Monday 3 October 2022

Exhibition Details, Thanks and Thoughts

The Chapel St George's Field, Springtime 
Turmeric anthotype made from 35mm film image 4x6 inches  

I've just put the last coat of varnish on the last matte medium image transfer I've made for this exhibition - which opens a week on Wednesday and you can find all the details for it here:

I'm both excited and nervous about it as well as really looking forward to it. It's the culmination of a lot of hard work which has been both really challenging and really rewarding too. 

I've spent the last six months working primarily on this project. I'm really glad that I put together a proposal and that it was accepted - in part because it's helped lay the ghosts of deciding not to continue my PhD studies at Huddersfield Uni in September 2019 with all the sadness and confidence knocking that entailed but mostly because it's given me a new focus (no photographic pun intended) and new impetus to continue with my research albeit for the time being in a different format.  It's proof of the adage by Alexander Den Heijer  'when a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower'. 

I have found the last six months a massive challenge - from the basic mental challenge of dealing with the anxiety of being in enclosed spaces with other people again having mostly avoided them during the last couple of pandemic years, to the mental challenge of getting my head round having the confidence to try again in an academic environment, the mental challenge of reading some dense and intense theory as well as the practical challenges of a longish walk to college (as yet despite my gratefully received booster jabs I still cannot face the enclosed space of public transport) learning new techniques and then trying to put all of the above together to be able to talk about my work with others, create new work and re-evaluate older work as well as write and deliver presentations, the latter being something I used to do with some regularity but which I hadn't done since February 2021.  That really helped my concentrate my thinking and get it together.  

As well as feeling like I have refound my voice I have also fallen in love with making turmeric anthotypes and all their tricksy idiosyncratic fading impermanent ways.

Along with new ways of making work I've also learnt new ways of thinking and writing about it and I've made new connections and re-established some old ones too.  Leeds College of Art as was now Leeds Arts Uni remains one of my happy places and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity of being there again after doing my MA in Creative Practice there in 2014-2016.

I am very grateful to the leaders on this project at the college Professor Sam Broadhead and Curator Marianne Tsionki and her team, Henry for sorting out some printing issues for me, my aces challenging and supportive mentor Lauren Saunders whose work you can find out about here: and my fellow project artists Hafifa Ahmed, Ingrid Bale, Hana Lait and Carol Sowden for their support, patience, humour and hard work.  Thanks also to the library staff who helped me a lot too. 

Thanks are also due to my lovely supportive 'Man Ray people'* Penny, Jon, and Louise who proofread things for me and gave me feedback and last but not least to my husband for providing support and for putting up with the kitchen being taken over to make anthotypes, work drying in the bathroom and all the disruption that entails.  

So come on down if you can - I'll also post again with some more pictures of the work on show so if you can't get there in person you can get some idea of what there is to see there.  

* May Ray once said '
You don’t need a huge audience, you only need 5 or 6 people who care and support you, don’t worry regarding idealism and practicality. Try to get paid for what you do but don’t worry if you don’t. Just keep on working, you’ll make up for it in time.'


Thursday 18 August 2022

Concentration, Experimentation and Play

My current project notebooks - one is for making notes about the books I'm reading (the one pictures is one of them and it's an interesting and difficult read) and one is for to do lists, planning and thinking things out and the most recent knitted creature I've made - knitting is one of the things that I do that helps me dampen down the feelings/symptoms of anxiety that I experience every day. 

Practice lumen prints using acetate negatives and 4 different kinds of paper (see image below) in the back window - I took advantage of the recent very hot sunshine to do some experimentation and I'm pleased with the results and got some usuable prints as well as ideas for how to make them better next time I make some. Mapp (who can be seen in shadow towards the top of the image in shadow) very kindly let me have her one of her beds for a bit as the direct sun was too fierce even for her and she retreated behind the curtain with just a bit of a back leg catching some rays. 

4 different kinds of paper I'm currently using  - some very old indeed, the AGFA Brovira in the orange packet is well over 40 years old and was a gift from a friend when sorting out the contents of what had been her fathers darkroom - I am very honoured and privileged to have been given such precious material and I use it sparingly as it is so finite and irreplaceable. I'm not sure how old the Kentmere paper is but it's old though Kentmere Paper is still available and still in production. As are the Ilford papers - the big box of Ilford is probably around 20 years old, the smaller pack of Ilford is only(!) 8 years old as I got it when I did a Photography evening class back at was then called Leeds College of Art in 2014. Sadly the same place is now called Leeds Arts Uni but it doesn't offer evening classes anymore which I think is a great shame. I think evening classes are a great way to  make higher educational establishments seem a bit less intimidating and as a prospective student they're also a good opportunity to experience an institution as it actually operates on a day to day basis and not an open day best behaviour say anything to get your cash basis.

Some of the knitted things I've been working on over the past few weeks - as you can probably tell I am fond of variegated wool that makes its own kind of stripes and patterns and the little plain green and black striped creature in the middle at the back went to a new home earlier this week.
I'll keep and use the dishcloth myself (it has an outline of a skull and crossbones on it) and the other creatures and the booties will be going to chums/family members as presents. 

Concentration, Experimentation and Play might sound like they could be Emerson Lake and Palmer's troubled grandchildren but they are in fact the things I've been focusing on and at times struggling with the past few weeks. The extreme heat of the last week put a massive dent in my productivity as despite my best efforts to not be affected by it made me feel quite sick and also really sluggish which in turn is not helped by not being able to sleep very well when it's that hot. So I am very grateful the extreme heat has passed for the time being and I hope it doesn't return but I fear it will and I also fear instead of being unusual it's going to become the norm. 

I found the heat as disorientating and anxiety provoking as the first lockdown in some ways - at least then I could leave the house for some exercise each day at whatever time I fancied but the heat meant that I either didn't leave the house or went for a walk really early in the morning before it got so fiercely hot that I felt like I was breathing soup. YUCK.

I did some reading but I found it very difficult to concentrate properly once it got past 11am and then all I could manage was flopping on the sofa sipping cold water and feeling hemmed in by heat, closed curtains and the fear that climate chaos is here and as an an individual there is relatively little you can do to combat it - it needs concerted government action and cooperation between governments but sadly given the dickwads that are in charge in this country at the moment that seems pie in the sky thinking. But onto cheerier things... 

It's about six weeks since I last wrote and 'blog post' has been on my to do list for a at least 3 of those weeks and this morning while ideas and to do lists and project aims and deadlines were swirling round my head I made 'blog post' top of my to do list as it helps me formulate my thoughts and get a much better idea of what I want and need to do next. 

