Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Collecting Colours in Saigon

I had previously written about my recent digital print 'District 7 Strata', and how the work led on to further divergent threads that I am now beginning to unpick one by one. In addition to this I would like to express my satisfaction at having the opportunity of writing about my working process in more detail.

I had the pleasure of having an article accepted into the Lines of Desire section of the online journal LivingMaps Review.

I tried to describe my working process during the creation of the digital print and the decisions I made throughout. The editors of the Lines of Desire section, Blake Morris and Clare Qualmann enabled me to complete this article, refine it for publication and also to clarify my own thoughts into a more coherent state and for that I am extremely grateful.

The article can be read here.


Maps are symbolic representations of chosen places, whether real or imagined and are constructed in ways that communicate specific information. Sometimes maps can be accurate geographic recreations of locations but often these relationships can be sacrificed if other information has been granted priority. The following article details the working process undertaken by Patrick S. Ford as he creates a digital print based upon a study of a district of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in Vietnam. A period of familiarization of the district involving extended walks resulted in a piece of work that is essentially a map of the area under study.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - Alan Sillitoe

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe was published in 1959, winning the Hawthornden Prize the following year.

In this short story Sillitoe uses long distance running as a metaphor for an emotional and physical escape from society. The main character, Colin Smith, was caught by the Police for robbing a bakery and sentenced to Borstal (prison school) in Essex. His talent for running attracts the notice of the borstal's authorities and they offer him the prospect of a light workload for the remaining 6 months of his sentence if he can win a cross-c country race against a well known public school.

In the race, Smith easily outpaces the other runners and leads the race until the final meters of the race, at which point he stops and allows the other runners to overtake him, to the great anger of the Borstal authorities.
In revenge Smith receives a regime of hard, manual labour for the remaining time he has to serve, but Smith harbours no regret at all. The system could take away his freedom but nobody can force him to run, that is his alone.

The book was adapted into a film by Sillitoe and directed by Tony Richardson in 1962. Tom Courtenay starred as Smith and won the BAFTA for Best Newcomer and the Mar del Plata International Film Festival Award for Best Actor

It was a master-stroke to turn this short-story into a feature length film as, when it was first proposed as a film Tony Richardson estimated that the film's running time would have been around 17 minutes long. Sillitoe worked hard and the screenplay by expanding it into a film lasting an hour and twenty minutes.

During the time Sillitoe write the book, attitudes to sport, especially running was changing from the old concept of amateur sport in which athletes competed for the pure glory of excelling in the sport rather than monetary gain.

While conducting research for a planned book on aspects of performance art, I re-read the short story and found pertinent commentaries on the state of mind attained by runners during long distance races. I had experienced these same feeling myself whilst competing in hill races and ultra marathons. The pat-pat-pat cadence of his footsteps being very familiar to me as a way for a runner to monitor their condition during long races.

Short clips and commentaries on the film version can be found here, and here on YouTube.

Link to book on