Karen Lois Whiteread
Year Of The Artist Residency, Funded by Arts Council England East.

Lee Valley Park has been described as one of London's best kept secrets; over 10,000 acres of land and water stretching like a finger from East India Dock Basin, Tower Hamlets up to Ware in Hertfordshire. Lee Valley Regional Park Authority acquired a Royal Ordinance site in Enfield, an area that had been out of bounds for many years. This land has now become a new park for Londoners.

This project was devised to bring attention to the development of this site and to mark the opening of the park. THE CONCEPTION, CREATION, GROWTH AND BIRTH OF A PARK.

OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT During the Millennium year one pregnant woman was photographed every week from the beginning of her pregnancy right through to the birth of her baby. This produced a group of images that depict the gradual and subtle changes a woman's body goes through during the creation of a new life. Then in January 2001 an area within the Lee Valley new park was photographed every 2nd week capturing the natural and man-made changes the park went through. These images were then put into the computer and manipulated to create a series of 10 images. That were then made into 40 foot banners which should have been displayed in the park, one every month from August 2001 till May 2002 to mark the countdown of the opening of the park. They should have been positioned at the main entrance of the park where they could be viewed by passing traffic and pedestrians.

THE RESIDENCY The residency was divided into three main sections.

1. The first part of the residency was photographing a woman throughout her pregnancy, creating with the co-operation of the woman a body of work that will sensitively explore and illustrate the subtle changes a woman's body goes through during her pregnancy. The residency took place one day a week over a period of 30 weeks at my studio in north London. Through careful discussion and trust building I wanted to create a situation where the woman involved felt comfortable and confident about having her full-length nude portrait taken. The residency for me was about the collaboration of the photographer and the sitter. I wanted to produce images that captured the emotions as well as the physical changes. I used a Medium format camera to slow the process down. What interested me I was the relationship that developed between the photographer the camera the sitter and the choices made that created a situation where some truth about the subject was teased out and captured on film. Strong visual clarity and printing on a much larger scale without loosing definition was my main objectives. I wanted to achieve a tension between the photographer and the subject, which was achieved by using a medium format camera, adding a different dimension to the sitting.

2. The second part of the residency took place in the park, where I photographed the same area of the park every other week from January through to December. These images were also shot on a medium format camera. I explored the natural and manmade changes the park went through during this period.

3. The third part of the residency took place in the information centre of Lee Valley Regional Park Authority in Waltham Abbey. It took place one day a week for approximately 20 weeks. There was a temporary computer workstation set up where the images were manipulated in PhotoShop. The images of the pregnant woman and the park were incorporated into one image to create a body of work that conveys the original idea - CONCEPTION, CREATION, GROWTH AND BIRTH. The general public and staff at the centre were able to talk with me about the work and the ideas. The Banners did not go up. The park faced many delays in its development and did not open until June 04. There were issues around using images of a naked pregnant woman in the banners. The management committee decided that the project was too controversial (nonsensical because the original brief was to create work that would bring attention to the opening of the park.). This meant that a years work was never shown, and to my relief we could not find a suitable venue elsewhere. The work was site specific and I felt would not have made sense at an alternative venue.