Top of the to do list is 'finish writing artist statement and bio' closely followed by check on state of work at St George's Field - I find writing statements and bios really difficult. I've tried to work out why I find it so hard and I think it's a mix of factors:

One factor being that it is hard - especially when trying to break down processes that to me feel more intuitive than theory and process driven even when theory and process are a big part of them. Another factor is that I think language can be a really big barrier to participation so getting the language right to describe things is hard and it also has to be audience specific and I also don't want to come across as either stupid or pretentious. Negative experiences in connection with things I've written in the past don't help either and I have to take concerted action sometimes not to let those specific incidences inhibit me.

In addition to those factors it's also been my experience that women are socialised not to draw attention to themselves in intellectual ways and I got teased at school for doing so. Plus my strict roman catholic upbringing taught me that talking positively about yourself is akin to pride and so a sin. To be fair though - a roman catholic upbringing teaches you that almost anything and everything is a sin in some way.

Another thing that I think is a factor is that I come from a working class background that had comparatively little in the way of cultural capital, I never set foot inside an art gallery or a theatre (other than for a couple of trips to pantomines at xmas) until I was in my late teens and despite the evidence of having a Masters in Creative Practice and being a practising photographic artist and researcher in some way and showing work for almost twenty years now I still suffer from imposter syndrome in part because I was not brought up to feel creative and higher education spaces were spaces I could easily go into or be in and feel at home in.

Imposter syndrome is an absolute arse as is anxiety as is the class system in this country but being able to recognise them for what they are and so be able to try and do something about them is a kind of forewarned and so forearmed defence against them and education is a way of combating it even though it also in some ways helps enable it - as there will always be something I don't know or understand but then that is the joy of learning. 

So one of the ways I'm trying to find it easier to write is to think of it as actively rebelling against my upbringing. Recognising why I find it difficult makes it a little easier to tackle though at times it still feels like the equivalent of pulling teeth but I've always been attracted to rebellion so thinking of it in those terms makes it just that little bit easier...

It's been 7 weeks since I left work (4 matte medium image transfers - two on fabric and two on canvas)  there and my aim is to recover those pieces next week so  they will have been there 8 weeks. I 've done it with the aim of collaborating somehow with the space which the artist Stephen Gill so beautifully describes as the hope that 'maybe the spirit of the place can also make its mark'.  

I hope the environment has made an impression on the matte medium image transfers I left there and I also hope that they have not been carried off by anyone or anything, but that would also be interesting - as long as they've not just been thrown in a bin as that would make me sad but that's the gamble you take when leaving work somewhere for any length of time. 

In terms of play - I've been playing with inverting colours on images using GIMP photo manipulation software. It's free and open source unlike Photoshop which I am lucky to also have but which I find almost impossible to use. I find Photoshop really unuser friendly and not intuitive at all. But the photosoftware I use most of all is that which comes with the Microsoft Windows operating system as I find that so simple to use and it does the things I want. 

I've found this blog post really difficult to write but it has helped me organise my thoughts and find a way through to attack my to do list with renewed energy and vigour. The deadline for getting work ready for the exhibition at Leeds Art Uni is getting closer each day and though I have done a lot I still have lots to do.

So please wish me luck in sustaining that effort and thank you for reading. 


Tuesday 5 July 2022

Anxiety, The 4 'R's, Making and Doing And That Kind Of Thing


From right to left - journal (a thin exercise style book I write in using my posh fountain pen every few days or so) appointment diary that I write all my appointments and a brief outline of what I've been up to - journal is more for how working out how I'm feeling about things, pink book is my 'commonplace book' that I write uplifting or insightful or helpful quotes in, techniques for helping feel less panicky - so it's primarily to do with my mental health and what I can do/read/think about to help stop anxiety completely taking over, the coffin stickers were a present from a friend.
 I have been putting them on all sorts of things... 
Commonplace books were especially the habit of middle and upper class women in the Victorian era where they were used to write down inspiring quotes, copies of poems, recipe ideas and that kind of thing. It pleases me to be carrying on a Victorian era habit - as well as helping me to better appreciate and reinforce new ways of thinking.

Sample of some of the books I'm reading at the moment for the research project I'm part of at Leeds Arts University, along with the notebook (also with a coffin sticker so on brand) - some of these books are my own, some on loan from the Arts Uni library and some from council run Leeds Library Services

My current post it note, big project notebook, blank post it notes, melon topped paperclip and a big chunky pen. As you may have noticed I am a sucker for a notebook and a lovely pen to write with.

I last updated this blog in March 2022 and it's been on my to do list to update it again but for various reasons I have been finding it difficult to get round to doing it.

Partly because sometimes I find it too difficult to find/create/maintain the headspace in order to be able to properly marshall my thoughts and express them. Anxiety is frankly a f**ker so some days going for a walk and distracting myself in a novel or a lovely old black and white film is a better way of keeping the anxiety weasels at bay and also mainly because in March I applied to be part of the aforementioned research project at Leeds Arts Uni (what was Leeds College of Art and will always be 'the college' to me) and I have been mostly focusing on that.

One of the things I am finding so anxiety provoking is the reality that the pandemic is nowhere near  over - despite so many people and our shitshow of a corrupt and morally bankrupt government behaving as if it was. I am still finding it difficult to be indoors with others unless I'm in a well ventilated room with easy access to the door and the thought of public transport and the inability to choose who you sit next to, how close or rather how far you sit from them frankly brings me out in hives. 

I was never very comfortable being in busy cramped noisy indoor spaces jammed up too close for comfort with others and all Covid has done has add another layer of extreme discomfort and anxiety to the discomfort and anxiety I was already feeling.  I am tremendously grateful that mostly I do not have to leave the house unless I choose to and that I can choose where and how I go as well. I am going out a lot more than I did but I still choose times when it's likely to be quietest and I'll be able to keep a decent distance from others otherwise my anxiety is so strong (no matter what actions I take to stop it) that it completely detracts from and ruins whatever it is I'm trying to enjoy.

Panic attacks are no fun - either for the person having them or the people around the person having one and when I do have one it takes me a long time to come back down from them and start to feel vaguely normal again. I find breathing and counting and getting away from the stimulus causing the feelings of panic the best thing to do along with beta blockers that help with the physical symptoms. And a look at my beloved Hacker T Dog, Spongebob or Count Arthur Strong will make me laugh, make me smile or if things are really bad at least distract me enough to stop it spiralling further. 

Sometimes though I cannot work out exactly what it is that is making me feel so anxious so getting away from it is not so easy. And along with the racing heartbeat, tunnel vision etc, I also have to fight against the negative feelings I have about feeling so panicked and anxious in the first place, especially when I feel like I am letting people down by not being able to go out for things I thought I could cope with or that one day I can cope with and another day I just can't. That feeling like it's me who is somehow at fault for having them and that it's a weakness is hard to deal with sometimes - especially when despite all my hard work to rid myself of such feelings it's still there just waiting for a trigger.

I have to remind myself that I do and am working hard to deal with them and work around them and that they are just part of me. Plus I am very lucky to be mostly surrounded by supportive and understanding people and those that aren't supportive and understanding can just take a long walk off a very short pier. 

