Monday, 8 June 2015

Ma-Ness Term 3 Week 8 End of Term Round Up, Sticky Stuff, Skulls and Stepladders, Costings and Hangings.

this weeks post it note - fuller than last weeks though my heart is still breaking and empty without Lucia
Mindful of the fact that I need to crack on work-wise (portfolio hand in date of August 18th is a way off yet but it'll soon come round plus a lot of the workshops will have limited staffing and access opportunities over the summer so best crack on now)   I've made myself do some this week though if I'm honest I didn't really feel like doing it - it's not the same without a black and white fluffy creature poking her nose in and squeaking at me to remind me that it is biscuit time.  But I made myself do some cyanotyping on Thursday as it was nice and sunny - it's been a while since I've done some and it was interesting that the sun has of course changed direction so instead of starting them off on the kitchen worktop before transferring them to the back window - this time they started off in the hallway before making their way round to the back window and then ending up in the kitchen. I did 8 in total - some worked really well, some not so well (the resultant image was a bit pale as I'd forgotten to boost the levels and contrast) but I am well chuffed with the one I did using one of my dental x-rays (must email a copy to my dentist) and the one I did on red paper and I am pleased with the ones I did from the pinhole pictures I took using a cardboard box camera. I also did one of what will hopefully be the first in the series 12 Belle Ends And A Sock On The Door - my response to John Waters seminal 12 Assholes and a Dirty Foot.

Yesterday I decided to get up early and go and take some photographs at St George's Fields using a Mamiya 645 Pro TL borrowed from college - a very fancy 120 mm film camera which is heavy but gorgeous and I used a silver skull I bought from TK Maxx some time ago as a prop nestled amongst the surviving memorials. I am well chuffed with the results and plan to get some of them printed on A2 tracing paper and also to copy some onto acetate so I can make cyanotype versions of them too.  I also did an experiment with image transfer onto canvas using pva glue and a photocopy of one of my images  this week though I can't report on that yet as I'm still waiting for the glue to dry before I start trying to rub the paper away.

It was good to get lost in the mechanics of the process for a while - especially at St George's Fields as it was beautifully quiet and empty yesterday morning plus the light was lovely. It also made a change to use a modern medium format camera as til now the ones I've used have been from the 1950's and though the Mamiya it is heavy to use it is also a joy - easy to focus, and you can set it to have aperture priority and the motorised wind on was also a help in making sure the film wound on correctly.

Things I did learn though for next time - when using a prop that you want to nestle either amongst graves or atop of monuments a bit of blu tack to help it stay where you want it to is a good idea and also take one of those plastic folding steps as that helps with both placing the skull where you want it and also for getting a better angle from which to take photos - I'm not very tall and although I have very big platform boots that boost my height to 5 ft 8" but whilst they are excellent for getting a good view at gigs (unless of course you're at a gig with knobheads who prefer to 'watch' it through their bloody phone screens as opposed to experiencing it in the here and now)  they aren't practical for walking on uneven ground. But I did find a plastic milk crate around the back of the university which was very handy for me to stand on. And I put it back where I found it when I'd finished.

 But until I found the milk crate my ever lovely and supportive and tall husband helped place the skull where I wanted it - he also developed the films in the garage (aka the pop up meth lab) when we got home. And then last night once they were dry we scanned them in - there were 2 rolls of Ilford FP4 ISO 125 120 and one roll of 35mm Ilford Pan 100 (only slightly out of date ie 2 years which compared to some of the film I've used is positively brand new) and like I said I am well chuffed with some of the images and am looking forward to getting them printed up.

I also made some bookmarks using the cast off paper backing from the 120 film and the cast off adhesive sticky back plastic like remnants from the printing of some of my images to stick on it - to then stick to grave candles. I'm pleased with those as a) they look good, b) I like the thought of making something useful from stuff that would be otherwise thrown away and c) I'm going to post one of them to a chum who has been especially supportive recently and who still reads paper books.

It was the last formal week at college this week and before we hung our work ready for the end of year work in progress show ( details on here) we spent it looking over the last 3 terms from a  expectation point of view - what has been met and what remains unfulfilled, key moments, turning points and how have you and work changed over the last 12 months.
I think I'll probably do a long separate and maybe not public post about this but some key points are:

  • Getting into better working habits - doing 'social' media on the kindle and so leaving the main computer (almost) entirely for work
  • I'm not quite sure what art schools are expected to be like and I'm not sure whether this is a reasonable expectation for me to have either but it's not quite as radical an atmosphere politically or fashion-wise (for example visible subculture members appear few and far between) as I thought/hoped it would be...
  • Roland Barthes - Camera Lucida - utterly wonderful thought provoking poignant stuff
  • Putting away acetates 'incorrectly' and so creating a whole new set of images
  • Learning a new vocabulary and a new way of looking at things (new public sculpture at Leeds Uni..)
  • Collaboration and possible new projects....
  • Access to archives only accessible to students
  • Thinking about applying for a practice led Phd....
(and btw the formatting on blogger is a complete pain in the arse at times - you'd think it'd be relatively straightforward to put things in bullet points and it is as long as you don't want to add to it, move stuff round in which case you have to beggar about with it for 15 minutes and then think 'fuck it, I simply can't be arsed to argue with it get the drift of what I'm trying to put in that list....and then a bit more beggaring and hurrah it worked!!!)

