Thursday, 3 September 2015

MA-Ness Interregnum Year 1 to Year 2 Not Quite Going On A Summer Holiday..

the last couple of weeks post it notes 
experimenting with geranium flowers and wet water colour paper

It seems somewhat strange sitting down to write this after my self imposed hiatus (post portfolio hand in and prior to college restarting shortly) and it feels like it is a lot longer than 3 weeks since I last sat down and wrote one of these blog posts. It did feel a bit strange on each of those Mondays not to be sat at the computer writing up what I'd been up to, think this coupled with today being a Thursday is going to confuse me for days yet...  but a bank holiday usually has that effect on me anyway.

Anyway as you can see from the post it notes - I've still been making notes on the post it notes and I have been taking photographs too and yesterday I did an experiment with a dried up geranium head and damp watercolour paper to see if I could extract the colour from it and make a kind of drawing. It's definitely made a mark but it's not quite as vivid as I would have liked - so will try it again with a more lively geranium head and see if that makes a difference. I also did a lumen print that I'm a bit happier with - especially as when I covered it post development with an A4 sheet of white paper I didn't quite then place it between two books so part of it got a second light exposure with a very sharp edge - so hope to experiment with that kind of secondary exposure further.

So I haven't been doing a lot of doing - I made a conscious decision to do feck all college-wise for a few days and so instead I have been pottering about shops and doing a bit of tidying, a lot of watching Murder She Wrote, Law and Order and Columbo and a lot of lying on the sofa reading The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates which is a beautifully grim and unsettling tale set in and around Princeton in 1905-6 when a 'curse' descends on prominent society members - it is wonderful stuff and she is easily my favourite living author.  

However sitting down to write this has for some reason been really quite hard - so much so that the phrase 'reluctance to sit at desk' is written twice on this post it note - not entirely sure why as it's not like I don't enjoy the work I'm doing but I think it's partly because I don't feel like I've had a summer holiday as such though to be fair my husband and I aren't really traditional summer holiday type people. Even when on holiday I'm a fiend for museums, seeing something new, finding out stuff about where I am - I can fritter away time on the tinternet pressing refresh on Twitter and the like each day but I find it very difficult to lie on a lounger next to a pool - in fact I can't really think of when I've done that. Even when I've been on a more traditional type of summer holiday I'm far more likely to be found at a table with a book albeit with a glass of something tasty in my hand. Am drinking fizzy water at the moment - it might be 'better' for me healthwise but it's nowhere near as much fun.

But I do need to look again at how much time I'm spending on artwork - as it did become all encompassing last term to the detriment of my health as I pretty much stopped going to the gym and slipped back into less healthy  habits as I relied more on convenience food and take aways. Not good - so I hope to maintain a better balance of work/relaxation time this year, as the feeling of reluctance to sit at desk is I think in part compounded by fears I'll not get the balance right again and I have been doing a bit more exercise recently and feel better for it.

I did go on a Hammer Horror and Peter Cushing pilgrimage with a friend though - we went to Whitstable where we saw Cushing's water colour set in the museum, a couple of his very beautiful watercolour paintings in the pub (converted from a cinema) named after him, his house, the view named after him and we chatted to the lady who sold him his slippers - all this via the Mossman Collection of Carriages which is held at the Discovery Centre in Luton  which features a lot of the carriages featured in many of our favourite horror films - namely the hearse used in Dracula and the carriage used in Brides of Dracula plus I got to sit in a carriage used in the filming of the Wicked Lady which made me very giddy indeed.

But I have been doing a lot of thinking whilst I have consciously not been doing any 'doing' and I have been to a couple of events which have been enlightening, fun and productive - namely the secret Bettakultcha Arts Event on 25.8.15 - held amidst the cosy charms of Wharf Chambers and the first day of the British Association of Victorian Studies Conference at Leeds Trinity University.  Plus I got news that I have had my abstract accepted for a paper at the Gothic Studies Conference - What Lies Beneath in October in Manchester. That made me go 'yay' and then ' to do it now'.

But I have been doing quite a lot of thinking - and this will shortly become planning as I have 4 big things to think about work-wise over the next few weeks - namely the paper (which I need to write and sort the images for) for What Lies Beneath, my work for the show Out of the Shadows which is part of the Love Arts Festival and will be at the St Johns Church near the Grand Theatre from October 9th til 21st 2015, my research journal hand in in December - that should be fairly easy as it consists of this blog and am sure I can get back easily into a habit of writing it that saves so much headless chicken running around at the last minute...and last but not least dissertation. 

