Thursday, 11 February 2016

MA-Ness Term 2 Week 6 - Anniversary-ness, Motivation, Art-Speak and Inspiration

Cameras used this week - including crap kids digital with added security of black insulation tape over battery compartment, bit of torn notebook and coaster with seahorse design from the Midland Hotel In Morecambe 
View from Midland Hotel dining room over breakfast on crap kids digital - you can just about see the building on the end of the Stone Jetty which was the railway terminus for the line which took you to get the ferry to Ireland or Scotland in the 1850's..which lead to me wondering how many women had come over on the ferry from Ireland to look for work/service in the Victorian era and how much homesickness and heartache there was - and how much excitement at starting a new life...
Pic of Midland Hotel in Morecambe taken on crap kids digital (I love the lo-mo blur and right hand side lens distortion, it is its own other worldly filter) earlier this week - me and my husband got engaged here in 2008 just after it reopened after its refurbishment after falling in love with it when we saw it in a very sad and decrepit state in 2001. It seemed appropriate somehow to spend our 7th wedding anniversary here amidst its restored art deco splendour - plus Morecambe also has Brucciano Ice Cream Parlour with beautiful wooden art deco pannelling and the best Knickerbocker Glories outside of Pacittos in Scarborough. Fact. It also has a terrifyingly cramped secondhand bookshop and  bits of old fairground rides - tatty, sad but also very beautiful too but it is somewhat sad and scarey that the public toilets on the front each have a sharps disposal bin - admirable in terms of minimising harm but sad that it is needed in the first place.

The eagle eyed regular readers of this blog will also notice that the words aren't many and not written on a post it note either but a folded over bit of torn out notebook paper, that's because I've been in Morecambe and so far away from my desk and post it notes and so notebook had to suffice. This is also why this is being written up on a Thursday as opposed to my usual Monday - as Monday I was braving strong winds, heavy squally showers trampsing about the sea front taking pictures (also fitted in a trip to a cemetery but alas it wasn't Victorian like the lady in tourist information said it was but Edwardian and it was really interesting in places not least because it has a plot devoted to workers from the Cinematograph Industry ) before heading back to the hotel for a lovely hot bath in a bath so big I could almost have done lengths in it (except I can't really swim) and then lovely fish and chips in the Midland Rotunda Bar whilst listening to the building hum in the strong wind - the Midland is semi circular so it kind of sets up its own resonance in the wind - I thought it would stop me from getting to sleep but it was actually quite comforting (plus gin makes me sleepy too..and I'd had quite a bit in a celebratory way.) The rain was also lashing against the windows and watching the waves crash up and down the beach and see quite how terrifyingly quick the tide comes in reminded us both of the sad story of the cockle pickers who drowned in 2004.

So what have I been up to apart from picture taking at the seaside and basking in full on beautifully restored 1930's art deco splendour and imagining I was one of the minor non murdered characters in an Agatha Christie - you know the ladies who have silk pyjamas, an allowance and beautifully painted red lips and nails. Well laughing when my husband pointed out that I looked rather more like a Crowleyite loving bright young thing (technically 1920's but hey ho - I don't mind a bit of historical inaccuracy in the cause of paying me a compliment) due to the fact that I was wearing a necklace made of red plastic lots of picture taking, lots of imagining, bit more reading of Silent As The Grave by Deanna Raybourn (a murder mystery set in the victorian period which is very enjoyable period detail accurate hokum) and mulling over the feedback on work in progress from a silent crit last Friday and an email from a chum in which he said ' You're a historian. Proper. You may not like it, but it's plain for all to see. Your use of primary source material always gave you away'.  This is making me think am I an artist, a historian or a writer or some kind of hybrid of all three. Though this feeds into my 'jill of all trades, mistress of none' fear....though my tutor did point out that my writing - either about my work on my blog or for academic papers is just as much a part of my practice as my visual image making....

