|This weeks post it note and some failed instant pictures but I'm intrigued by the half Mapp which appears in one of the images, was given a Fuji Instant camera by a chum having a big photographic clear out and the camera had been in a box under the bed, then out in a family members garage for a very long time so no surprise that the film didn't work out right....plus a couple have almost entirely come out so I think it's a problem with old film not being kept in optimum conditions as opposed to something being wrong with the camera itself. Will get some more instant film and have another go soon.|
My habit of getting back into writing this on a Monday has gone out of the window again this week, because instead I spent this Monday using the big light table at college to take photographs of images I'd had printed on tracing paper. I'm experimenting with layering them over one another to make new patterns and images following on from useful feedback from the silent crit a couple of weeks back.
I'd started experimenting last week at home using the small light box I have at home but I needed a bigger one plus the one at college also has additional lights at each side as well as the one underneath. Am really chuffed with some of the new images so hoping to get them printed but lessons learnt -
trim off the borders before layering
the lights are quite hot and the heat makes the tracing paper curl up a bit at the edges - so need to work out a way to stick them down that isn't visible under the bright light....
I then met a chum for lunch and then bought some magnets (to experiment with using them to display my work) and grave candles from the big shop that is like a soft furnishings free version of Ikea on the Headrow and then came home and worked on a presentation I have to give later this week.
College has asked us to do a 5 minute presentation on what we're up to. It's quite timely really as I'm increasingly thinking about how to categorise what it is I do. I can describe it fairly easily but seeing where it fits/how it fits in with other disciplines is something I'm finding more difficult...partly like I said last time it's a mix of navel gazing and worrying I'm a mistress of all trades and Jill of none...
So what exactly is my practice? what is my work about? I make images primarily using analogue methods. I take pictures on film sometimes of objects I've collected and posed, sometimes of existing spaces. I often make cyanotypes and sometimes anthotypes of the images I make but I most often print the images I make digitally on tracing paper. Print making in the darkroom other than cyanotype prepping doesn't make my heart sing. And how much a process makes my heart sing is the basis on which I judge how much I want to do something.
The subject matter is often inspired by Victorian mourning culture which means I spend a lot of time reading about the period and its customs, reading literature from the period - currently reading The Haunted Hotel by Wilkie Collins which I am absolutely loving. According to a quote from The Times on the back of the book it is 'a pleasingly nasty affair' and I'm about halfway through and I am in agreement with the Times summation. Plus I am loving Collins description of the difference between the classes, servants and 'people of quality' in particular as well as the feisty plot involving inheritances, marriages, death, revenge and of course a wonderfully described Haunted Hotel.
I also spend a lot of time taking photographs of Victorian monuments in graveyards or of Victorian cemeteries and looking at burial records, mourning ephemera and such like in archives. I find looking at original items from the period very inspirational plus it makes the historian part of my heart sing too. Another thing I've been thinking about is whether or not this blog is part of my practice too, it is definitely a tool for this course as I am using it as my research journal for assessment and I wonder if I will keep it up in the same way when I finish this course....
Anyway I also like using different kinds of camera - I have a number of film SLR's which I use if I want to take 'proper' pictures and a number of fun cameras if I want to experiment and take less 'proper' as opposed to 'improper' pictures. I never take improper pictures - I don't even take someone else's picture unless I've asked them first and got their permission.
My 'improper' pics at the moment are most often taken on the 'crap kids digital camera' with its warped lens and inability to capture colour remotely correctly. I love its lomo crapness though. This week I also had great fun using a lomo fish eye lens camera and lessons learnt from using that particular camera - you can never get too close really with that kind of lens, and the resultant images look even more striking when they've been greyscaled. It's an F8 lens and you have no control over the length of exposure so to get best results you need to use it in bright light with high ISO film.
I took advantage of the bright sunshine and used a colour ISO 800 film to take pictures of all my favourite bits of St George's Field earlier this week. I then got them developed at my usual place - The Photo Shop in Headingley who as always did a speedy and professional job of developing them.
