Oddments: "An item or piece left over from a larger piece or set."(Oxford Dictionary)

The idea of the left or ‘oddmented’ item is pivotal to the works that appear in this book. The images selected to form this book are taken form the ongoing body of work that is 'Oddments’. It signifies a chapter in the current work that has been formulated over a period of three years. The majority of the images that appear in the book were taken in a small network of streets in the area of my hometown of Brighton and Hove.  The street and the trace residues of people’s interaction upon the city have been my inspiration for the project. Adopting a documentary like approach I repeatedly visited the same streets for a period of three years.

 Seeking out the uninformed or discarded items became an obsession, and I would liken my approach to that of a hunter seeking out its prey. Often my walk would be unfruitful and I would return home with few or no images of note; again and again though I would venture out, sometimes coming across a bounty of oddments with which to feast my camera upon. Often my mood would dictate what it was that I would be drawn to photograph, the eclectic set of images is perhaps a reflection, in part, of my varying shades of character at the time of exposure. 

 My interest in the isolation and disconnection of items from their source stems from a longing for signs and randomness, a welcome break from the all too often sterile monotony of the clinical and regimented landscapes we can inhabit. Living all my life in Brighton and Hove I have looked on in interest at these oddments; in a city populated largely by students and artists it is a cityscape constantly in a state of flux from their expression in the streets.

 The ‘out of sorts’ existence of these statements, or just discarded items exist for often only the shortest of times in a street, which is constantly in a state of perpetual transience and maintenance. This here-today and gone-tomorrow appearance of objects which have often evoked laughter or sparked interest have saddened me when the next day they have been removed as they are not part of the streets’ original functionality.The attempt to rid this middle ground of the residue of discarded fragments of ‘others’ is a battle between expression, interaction, communication, self-expression and the 'state'. And it seemed to me now that perhaps my work is a reflection of a need to preserve these moments of inspiration and enjoyment for both myself, and others in photographic form.

When I refer to the word state here it can be sub divided to refer to two themes which, I feel, are applicable to the understanding of the creation and life of these oddments. The first is, the streets state its purpose and functionality, and the overall consensuses of ideas of the street’s function as a communal regimented landscape. The second directly refers to the governmental often-oppressive state. 

Note though that this project is not primarily politically loaded body of work which sets out to label the government as an artistically oppressive group, but to not mention the presence of the government upon street art would none the less be naive in any discussion on community art and control. Having established some of the themes of the works and their origins I now want to bring the introduction of the work back to the idea of signs. The artist Oliver Ritchen once stated in relation to his book of images Real Allegories, "that…to make the object photographed itself an image, a sign for something else." 

This idea of the thing itself being a sign for something else has inspired many of my images; a photograph itself is an object in itself, a vessel, a sign for something else. The items or signs, which I am drawn to seem to represent to me a sign or signifier for something else also, the idea of prediction and symbolism are themes that I have explored in often comical and self-referential ways. The juxtapositions in frame and in the placement within this book help to bring together the eclectic themes of the work.

In creating this work I hope to both entertain and inspire, and to draw attention to the all to often overlooked everyday oddments.
I hope to evoke open thought about what could be seen as haphazardly discarded items and to pace them into a context whereby they create meaning and motive for another vessel or train of thought.

The varying interpretation of these photographs is encouraged, the items and signs in our everyday walks of life are all too easily forgotten or washed away; by photographing them I hope to encapsulate them and thereby encourage thought and emotions inspired by the left objects of other.

                                                               Ella Penn.

One man and his dog

Spilt Milk


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