|(Un) Hidden In The Grave IV|
burial plot sized lumen print on silk, muslin soaked in solution of graveyard dirt, images printed on coffin lining material in embroidery hoops wrapped in colours of Victorian mourning and dead flowers.
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Friday, 28 October 2016
Monday, 10 October 2016
Post MA-Ness, Gothic Festival, Framing, Victorian Programmes on TV, Bleak House and that kind of thing
Thursday, 15 September 2016
|Cholera burial ground in York just opposite the railway station|
Thursday, 11 August 2016
MA-Ness Week 18 - Endings and Beginnings, Slogging Through Fog, 41 Hours To Go, Treats and Heartfelt Thanks
It's taken me a while to get round to writing this - partly because I have been concentrating upon getting my portfolio together ready to hand it in tomorrow. This is the big and final module - this is the 60 credits on its own module so I've been totally concentrating on it and its contents for the last few weeks so I can make it as good as possible. I want a distinction parly for my own satisfaction at successfully jumping that kind of academic hoop but also because I am hoping to do a Phd and if I get a distinction that should make that goal a little bit easier to accomplish.
I've followed the same template as I used when I handed it in this time last year and got a distinction for it but I have (hopefully) improved it further by being a little more discerning about what I've put in it as well adding little overviews for each of the projects I've worked on. I also wrote a general overview of my work over the last couple of years complete with proper harvard referenced footnotes and sub headings. I started work on that document about a month - six weeks ago and a lovely chum of mine helped me out on Monday night by helping me put the final touches to it in terms of inserting said footnotes and referencing them using the Harvard Reference system...which I think I've now more or less got a grip on how to do properly. I know I used them for my dissertation but I was in such a state of brain fog at the time that I wasn't sure if I was doing them properly or not.
Anyway with that done I spent most of Tuesday at college printing it out along with the final images I wanted to include. I thought I had got myself all organised and sorted image-wise for printing but I hadn't - I had taken the images off the camera memory card that I had taken of my burial shroud size piece blowing in the wind at St George's Field on Sunday but I had only transferred them to the laptop - I hadn't put them on my memory stick or on google drive. ARGH - nor had I taken a picture of it on my phone. DOH!! I had put a picture of it on my Facebook page but social media sites are kept behind a firewall during lecture hours at college so you can't access them unless you have a smartphone - which I don't. Cue husband coming to my rescue again by downloading the image off Facebook and emailing it to me - it's not the best resolution but it's good enough to see the piece of work so PHEW I didn't have to come home and go back in again....
I have still one or two final final touches to make on my portfolio - namely printing out the submission lables and putting in some file dividers but I had otherwise finished putting it together by 7pm last night. I felt such a huge sense of relief that such a massive job was done, and with plently of time to spare before the deadline of 3pm on 12.8.16. I hate rushing round like a headless chicken at the last minute and finishing it last night meant I had 41 hours left in which to tinker with it, put in anything I realised I had forgotten and also be able to take a massive breath and so finally after what feels like a very long time indeed of feeling stressed about it relax a bit. If I'm completely honest I may also have teared up a bit.
Part of me still just still can't quite believe what I've achieved and been able to do over the last couple of years, especially with the additional challenges of dealing with multiple bereavement and health problems over the last couple of years....but I got through it, in part due to my own determination and the course being an excellent focus to distract myself from the sad things going on but it is also thanks to supportive tutors and college staff, supportive and encouraging friends and last but by no means least thanks to my ever supportive and lovely husband who has been so supportive and encouraging, not just on an emotional level but also on a practical and financial level too. I don't think I'll ever be able to thank him enough really. Thanks must also go to Mapp who has listened (albeit not very closely and with no feedback) to every presentation or paper I've done but most importantly has let me fuss her when I've been feeling rubbish which frankly has been often.
A lot of the time thanks to non course related events it has felt like I've been wading uphill through treacle with a very heavy backpack, but it has also been the most brain stretching, challenging, thought provoking and rewarding time. I've been able to poke about in all sorts of archives, read all sorts of fantastic books, potter about in the darkroom, learn lots of new techniques and got to print burial plot size pieces of work - so what's not to love? And I must remind myself of the overall joy of the process and what it brings to me when I'm sat in front of the computer cursing the fact that it has frozen yet again and all I can say is 'oh for fucks sake, just fucking work!!!' and all I want to do at that moment is sack the whole thing off and go and watch rubbish telly.
