier, D. (1983) Truth falsehood in visual images. Amherst: University Mass. Press.

Emerling, J. (2012) Photography : history and theory. London: Routledge.

Janine di Giovanni. (2016). Top Ten books of war reportage . Available: Last accessed 17 mar 2017.

Presented by Diane Lees, Director, IWM. (2017 ). How does art help us remember World War One. Available: Last accessed 17th Mar 2017.

Marcelina Morfin. (2016). 12 extraordinary ww2 photographers. Available: Last accessed 19th March 2017.

Miriam Harris . (2017). This inspiring exhibition pays tribute to the first female war artist. Available: Last accessed 19 March 2017.

World War Two Today . (2016). War artists record the Blitz and its impact on people. Available: Last accessed 20th March 2017.


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