On Narrative.

On Narrative in Art.

This is a hard one to grapple with as narrative can and should be open and changeable for each piece of Art. 

Following on from yesterdays article on works of art, I would like to say a few words about the subject or word narrative, in the context of art.

Artistic narrative can play an important role in the creation of any work made by an artist/photographer. The role can be explicit or implicit in the work.

For me photography as a medium has always to grapple with these two roles’. I must say it is an important task for the artist like myself, to express or explain an implicit narrative in a work of art.

Aside from some of these technicalities in art photography, narrative can be used I think most effectively  when there is a stated context for the work of the artist and what he/she produces. For example: if say you had a client looking for a body of work or even a one-off piece, that relationship however subtle, from the start, from the first point of contact establishes the relationship you have with your artistic practice.  This is in a sense what I look forward to most now; the sense of contact made with a client or viewers!

I would love to state for the record that I always have a start middle and an end in my creative process. But, to say this would be a falsehood and really unnecessary. The narrative comes, for me, in the relationships between what an artist expresses through their work and the action/re-action of the viewer.

  • Narrative can be self reflective/projective.
  • Narrative can also be storytelling from a particular (self) explanatory point of view.
  • Narrative can be also just a story, fictional or otherwise.

Narrative can be there from the beginning of a piece or taken up later, out of the relationship between artist and viewer.

When, however, no language exists in relation to art and viewed piece. I have found through extensive efforts made in this field in social media, there is a kind of silence created within the artwork, when no one engages with it directly. But, there is still value in expressing and exhibiting work on such platforms as it can show you, through experience, what silence can do in light of your efforts! This can allow the work to take on a whole new world of it’s own.

I love creating, it has prooved really beneficial in many unspoken ways for me through the years, and I feel I have still a lot to contribute to the debate about art, in the public sphere.

Industrial Constructions.
Industrial Constructions (Memory).

Noticing a detail in the realm of this photograph, like the number ‘5’ in the picture, can allow you to essentially draw the readers/viewers’ attention to a ‘key’ part of the narrative of the photograph. Or, as this detail may become construed banal to the viewer there could be a sense of abstraction in meaning, even to the point of seeming aloof; a position taken consciously or otherwise by a number of professional artists.

In another sense this photograph was taken according to rules of geometry. For me geometry is key in photography practice and always will be. But what I am alluding to therefore is that there are layers of meaning in this photograph and others like it; all of which may be appropriated to, gained, by the viewer.

Just witness and appreciate the key lines drawn in the photograph here, where without these lines and geometric aspects, the photograph would be devoid of realism, in a very real way.

At this point I know, that I would have stuck with the naming convention ‘5’. But perhaps through my appreciation of philosophy or language in general (ie. “The limits of my language means the limits of my world”; Wittgenstein).

I could also write a little about how the photograph was taken facing St. Patrick’s Chapel in Belfast, UK. But this would not be satisfactory for me any more either.

There is something about the image I have produced here, which is beautiful and needs no language either. But I think that as stated above, re: social media, language plays a key role, through the means of tried and tested alternatives; it must leave an impression in the minds of the viewers that can prove instruction to how the image should be remembered or thought of.

So, here I will take pause, and think about a meaningful title for this photograph….: I will call it: without inflicting a dereliction of duty on my part, the dominant part of the image is the orange could in the picture. But this is too obvious. I am obsessed with the word empathy at present, for mainly personal reasons, so I will steer clear of this word also.

I would love to call it ‘out of a line in the sand’. making reference to the yellow line and a memory of my own, of a Belfast beach, which has just occurred to me. But again I will not!

Now i’m thinking a little more abstract: ‘The toss of a coin, in to a pond’. But, again no.

Something light and easy to understand will do: ‘Industrial Constructions’. Here I hope I have provided a little insight into the nature/mechanisms of narrative in art.

Spring flowers.
Spring flowers, Belfast.


“We make our own narrative”

Still searching…











This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll Up
close-alt close collapse comment ellipsis expand gallery heart lock menu next pinned previous reply search share star