There has been some fantastic stuff on the radio recently - there was an excellent programme about leeches with Sir Christopher Frayling, an Infinite Monkey Cage about Frankenstein that was also very good (though I have otherwise somewhat gone off that programme and I can no longer take Professor Brian Cox seriously since my husband pointed out he has the same vocal phrasing as Philomena Cunk) and I have been taking time out from slogging away at course related stuff to go the pictures - seen some wonderful films like South Riding (1936) and the truly mind boggling Author: The JT Leroy Story (2016) - though if I'm honest one of the most boggling things is how anyone could have believed Laura Alberts alter ego Speedy was british as that was one of the worst british impressions I've ever heard. I must write up my proper reviews of them whilst they are still reasonably fresh in my memory. Going to see films at the Hyde Park is one of my very favourite things to do - plus I love the fact that if you go to see a film at the cinema rather than watch one at home then you are less distracted as your only job is to watch the film and you don't have to answer the phone/check email/catch sight of the pile of ironing still undone.
One resolution I have made is should my phd plans/hopes come to fruition is that I will write my bibliography as I go along, something which I hadn't done this term and it was a right slog and pain in the arse to write it up earlier this week. A task which should have been easy but which became somewhat pained and led to a lot of procrastination and social media checking whilst writing it (I can thoroughly recommend Hacker T Dog on Twitter as he or rather his handler who I suspect is a man called Phil Fletcher is hilarious) and I don't want to have to do that all in one go again. It's been made harder though because of the really noisy and invasive roadworks going on outside too - from 7am til 7pm there has been the sound of drilling, or the noise and vibrations of rollers making the tarmac flat and it's been going on for the last two weeks and is scheduled to continue for at least another two...
Another resolution would be to make meals in advance and freeze them as I've put weight on as I've been eating less than sensibly and reaching for easy comfort food as opposed to making healthier food from scratch.
One thing that did happen though this week or rather last Sunday was the first time I've felt unnerved in St George's Field. Along with taking images of my burial plot sized print, I also took pictures with my new pinhole lens and I wanted to take some amidst the clump of graves and trees in the corner nearest the transport studies department which is being refurbished. It was quite a windy day and as I set up the camera on the tripod at the edge of the clump the branches above began groaning and squeaking as they rubbed against one another in a really alarming 'I'm about to break and come crashing down' kind of way so I moved to another spot sharpish. It really felt scarey and a bit threatening at the time though now I'm thinking oh for goodness sake it was just wind on the branches.
It didn't stop me going and getting a pizza from La Besi though for lunch and taking it back there to eat. Though we sat nowhere near the offending branches. Eating pizza there after taking pictures on a weekend has become a bit of a habit for me and my husband and it's one I'd like to continue. Though I will need to up the amount of exercise I'm doing in order to offset them....
I'm not sure if I'll keep up the habit of writing this once a week when I no longer need to for college purposes but even if I don't write so frequently I think I'll make a point of writing it at least once a month as although I'll no longer be at college as much I still have lots of academic and arty stuff on and I'll need to record what I'm up to somewhere, plus if all goes to plan potential phd-wise then I'll be no doubt writing about that.
Monday, 1 August 2016
MA-Ness Week 16 and 17 Final Countdown, Portfolio Compilation-Ness, Seaside Wonder, Cholera, Gaskell, Exhibitions in Manchester and that kind of thing...
Monday, 18 July 2016
MA-Ness Week 15 - Doing, Reading, Writing, Printing, Image Transferring, Creative Bartering, Sewing, Mapplethorpe, and that kind of thing....
