Monday, 15 June 2015

MA-Ness Term 3 Week 9 Show, Talking, Drinks Tokens and Tat.

this weeks post it note - again not so full as others but this flanked by some gloriously tacky fridge magnets brought all the way from the home of Dracula himself - Transylvania............

A lovely chum of mine has just come back from a Dracula Society trip to Transylvania and along with some other goodies - a prayer card featuring St George,some holy perfume and a mug featuring a lady with not very much on and a blood splattered knife between her teeth she brought me back these gems. Both featuring an image of Vlad the Impaler - they are gloriously badly executed and whilst ostensibly the same differ in the way the vines and the grapes, his imperial headgear and his blood ravaged lips have been painted. I like also how both have come from the same mould but thanks to the different placing of the magnet on the back of each one they look as if he is facing in different directions. Utterly wonderful and I look forward to placing them on the fridge later.

Otherwise this last week has been overshadowed by lurgy (again!!) and I am bored of coughing and aching and feeling so under the weather plus my heart is still breaking and broken from the death of my beloved Lucia. She would often keep me company in the work room - either sunbathing on the windowledge behind the computer monitor or in her favourite cardboard box which she used to squeeze into (it's sides are bowed) on the landing just outside. Mapp has spent some time in all of Lucia's spaces apart from this one - I hope she takes over this one too at some point.

So although my heart isn't really in it 100 percent I have made myself carry on doing things and there's been time when I've been able to be distracted enough by what I've been doing to put heartache aside for a bit or like on Thursday night when it was the delightfully dark musings and stories of David Sedaris read by the author himself which provided much welcome distraction and laughter. I doubt there are many people who could describe having a benign tumour removed and wanting to feed it to a snapper turtle with a growth on its head and part of its foot missing with such wit and warmth. He was very wonderful indeed and if you haven't read anything by him then you must and if you can go see him give a reading then you must do that too. He's also not a fan of people taking pictures of anything and everything on mobile phones and had signs up saying no photos please at his book signing table and as far as I could tell people abided by his request.

His use of words is exquisite - scalpel like in their exactness and words are something that I keep coming back to time and time again as part of my studies which both amuses and bemuses me seeing as as my work is mostly in a visual format as in I take photographs and then make the resultant images into cyanotypes or try copying them onto canvas using pva glue - without much success so far but I suspect that is refinement of technique/materials needed as opposed to the actual technique itself not working as the image did transfer - just not  as well as I would have liked...

And now the formatting of this blog is going skewiff again - part of the reason I use blogger (aside from it being free) is because compared to wordpress I find it easy to use but it can be a right ball-ache sometimes when it comes to formatting, it doesn't always insert pictures where you ask/tell it to so then you find yourself moving text around and it then centres the text when you actually want it justified to the left and no amount of highlighting the text and clicking that alignment makes it align that text but it does for the text after the picture......and then the 4th time of telling it to do it it does.....oh FFS - why can't things just work first time when you tell them to?

This kind of technology fail - either of the person attempting to use it or on the technology itself drives me witless. It happened last week at college when I tried to log out after doing some printing - it wouldn't let me and I had to go and disturb the computer chaps in their lair to get it to let me to log out (force quit apparently) and yesterday my lovely fridge magnet donating chum and I had similar issues trying to get the chromecast thingy to work as she had bought a copy of the Skull (1965, F Francis, Amicus UK) for us to watch online and it took us ages to get it to work - made me realise why I prefer having a physical in your hands product as opposed to a streamed ethereal electrons malarkey.

As I've said before you know where you are with physical stuff and it's often much easier to spot the reason why it's not working....anyway we did get it to work on the laptop at least - it juddered so much when 'cast' to the television that we gave up watching it on there as it was making us feel sick. And it was worth it - both Mr Lee (RIP) and Mr Cushing gave very fine performances and the story though unlikely was at least true to its own logic and I really enjoyed it.

So got sidetracked there - was talking about words and their part in art - in what is usually perceived as a visual medium and whilst I do write a bit and have performed semi autobiographical monologues at Headingley Literature Festival I think of myself primarily as a visual as opposed to word artist but so much of art is reliant upon words - either on the words used to describe it, the application you make to get the chance of being in an exhibition, the grant application, the a fellow artist talked on Saturday about artists statements and asked the question 'are they an insight or a barrier?' which is something I think about a lot - my immediate reaction on reading some artists statements is often one of bewilderment or on occasion ' oh ffs get over yourself' but it's a treat when I read one that I can understand and offers insight too. She also talked about looking at artists sketchbooks too and how insightful that can be - she'd just bought one of Frieda Kahlo's and I'm still plowing my way through the Derek Jarman one I bought at the Whitworth - it really is wonderful and if you get chance to peek at an artists sketchbook then you should....

Plus all this is feeding into the ideas I've got for my dissertation which is due in December which might sound like a long time off but it isn't really and the sooner I get started on it the sooner it'll be in a draft version and I can begin to refine and polish it...this course is about academic hoop jumping after all and I want to jump those hoops as well as I can. John Waters and his comments about art being an elitist club and having to learn the language to take part is one I keep thinking of. That plus his wonderful speech on being given an honorary doctorate which if you haven't seen you must for it is wonderful - warm, inspiring and witty - and you can see it here.