So the project is the reason behind all those books and notes  - I've made good progress on it so far and have enjoyed the sessions at the college and with my mentor but I have a lot more to do and a lot to make and create before the exhibition opens in October (watch this space for details). 

One of the things I'm going to be trying out is a new (to me) matte medium image transfer method which sounds a bit more fiddly than the one I'm used to but will also hopefully result in an image that I can transfer onto more uneven and potentially tricksy surfaces like branches and maybe even leaves. So far I have had success using my old method transferring images onto coffin lining material - it's shiny like coat lining material, muslin, canvas and cotton. So if the new method fails there's always that method to fall back on instead. 

I'm really enjoying the project as it's enabled a revaluation and revitalisation of my thinking and processes, given me new connections with other artists and more reason to be hanging out in the library - basically doing the 4 'R's' which are - reading, 'riting, researching and recording. It's also making me think again about resuming these studies formally in a PhD type context but I've a lot more thinking and doing (and saving up) to do before I can do that on a practical level.  

But in the meantime watch this space for more musings on working methods, research questions, outcomes and artefacts and I hope that if you suffer from anxiety too you can find or have a good way to ease your way out of it.

Thank you for reading.  

Friday 25 March 2022

Doing, Horror, Reading, Making and Stuff

Image taken using the kids watch cam built in reflection in water filter, it's a view of the 'scarey corner'*  bit of St George's Field, I took it earlier this month and then post processed it to monochrome. 
image of main avenue linking the two halves of Sheffield Cemetery together - taken in February this year whilst we were there celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary. I was using my 'proper'  point and shoot digital camera for this and post processed the image to monochrome.
screenshot of my contribution s to the House of Smalls last 3 exhibitions highlighted for International Womens Day earlier this month  - you can see mine and other artists work at their website  

So it's a few weeks since I last wrote full of the good intentions of a new year and a new start and some things for the new year have been good but some things have been and continue to be dreadful - namely the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing massive rise in numbers of  Covid infections, the massive cost of living increases in the UK of basics like gas, electric, fuel, food and the fact that our binfire of a corrupt government continues to do little to ameliorate any of those things.

I feel quite powerless, helpless and hopeless in the face of such power and corruption so I remain incredibly grateful that for the time being at least I am very fortunate in terms of my personal circumstances and can retreat to a world of thinking, making, horror of the made up and easily vanquished enjoyable kind, fiction, going to the gym and going for walks in the green spaces that I am so lucky to live close to. 

I've been thinking again about photography and my relationship with it, it remains the main way I express myself, the main way I see the world and try to make sense of it. I am still very much enjoying using the kids camera watch and experimenting with its inbuilt filters as well as the post processing I can add to such images using basic image software that comes as part of the windows operating system. Photoshop remains an unwieldy unuser friendly beast to me though I do use and love GIMP photo-editing software sometimes. 

I also love the fact that although in some ways my kids digital watch camera is completely impractical it's also so very portable and easy to either wear on my wrist or stick in my pocket (along with the now obligatory for me hand sanitiser, tissues, non smart small brick mobile phone, mask) - it makes me sad to think that the days of just leaving the house with a packet of tissues and little fear of what you might encounter out there are long gone and lost forever.

I don't so much have FOMO ('fear of missing out') at the moment but more FONBATDTIUTDEA (the much more unwieldy fear of 'never being able to do things I used to do easily again') -  for example I haven't sat in anywhere to eat or drink coffee in over 2 years as my favourite places to do that have either been closed or my anxiety at the thought of being in an enclosed indoor space with others has far outweighed my desire for the food or the coffee. I'm lucky in that I can get and have had take-aways but it's not quite the same. See also for me - in person film showings, in person gallery visits and going round friends houses.

I think more than anything I am missing spontaneity and tiring of the extra steps I feel are necessary in order to do anything with the least amount (but still a considerable level) of anxiety on my part that involves being around other people. I am hoping this will begin to lessen though as I am taking steps to step out of and widen my comfort zone each week. They make look like tiny steps to others - like sitting in the local library for 10 minutes but they are big ones for me and fingers crossed they will work and I won't catch anything debilitating in the process.

I've been doing a lot of reading recently - I remain completely in love with Shirley Jackson and all her work and am currently very much enjoying The Sundial though its end of the world apocalyptic focus of the main characters is a little bit too uncomfortable at times (especially the decision to take books from the library shelves and burn them so the shelves can be used to store canned food instead) but it is also an exquisite comedy of familial rivalries and etiquette.  That's my serious book for the moment, my not so serious more brain bubblegum book that I've got on the go is The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths which I am enjoying so far. I really enjoyed The Stranger Diaries by her earlier this year so am now eyes peeled for works by her when I dare venture into a charity shop. 

I'm also re-reading Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes - a booked beloved by philosophers and academics for its clever thought provoking insights into the nature of photography and its relationship with the dead but also a beautifully heartwarming and poignant book too. Then it'll be Margaret Bourke-Whites biography 'Portrait of Myself' - a book I ordered from the library after seeing the following quote from her on a photography page on Farcebook ' saturate yourself with your subject and the camera will all but take you by the hand'.  I'd never heard of her before then but I am finding out more about her and her incredible work now.    

I think I watch more horror  (as a genre rather than just how the news can be described, though I mostly just read headlines now as otherwise it's just too depressing) than I read of it and I am especially enjoying the horror offerings on Talking Pictures TV (channel 82 on Freeview) on a Friday night from 9pm. 

Introduced by the delectable Caroline Munro they are an excellent mix of obscure and not so obscure, british and american, pre and post 2nd world war films - some excellent and some whilst not excellent very entertaining nonetheless. There is a tweet along under the hashtags #cellarclub or #thefilmcrowd and it is so lovely both to see the films and appreciate with other like minded fans and laugh about their absurdities or laud their insights or just swap bits of nerdy trivia (like one of the meths drinkers in Theatre of Blood (1973) Stanley Bates also played Bungle in Rainbow and was bound over to keep the peace after a road rage incident in March 2001. The role of women in these films (as in all genres) varies from decoration to main character, from dreadful inaccurate stereotypes to iconoclastic leaders. It is a highlight of my week in these ongoing disturbing and distressing times.

Image-wise I'm currently working on putting together images made with my watch cam into a photobook, am still deciding on whether to do this in chronological order or locations or themes or some combination of all three. This week I have also been doing some thinking about photography itself as a medium, its relationship to the dead and rekindling some of my old formal research interests. Please keep your fingers crossed for me that something good will come of this. I'm still knitting too as I still find it quite meditative and calming - a kind of beta blocker in yarn form. 

