Monday, 7 May 2018
Tuesday, 3 April 2018
PhDNess Part 8 - Positive Procrastination, Prevarication, Preparation and Post Exercise Rubbery-ness
Right that's enough procrastination....best crack on with rest of my to do list.....but first I'll check on the washing and make a cup of tea....
Wednesday, 7 March 2018
|Gravestone of Ann Carr (4th March 1783-18 January 1841) - leader of Female Revivalists and Presidentess of the Friendly Sick Society, pro christian gospel, education and anti-drink|
|this months post it note, field visit notes, ticket to an excellent production, date notes re two of my Anns.....|
It's just a month since I've written a blog post and as I am supposed to be working on my literature review (I am - it is churning away in the back of my mind) but I am struggling to get it down on paper or rather computer screen so I am usefully procrastinating and thought gathering by writing this instead - I've always found writing blog updates on what I've been up to academic wise useful. Plus ever since I read an article that explained that procrastination isn't usually inspired by laziness but by fear of the task you're putting off or rather failure at the task you're putting off, I've felt better about procrastinating and doing equally useful stuff in its place instead. Like this, I have also written and prepared the slides for a talk I am delivering in May - I know its official name is now Leeds University of the Arts but it will always be Leeds College of Art to me - anyway they have asked me to talk to their current masters students about what it is like to be doing a PhD (in short exciting, difficult and wonderful) and so I've prepared that and it'll just need a bit of checking and final edits/polishes before the talk itself.
I like wherever possible to be working ahead of myself - I hate doing everything at the last minute and as I'm not meeting with my tutor to discuss my literature review for another couple of weeks I still have a week to draft something and get it to her a week in advance of when we're due to meet...I shall keep tell myself this when I am metaphorically tearing my hair out and still struggling to get words on the screen by the end of today....
So what else, well the other useful procrastination I have been doing which is also vital research work is material gathering - be it in the form of site visits and photograph taking and making at St George's Field, reading books like Mortal Remains by Chris Brooks, Vigor Mortis by Kate Berridge, Pablo Fanque and the Electrolier by Katrina Palmer for starters...and I have been doing a lot of research into the life of Ann Carr and mulling about how best to represent/recreate/make work about her and her extra ordinary life. In an age where women were positively dis-encouraged to speak out (even more so than today) and legally far more restricted than today she was an amazing proto-feminist - though like the other nineteeth century proto-feminist who I admire greatly like Elizabeth Gaskell and Mary Elizabeth Braddon she would not have recognised or used that term to describe her actions.
I am really enjoying trying to find out more about Ann and the circumstances in which she lived - it means poking about in the library, trying to read old census records, looking things up on the internet and just generally looking at old musty things trying to fill in gaps - basically things that make my heart sing. I do not share Ann's love of the Gospel or her strict teetotalism but I very much admire her bravery and constancy and strength in fighting for what she believed in. I laid a flower on her gravestone on what would have been her 235th birthday - what she would have made of such an action I'm not sure - other than she'd have exhorted me to read and abide by the Gospel and forgo my treat of gin at the weekends. I'm also researching other women called |Ann who are buried in the site - with varying levels of success so far. I have many more library visits in my future.....
I've also been battling lurgy - the cough/cold/flu kind that make my asthma flare up and leave me coughing my guts up and gasping for breath so I lost a good few days of study to that as well as taking a week off to celebrate mine and my husbands ninth wedding anniversary. We went to Falstone near Kielder so we could sky gaze at Kielder Observatory, sadly we only go to do that on the first evening as the rest of our stay and our trip to the Observatory was shrouded in snow and low cloud - but the nightsky we saw that first clear night was utterly incredible - don't think I've ever seen so many stars and we even got to see the Milky Way - it's made me want to do lots more stargazing and I can now recognise many more things in the night sky than I could before - I might even start watching The Sky At Night.
I love the title music more than the contents of the show to be honest and if I do see it I still feel like I am staying up very late indeed. The tinternet tells me the music is 'At The Castle Gate' from Pellias and Melisande by Sibelius. The snow also put paid to some of my plans too - I still have a problem with my left knee which means I do all I can to avoid slipping and so making it worse - so when it is snowy or icey I am extra cautious (using a stick) and some days like last week when it was really bad I err on the side of caution and just stay at home til I feel it's safe again to venture out.
I have been trying different ways of working - I got lots of reading done when we changed broadband provider and the tinternet was down for the afternoon so I've been working at the dining table without the computer as the temptation to keep checking social media is often too great when I'm working on the computer, and instead of Radio 4 burbling away in the background (I've mostly stopped listening to Radio 4 Extra apart from when I go to bed - as they repeat programmes two or three times over a 24 hour period and I was getting feelings of great disconcertion and wondering what on earth time it was) I've been listening to music shows on NTS Radio after catching Chris Carter's amazing set - which you can listen to here - I found it really conducive to working.