The dissertation is giving me much thought as I think I've decided on my subject for it (the language used around art and a gut versus an emotional response) but fitting it into the format rules I've been given is going to be somewhat of a challenge as I will have to get to grips with academic conventions as well as marshalling my arguments. Plus it can't just be printed out at the last minute - it has to be printed by the university printing service. As I have a loathing of running round like a headless chicken at the last minute I want to have it ready in plenty of time for hand in so any problems with it I can hopefully more easily resolve...

So a couple of the things that have stayed with me from the Bettalkultcha Event have been after the presentations had finished were chatting with Carlotta Goulden Allum  who works with this charity and she told me of the Koestler Trust which shows works by offenders but not necessarily with a description of their offence. This in turn made me think I would feel uncomfortable knowingly looking at the work of someone convicted of sexual offences (regardless of the merits of the work in and of itself) but I wouldn't necessarily feel the same discomfort whilst looking at the work of someone convicted of murder or manslaughter. Are these misplaced and unreasonable discomforts on my part? Aren't all crimes against the person equally abhorrent? Shouldn't work be looked at regardless of the other actions the artist may have done or can it only be looked at and truly appreciated with the knowledge of what else the artist may have done? Don't think I have the answers to those questions though or rather I haven't got an absolute answer to any of them.

The Victorian Studies Conference was very good as I got to meet and chat victorian-ness with similarly obsessed with victorian death culture folk as well as explore possible supervisor opportunities should I decide/be able to do a Phd. I also got to purchase the most wonderful piece of victoriana - namely a copy of The Lady's Newspaper and Pictorial Times published on Saturday March 28th 1857. It includes an overview of amusements, London and Paris fashions, foreign and colonial intelligence, embroidery patterns, parliamentary reports and travel but best of all adverts.
Adverts for all manner of things - hair dye, latest model at Tussauds - Monseigneur Sibour Archbishop of Paris who was assassinated in St Etienne Du Mont and who you can find out about here, dressing cases, gravy in a moment, hair destroyer, stamped and traced muslin, seamless parasols, holloways pills, framptons pill of health....not that much difference in essence from the back pages of womens magazines today - though of course todays would include botox, plastic surgery and so called psychic hotlines....

I also watched most of the BBC series POP which featured programmes about individual pop artists,their inspirations and interviews with some who are still around. Sad that there weren't more women pop artists covered but at least there were some featured - and I'm not sure if that's because there weren't that many women pop artists or just the programme makers not considering them for the programme. I've also enjoyed seeing the media coverage of Dismaland and the Dismaland website makes me chuckle too - you can see it  here. I wish I could go see it for myself but don't think I'll be able to manage it before it finishes. Plus it's many a year (almost 20) since I've been to Weston Super Mare and it would be nice to see it again.

The other film I saw which I loved and found most inspiring was Iris - the film about interior designer and fashion collector and fabulous wearer of said fashion Iris Apfel. If you get chance to go see it, then do.

Well I think that's about it for now - though of course recent news events are on my mind too. The refugee crisis has been going on for a long time now but it seems it is the power of an image of a dead child lying face down on the beach that seems to be creating more of a positive political response than there has been. You can only hope that the people fleeing horrors in their home country ultimately end up safe and secure and able to call somewhere else home. On the news this morning the image was being compared to the equally powerful photograph of Kim Phuc taken by Nick Ut in June 1972 (it pictures her running naked along the road after being severely burnt) and this makes me ask all kinds of questions - the attribution to the image on the Guardian website is Reuters (they also name the child as Aylan Kurdi) - did the photographer take it simply to document events? or was it with the hope that it would raise awareness and so hopefully create more action that previous images of the refugee crisis haven't so far? Were they right to take that picture? was it right that it should be shown? is it invasive and prurient? what about the turkish police officer pictured carrying Aylan's body? what about Aylan's remaining family? what about the police officers family? Again I have no answers just questions and of course sadness that a) a situation like this exists in the first place and b) it takes a photograph like this to get some more remedial action on the part of the governments involved.

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