I'm also enjoying seeing robins in particular when I'm out for a walk and it makes my day if I see one. The folklore is that robins contain the souls of dead loved ones and so seeing one is meant to be a good omen. I try not to be superstitious and I know that they do not actually contain the souls of dead loved ones, however I'm always pleased and cheered if I see one when I'm out and about as it makes me feel like my Dad is near - even though I know in reality he isn't and cannot be. 

*so called because it is the only part of the space where I have felt unnerved even though the circumstances which led to me feeling like that were entirely coincidental or had some actual physical cause. 


Thursday 13 January 2022

New Year, New Ways of Trying To Do Things, Continuing The Old Ways and That Kind Of Thing.


The Skull of Nice Things - I got this skull a few years ago, when new it contained halloween themed mallow sweets - the sweets were eaten long ago and since then I use it to contain lovely things that have happened - I write them up on little pieces of paper and fold them up and put them in there. If I'm feeling especially low or in need of a pick up I look in there - I also look at it at the end of the year as it provides a nice overview and reminds me of nice things - a thing often needed in the midst of this ongoing shitshow. Some years it gets fuller than others, right now it only has a couple of things in it but the year is young and here's hoping it'll start to fill up soon... 

Some of the things I made for people for xmas - am pleased to report that my Mum loved the toilet roll holder (which is a lovely old school pattern to knit) and that my second oldest nephew loved his knitted Count Orlok - he's really into zombies and vampires and I am really looking forward to sharing horror stories, films, tropes etc with him as he gets older. Knitting is still one of the best ways for me to just feel that little bit calmer - and the fact that I end up with something at the end of it is all for the better.

Rather than making resolutions as such I've been writing down as things occurred to me - what things I need to do, what things I want to do and what things I ought to do and in the plastic wallet bottom right - the nice things from 2021 -  I was lucky to have so many given that it in so many ways it was a complete shitshow and that sadly all the things that made it such a shitshow are still ongoing...I hate the Tory government and their pisspoor lack of ethics and moral standards - Johnson et al are truly despicable and they must think we are mugs - but here's hoping their til now consequence free ride is coming to an end and they'll be booted out sooner rather than later. 
As I type this I'm listening to the Frigay The 13th Podcast on Dreadcentral - the episode about haunted and cursed objects and apparently there are lots of 'haunted' objects available to buy on Ebay with the disclaimer that there is no guarantee that the spirit will accompany it to the successful bidder and equally that they are not responsible for any horrible things that happen to the new owners. 

Sounds more to me like it's a kind of  Pascals wager for people selling or to be far more honest about it conning gullible people out of money.  At the time of recording there were two haunted UPS cardboard boxes...yep you read that right - haunted cardboard boxes...
You can listen to it and their other fabulous podcasts here

However despite my scepticism with regard to haunted cardboard boxes I'm really interested in what an object can contain other than its material components and characteristics, like where the memories associated with them and how they can be accessed and oh how I wish objects could talk so that they could tell their particular history in a truly authentic direct as opposed to mediated way.

Oh how I wish telemetry was an actual thing and I wish I had it as a skill. I often touch things in the hope it'll give me some great revelation, insight or transportation to a time and place but alas this has never happened...but I live in hope of it happening...

To go back to the 'nice things on pieces of paper skull - that is something I will be doing this year, I will also continue to try updating my blog more regularly (usually on a Thursday) and though I have written (see above) some lists of things and some wishes the new thing I am going to do is not beat myself up if I don't do or achieve the things that I've written down - apart from medical stuff.

I'm going to see if taking the immediate pressure off takes away some of the angst and procrastination I have around doing things and so leads to them actually being done.

But one thing I am doing is making a list of goals for the day - like the minimum things I want to achieve in the day before I try to settle down to watch something that I find comforting. Days seem much more achievable in terms of a timescale at the moment. 

My comfort watching continues to be Dark Shadows - Barnabas Collins as portrayed so beautifully by Jonathon Frid is just wonderful, Mandy is making me laugh out loud, and the Twin Peaks box set I got my husband for xmas is just beautiful and disturbing...and I'm still trying to catch Buffy The Vampire Slayer when I can.

I'm reading lots too - I enjoyed Elvira's biography and postie has just dropped off a book about Vampira too which I hope to start reading this evening. My love affair with the Boulet Brothers Creatures of the Night podcast, Peaches Christ Midnight Mass podcast continues and I often have them on in the background whilst I'm working, I think I will be adding the Frigay the 13th to my listening list too.  

I have so far this year though taken lots of photographs amidst the windy cold of Blackpool Illuminations, worked on a piece to do with medication which *gasp* doesn't involve a photograph - I am hoping it gets accepted to be in a particular show but I won't know if it has or not til next week. I've also made some new image transfers and I have plans for putting some of this stuff together into more of a themed collection type arrangement.

I'm continuing to go to the gym (as my beloved Hacker would say it makes me feel so much better-er) and to try to go for walks which also make me feel better - even if it's just a quick turn round the block.  I'm also trying to be a little bit more sensible about what I'm eating but also just take a bit more notice of it so that I can try and see if there is more of a pattern between what I eat and the physical discomfort I sometimes get after eating and also what my mental state at the time is too as I think they feed (no food related pun intended) into each other.

So here's to 2022 and here's hoping that (this shitshow of a government and what they continue to do aside) it brings nicer and kinder things than the last couple of years - top of my wishlist is a return to spontaneity and a lack of intense fear...what are you hoping for?  

Thursday 16 December 2021

Will This Ever End? Good Luck Folklore, New Photos, Xmas Prep, ASMR Noises and Podcasts...


Todays prompts, my lovely fountain pen, leftover stickers, folklore good luck leaf 

One of my favourite images from the film I took using a cheap plastic camera I bought from Primarni in the 'before times' - the camera has a fixed no focus lens, no iso setting or anything fancy about it all - it's just a shutter. I used 35mm Kino film from Lomography - which is film I got for xmas or birthday I can't remember which a couple of years ago. The image itself is of the stone bridge over the beck in Meanwood Park taken on a sunny day in late November 2021.

As I write this I am struggling to manage my anxiety about the seemingly exponential rise of the new strain of Covid, the terrifying predictions of the numbers of infections, the uncertainty of what Omicron might mean on an individual level and the impact of what large groups of people having to isolate might mean. The fact that it's Thursday and so it's blog day is a good alternative focus.

I am in the fortunate position of having had both my jabs and my booster but the uncertainty of the effect of the new strain has meant that the beginnings of confidence I was starting to work to reclaim a couple of months ago and the tentative steps I was taking to get back to a bit of the normality of a bit of the 'before times' has been replaced again by the fear, uncertainty and at times sheer terror of the start of the pandemic almost two years ago.

I can hardly believe I have just written the words 'two years ago' but it is almost two years now.  Two years of stress and anxiety and now it's back at the highest levels and having had a teeny bit of respite from it it feels all the more heavy and all the more difficult. And having stopped feeling quite so anxious and then that feeling being racheted back up again just shows to me how tiring it all is and what an impact it has and continues to have on so many people to say nothing of its effect my own ability to concentrate and complete tasks. 