So am going to try doing more of that - I also get lots more done if I'm out of the house as I don't have a smartphone (though that can also be a disadvantage in this app focused age) and so have to concentrate upon what I'm doing/reading. But it was thanks to Radio 4 that I was listening to whilst doing the ironing that I heard Tacita Dean talking about film as a medium which was really interesting. Social media helps me keep in touch with chums but it is also my biggest timesink and distraction....
Well I think this is enough useful procrastination for now and it's now in danger of becoming avoidance...so I'll just check my email, have some lunch, listen to the news and the Archers repeat and then lit review it is........
Tuesday, 30 January 2018
|the last months blog notes, new weekly planner and opening hours notes so I can plan where I can work when not at home|
|snow photo - taken on phone camera (3.2mega pixel) and post processed to b+w and vignette added|
Just over a month since I last wrote and things are slowly but surely milling along - am getting better at some things - like reading electronic books though my heart still belongs to the physical kind rather than the virtual kind. Plus I am really pleased with how the some of the latest lot of film photographs I have taken have turned out - though that is a digital one pictured above, and I am really excited by the things I'm finding out about women like Ann Carr (1783-1841) who was Presidentess of the Female Revivalists and Friendly Sick Society and who was buried in St George's Field. I'm also looking forward to trying out some of the techniques described in the Experimental Photography Techniques book I got for xmas.
But and it can be quite a big but at times - I am still struggling with concentration and just generally getting my head round this whole PhD malarkey and exactly what it is I need to do and when by...plus I've had some hiccups with the uni email system (it's based on office 365 and has quirks that have taken me time to work out - like not always highlighting new emails if it's a reply in a conversation) but I am getting there and I do feel further on than I did last time I wrote and hopefully after my next meeting with my tutor that feeling will be completely consolidated and instead of having an overall and overarching idea of what it is I need to do and how to get there - I will have a much more concrete one broken down into much more manageable chunks.
One thing I do find though is that I seem to have extremely productive days where I've read a lot, got on top of admin type stuff, tidied round and washed up and managed to cook something decent for dinner, not spent too much time clicking refresh on twitter, been for a walk but then the next day is completely fallow in comparison. I'm hoping I can find a way to even things out a bit more so I feel a bit more productive overall and banish the guilty feeling that time not spent at my desk working or reading or doing a site visit is not time well spent as well.
I am failing though in my plans to get out for at least a short walk every day - I really must work harder on this but I am in the process of getting my (outdoors) bike fixed up so fingers crossed once that is ready I'll be able to go for a quick bike ride round the bridlepath - which hopefully will help me both have a bit of exercise, clear my head and collate my thoughts more clearly.
I've done a bit of public speaking the last few weeks - I do find having to do a presentation helps me focus my thoughts as does the process of illustrating them with appropriate images on slides. On the 19th January I spoke to the 1152 Club at Abbey House Visitor Centre on the history of St George's Field its place in the overall history of cemetery creation in Leeds in the Victorian era and was very heartened that there were 45 people in the audience. It was a very cold morning and the paths were somewhat perilous so part of me was wondering whether or not people would come along, but they did and I got really lovely heartwarming feedback and then I spoke to a much smaller audience (maybe 10 or 12?) at Huddersfield Uni on Friday as part of a Postgraduate Research Symposium, when I also got good and useful feedback on how to develop my research further - both gave me a good fillip and I got to meet other postgraduate students which is always good.
One thing I am finding is that this PhD malarkey is a much lonelier and befuddling experience compared to my MA experience so far. Part of me still can't quite believe that I now volunteer to get up and talk in front of people - if you'd told me five years ago that I would end up doing this and not have a complete meltdown at the thought (still get a bit nervous but nothing like I used to and my knees don't shake like they did at one point) I would have laughed in your face and thought you were terribly misguided and mistaken.
I'm used to working on my own - be that directly on art projects or on archives so that aspect of things isn't especially different but as it was a partially taught MA there was much more classroom based time and so opportunity to talk things through with colleagues also wrestling with the same questions and concepts, plus the criteria for assignments was also much clearer. I miss the cosiness and artyness of the Art College - oh and the library (even if it was always eyeball meltingly hot) as the library at Huddersfield though good is not as art focused (obviously) and it's not as personable either as all the book dispensing is done by an impersonal machine that reads barcodes. Plus it has quirks like the main staircase not going to all the floors and it can feel a bit Kafka like when trying to find books - I always feel like I've won a prize when I find a book there - in fact I have to stop myself from shouting out 'Huzzah!!!' when I lay my mitts on what I'm looking for.
Plus it's a time of anniversaries - some happy like friendship ones, wedding ones - can't quite believe it's nine years as in some ways it feels like a lifetime ago and in others like a couple of months ago but also sad ones - the anniversaries of the death of much loved and much missed chums and relatives is always hard. I don't miss them any less the rest of the time but anniversaries are somehow especially hard.