The feedback from the silent crit was very useful and also very edifying, I showed images I'd taken of St George's Field (no surprise there then eh? ) in the recent snow. I'd been experimenting with printing them in colour and in black and white on my usual favourite medium - lovely, translucent, cheap tracing paper and then superimposing them one of top of the other but slightly out of sync with each other so there is a slight tremor in the image. I think it makes it look quite sinister. I put them up against the window as it is such a useful and free lightbox. As it was a silent crit I couldn't explain what they were about until the others in the group had finished discussing them but I did put up a label 'Time Slippage, Work In Progress'.  One person said the words 'gothic and reminiscent of Wilkie Collins' - high praise indeed to my Victorian era gothic fiction obsessed ears. Other words used were' quiet and atmospheric'. ' slightly underexposed but that adds to the atmosphere of them'.

I hope to refine the images further by chopping off the borders and layering them one upon the other - either with a gap between each sheet with the colour versions at the back and the black and white ones at the front, or by layering them out of sync but directly on top of one another or in direct opposition to one another and taking a picture of the resultant image on a light table and so making a new image altogether - this looked especially sinister with the broken angel. It really motivated me to want to make more out of them.

Motivation was something I've been sorely lacking in today though - I sat down at the computer to write this about 11am this morning but it's took me til late afternoon to get properly started on it. I have done a lot of filling and planned my diary a bit though and sent some emails so it's not entirely been clicking refresh on Farcebook (deliberate misspelling) but I could have done a bit less of that and more of this instead....ho hum. At least I'm doing it now - plus I'll need to be a bit more organised next week as it's the deadline for calls for papers for a couple of academic conferences I'm interested in. I think I'm putting down my lack of motivation down to being back amongst my comparatively really tatty sadly no original features left cluttered late 1940's semi after the glamour and splendour of the Noel Coward patronised Midland and to being somewhat in awe of Katrina Palmer after being at her Uncoupling performance at the Henry Moore Institute last night.  I really enjoyed the piece and I adore her Necropolitan Line which makes me smile - especially at the line 'a handful of lingering goths'. I hope to use similar lightbox lighting for my images. It's an immersive piece - using lighting, physical objests, images, soundtrack - verbal and musical and I'm slightly in awe of it. Plus I had a slight wobble as she is also working on St George's Field but then I realised that shouldn't really be a cause for concern on my part as our approaches and resultant work though similar in some ways are different in more.

Mmm as ever lots of food for thought there. Also providing food for thought are the exhibitions I went to at the South Square Gallery in Thornton last week. You can see what's on here  - I especially enjoyed Madeleine Piri's cyanotypes and liquid photo emulsion images of life in a russian village - the potatoes look so real and vibrant that you feel you could pick them put of the picture (she is also the lady who taught me how to cyanotype) and Mariel Borst Pauwels transferred images on wood and paintings. Both had a thematic consistency - a phrase I used when discussing which of my images to take in for the silent crit with my husband. He suggested some images which weren't part of the St George's Field sequence and I said 'but there's no thematic consistency' than paused and howled 'shoot me now '- I'm being slowly but surely subsumed into using and speak 'artspeak'....which is a mix of both 'argh' and 'yay' on my part.

Other things which are making me think are end of year show - had my first look at the space (Studio 24) on Mabgate last week and bits of it would be perfect for the burial plot sized hangings I'm hoping to make and I also wondered about its history and what was made there. I know a little of the history of the area - well specifically the Quarry Hill disinternment case of the early 1840's and it was nice to be able to tell the gallery owners what Mab means and the unfounded but persistent rumours of tunnels between Leeds Parish Church and Mabgate so the priests could visit the Mabs (it's slang for prostitute) without being seen en route by their parishioners.  I like it as a space but am concerned about how our work is going to look together in that space as we all have very practices and approaches but maybe some thematic continuity will become apparent as the time comes nearer....

 So that's where I've been and where I'm to go and eat some food now and think about stuff some more over dinner.


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