It also makes the feeling of when will this ever end all the stronger and heavier. Plus I know people who are extremely clinically vulnerable and on a personal level as an asthmatic who has been hospitalised in the past with a respiratory infection I'm very frightened of becoming seriously ill. But I am ever mindful that I am in a comparatively really fortunate position compared to so so many and I remain incredibly grateful for that and fingers crossed that continues. 

Vaccine provision aside I say no thanks whatsoever to our shitshow of a government who continue to both disappoint and enrage with their staggering levels of arrogance, incompetence, corruption and mixed messages. And now so many of their crap decisions are coming back to bite them (not sacking Cummings for instance, the shortsighted stupidity of making masks optional, the awarding of contracts to cronies with no oversight to name but three) but also sadly us in consequence on the arse. 

So on a happier note I learnt a new piece of folklore whilst on a walk this weekend round the bridlepath with a friend - namely that if you catch a falling leaf it will bring you good luck, and I managed to catch one. I try not to be superstitious but I think despite my conscious brain being fully behind rationalism and atheism it's partly a subconscious throwback to my strict roman catholic upbringing and its attendant belief and hope in things you cannot see and do not exist.

Plus when things are bad - as long as you are doing the rational things what harm can it also do to touch a piece of wood or cross fingers? I am still resisting the lure of submarine catholicism (ie it surfaces when you are in trouble) as I do not believe in it and have zero time or respect for any kind of organised religion apart from the Satanic Temple. 

Anyway I caught a leaf (pictured above) and wished whatever good luck and fortune it may hold to my two friends currently dealing with serious illness - same as I did with the penny I found on the floor and picked up mentally saying 'see a penny pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck'. 

Its the same when I see a robin.  Robins are supposedly carriers of loved ones souls as in the rhyme 'when robins appear, loved ones are near' and whilst I know each time I see one that it does not contain my Dad's soul or the soul of other dead loved ones I do find it a very very small comfort to even think that the belief is that it could. Oh how I wish it was actually true.  

What is a comfort though at the moment is slowly but surely working my way through my pre xmas preparation list which along with organising presents and food also involves a deep clean and sort out of the house. Last week I sorted out my workroom over two afternoons. The bookcases are still double stacked but now much more neatly and in much better groupings - most of the photography boooks are all together in one corner, though the death, gothic and victorian studies are still spread over two bookcases. Fiction takes up the rest of the shelfspace.

There are still piles of equipment and materials on the floor next to the bookcases but it's all been sorted into much neater piles and I know what is in each one and where to look for things. Plus a bag of stuff went in the bin, a bag of stuff went into the recycling bin and two bags of stuff were dropped off at the charity shop on Tuesday morning. Imposing a bit of order makes me feel a bit better, as does looking at the pictures I took using the really cheap plastic camera (example above) as they have mostly come out exactly the way I wanted them too - I hope that viewers also see elements of creepiness, melancholy and old looking-ness. I'm looking forward to using some of them either as stills in a short film or as image transfers onto material. 

Whilst doing this I will probably be listening to one of my favourite podcasts which I am finding very comforting (either the Boulet Brothers Creatures of the Night, Peaches Christ Midnight Mass, The Uncanny on Radio 4 or the soundtrack album from Dark Shadows which I got as a birthday present last year. I've now watched 910 episodes and I remain as much in love with Barnabas Collins as played by Jonathon Frid as I was just over 2 years ago when I first started watching it. My curiosity aroused by what I'd heard of a gothic horror soap opera featuring a sympathetic vampire. Hearing the theme tune has a kind of ASMR effect on me and my husband - it's a real kind of 'aah deep breath calming' kind of effect and for the next twenty minutes we can get lost in and be distracted by ghostly, vampiric and time travelling goings on the Collinwood Estate. 

Thank you for reading and I hope you too have something that you can find solace in and some distraction and calm escape. 


Thursday 9 December 2021

If It's Thursday It Must Be Blog Day, Nostalgia, Groundhog Covid-ness, Distraction Working


Out of focus digital image taken at St George's Field on Sunday 5th December,
post processed to monochrome - it's been a while since I've been to St George's Field for fresh air and for picture taking and making. My plan wasn't to do a 'proper' photoshoot as really I just wanted to wander but I popped my favourite digital point and shoot in my pocket in case there was anything which caught my eye. 

Many things did catch my eye as I ended up taking 91 images (oh the clicking freedom of digital as opposed to the measured use of film) - some of which I'm really pleased with and others are much more meh.  It was balm for my soul though getting back in the picture taking zone as the last few days have and continue to be a time of great worry about seriously ill loved ones and here is hoping they'll make a full recovery.

As a space St George's Field remains one of my very favourite places to be and one of the best for recharging my mental batteries. I continue to research its history and that of its occupants and make work in and of it.

It can be hard to take an out of focus image with an automatic focus point and shoot digital camera and there's something serendipitous about this image - I meant to take and subsequently did an in focus image of that tombstone grouping too but there's something about this out of focus one that really speaks to me as I think it accurately reflects my current state of mind and the ongoing uncertainty and disconcerting nature of covid times.

Once I'd had my booster (again thank you NHS) I'd started to feel a little less frightened and a little more positive and open to the idea of going out a bit more and socialising in person rather than through a screen but the events of the past few days, the emergence of a new Covid variant and our ongoing shitshow of a government and their crass incompetence and corruption has made me feel less light at the end of the tunnel but more light of an oncoming train again.

So this image accurately reflects the way I feel about things which I had been able to take for certain in pre-covid times are now jolted and jumbled and no longer reliable. 

My beloved digital point and shoot Lumix - the camera I used to take the picture above and which remains my go to point and shoot digital if I want high resolution in focus images, a backing card for 'Fashionable' buttons which makes me smile as if there are 'fashionable' buttons then is somewhere selling buttons labelled as 'unfashionable'? , an old receipt for something I didn't buy from Binns Ltd for £1.90 on 21st August 1975 (that would be approximately £16.50 in todays money) that I found in a book I bought from a charity shop a while back and despite it having no personal meaning for me I can't bring myself to throw it away.

If only I had telemetric powers then I might be able to discern who it was that made the purchase and what it was. Binns was a department store that became part of House of Fraser and I'm wondering what kind of things would have cost £1.90 in the summer of 1975 and would have been sold in a department store.

There's also a photo of me meeting Father Xmas mostly likely at Lewis or Kendals in the early to mid 70's. I am wearing a kind of sailors outfit which my Mum loved and used to dress me up in all the time. I don't remember loving my sailor suit but I do remember loving my red boots and I also had a pair in white, there's also a ticket to Sometimes Always Never that I saw at the Hyde Park Picture House in the before times (Friday June 28th 2019) that fell out of a pocket of a handbag I hadn't used for a while and made me feel very nostalgic for carefree last minute trips to the cinema.

