Monday, 30 March 2015

MA-Ness Week 12 - Portfolio Hand In Time, Batteries, In The Flesh and End of Term Symposium

This weeks post it note,back of envelope and bit of cardboard rescued from a thankfully mostly empty recycling bin because I'd written a couple of things on it as I didn't have any paper to hand and wanted to remember it. 
And yes that is a purloined Leeds College of Art post it note....
It seems a bit odd to be writing this even though a round up of the previous weeks work is part of my usual Monday working habit - odd because it was the end of term on Friday and I am now 'on holiday' though my head doesn't seem to be able to quite compute that, not least because I've got a few things college-wise booked in my diary this week and because if I'm honest I'm not very good at completely switching off and I am often thinking of either new ideas or things I've promised to do and forgotten or things along these lines plus I am not actually going anywhere on holiday so it doesn't really seem like a vacation as such - maybe it will next week.
But I did treat myself to several glasses of fizz on Friday night - not least because it was Friday but also because I was celebrating handing in my portfolio for the Practice and Personal Development Module - it was a hefty tome to carry in, I filled an A4 lever arch file with my musings, deliberations and examples of my work and it looked like this:

Portfolio - projects were linked together with black ribbon as a nod to the victorian mourning custom of threading black ribbon through underwear plus it was the last of the ribbon I bought to tie the wedding favours together when I got married 6 years ago

It's open at the page that that is where I put a copy of the quotes I have on my workroom wall that inspire me - quotes from Elliot Irwin, Kurt Vonnegut, Man Ray and my beloved John Waters whose wise words about obsession help keep me going.

You can use all kinds of obsession. You can use obsession for humour, you can use it for style, you can use it for fashion. Obsession is great if it brings you pleasure and helps you make your living doing something you love. It’s only bad if you make the same mistake over and over with some obsession that brings you unhappiness.' 

Wise words indeed. 

Also I am very mindful of the words of my tutor who had said to me in a tutorial some time ago 'things always take longer than you think' and I have been trying to bear that in mind since - by giving myself as much time as possible when doing things - I hate rushing and stressing so I gave myself plenty of time to put it together. I did some constructive procrastination too - I tidied up a couple of shelves,put some new stuff on the walls - prints and postcards I'd got from the very wonderful Drawn By Light exhibition at the Media Museum. If you haven't been and you can go - you must for it is very wonderful indeed.

Again this is on complete contrast to the undergraduate me who wasn't as organised and did everything at the last minute and so wasn't as happy or as comparatively chilled either. Oh the advantages of being older and wiser and knowing myself better and what ways I work better. 

Once again I am so glad I decided to use this blog as my research journal and haver got into such a regular habit of updating it as it was then relatively simple but longwinded to put together the portfolio - I wrote an overview of what I felt I have learned over the last two terms, made blog into a pdf and printed it out along with copies of the speeches and presentations I've made and then examples of the work - digital prints on different types of surfaces of both film and digital pictures, cyanotypes, prints on fabric and the different methods of hemming - PVA glue is a wondrous substance, the different subjects of my photoshoots - though all deal with death and loss in different ways and I even snuck in a Spongebob sticker. I love Spongebob - he never fails to make me smile. 

It took me most of Monday to sort everything into plastic wallets, and all of my workroom floor and surfaces to then put then into a sort of chronological order and to decide broadly what was in and what was out and it was a mix of successes and failures (I included my unsuccessful lumen prints for example as well as copies of the images on the surfaces I don't think look as good though I was still slightly tinkering with this up to leaving the house on Friday morning. 

Though once it was in the bag to hand in (and thankfully I didn't leave it on the bus - my husband did say to me - can you imagine if you left it on the bus, which led to me holding onto it tightly on the bus so I wouldn't do this) I didn't look at it again - I just handed it over and signed to say I had done so.

It felt so good to hand it in - and fingers crossed it'll do the job in terms of the necessary academic hoop jumping to get a good mark too. In some ways the mark isn't that important as I am still learning with or without it but in others ways it is really important on a personal level - I would love to get a good enough mark to get a distinction, so fingers crossed it'll be okay though I won't know til near the end of May.

But Wednesday was also almost a day of great sadness and wailing and gnashing of teeth as I took my favourite 35mm camera (generously given to me by a chum) with me into college so I could go to St George's Field afterwards and take some pictures.  It was quite a bright day and it was almost warm enough to sit and enjoy my sadnwich in its peaceful surroundings - I didn't sit still for too long though as I needed to get moving again to warm up.

My fave go to camera is a Minolta 7000 D - it's quite heavy and clunky but it is also wonderful and I love using it - you can have it fully/part manual or automatic but the last couple of times I'd used it I'd noticed the shutter was sticking occasionally and the rewind didn't sound too healthy either. 

