Assignment2: A Journey

Assignment2: A Journey:

Produce a series of approximately 12 photographs that are made on, or explore the idea of, a journey.

The journey that you document may be as long or as short as you like. You may choose to re- examine a familiar route, such as a commute to work or another routine activity, or it may be a journey into unfamiliar territory. You may travel by any means available.

Introduce your work with a supporting text (around 500 words) that:

  • Describes how you interpreted this brief.
  • Describes how your work relates to aspects of photography and visual culture addressed in Part Two.
  • Evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of your work, describing what you would have done differently or how you might develop this work further.
  • Identifies what technical choices you made to help communicate your ideas, and also references relevant artists and photographers who have influenced the creative direction of your project.
  • Explains your reasons for selecting particular views, and arriving at certain visual outcomes.


The Advance of the Plague from Marseille northwards through Provence

Whether or not you feel appropriation is something you might work with at some point, the mapping resources available for free on the internet are an invaluable practical tool for planning landscape shoots of any kind.

If you haven’t yet done so, read ahead to the brief for Assignment Two. Write down your preliminary thoughts and ideas for how you might approach this assignment. Use Google Maps and/or any other mapping system and print off, photocopy or save some maps of the journey you’re thinking about documenting for this assignment. Use the map(s) to help identify any details or aspects of the place or route that might (or might not) be of interest.

For this project I want to trace the advance of the plague, in 1720, northwards into Provence. I will walk that part of the Wall of the Pest which was reconstructed in 120 days between (1986-1992) by local volunteers. This is a small part of the ‘original’ wall which was built in 1721. I have walked this wall before but only as a walk and not as part of a ‘topographical’ exercise. There is no actual trace of the wall on Google maps but it is mentioned. I put the ‘man’ on the map in the place indicated below and the image is of a small section of the wall. Because this wall has not been traced by Google I was unable to make the man move along the wall.


I also found this trace on another site (1)

I will construct a timeline for the advance of the plague and the building of the original barriers erected to keep the plague from advancing into the Papal States around Avignon. In order to get information on this I will visit the History Museum in Marseille and any relevantt sites I can locate.

The Timeline for the advance of the Plague from Marseille northwards, in 1721 1723

A large part of Provence was owned by the Popes in the 12the century. The area was know as the Comtat Venaissin. (2)

A map of the Comtat Venaissin

In 1720 a ship, the dutch built Grand Saint Antoine, returned to Marseille port, from Syria, which is due south of this region. On board there was several sailors who were suffering from the plague. Seven of the sailors died on board. Despite this, after stoping in Livorono, the Italians allowed the ship to proceed to Marseille. On board was a long anticipated cargo of expensive textiles. Normally cargo on a boat infected with the plague had to await a quarantine period of 50 days. But the locals were impatient for this cargo and for the work involved in unloading it. The quarantine period was reduced to 29 days and some of it was released immediately. The rest of the material was quarantined on the island of Jarre.

Within seven days of landing the cargo the first case of plague was reported in Marseille. Within three months it had advanced north through Aix en Provence as well as to the north west. The ‘vice-legit’ of the pope, who was established in Avignon, forbade all trade with Marseille and established a barrier on the right bank ot the Durance river. This was guarded by soldiers. But contraband continued to flow until the pope’s representatives surrounded the entire papal states and guarded the area with 800 soldiers. The locals paid to construct a wall and they paid the salaries of the guards.

The plague continued to advance so an extension to the wall was built and the papal troops were replaced by the regular French army. The wall was constructed by local people with look out posts, areas for food storage sleeping accomodation for the soldiers. The plague finally died out in 1723 having killed 25% of the population.

The architect of this wall,  Antoine d’Allemand,  said of it in his book (3)

« En 1720 je traçois depuis Saint-Hubert jusques à Saint-Ferreol les limites entre le Comtat Venaissin et la Provence, une ligne de 18 000 toises dont 6 000 toises faites avec un parapet de terre et un fossé au devant, et 2 000 toises avec des murs faits en pierre sèche.
En 1720 (j’ai fait) le plan de cette ligne depuis Saint-Hubert jusques à Saint-Ferréol et de là en suivant la Durance jusques à son embouchure dans le Rhône et en remontant le Rhône jusques à Avignon dont la longueur est de 14 lieues. »

Interesting information in this paper (

Research to establish the trace of the original wall:

After much map matching I have drawn up, with the benefit of the research I made, the best estimate for the original barrier that was put in place in 1721 around the Papal territory Le Comtat Venaissin. Where there were rivers or natural pits these were used as barriers.