|Some of the anthotypes in progress - I spent last week making them - again with a Heath Robinson-esque production manner - closing curtains in workroom (as in the room that used to be known as the back bedroom) and mincing up the kale using a handblender and squeezing out the juice using coffee filter papers, painting the paper with a couple of coats of the resultant green liquid, leaving them to dry under a blanket that blocks out the light and then after covering them with the acetate negative leaving them in the downstairs back window as that gets the most light. Exposure time roughtly 5 days....the ones with kale have worked okay, I also did some with some minced up weeds from St George's Field but don't think they've worked anywhere near as well so I am leaving them for a little longer in the hope that there will be something there eventually.... The weeds were minced up with a cheap hand blender (£4.75) bought especially for the purpose and now adorned with the words in red permanent marker 'NOT FOR FOOD USE'...|
|This weeks post it note - written on a fancy purple lined post it note, along with some of the more successful anthotype images which I have scanned, boosted the contrast and brightness levels on and then digitally reinverted using photoshop (they go a lovely kind of purpley colour) a couple of the acetate negatives I've been using, and the matte mediumed image transfer embroidery hoop framed - am rather pleased with this as a prototype and hope to frame other images like this too.|
It's been a busy few days, a busy weekend and it's going to be a busy time between now and final hand in I think....lots still to do though thankfully the bulk of the portfolio overview I was working on is mostly done bar a few additions and a bit of editing and polishing, but then I have to actually assemble the portfolio in terms of the work I want to include and do a little mini overview of those - nothing too long though - just a title, the rationale for doing it and what areas of my work/theoretical underpinning/inspiration it covers. I reckon I'm going to be taking it in a taxi though as I think it's going to be a bit too heavy and cumbersome to carry in on the bus like I did last time....
What else? I do have a lovely new bag to take it in though - thanks to a lovely chum of mine who is a whizz with a sewing machine. I used a existing bag that is a good size that came from Primarni as a basis for the pattern, measured it and cut it out in paper, then used that as a template to cut out the fabric, pinned and tacked it together and she then sewed it. Also used the new technique of turning straps inside out I'd seen on the Great British Sewing Bee - you line it with with ribbon and then pull the ribbon through. I hope to sew one of the images I've made using disperse inks to the front of it too or maybe just print one onto it directly. The fabric was initially used as the backdrop for the Out of the Shadows Exhibition last October and I'm glad it's getting used in some way. I still have some leftover and when time is less pressing (ie post hand in) and I can afford to make mistakes and rectify them I might have a go at making another bag but this time all by myself and using my own very basic sewing machine....
The bag sewing was a kind of creative barter as she needed some photos taking of her partner as he needed some headshots to send some off to his literary agent. I don't often take pictures of people but I really enjoyed doing those headshots - making the most of the existing light (I rarely use flash) and using either the brickwork or the plain garage door as a background. I used the film grain function on the oldest modern digital camera we've got - I love that setting, it's by far my favourite and I much prefer it to the dynamic monochrome that has replaced it on the newer model we've got. He was dead chuffed with his pics - I'd dead chuffed with my bag - WIN all round.
Along with the anthotyping I also did some more disperse ink printing in the print room at college which apart from me and one technician was Marie Celeste-like - once again I channelled my inner Bea from Prisoner Cell Block H to operate the heat press, and I saved the ghost prints from the scrap paper underneath and have since laminated them. It's part of my work to use as much of the process as possible - eg backing paper from medium format film as bookmarks, leftover non weed greenery from anthotyping gets eaten, acetate negatives make pieces of work in themselves as well, ghost print by products of the printing process also become pieces of work in their own right too.
I did do some filming last week - or rather I accompanied one of the much more digitally competent film makers from college and told them what I wanted shooting in St George's Fields, and did a voiceover of one of my favourite pieces of traditional grave poetry. This was for the degree show show reel. I still hope to do a film of my own at some point - one that would either be digitally filmed or individual digital photographs put together to make a film. I want it to be of one of my anthotypes or lumen prints fading so I would have to set up a camera and one of the prints and take photographs at the same time/in the same lighting conditions twice a day til it has faded. As well as make a print in the first place. I think this would be part of my work that deals directly with memory and how it fades, but I could also reverse the film and make it come back to life again - the way memories can when you encounter something material that prompts you.
It was the second visit I made to St George's Field this week - earlier in the week I went there to show a chum round it (and discuss possibilities for the Gothic Festival in the autumn) and to harvest the weeds which I then tried to anthotype with. I love that space and I love showing it to others, although I go regularly I invariably see something I have never noticed before - this time it was a more personal dedication on the subscription graves which have been laid flat to line the pathways. Need to go back and take better pictures of it though rather than just the aide memoire image I've got on my camera phone.