The Hyde Park Picture House have been posting photographs of the things they've found as the refurbishment continues - so far I've seen an old packet of Woodbine fags, a card from a box of Needlers chocolates and a wrapper for a Zoom lolly from the mid 70's.  You can see them if you look them up on their socials.

There's also this weeks post it note and a blue bic biro - one of the survivors from my sorting out my pen pots on my desk earlier this week - the imprints of the other survivors can be seen scribbled on my beloved green and white lined proper old school computer paper.

Still enjoying my renewed blogging mojo and it does now seen to be a bit more of a habit again - hence if it's Thursday it must be blog day and in the midst of ongoing uncertainty and distress having fixed points is something of a comfort as is Buffy the Vampire Slayer which I missed first time round but am now catching up with thanks to its showings on E4 at 6pm. I know I could download it but I find it easier to watch it on a live broadcast - in part because it's a full stop to the chores of the day and permission to wind down by collapsing on the sofa and watching some flawed undemanding brain fluff that takes very little effort to watch.

I am still watching Dark Shadows too but that does take a bit more of an effort at times as periods of what appear to be the writers treading water whilst deciding what to do next (it didn't begin with a grand overall story arc are then followed by rapid plot twists and turns which can be so lightning quick they're a bit  disorientating. Continuity and logic are not one of its strong points but no matter I remain completely in love with Barnabas Collins and who in episode 1112 is back to being a vampire with a near uncontrollable thirst for blood. 

I increasingly carry out the chores of the day - be that cleaning, cooking, food shopping, christmas preparation, creative work, life admin to a soundtrack of either Radio 4 Extra or a podcast. The podcasts I'm especially enjoying include Peaches Christ Midnight Mass which examines various cult films by talking to performers from it or people who just absolutely love it. The enthusiasm of Peaches and Michael is infectious and it's by turns insightful and revealing, as is the Boulet Brothers Creatures of the Night podcast.

Just as enthusiastic and revealing is Danny Robins Uncanny but by far the most disturbing thing I've listened to this week is The Haunted Generation by Bob Fischer. It's an audio recreation of my 70's childhood with a mix of evocative tv theme tunes, folk songs from the time *shudder*, 70's adverts, and is mostly gentle and lovely (so most unlike the 70's then really - but hey that's the rosy tint of nostalgia for you)  but most terrifying of all in the midst of rosiness there is a clip of the soundtrack to the public information film narrated by Keith Baron detailing the perils of grain silos and how easy it is to drown in them. Til I heard that bit I had been merrily thinking about Fingerbobs, Wombles and the like - a lot of public information films were just short horror films weren't they? I like my horror cosy and as an asthmatic anything where it sounds people are struggling to breathe really unsettles me...hence my ongoing fear re Covid and its potential effect on breathing ability. 

I've often used creative work as a distraction rather than just as an end in itself  - either reading or watching someone else's creative work or making my own. This week I have mostly been distracting myself with the creative work of others but I have also done some photograph editing and workroom tidying and my plan is to start making some image transfers with some of those photographs tomorrow, as well as think about about another possible exhibition submission in January. 

But here's hoping for better news all round next week eh? Thank you for reading. 

Thursday 2 December 2021

Knickerbocker Glories, Time Uncertainty, Changing Consumer Habits, Podcasts and Haunting.


this weeks post it note, list of books on loan from Leeds City Council Libraries which I am slowly working my way through, my journal that I write in every few days or so with fountain pen with black ink, new (to me) purse which made me smile so I bought it although I was really supposed to be buying presents for others at the time which I did as well - I haven't included the things I've been working on as they are presents and so I don't want the people they're for to get a chance sneak preview... 

giant knickerbocker glory which lives on Cleethorpes front - pictured earlier this year - I wonder if it survived Storm Arwen? I hope it did and its owner took it inside for the duration...I am jonesing for a day at the seaside (even if I almost freeze to death in the process) and in particular for a knickerbocker glory made for me by someone wearing a tabard and looking a bit bored - the best I've had has been in Brucciani in Morecambe and Pacittos in Redcar.
My mouth is watering at the memory of them.

It's Thursday so that means it must be go to local shops for bread, fruit and vegetables, possibly the library too and then come home and do a blog post day. It's been another week in these ongoing unsettling and challenging times. I remain very grateful that the pandemic has not affected my finances and that I do not have the kind of job that means I have to leave the house, use public transport to get to it and interact with others in the flesh (especially those who no concept of keeping distance or wearing a mask ) but otherwise it continues to have a frightening and damaging and pervasive effect over everything else.

Almost two weeks on from my booster jab (thank you NHS) I was just starting to feel a little less anxious about going out and meeting up with folks and doing things from the 'before times' but I'm afraid the latest Covid variant Omicron emergence and uncertainty around it has ramped my anxiety levels right back up again. This coupled with loved ones currently being very poorly with it and with other loved ones that are having treatment plans delayed or derailed because of Covid is just making me feel rather despondent in a when will this ever end kind of way? Please join me in keeping everything crossed for their full recovery and that eventually this too will pass.

The when will it ever end feeling also chimes in with the general feeling I have of losing all track of time, things feeling like they happened years ago but in reality were only months ago or were years ago but feel very recent. I don't think I'm alone in the feeling but it is kind of disconcerting too. Like part of me just cannot believe that this is the second xmas season under the heavy, horrid long reaching shadow of Covid. Is it really almost two years since I've been on a bus - something I used to do regularly in the before times? and yes, it is.

I've made most of my xmas presents this year, something I often do anyway but my purchasing habits have changed considerably in Covid times, partly due to some of the shops being closed for some of the time (I do buy some things online but not many) but also because until recently I didn't feel comfortable going into shops unless it was for immediately necessities ie bread and milk type stuff.

I still don't feel entirely comfortable browsing and so I have mostly stopped making impromptu purchases. When I do go to the shops now it's just local ones and with specific purchases in mind or a list. I haven't had a wander round the city centre just nipping in wherever takes my fancy for almost two years. A sentence I cannot believe I am writing and yet it is true.

I recognise the enormous privilege I have in being able to decide not to purchase stuff as well as purchasing stuff as well as a comfortable space to call my own to be in. However I did treat myself to the little purse on last weeks shopping trip  tho I'm not sure if I'll actually use it for physical money as I so rarely use actual cash these days, I mostly just wave my contactless card at a card machine. On checking my bank statement it seems I've taken cash out of the cash machine twice in the last year. TWICE when it used to be a weekly event. I also recognise how lucky I am to have a bank account with the privileges that brings when not everyone does. I might just the purse to keep my earrings in or a lippy and little mirror when I next have a night out - tho as that hasn't happened since March 8th 2019 I won't be holding my breath til it happens again. 