Bonnet, A., 2008. La Peste Dans le Comtat et La Provence. 1st ed. France: le Groupe MedicActe.



First Sanitary Barrier Crossing the Durance at Point de Montelimar (west of Mallory):

The crossing was probably in small wooden boats.

Histoires d’hommes & de rivières : La Durance : Mémoires. 2018. Histoires d’hommes & de rivières : La Durance : Mémoires. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 08 March 2018].

Second Barrier in the East from the Durance as far as Mont Ventoux

The Combe de Lourmarin is part of this second Barrier. I walked part of this yesterday (7 Mar 2018) with my walking group.

La Combe de Lourmarin

From Le Crest we could see across to Mont Ventoux which formed the end of this second barrier.

Mont Ventoux covered in snow on 8 Mar 2018

The dry stone wall section:

The wall was constructed from stones found on site. These were huge and very irregular. This fact together with the poor level of expertise of the men constructing the wall, meant that very few traces of the original wall survived and no where did it survive at it’s original height of 1.9m (5)

During my trip to photograph the Wall of the Peste I fell and sustained a double fractured wrist. This slowed my progress and limited what I could achieve. However working with my printer I intend to have my images printed recto verso with the text on the left hand page. I will bind this using Japanese stab stitch when the restraint is off my wrist:

Visit to Marseille where the Plague first made landfall
 I had found a reference(6) indicating that a model of the Grand Saint Antoine, the boat which brought the plague, was on display in the History Museum in Marseille. Unfortunately this was not the case as it had been withdrawn. There was an interesting section on the Plague and some interesting videos.
Medical Instruments used during the plague

I also wanted to make an image of the port where the Grand Saint Antoine arrived. I had found the interesting painting, by Michel Serre, of the town Hall with sick and dying people lying in front. I will superimpose this on an image of the town hall as it is today. No one, at the museum, knew where the rue de l’Eschelle, the street where the first victim of the plague had died, had been. The name must have been changed at some point in the intervening years. I did find this image(7) on the internet but could not match it up to anywhere in Marseille city.


I had to make two journeys, the original journey, one of research, of the progress of the plague in 1720. The second journey was my present day journey to retrace this progress from Marseille up to Provence where its progress was halted by the construction of a wall. I felt the best way to represent the result was in book form. I decided on A4 landscape format. I wanted to use RAG to print the images as I felt it would give an old world feel. I decided to add a small amount of text to the left hand page. I decided to print the old images on tracing paper and to superimpose these on the recent images where relevant.

A double spread of pages 2 and 3 will look like this:


Superimposed on this image is an image of the Grand Saint Antoine cargo boat:




My tutor was satisfied with the book I had created. However he suggested a couple of improvements:

  • To remove the personal “I” from the story. I have done this on page 1 of the printed version. However since I had the work professionally printed I did not feel that having the final rector verso page re-printed, warranted the expense.
  • I have edited the image of the Grand Saint Antoine to remove the background. I had very little experience with the ‘background eraser’ tool so this afforded me just the right opportunity. It was a little difficult with one hand but I am reasonably pleased with the outcome. I am grateful to my tutor for pointing this out.
  • He also suggested I increase the size of the ‘crossing boat’. I did this and re-printed both. I will include both images so assessors can see the difference.
  • I am also grateful to my tutor for a link(8) which gave a location for the Rue de l’Eschelle and the reason why i could not locate it. It had been partially destroyed in 1860. And also for a link to information about the photographer (9)
  • same as the image I found
with explanation of what happened to road in 1860


I should be able to locate this road from the following map:

        • My tutor also suggested that I look at with the idea of developing the superimposition of a recent image on an original. I have looked at the site and will keep it in mind for a future project.
        • He further recommends that I look at John Stezaker: I found this work very interesting especially in todays world of image overload.Would be fun to create an enormous image from the thousands of images on Instagram on one topic.
        • Finally we had discussed my making a Flip book to display my book here on my blog. H felt it was difficult to see the quality of the images in the video. I have outlined the steps to creating a flip book in my Diary.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s