Well I can now tick 'blog update' off my to do list and get on with the rest of it....but first - it's time to put some washing on and have some lunch.
Thursday, 28 December 2017
Monday, 27 November 2017
Sunday, 12 November 2017
|Mapp unimpressed with my experiments and attempts to see how long it takes them to melt|
|attempts to transfer colour from leaves, flowers onto paper and felt with aim of making some kind of eco-prints|
Thursday, 2 November 2017
PhD-Ness Part 2 - Slightly Less At Sea-Ness, Leeds Library-Ness, Theory, Reading,Note Making, Doing.....
|mix of notes made as I've been going along the past few weeks, and my contribution to Alabama 13's piece for the Girls Make Art #2 Reclaiming Pink event/show at Wharf Chambers Saturday 11th November and Sunday 12th November.|
|Part of my lovely skully haul from Whitby Goth Festival - cushion in background bought a while back, pincushion by kerrysgifts, mug from which I am going to drink hot chocolate came from the English Heritage shop at the Abbey|
Thursday, 5 October 2017
PhD-Ness Part 1, All at Sea-Ness,Trains, New Campus, Love Arts-Ness, New Desk and general ness of all kinds.....
|Mono print made yesterday at the Love Arts Festival launch, student travel pass, pass card to Leeds Library, notes and misery....|
It's now official - I am a PhD student at the University of Huddersfield (EEK but also YAY!!!) - I have a new email address, new website to get to grips with, new printing facilities to access, new campus to navigate, new colleagues and all other manner of new-ness to get my head around.
One of the loveliest newest things is my new desk - am hoping this will help with back pain and stiffness as it is much better proportioned than the old one and I can sit at it with my legs underneath it comfortably as opposed to my legs being jammed under drawers (though those drawers were very useful indeed for holding passports, mini sd card adapters, usb sticks and the like) - old desk has been moved to the garage where it will (hopefully) be used as a printing desk. The rest of my workroom still needs organising better - the plan is to do a big book cull and get new bookcases too and then maybe I will be able to sit on the sofa bed and read - as opposed to use it as a bookcase...
The plan was to have done all this by the start of term but the boiler was condemned and that was much more of a priority to get replaced (and then the shower wouldn't work alongside the new boiler because of the changes to the water pipes so we had to get a new shower sorted as well...ARGH and indeed OUCH wallet-wise) so new bookcases are still waiting on the shopping list. Aside from actually buying the house (which we effectively bought on tick thanks to a mortgage) last September was the most expensive month I think we've ever had - new boiler, new shower, guttering needed cleaning and new down pipes fitting, uni fees (GULP!!) new glasses for us both, travel pass - got a bus and train one to make getting to and from Huddersfield easier, root canal treatment for me. All adds up to 'new bookcases will have to wait for the moment'.
But along with all those necessary expensive things I also treated myself to student membership of Leeds Library - the one that's above Paperchase on Commercial Street in Leeds - I have wanted to join since I went there for a book launch some time ago. It's a beautiful building, it's the oldest surviving subscription library in the country and it was founded in 1768. It is steeped in history, the staff are really lovely and helpful - they were very helpful when I was doing my MA and I am sure they will be equally helpful now I'm studying for a PhD. Plus best of all they have many Victorian novels, newspapers and periodicals - the actual original paper versions - not reprints or digitally scanned copies. I will be a mix of a kid in a sweetshop and a Bisto kid - breathing in that delightfully heady mix of 'old' 'must' 'candle and coal soot' and 'paper rot'. I can't wait to start reading their wares. One of the things I am interested in is how the stories I read now as compete editions looked when they were originally published in serial form and what they were placed next to,and what adverts they were surrounded by.
They also have a lovely DVD collection from which I borrowed the delightfully grim and hilarious Arsenic and Old Lace - Peter Lorre as Dr Einstein is glorious and the BBC adaptation of North and South which I am halfway through watching. It's quite tough going - am not finding the characters portrayed on screen as sympathetic as I did when reading them..but I will persevere - I'm intrigued to see how the scene where Margaret Hale is bonnet-less (caused scandal in the 19th century) and steps forward to protect the mill owner John Thornton will be done.
I am also getting to grips with the library at Huddersfield Uni - it's nowhere near as gorgeous to look at as the Brotherton, it's quite labyrinthine, quite noisy and I'm not sure where the librarians live in it as all the booklending is done by a machine which scans your card and the books...call me old fashioned but I prefer to interact with a human and have my book stamped. But there are lots of helpers about - one of whom helped me navigate the difficulties of loading cash onto my printing account (it's mostly done online - ARGH!!! Another one of my bugbears as I prefer to pay for things in person if possible) and then it seemed fairly smooth. I found the book I was looking for and checked it out, I also found my way to and from the print room and got some nice b+w prints done of more recent images I've made.
