Saturday, 6 December 2014

MA-Ness Week 15 or is it 16? Really should learn to count properly one day.....overview and this weeks musings

This week I have been slightly panicking re handing stuff in - I have to hand in a 2,000 word essay on professional context and my research journal - which is mostly this blog along with an explanatory piece about it - namely why and how I use it. It's mostly a reflective journal as I look back over the events of the week and think about what I've learnt, seen, thought about, or what I want to see or learn about. It has changed from being a general purpose one - I set it up in 2012 and at first wrote mostly about things which interested me (usually oldy worldy postcards and seaside stuff) then it became more about the history of St George's Fields when I became part of the Place and Memory Project in the summer of 2013 and since September this year it has exclusively been to do with the MA in Creative Practice - either directly about what I've learnt on the course or my ongoing research into death culture in general and victorian death culture in particular.

As I already had a blog set up and blogs were an acceptable format in which to submit your research journal and after a chat with my personal tutor I decided to keep it as it is and use this format as a kind of overview of what I've been up to - not least because it gives me time to think things over but also because I doubt my tutors could read (or would even want or be able to) or make sense of the handwritten scrawlings in my various notebooks.

So this week I have also been watching other people's on the course presentations which was really interesting - not least because I only saw half of them last presentation time as I missed the second half due to being poorly and I have also been:

  • thinking about accessibility - especially with regard to academic guidelines and protocols, audiences in general and how to engage their interest,
  • the practicalities of making cyanotypes in winter when the sun isn't very strong (going to experiment with a lightbox and see if this works as ours is uv light at full on sunshine strength) 
  • being grateful to a lovely course colleague who has lent me a couple of victorian mourning blouses - gosh the women who wore these were *so* tiny, 
  • the general reverence of people when looking at art - see also what another colleague described as 'the sanctity of the gallery space' 
  • and also what format my work is going to take 

and I have also been finishing one of the most absorbing books I have read in a while - Viv Albertine's autobiography Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys (Albertine,V,2014 Clothes Clothes Clothes Music Music Music Boys Boys Boys, England Faber & Faber)  (as an aside I have to use the Harvard Referencing system in order to meet the course rules but I wonder if it aids or decreases accessibility - on the one hand it means people know exactly what book I'm talking about and so can find it themselves but I wonder if it makes look too 'academicky' and so makes it feel exclusive.........mmm will continue to mull over this....) anyway one section in particular really struck a chord with me - she's writing about 1983-1988 when she gets a place on the film making course at London College of Printing:

'Over the next three years I learn a lot of new words and expressions...and read texts...I learn to deconstruct. I'm out of my depth, but so is everyone else on the course. I'm daunted by the essay writing but get a great piece of advice from Laura Mulvey: 'Think what you want to say and then say it as clearly as possible.'. I work hard, I never miss a lecture. I try and overachieve, like all mature students. People given a second chance know the value of their reprieve.'  (p261-262) 

I feel like I'm in quite a similar headspace......

So what else this week - one of the tutors kindly showed me how to convert these musings into a pdf which hopefully I'll be able to remember how to do it when I'm next in college as sadly we don't have the neccessary software at home - I had hoped we might do as my husband is a software engineer and so we have all sorts of software but annoyingly not that one.

Earlier today I got my arse in gear and went to see the Grayson Perry exhibition at Temple Newsam, I was in two minds about it as I had initially boycotted it as it was being held in an inaccessible building (some chums set up a rival exhibition at Inkwell as a response (details here) and I still feel a little bit bad that I have taken advantage of the fact that I can access such a place - both physically and financially but I did and here are my initial thoughts on it:

The tapestries are sumptuous and so much more impressive in the flesh so to speak as opposed to seeing them on a screen or as a postcard. They have a solidity about them which just isn't conveyed in flat 2d representation of them. The vivid colours are wonderful. I especially enjoyed the mug with Class Traitor by Chip E Prole in The Annunciation of the Virgin Deal and the meat raffle in The Agony In The Car Park.

I found them darkly funny and satirical plus I am a fan of Hogarth too and it was also lovely to see The Rake's Progress prints on the busily wallpapered walls of Temple Newsam Hall - so much patterning!!! and it struck me whilst we were there - would they look as impressive or even be overpowering in a more traditional white gallery space? but in amongst the general chintziness and semi aristocratic clutter of Temple Newsam Hall they do look amazing. I also loved their nod to various religious paintings too - in fact the quasi religious-ness of the whole experience struck me - there was an air of reverence and quiet awe as people shuffled through with the exhibition leaflet held firmly in their hands like a prayer book and how they stood in front of them in quiet contemplation and the ushers spoke in awed tones of the methods used to make them and how you couldn't touch them (which is fair enough as they are easily damageable objects) but all in all it reminded me of benediction services when I was little and we all had to stand around and look at the consecrated host as the priest processed it through the candle lit church.

Maybe galleries/exhibition spaces are spiritual spaces in our increasingly secular lives. It made me feel slightly uncomfortable though....... plus Temple Newsam Hall is full of the overblown sentimental religious type paintings that I contrarily love - I completely fell in love with one from the spanish school of Saint Sebastiane being nursed back to health by nuns after being pierced with swords (only for him to then be beaten to death and thrown into a sewer) which was in the corner opposite the first of Grayson's tapestries. I might have to go back for another wander round the house when it isn't so full of head bowed before Grayson acoyltes and have a look solely at the paintings - there were some stunners, but the irony of having to pay (£4.50) to see amazing luxurious objects which whilst lovely in themselves in turn remind you of your comparatively lowly status and inability to ever afford such luxurious items (4 metre high queen anne bed draped in red velvet anyone?) is not lost on me.

What else? conscious of the fact that I've doing a lot of thinking about doing and not much actual doing I took my camera out with me today (though photographs are not allowed to be taken inside Temple Newsam House but I may or may not have sneaked a snap of the written details of some of the paintings on my camera phone so I can investigate them further....) loaded with *whispers* colour film. I am an avowed monochromist* who believes colour is a distraction so this is a bit of an experiment for me really - well more of an experiment than my usual picture taking is. It was ISO 200 Kodak Colour Plus which was a present from the chap in Headingley who develops most of our colour films (we can do them in the garage in our pop up film developers aka meth lab if you talk to the neighbours but chap in Headingley - his shop is opposite what was the Lounge Cinema on North Lane does them much better) so I shall take it back to him when I have finished the roll - I concentrated upon dead and dying flowers today and might make them black and white when they've been developed - that along with cropping/adjusting balance and brightness is the extent of my post processing as I feel if I have to do more than that then I didn't take a good enough picture in the first place.....

I'm starting to ramble so think it's best I finished this for now - but it'll be back to work for me tomorrow as bibliographies and 2,000 word essays sadly don't write themselves..........

*but as I always say I have never claimed to be consistent.....

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