Am awaiting the return of my 35mm film with some anticipation - I so hope there are some usuable images on it but it won't have any of the recent snowfall. I failed to take any pictures of the recent snowfall, not even quick digital snaps out of the window. Tho please accept my assertion that the back garden looked very pretty under it's snow coating. I'm glad it melted fairly quickly tho as like many others I do not want to slip and hurt myself or make ongoing existing niggles with my ankle worse.

I've been listening to the very marvellous Peaches Christ Midnight Mass podcast recently as she and her podcast partner filmmaker Michael Varrati talk about some of my very favourite films and filmmakers. Plus even if I'm not familiar with the film they're talking about their love, enthusiasm and insight is infectious and I am adding lots more films to my want to watch list.  I especially enjoyed their episodes on Ed Wood and The Bad Seed.  Creatures of the Night - the Boulet Brothers podcast is also one of my current favourites.

One which encapsulates some of the aspects of my seventies childhood and which I listened to this week is The Haunted Generation podcast by Bob Fischer which for me veers between enchantingly nostalgic, unsettling and downright terrifying. The snippet from a public information film warning of the dangers of drowning in grain silos is truly horrific and will continue to haunt me for quite some time. Be warned if you listen for that may happen to you too and things that you thought you had easily forgotten just may come back to haunt you too.

                                            Thank you for reading.

Thursday 25 November 2021

Books, Browsing, Spontaneity, Reading, Escaping, Boosting and Kindness


this weeks post it notes, the ever beautiful James Mason (oh be still my beating heart) who I adore and who I was talking about with a chum earlier this week, my lovely fountain pen that I write my journal with and my current reading matter - and a book by an author and series I absolutely love and I am now rationing the last few pages as I have rattled through it far too quickly and there is no more Cazalet Chronicles to read after this as I've read them all and this was the last one E J Howard wrote before her death in 2014, I picked it up from the Little Free Library at the side of the canal in Rodley the other weekend.
I am still a devotee of actual paperbooks rather than reading on a kindle or listening to an audiobook as such tho I do listen to a lot of serialisations on Radio4 Extra or on BBC Sounds - I still mostly don't listen to live Radio 4 as the hourly news bulletins are just too anxiety and anger provoking. 

No matte medium transfers this week to share with you other than the ones on show here and here as I've yet to send the 35mm film off to be developed (oh the excitement of waiting in these instant digital times is both exquisite and agonising)  plus I've been concentrating on getting the xmas presents I'm making finished instead and I'm on schedule and had the concentration span to read lots too... 

It might still be too early to call this a habit again but I have definitely got a bit of my blogging mojo back and it's becoming a bit of a regular thing again. I am still hoping it becomes properly habitual again - as it both helps me formulate and gather my thoughts as well as punctuate/define the week a bit.  Not least because I am proper old school and although I do stream some tv programmes I still sit down and watch some at the time they are being broadcast. 

How very retro in these netflix, amazon prime, youtube and i-player (other streaming services are available) times I hear you say and just as Thursday is starting to become update blog day, it's also Justice day. Justice is a tv series from the 1970's currently showing on Talking Pictures TV 8pm on a Thursday night and it features the very marvellous Margaret Lockwood as a barrister and it is both of its times and ahead of its times and quite gripping and it is also fun to location spot bits of Leeds that either have changed very little and are still recognisable or are now almost beyond recognition.

It's also or rather has been as it is the finale tonight -  new Drag Race UK day - I've liked all of this seasons competitors but my favourites are Charity Kase and Chorizo May but in terms of finalists I  think I am TeamElla as I fell in love with her from her first runway which celebrated the striking women from the Ford Factory at Dagenham.  My heart however continues to belong to The Boulet Brothers and all their works and I also have a very great fondness for Peaches Christ and her very marvellous indeed Midnight Mass podcast - if you love horror/quirky cult films then give yourself a treat and give it a listen.

It's an understatement to say that the pandemic has disrupted my (and everyone elses) usual habits almost completely though at the same time I am bewildered, depressed and frankly frightened by those who seem to be carrying on as if nothing has changed or happened at all. I put this down to some people just being fed up about it, misinformed by conspiracy theorists but also down to the pisspoor lack of leadership and good examples from the government but I could rant about those corrupt selfish liars forever so I'll stop there and get back to my original point...

So some new things for me have become regular fixtures and frankly a lifesaver in these ongoing uncertain and bewildering times, things like the Arts and Minds Meet and Make Space on a Tuesday lunchtime, chatting to chums on Zoom for instance and thankfully some pre pandemic things have become a thing again - twice weekly gym sessions and going to the local little greengrocers, delis and butchers at least once a week too. 

I do the latter for various  reasons - it's a good walk, the food is so much nicer and not covered in plastic and it's also nice to see money go to a local business rather than a big corporate group plus it keeps me in the habit of going out and interacting with actual people in some way. Though part of the appeal of these particular shops is that they have excellent ventilation as they either have their doors open all the time or are mostly outside. 

One of the things I am missing most and have missed the most is spontaneity - not that I was ever a really spontaneous person but things could be done without additional thoughts and precautions like have I got a mask on me, have I got some handwash, will there be good ventilation, how busy is it going to be etc etc... and lack of fear around being inside a building with other people without visible open windows like a cinema or a theatre. Though I have managed a theatre trip I have yet to manage a cinema trip.  

I had my booster jab last Saturday at the big vaccination centre at Elland Road and I am hoping that it will make me less anxious about going places, mixing with other people but for the time being I'm still being and feeling cautious and I will continue to be a fresh air fiend as well as testing when necessary, regular handwashing and mask wearing when indoors with others. 

I was rather anxious going for my booster - I don't like needles, it wasn't at my local surgery that I know well and I was slightly worried if I'd have any unpleasant side effects from the vaccine as well as the welcome actual effects. It took rather longer than I would have liked as they asked a lot of questions before administering the jab as well as insisting on a 15 minute post jab wait and I just wanted to be in and out again but all the staff were empathetic and professional.

But it was the kindness from and the conversation I had with one of the volunteers who brought me a paper cup of water after I'd had my jab as I felt a bit woozy straight away afterwards which really affected me. I don't think my feeling a little woozy was down to the contents of the jab but rather the whole situation around getting it.

She saw the book I was carrying and reading from in an attempt to distract myself and feel less anxious. It was A Single Thread by Tracey Chevalier which I had picked up from Meanwood Community Shop (aka one of the best secondhand bookshops ever) and it is the story of a woman whose fiance died in the trenches of World War One and how she makes a new life for herself and becomes an embroiderer. 

The volunteer told me that she had completely lost her reading mojo (her words) and she had a pile of unread books at home and since the pandemic began she had found it very difficult to concentrate or read for any length of time and that she could no longer read anything in which anything horrible happened - especially to children and was no longer able to read fiction in particular.

