PARK STREET CREATIVE NIGHT 4th February 2021 - Sarah Sands

Date Published 
Fri 5 Feb 2021


Sarah Sands is our regular judge for the Creative night. I believe we are the only club she judges for. One might think that that could mean she might become detached for the principles of the process and lose her way a bit. This is not the case. In fact on her visit this year she seemed sharper than ever. She put this down to all the art courses she has been on via the computer over the last few months although like your reporter did notice constant screen work was affecting her eye sight. We had asked her to really make an effort to spread the scores from 12 to 20. (This has recently seemed an almost impossible mountain for some of our judges to climb.)

Realising she never likes to be unkind expectations were not high. However she did exactly as asked but also remembered to highlight all the things she enjoyed in even the lower scoring entries. This is a very positive technique and certainly fits such a subject as creative where the overall outcome will surely be influenced more than usual by subjective opinion. It did create a few suprises when she announced her scores but then you can’t have it both ways. She trod a very careful path.

A perfect example being Leon Flack’s “Devil Dog” which despite very much fitting the creative genre pictured a very angry looking dog surrounded by an almost too impressive version of hell. She loved that effect but the inclusion of the dog was to much for her hence a much lower score perhaps than the degree of imagination applied might have deserved. On the other hand “Star Anise” appealed to her more but perhaps to us was just another still life from the Chris Gilbert collection, beautifully handled though it was. The 18s came from Chris Anderson with an unusual take on the Dandelion “Dandy Lion” another of Normans pencil shots “Coloured Pencils in a Stir” which she interestingly observed worked so well because of a the lack of container and the clever arrangement of the colours. (Telling us things we might have missed there which was really the theme of the entire evening and useful to all of us for that reason.) Finally an 18 for John Jennings' fine mono chrome “Guess What”. Didn’t seem to have any obvious creative input other than being an excellent and sharp street capture and very possibly a winner in a People competition but still an 18 in this event was a little strange.

Norman Marshall’s “A Splash of Colour” was possibly harshly treated. To me it resembled a wide angle (fisheye) shot taken up through a forest canopy clearing of a darkening blue sky and stars with a supernova explosion effect at the centre. A tiny tweak and a better title and possibly ‘Bob’s your uncle’ with that one. But not for Sarah tonight.

Both of the 19s were Chris Gilbert’s. “Splash of Orange” a classic ‘drop into the glass’ picture of an orange splashing out a number of dead sharp drops of water but even more sensational his beautiful rendition of a London scene actually No1 Blackfriars, entitled slightly obviously “City Art” - personally my favourite of the night by a mile, but it still got a highly commended to sweeten the 19 pill. One of the three 20s was also his, the afore mentioned “Star Anise” the others belonging to Sue Hipperson. Sue has clearly recognised Sarah’s taste. She did well in this last year. This time her very circular “Close Encounters” impressed. (Colours remember, she’s an artist and sees colours) but even better still “Natures Creation in Ice” beautifully sharp fractals of frost through clear glass made more alluring thanks to some distance golden brown streaks on the sky. (She enjoys nature too, of course married to Andy she sort of has to.) So Sue Hipperson had won the PDI section.


The ‘so called’ prints followed after the break. The run through revealed that an image had been BANNED. A great big notice proclaimed this. Possibly slightly un-subtle and for those still puzzled this was a picture from Norman Marshall that had inadvertently been entered before and in this season and in identical form. Perhaps it was a reminder to the other members that there are rules governing this however an explanation might have aided to the educational process.

Here Sarah’s spread of scores was even better. These being simply higher resolution PDis were got into the slightly annoying business of zooming in (to be fair only when and where Sarah wanted to) in an attempt to imitate looking closely at a printed image. The fact is that it doesn’t do this. It simply examines pixels, not even sharpness, as everything is blurred if you expand it enough. I don’t think this helps and creates an unlevel playing field as it is done selectively to certain people’s images and not others.

To the extent that, Terry Day’s perfectly on subject and attractively captured “On the Pier at Brighton” was mulled over too long and received only 17. Jeremy’s Silken Vortex seemed very unlucky to get a similar mark as did another of Terry’s, his excellent “Street Lamp” apparition, whereas Dave Butler’s fine panorama or at least letter box ‘scape of Manhattan was ‘creative’ only in it’s use of a slight grainy filter also got a 17. Chris Gilbert’s Cubism – a composite featuring ice cubes, shadow, reflections and the obligatory flock of birds worked wonderfully well at all levels but only got an 18 along with “Lockdown Boredom” from John Jennings which at first looked like just a group of reclining of horses until you realised the framed pictures in the background were of them in happier days playing, and here they were looking dejected. Actually a tremendous story idea and creative to fault despite it being virtually a straight image – well apart from the pictures in the background but no fancy effects or such. John got another high placing with his equally equestrian “Wrapped” – possibly gaining most of its score from the quality of the photography and the composition as it might have in an Open event. Once again in the twenties and third was Sue Hipperson’s “Through a Lens” which appealed to Sarah from both compositional and colour perspectives. “Lines and Swirls” another of Jeremy’s was quite frankly a corker! A beautiful pattern display that you could look at for quite a while and keep seeing more. Often a problem with pattern pictures. His “Polar Ice” however still won the night. He explained that this had begun as a shot straight into a frozen puddle then flipped and duplicated to create a circular image with all manner of detail slightly resembling a strange planet. Well Sarah could certainly see some creatures on it but then it was getting towards the end of the evening by then!

All in all both satisfactory, informative and most entertaining. Up until this night Sarah had never before used the annotation tool. When it was explained to her by Jeremy she took to it enthusiastically, just a computer version of the laser pointer really and although sometimes the screen looked seriously scribbled upon a couple of authors mentioned they thought her lines actually improved their images in places! Very impressive to see how quickly she became adept at it. To the extent and for me the highlight of the night, that when critiquing David Butlers “Bridge on the Ver” she was able to not just suggest the possibility of introducing some people in the distance to improve the composition but actually do it with a few quick dabs of her pen. Nowhere near the intrusion as all this zooming about that our judges seem to be being encouraged to do. She can drawn people into my images anytime she likes! Doubtless we will be inviting her back to repeat this performance next year.

Dave Hipperson