The other article I read this week which also made me think about the accessibility of art is Stewart Lee's interview from last June with Julian Cope - and you can read it in full (should you wish to) here but the bit that stood out for me was the section in which he says of his book 'It's demanding but great art is demanding' and I can certainly see his point.......but.....still not sure.....

I had a tutorial last week , and I showed my tutor some of the pieces I've been working on for the past few weeks and as ever my tutor gave me some useful feedback and ideas on how to develop them - I'd been very pleased with the 'happy accident' when putting away some acetate copies away on top of the original images and making images from that but I hadn't developed it further - but I have now by layering acetates and photocopies on top of one another and so creating new images and then layering that new one upon the existing acetates and copies - so that an image of two cross topped memorials from Undercliffe Cemetery has now become a multi crossed image with 5 layers of crosses - it would make a lovely pattern for fabric (an idea from a chum commenting on an image I posted on Farcebook of me stood next to my work in the windows as part of the MA end of year work in progress show) and I can't wait to make it into an acetate and then make a cyanotype with it......

.....the process also reminded me of a film about WG Sebald (called Patience After Sebald) which I half watched a while ago in which someone described his process of creating his distinctive b+w prints was take the pictures on colour 35mm film, get them developed at Snappy Snaps, then photocopy them in b+w and keep photocopying the photocopies til they have the right level of murkiness. The images I've made aren't murky - well I don't think they are but I am really liking them and they are made from multiple photocopies...

The other thing which I thought about a lot this week was a meme which went round Farcebook from PetaPixel in which it showed 3 different image formats 120 film, 35 mm film and an sd card with the tag 12 exposures 6 are awesome, 36 exposures 6 are awesome hundreds of exposures 6 good results and it made me nod and go 'yep' - me and my husband refer to this as 'the money shot' and there is a good definition of it here - we use it in its non pornographic definition and it's true - amongst the many pictures we take - there is usually (hopefully!!) a few that stand out and so are referred to as 'the money shot'. My current money shots are mostly coming from the pictures I took in St Mary's Churchyard in Whitby, Cleethorpes Cemetery, St George's Field and Undercliffe Cemetery...can you guess what they all have in common? 

Curation and curating are also words and actions playing on my mind - there's a school of thought that says they have been so overused as to become meaningless and I'm not sure what my thoughts are on it as yet but the interview I read with Richard Boon (manager of the Buzzcocks and a librarian) in which his response to the question: 
'As a librarian you are a custodian of words. There’s a lot of misuse of language in the media. One that irks me is ‘Curator. ‘What do you think?'
'It is a hugely misused word. It should have an academic context and imply knowledge, expertise in a given field. My daughter is assistant curator of a collection at the Science Museum; some hipster with a beard in Shoreditch is NOT curating a coffee bar, he’s selling coffee. Do you curate your oranges in a supermarket in the green grocer display? No! It’s really sloppy use.' and I can't help but can read the rest of his interview here

I don't know where the phrase 'surviving memorials' on the post it note comes from or to what it refers exactly though it does make me think of an Ausonius quote I have used - namely that 'death comes even to stone monuments and the names upon them'.

So onto the main events of last week - the end of year show opening and giving a talk on Photography and Victorian Death Customs to Darling Roses WI. I'd finished putting up my work last week so only had to do a couple of finishing touches - eg putting away a ladder, putting the empty drinks can I'd left on the windowledge in the recycling and that kind of thing. It was good to see the MA room and ante room filled with work and I've never seen the college so full with people looking at stuff - it was far too hot and far too crowded at times and I am looking forward to going back in and having a proper look at some of the things that caught my eye on Friday night, I did manage to have more than one glass of wine too thanks to chums of mine not wanting to use their drinks tokens and it was lovely to see lots of my chums making their way to the college and down the corridor to see some of my work and massive thanks to all those who came - learning points for next time are: try not to have lurgy...and know that tracing paper attached to windows with double sided tape in sunshine warps slightly so that what was absolutely flush to the window edges when you left it the previous week will look a teeny bit saggy in places when you come back to it.....still A2 tracing paper and a free lightbox ie window are a good way to guage what things will look like if you have them blown them up to burial plot size it is lovely when people tell you how much they like your work.....

The other thing which took up a lot of my time last week was preparing for the talk I gave to Darling Roses WI group on Saturday morning at St Johns Church Hall - a lovely slightly musty smelling hall next to St Johns Church which fittingly enough has some very lovely victorian gravestones and they listened very attentively to my talking about cyanotypes, the meanings behind some of the symbols used on gravestones, the social etiquette of mourning, the history of cemeteries in Leeds and focusing in particular on the history of St George's Fields and a bit about the bodysnatching scandals in Leeds and the Anatomy Act of 1832 and the shame that is the laying flat of the subscription graves in St George's Fields to be used as lining for pathways....I was struggling a bit - lurgy-wise and my voice was very croaky but it held out and I got lovely feedback and have been asked back and asked by another WI group to talk too so it's all good.

Well I think that's enough for now - got lots to do this week and here's hoping this lurgy will let up and let me do them....

and I really must sort out the white balance on the digital camera - those walls are actually white....but here is a pic of me in front of my work in progress called Mourning.

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