One of the things we were asked too was how much things had cost and it was interesting to do a rough total of what I had spent on printing, film and developing costs, notebooks, portfolios and that kind of thing - so learning point from now on is make note of how much everything costs as I go along instead of totting it up roughly afterwards. This will also help when it comes to working out how much to charge for commissions and other work too.

As I said we spent most of Friday afternoon putting up the end of year show - and I was grateful that there was both a fellow ma-er who is tall and so could help me hang my work in the window (A2 tracing paper prints of angels and churchyard benches)  - I could reach the bottom panels but not the top ones and there are 4 panels per piece arranged around each cross of the window. Initially I was only going to have one window but encouragement from another fellow ma-er plus the fact that the tracing paper does not block out light for other exhibitors and agreement from the other course members means I have colonised two windows. I'm not quite sure why but I felt really anxious and hamfisted lining the top and bottom edges of the images with double sided tape and then placing them in the window - no need for a spirit level as they are lined up against the edge of the window panes, I also didn't need to measure height from the ground or worry about positioning it so that it leaves enough wall space for others.

But I think this will have to be taken into consideration when it comes to the Kirkstall Arts Trail (details here) on July 18th though I've yet to hear whereabouts on the trail my work will be going, and I'll also need to get a little spirit level as though I normally do things by eye, my eye isn't always straight so I will need some extra help.

Last month I went to the John Rylands Library to look at things of wonder in the strong room, and the archivist has sent me a list of other items in their keeping which she thinks I may be interested in and it reads like the most fabulous treasure trove of ephemera - I mean who could resist things like 'a piece of the willow which grew over the grave of Napoleon I' and 'a russian peasants soup spoon' and 'a portion of the wrappage of a mummy embalmed 3000 years ago'....and it has both made me want to see these wondrous things with my own eyes but also wonder how they ended up in the care of the John Rylands Library, whether they are what they say they are, and how much fun it would be to make one of these up for an imaginary collector.  Which in turn makes me think of my feelings about describing myself as a writer and or an artist - I was brought up believing that you had to specialise and being a jack of all trades meant you were master of none (feminism hadn't dawned on my family at that time) and if you did more than one thing then there was something vaguely untrustworthy about you - the word 'dillettante' was unknown to my vocabulary then but the misgivings around someone who could be described as such wasn't. Mmm lots of food for thought there....

One thing I can say about myself without feeling in anyway fraudulent or self aggrandising is I'm a collector - (some might say hoarder but though the house is full of stuff - you can still sit down and make/have a meal without having to play tetris with stuff so I think it's under control) and I wonder what someone would make of and or with the fridge magnet collection (there are about 350 of them and one of the things we had to take into account when buying a new fridge freezer after the old one broke was would it be big enough to hold all the magnets and it is - just. Or the extensive amount of royal tat - I am no fan of the royal family and struggle with the continued existence of such an outmoded, unfair and frankly ridiculous institution in the 21st century  but I love royal memorabilia or rather really cheap (some of it is outrageously expensive)  tacky (even the expensive so called classy stuff is tacky)  memorabilia of the wedding of Charles and Diana. Teabags are kept in a Charles and Di tin, tea drunk out of mugs with the fateful date and their faces on (ideally the really cheap ones with their pictures taken from newspapers so you can see the dots) and feet are wiped on a silver jubilee rug in the hallway. Likewise there are lots of pictures of christian saints and Virgin Marys - not that I am a believer but they remind me of maternal grandparents house which was always a refuge for me and it was full of the outpourings of ephemera of the roman catholic church and Manchester United Football Club.

But whilst I am definitely becoming more confident in terms of the techniques I use, the approach I take I still find it a little difficult to write my artists statement though I had to write one for the end of year show - but I did it and whilst I may refine it as the months go on I'm pleased with it for now.

Right best crack on with some workroom tidying, letter writing and portfolio sorting plus I want to make a cloth carrying bag for my A2 portfolio that I can put over my shoulder as that might make it a bit more manageable when it comes to hand in time.... 


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