At times on Wednesday it stuck altogether and I had to switch it on and off again and kind of waggle it to get it to work again...I didn't trust that it had rewound the film properly and so asked the ever helpful Mark at the Photoshop on North Lane in Headingley (where I get all my colour films developed and scanned) to open it in the dark and I wasn't sure whether or not there would be any pictures come out at all. They had though- phew!!! and a couple I am really pleased with and they may well find their way onto a cyanotype near you soon....

Mark had a look at the camera and so did one of the chaps from the West Yorkshire Cameras Shop (the one in the Corn Exchange) who fortuitously was also in Lento's having a coffee. Both said the same thing - the shutter did appear to be sticking and to get it repaired might not be worth it - unless the camera had great sentimental value as it would cost a minimum of £30 just to get it serviced plus any parts and labour and you can buy the bodies for around £20....even though I'm not very good at maths I can do that sum....even if it is the camera I took Martin Parr's portrait on......

The first thing both chaps asked me was when it had last had new batteries in it and as I'd only recently changed them (2 films ago) we all thought it couldn't be that as they were so new.

But thankfully - it was the fault of the batteries as although they were (relatively) new they were zinc chloride ones which apparently are pants for cameras and what you need are alkaline ones - swapped to new alkaline ones and hey presto camera works properly again - PHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had no idea about the different kind of batteries but have learnt this lesson well now and will only be using alkaline from now on. Even in my not very demanding alarm clock...

Cutting fabric prints at home was a breeze compared to the cutting out I did at the MA Symposium with students on the same course from Salford Uni - the scissors I use at home are left handed ones (bought from John Lewis many many moons ago) and they are one of the best things I have ever bought and I guard them with my life and keep them only for fabric. The scissors in was using at college on Friday - when trying to create an artwork mostly from things we'd found in a skip were right handed ones and they were tortuous to use. I have a lot of the cheap ones from Ikea that are suitable for left or right handed people - might have to take a pair in as I don't want that discomfort again - though I'm not likely to be making things out of a skip again anytime soon.

Bits of it were really fun - we were split into groups and my fellow ma-ers in my group both have very different practices to mine (painting and performance/installation)and it was fun to bounce ideas off each other, find out a bit more about each other and different approaches and it is always fun if dusty and a bit smelly to skip dive for materials and it was really interesting to see what the other groups came up with but I didn't like that we were being filmed whilst we were working - even though the camera people kindly told me they wouldn't film me or would edit me out - people waving a stills camera at me is bad enough but a video camera makes me feel very anxious and self conscious and I clam up and want to hide.

One thing I did discover though was my reluctance to walk on artwork - even when invited to. Another group were making a book and invited us to walk on the pages going into it. This felt vaguely sacrilegious - more sacrilegious than I had done something actually sacrilegious in the eyes of the roman catholic church many years ago. I think this is going to give me much food for thought over the next few weeks.

The other thing is the feelings of reluctance to hand over some of the pieces I'd been working on and in some cases handing in digital images of the work instead and also that even thought the internet has enabled us to have images of things at our fingertips about how we still prefer to see or experience things in the flesh - or rather mostly we do. Though it does feck me off at gigs when a lot of the audience seem to prefer watching it through a fecking smartphone screen or back of digital camera....I have been known to take the occasional pic myself, but they are occasional as I want to fully immerse myself in what is going on. 

This was brought to mind by a chum posting on Facebook a link to an article about the Cadaver Synod with a copy of the painting by Jean Paul Laurens - you can read the article and see a copy of the painting here and I commented that I would love to see it in the flesh so to speak.

Though I wouldn't want to walk on it - even if invited to do so by the artist....

Also went to see Tales of Hoffman yesterday at the ever wonderful and one of the best cinemas ever The Hyde Park Picture House - it was a feast for the eyes and ears, amazing sets, costumes and dancing. The doll sequence was especially wonderful and made me wonder if Michael Clark, Trojan and Leigh Bowery had seen it when they were little as there were visual echoes of it in their stylings in the eighties. Truly wonderful stuff.

And last but not least - I have finally succeeded in making a lumen print - I did this on Saturday whilst catching up with the housework I'd been neglecting this term - the dusting has been done, kitchen and bathroom properly cleaned as opposed to just tickled over with a disinfectant wipe,clean throws put on the sofa and that kind of thing. It's not a very exciting image but there is something visible on the paper which hadn't really happened before so next plan now I've got a better handle on the technique is to make a more exciting image:

And massive thanks to my ever patient and supportive lovely husband who managed to salvage this blog post from the hell of blogger not liking word and so copying over html language that made it look funny when it was posted but not when it was in the preview pane.......

Note to self when copying from word - do it as plain text or else it'll bugger it all up....

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