I had loaded the film in the comparative darkness of the toilets at college but hadn't quite put the film rewinding bit down far enough so it wasn't turning - leading me to wonder about 16 pictures on if I had wound the film on properly. It felt like it had as there was tension winding the film on after each exposure but as I once took a whole roll without actually taking any pictures at all (but at least the film wasn't wasted and I could use it again when I had actually wound it on properly) I wasn't entirely sure. As soon as I noticed I made sure it was down properly and it did go round. In the case where the film never ran out - I only realised what I'd done when I got to the 36th picture on what was a roll of 24, but in this case the film got to 36 and then ran out so I was fairly hopeful there'd be something on it and there was thankfully. Am reet chuffed with some of them and going to get them printed.
But note to self - check camera through thoroughly before starting to take pictures. It's just as well I'm not an event photographer at a blink and you miss it type event as it's quite likely to have finished by the time I've got my arse in gear properly and realised what I'm doing....
So there's been a lot of playing - partly with new cameras but also with new toys as I have also been playing with the present my lovely ever supportive husband got me for our recent wedding anniversary - namely a mini studio. It works best for photographing very small things like pieces of jewellery but I have got some lovely images of flowerheads that I've been collecting in a big plastic pot. I decided to collect all the flowers I've been given or bought since I started the course as I knew I wanted to use them in pictures. Plus I have a bit of a thing for dead and dying flowers anyway.
It's a portable easily put up and down white plastic box that fixes together with magnets and has interchangeable different colour backdrops and two strips of led lights that you can control the brightness of. It's ACE and I am loving using it. Though I was defeated by how to attach the backdrop, I was struggling with how to attach it for ages - even thinking I might have to use blu-tack to attach it, until I had the bright idea of looking at the instructions when all became clear. Note to self - reading the instructions before you use something is a really good idea...
I also spent quite a bit of time last week cleaning and tidying - not my workroom so much as the rest of the house which meant I felt better about spending so much time playing and experimenting with filmy stuff.
I also went to two art things last week - a lecture by Nigel Llewellyn at the Henry Moore Institute on the Art of Death and the latest photographs by Martin Parr at the Hepworth featuring Yorkshire grown rhubarb.
The lecture was wonderful - Nigel told us of the inspiration behind the book he wrote on the subject and the exhibition he curated at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1991, or rather 1992 as due to the starting of the first Gulf War and the worries of the trustees that patrons would be offended by such an exhibition at a time of war its opening time was rescheduled. It was a fascinating glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes at big museums, a look at some of the artefacts in the exhibition and it was very engagingly delivered. It made me want to read his book and my lovely husband has ordered me a secondhand copy off an internet site that sells more than books and doesn't pay much tax.
I was quite disappointed by the new Parr pics though - a chum has described them as 'being phoned in' and I agree, they just didn't grab me in the way that his other work has. The colour seemed kind of off to me - not full on glorious technicolour but a kind of garish faded (if you can have such a thing) plus the method of display didn't add to them for me. It's a huge high ceiling space in which one wall is taken up with some from the Consumer series which look beautifully garish in comparison. The new images are not framed but printed in different sizes and attached to the wall by magnets, some have buckled and are no longer flush to the wall. (A problem I know only too well from hanging my own work and it reacting to the changes in temperature and humidity in the room) and it looks kind of amateur for an organisation like the Hepworth which I'm guessing has a lot more money for displaying work than I do. One way of minimising the buckling is to leave the paper in the same atmosphere for a good 24-48 hours prior to hanging it or to put it two or three magnets width from the wall in the first place. I did love seeing my old favourites of his again though - especially some from the Last Resort series.
Last week I was writing about putting together and sending in a proposal for an academic conference and I was pleased to get back a reply to say my proposal had been accepted. I say pleased but I am also a little bit scared too - as I'll be amongst Victorian specialists - but then as a chum pointed out I am a Victorian specialist too. And I am - but I am a bit concerned that I'm not quite specialist enough....see above re mistress/Jill feelings.
I have also hopefully scored a trip round a coffin factory too - I emailed to ask if they had any coffin linings offcuts I could have to print on and they asked me to phone them to discuss it so I put on my best telephone voice, took a deep breath and rang.
Exciting but also a teeny bit scarey times....and fingers crossed I'll be back in my usual Monday blogging habit again.