Thursday, 23 October 2014

MA-Ness Week 6

Have spent today being shown the amazing and at times contrary properties of liquid light (a photo sensitive emulsion you can paint onto surfaces) saw it being used on stones today and oooh it's beautiful if tricksy stuff. Felt like I was in the company of John Dee and I am now mulling over the possibilities of using it in my own work though I think I'll need some more dark room practice first as I struggle with the technicalities of printing from negatives at times - I wear glasses and find the focus finder a bit difficult to use and me and numbers have a difficult relationship at times. It doesn't help that in photography the numbers for things are (in my head anyway) counter intuitive to how maths normally works - eg a 100th of a second is less than a fiftieth of a second and F16 though a bigger number is a smaller hole (aperture if you want to use the correct term) than F8.....I'm an intuitive rather than technical photographer and this side of things makes me slightly anxious. Massive thanks to Lesley for letting me watch the magic happen.

The other thing that makes me anxious is what I have talked about before - namely 'artwankspeak' which the more I think about is unfair as oftentimes it isn't wank at all but is highly specific language - though this change on my part could be because I am both starting to understand it better and speak it too. This week we were asked to think about our bias and I have many but I've been really thinking about this one and my worries about it are:
  • I worry it is terribly exclusive and cuts out and cuts off people who have with artistic skill and appreciation but not the language from taking part in art in whatever way, be it being too frightened to pick up a pencil to not wanting to go in art galleries for fear of ignorance showing.
  • That it over academicises (there I've made up a word if it doesn't already exist which seems to be the vogue amongst certain of the papers I've been reading) what for me has been up til now more of an immediate response to an artwork - either 'ooh I really like that' or 'that leaves me cold' or 'wow, I really don't like that. I found it difficult to read literature after doing an English Literature A Level as picking apart pieces like that so minutely was both tortuous and torturous after a while.....
  • I fear my inability to speak it is not ignorance but stupidity on my part as I grapple to get to grips with some of the papers and books I've been asked to read.
  • that the more I learn of it the more I'll lose my instant response of 'ooh I really like that'
  • I am however loving the books I alone have chosen to read - Lou Taylors Mourning Dress is an especial favourite and I have finally got my mitts on a copy of Photography and Death by Audrey Linkman - these two tomes in particular will be my research bibles. I am also immensely impressed with my first purchase with student discount of The Gothic Subculture by Chris Roberts, Hywel Livingston and Emma Baxter-Wright which has such an excellent starting point definition of goth that I intend to use it in my first formative presentation in a couple of weeks.

But all this thinking and reading made me realise I hadn't done any 'doing' and I was really missing it so on Friday morning before college started as I had the time I went for a wander around one of my favourite places in Leeds and in some ways the cause of all this over thinking art malarkey St George's Fields. I took some pictures on my phone, thought about other research possibilities into the history of some its communal grave stone occupants and just generally drank in its peace and quiet and then found (not that it was lost but I hadn't noticed it before) the most marvellous standard victorian exhortation for a grave 'be ye also ready' (to be fair they weren't being melodramatic as they surrounded by death in a way we aren't) in a marvellously modern font which shall attempt to replicate somehow.

It made me feel lots better and I think I shall try and make time each day before college to go for a pootle round there - it's good for my soul.

And because I had so enjoyed pootling round there I made a conscious effort to do the same on Saturday - when I went along Otley Road. It was lovely to load up my camera (Ilford Pan 400) and 'just take some pics' except of course now I consciously think of all the things I do as I 'just take some pics' - the way I frame it, the angle I decide to take it at, exactly what bit of urban decay am I asking the camera to focus on. Following a discussion (first proper one to one with my personal tutor which was really good - both energising and thought provoking plus she hugely reassured me by saying what I was doing already was 'excellent' PHEW!!!) in which I talked about my love of film. I have been known to paraphrase Charlton Heston by saying that 'you will have to prise my film camera out of my cold dead hands'. 

There is no romance in an sd card.

I didn't just take pictures though - I bought a couple of graphite pencils (the big chunky ones) from the college shop and also took rubbings of various surfaces along Otley Road - I liked the rusty metal security gates and the temporary but clearly been there longer than intended thick chipboard. I'll take pics of my rubbings (which the juvenile part of me just wants to snigger at) and post them once I've worked out how the new sd card slot thing on the computer works, we've had a couple of issues with sd cards becoming corrupted and a new slot thing (I bet there's a proper technical term for it) has been fitted but I want to check again with my lovely patient thoughtful husband who fitted it how best to use it.

It felt lovely to be being physically creative again - even if I did garner strange looks from passers by as I rubbed away and even my lovely patient thoughtful husband looked at me askance whilst I was doing it.

I started this post on Monday 20th but I've not had chance to finish it til now Thursday 23rd as have been so busy attending a two day event on the relationship between mental health and creativity. I was asked to speak about my experiences with the Place and Memory Project and it was quite something to stand and speak in front of about 90 people in the arena room of the Leeds Museum. My voice wobbled at times and my right knee kept shaking but I had on my armour of blood red lipstick and very big stompy goth boots and I got a lovely round of applause and was told afterwards by a couple of people how inspiring they'd found my speech which was lovely and worth the nerves.

Here's hoping I don't feel quite so nervous when I have to do a presentation next week......

In other news some brief points to put here before I forget them - art isn't just about the visual it's about language, just what are the differences between Art with a capital A and creativity.......

and as it doesn't seem right to do a blog post without a picture here's one of the mourning stationery on display at the Beamish Museum.

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