I'm slowly but surely finding my way both round the campus and Huddersfield itself too - I've still to check out the cafe in the Parish Church (though I have had a look at the graveyard surrounding it) - am loving the 19th century architecture, the charity shops, Walkers the jewellers and the vegetarian sausage rolls from the pound bakery. I love the bit of the campus that goes over the canal - even though on the whole the campus is a bit too toytowny architecturally for me. Am looking forward to doing some more exploring off campus. Including of course Edgerton Cemetery which opened in 1855.
I have found where to get a good baked potato for lunch and got chatting to the lady sat opposite me whilst eating it yesterday. She turned out to be a fairly big cheese in the university and has offered to help me find a scientist type at the university who can help with analysing whether or not the 'mourning' brooch I got in Cleethorpes a while back is made with human hair. It was sold as a mourning brooch but it has no personal dedication or general memoriam-ness which makes me wonder if it is in fact a more mass produced fashion item or love token. Exciting times.
I was however given some undoubtedly authentic mourning items at the weekend by an old chum who kindly gave me a box of Royal Mourning Pins - they're completely black and not shiny and so therefore suitable for use during periods of deepest mourning. Not sure who made them but am guessing by their title that they were made after 1861 (death of Albert) to cash in on Victoria's going into deep mourning and helping make it a more fashionable/expected thing to do. He also gave me mounts for funeral card dedications - it's not clear whether they were 'real' people (will check next time I'm in the local history library where you can access the Ancestors website without having to subscrtibe to it) or examples for printers. The designs are gorgeous and will make beautiful outlines for making both cyanotypes and anthotypes.
Thanks to a workshop run by the lovely Hayley Mill-Styles - you can find out about her and her work here that was part of the Love Arts Festival launch which you can find out about here.
I made an image using printers ink and a tile yesterday (see red and white shapes above - I was channelling my inner late 60's early 70's design loves there) which has given me lots of ideas for developing my own work and my aim to present photographic images in a non 2D way. I need to get some new supplies - and dig the enlarger out of the wardrobe as I'll be able to use it to project images and so stencil them onto polystyrene...and then print with them - hopefully with added grave dirt/site specific material from the places they are images of.
The Love Arts Festival runs until October 18th and there is so much to choose from - art shows, plays, perfomances, a special showing of Now Voyager (on 35mm!!) at Hyde Park Picture House at 2pm on Sunday 8th October for which I've written a short introduction, and a pop up outside the by then newly reopened Art Gallery on Saturday 14th October from 11am til 4pm.
I have some of my coffin lining prints on show as part of the pop up exhibition in the Light and as ever I owe The Arts and Mind Network (the people behind the festival) massive gratitude - it was them that gave me the opportunity to take part in the Place and Memory Project which in turn led to me going back to big school (Leeds College of Art now the Leeds University for the Arts) to study for a Masters degree and in turn the PhD I'm studying for now.
I've also written my first proper grown up academic article - currently awaiting feedback on it, had a proposal accepted for a conference on death and memorialisation at Hull University next year, been booked by Darling Roses again to do a talk about my work, so although I've not been making much new artwork recently - the research into the stuff that inspires me to make the work is ongoing....
What else - as am still settling in, am still trying to work out how best to do my PhD work but I have bought a notebook from the student union shop that is half lined paper and half graph paper and on its front is the embossed gold legend ' LABORATORY BOOK' which I am very much looking forward to filling with notes on anthotype experiments. I am hoping to still have proper down time too and to make that a part of my daily schedule too.
It's two months since I last wrote a blog post, this blog started out as just a general place for me to write about my obsessions, research and projects and then it became my official research journal for my MA. I'm not quite sure what format the academic hoops I have to jump during this PhD malarkey will take - I may update this weekly again like I did or I may just keep notes in a notebook instead - this is another question to ask my tutor when we meet....I already have a list for her.
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Pre-PhD Ness - Ongoing Preparation and Prevarication and Procrastination, Slow Cookers, Gaskell-ness, Transporter Bridges, Barthes, RSI and Things.
|The aformentioned Gaskells house in the sunshine - check out their website for opening times, not only is it a marvellous place to visit I can thoroughly recommend the chocolate cake in their tea room.|
|the actual gibbett used to hang William Jobling - as seen in South Shields Museum, this made me think about the use of actual as opposed to reproduction objects in musems (as did the Gaskell house) plus I also learnt that apparently bodies hung in gibbetts were often covered in pitch in order to ensure they hung there for as long as possible so as to be a warning to other n'er do wells of the potential consequence of their actions. You can find out more about his story here and decide for yourself whether or not his punishment was appropriate to his crime or whether the fact that there was a strike on at the time also had something to do with it.|