I've been doing quite a bit of reading and watching too recently - I read some appallingly bad but much needed brilliant bubblegum brain reading in the form of Original Sin (2009) by Tasmina Perry which I got from a charity stall a while back. Utterly ridiculous much needed distraction, as was watching The Seventh Veil (1945) last night which featured James Mason as a rather revolting (but oh so physically attractive) bachelor who takes charge of his younger second cousin when her parents die and makes her into a concert pianist. She tries to escape from his overbearing and domineering ways but ends up running back to him. It was gorgeous to watch as it was monochrome, her outfits were stunning, James Mason both looked and sounded amazing but it was also quite difficult to watch a female character being so dominated.
I've also started another Elizabeth Gaskell which I got over the weekend from another charity stall - this time it's Cranford from 1851-1853. I tried reading it before but just couldn't get into it, but this weekend something kind of clicked as I started it and I've got as far as the cow wearing flannel after it lost all its hair. I also started a book called The Easter Parade by Richard Yates which was first published in 1976 and is set in the 1950's. I'm enjoying being transported to different eras. I've still got college library books I need to finish though....but realistically I can't see me finishing them before they have to go back so I might have to read them in the library instead. Which reminds me - I really must do my bibliography too....I know I should have written it up as I went along but I haven't. Bugger. Oh well.
Along with lots of doing, lots of reading there has also been lots of watching at the cinema or as my 3 year old nephew calls it (who has just been to the cinema for the first time) 'the big big big tv' Absolutely Fabulous (2016) was a good giggle in places and good distraction and Mapplethorpe (2015) a documentary about artist Robert Mapplethorpe was excellent. It was a mix of interviews with some of the people he worked with - both gallery owners, collaborators and assistants, siblings, some of his muses, some of the people whose portrait he took, footage of interviews with him and one with his father, exhibitions and the reaction to his work and analysis of his work. It looked at the different elements of his work - from portraiture, flowers as well as the infamously famous S+M ones.
It was quite thought provoking and a bit of an eye opener (no pun intended) as it's quite disconcerting to see a picture of a fingertip being inserted into the urethra on a big screen - just from a 'surely that's physically got to hurt/sting' point of view but then I am somewhat of a huge vanilla wuss and the only thing I have pierced is my ears and them only once in each ear. The especially infamous fisting shot led to him taking a self portrait of himself being 'fisted' by the handle of a bullwhip as it was pointed out to him that it was only fair he be on the recieving end of similar treatment. Much was made of his quite ruthless self centred behaviour and how he used his charm to get what he wanted from people and how drugs were part of his working process both for himself and his assistants - for example giving a bit of coke to his in-house film developer and printer (he neither developed or printed his own images) to get him to work a bit quicker when exhibitions were needing to be finished. This makes me feel a little better about my handing over my film to be developed or just digitally printing certain images though I only do this in return for cold hard cash, though I did once also ensure I got a quick job done by bribing the printer with Tunnocks Teacakes.
One of the points raised in the film was that he believed the best way to see photos was as a physical print, he died in 1989 so I don't know what he would have made of the way the bulk of images are consumed today ie as pixels on a screen. Much was made of his working methods and how he worked hard and played hard (again no pun intended). His early work consisted more of collage work (using images from porn magazines) and how his life changed both when he met Patti Smith but more importantly Sam Wagstaff who became his partner and patron. Sam also bought him a Hasselblad camera and who in his position as an influential and rich collector championed photography as an art form in its own right - equal to that of painting. The point was made that the rise of photography to be accepted as an art form in its own right as opposed to just a form of documentary has coincided with the rise of both gay visibility and gay rights though I'm not sure if the person making this point was pointing this out as a coincidence or if they believed there was some causal relationship between the two.
There was also some interesting discussion of how some of the S+M imagery was similar in composition to some religious iconongraphy - but then I don't see how crucifixion pictures can do otherwise - whether they are religious in origin or S+M club based. They also showed some images he'd taken using polaroids and had floated the emulsion off the photograph and then stretched the emulsion into a new image. Might have to research that as a method and give it a go myself.
Right - had best crack on with with portfolio stuff now....plus the bibliography note on my to do list is also calling....