I found myself tearing up as she told me this, partly I think because I was just feeling a bit overwhelmed but also because I just felt so sad at the all the ongoing personal unseen effects of the pandemic that don't get reflected in the statistics of hospitalisations and deaths and economic impact but also because for as long as I can remember reading has been my refuge, distraction, delight and on occasion despair. 

I rarely go anywhere without a book in my bag, I still usually have 2 or 3 on the go at any time - a serious one that's either a textbook or historical, a bit of brain bubblegum fluff fiction and a serious more literary piece of fiction.

The times when my anxiety or depression has been so bad that I cannot sit and read have been the worst as I haven't been able to escape into another world or time or been made to think about something I never have before.

It made me feel so sad for her that she had lost her ability to read and transport herself, partly because I could totally empathise with that but also because she had been so kind in bringing me some water and not making me feel like I was being a wuss. When I was leaving I thanked her for her kindness and said I hope she got her reading mojo back soon.

Jabwise my arm felt like I'd been hit hard with the flat side of a cricket bat for a couple of days, didn't have the best nights sleep and was very sleepy for the day afterwards, then felt okay then felt rubbish again and had very vivid dreams and a blotchy red rash came up around the injection site but that's faded again now and I feel okay again. Let's see how I feel tomorrow... 

                                             Thank you for reading

Thursday 18 November 2021

Promise Sticking, More Image Transferring, Colour Boosting, Boosters In General, Where Are Memories Held? Film-ness


Matte medium image transfer piece in progress - still need to remove last few bits of paper, trim and sew excess fabric, wrap outside of embroidery hoop in bias binding (possibly purple) and decide on a title - I usually draw on chapter titles from novels by my favourite nineteenth century authors - Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Wilkie Collins...this one is in monochrome as monochrome is my preferred colour-scheme to work in.
Examples of other matte medium transfers I have done can be seen here and here

this weeks notes, the nail varnish I'm going to paint my nails with later whilst watching Drag Race - I much prefer Dragula as its inclusivity and menu of drag, filth, horror and glamour are some of my very favourite whilst my heart and soul now belong to the Boulet Brothers there's still a bit of it that has space for RuPaul...also pictured is a bag of a shower cap I bought in a beautifully old fashioned chemist in Buxton in the 'before times' because its sombre old fashioned-ness really makes me smile. 

It's still early days but as this is the third blog post I've written in the last three weeks I'm feeling cautiously hopeful that I am getting my blogging mojo back. I'm certainly finding it a good way of marshalling my thoughts again in these ongoing uncertain and frightening times, and aside from it helping me I've also had positive feedback on it which is also a boost.

Boosts of whatever kind are still very welcome as anxiety is still kicking my arse. I've not got back my going out to indoor places with lots of other people mojo as yet but am hoping getting my anti covid booster jab is going to help with that along with still taking things slowly but surely - baby steps, baby steps.  

Speaking of boosters - my current mood boosters are: watching or listening to the Boulet Brothers, the rather wonderful selection of ghost and uncanny stories on BBC Sounds and I-Player, going for a walk, reading a book that completely distracts and transports me - currently enjoying A Single Thread by Tracey Chevalier very much and painting my nails. I love nail varnish and tho I'm not especially skillful about applying it but there is something very mood lifting looking down to see shiny colourful unchipped nails.

Due to being a dyed in the wool old school goth almost all my clothes are black and often the only pop of colour about me is my fringe which is blue or my nails (if I've painted them) or my lips if I've got make up on. I don't find black a miserable colour to wear or look at or be surrounded by but I'm reminded of reading something Brix Smith Start wrote about bright colours being a form of prozac for her but annoyingly I cannot find the quote. I don't have to surround my self with colour to cheer myself but a bright pop of it somewhere along the line is nice.

Houseplants also brighten up the space around me and my mood - a chinese money plant I bought during lockdown has produced many offspring which along with spider pants (also very bountiful offspring from one plant) a few prayer plants and a very exuberant boston fern make me smile lots as do the constants of Spongebob cartoons at the weekend and daily glimpses of Hacker T Dog and his handler's other characters. As ever being able to walk in the woods and go to the gym also helps massively.

I'm also really enjoying podcasts - be it the Boulet Brothers Creatures Of The Night or Peaches Christ's Midnight Mass or No Heathen Lands eerie stories of Yorkshire. 

But back to nail varnish - my Nana always said that nail varnish was the sign of a woman who didn't do any housework and chipped nail varnish was the sign of 'a slattern' and painted toenails were a sign in her opinion of very dubious morals and the person with painted toenails was likely to be a sex worker tho she would not have used that term. I doubt she could have countenanced the idea let alone the reality of men wearing nail varnish like a few of my friends do - I think she'd have connuptions like the time she went to see Hinge and Bracket and was appalled that the man sat next to her had a handbag. I don't think she realised Dame Hilda and Evadne were actually characters played by men. 

So whilst I don't miss her sheltered and restrictive views I do miss her and frankly would give anything to be able to talk to her again and I'd get her to teach me how to crochet whilst making sure that my nails were as impeccable as I could make them and I'm not sure whether or not I'd paint them bright red - which was according to her the sign of 'a harlot'. 

Knitting is more of a mood stabiliser for me tho really as I find it quite meditative after a while and sometimes I pick projects because they involve quite a bit of just plain knitting. Though at the moment it's less meditative as I am currently working my through various projects that are destined to be xmas presents for family members. I've got 5 that I want to finish before the start of December so that there's plenty of time to get them posted off in time to arrive for Xmas. So far I've finished 3, made a start on one (a nice simple one thankfully) and then the last one is a little bit more complicated and so will require a lot more concentration. Am being deliberately vague on the offchance that one of the recipients might come across thisblogpost.

One of the things I've been thinking about recently is memories, both reliving them or what we think they were, where they are held - are they in the object, diary entry, a space somehow embedded into physical structures and my/the fear of losing them if I lose the objects that are associated with and evoke those memories and how photographs are (their lack of smell and noise aside) such excellent memory holders/provokers. 

It also makes me think and wonder about matte medium as a medium (every meaning and association of the word intended) for transferring and holding images and how I want to work on refining the physical process of working with it but also reading more about the philosophical implications of it.

I'm hoping that some of the pictures I took on film with the very lomo camera will be good enough to make into transferred pieces. I finished the roll on Monday whilst walking through the woods, I also had the usual 'ooh will I get more than 36 pictures out of it' as you often get 37 or or rare occasions 38. The camera I was using is very lomo but it does have an anti double exposure feature and so as I continued to frame, click and wind on past 36 I was at first 'yay more pics' and then 'oh no, maybe I didn't wind it on properly in the first place - all those potential photographs lost' when I clicked without really framing and it really was the last on the roll and then of course as is always the way I saw what would have been a beautiful image opportunity. Oh well.

                                            Thank you for reading.