Monday, 11 April 2016

MA-Ness Term 3 Week 1 - EEK FINAL TERM!!!! Procrastination, Distraction, Reading, Determination, Murder My Sweet, Weather Forecasts,Conference Acceptance, Just What Is My Practice Exactly and Other Musings...

this weeks post it note - noticeably fuller than last weeks in spite of me actually doing less physically as have been laid up with poorly knee for last few days and notes for this blog post on pukka pad velum which has become my favourite notepaper to write on as it's quite thick and really creamy and the name vellum appeals to the part of me that loves oldy worldy things.
Note I would not like real vellum to write on as writing on actual calf skin with all the preparation and expense involved  doesn't appeal to me at all - sure it wouldn't be appealing to the calf involved either.

Writing the title for this post it really stuck me that this is my last term at Leeds College of Art. I have a mix of emotions about that - partly a mix of wow I've made it this far, partly a mix (and this is the biggest part) NO!!!!! I don't want it to end as am having far too much fun and partly NO! because there are still lots of things I haven't taken full advantage of yet like the woodworking workshop and all the books that remain unread in the basically I'd best get my arse in gear and do all of the things that are still left on my to do list college-wise, as well as starting to work on final pieces for my portfolio.

The portfolio is my last assessment (a whopping 60 credits worth) and it is due on 16th August. EEK - though thankfully I have found a couple more pieces for the lighthearted element namely my homage/response to John Waters 12 Assholes and a Dirty Foot which is my 12 Belle Ends and a Sock On The Door. (Deliberate Mispelling) - I have yet to find a sock on the door though and cannot create one as the whole idea of the images in it is that they are found and unedited/uninterfered with beyond my decision as to what angle to take the photo from in the first place and they have to be taken on my camera phone too. I have found a pair of discarded boxershorts under a discarded shoe in a doorway in Dewsbury but although that's good - it's not right.

Mmm - will have to keep my eyes pealed or bribe someone to let me in some students halls and see if a sock on the door as a warning not to enter as shenanigans of an adult nature are going on is a real thing anyway. This whole project was the result of a very phallic looking banister and the shadow it cast in a flat I was staying in for the Goth Festival and a slighty tipsy conversation about it with the flatmates. It is also very different to my usual subject matter of death, memorials and such like and every so often I need a bit of light heartedness amongst the grim.

I must be honest though I have been somewhat struggling with motivation and energy recently - partly because of being distracted with concern re loved ones health and nagging complaints of my own (haven't been able to leave the house for the last 4 days as got bursitis or tendonitis in left knee) and because just not been able to completely lose myself in anything except clicking refresh on social media pages. But I did get lost in Sue Perkins wonderful autobiography Spectacles A Memoir (2015 Michael Joseph)  which made me laugh out loud at times and also think again of relationships with pets. I still miss Lucia so much it hurts at times and it is coming up to the first anniversary of her death. If pets were regarded as people and the Reformation in England hadn't done away with such behaviour - I would be getting together the fees for a priest to say a prayer for her soul and so limit her time in purgatory. But she was not a person and I am not a practising catholic so I'm not sure what I'll do - except think of her even more, light a candle for her and find some way of distracting myself.

But I have been stricter with myself in terms of setting myself targets like - not looking at social media until certain tasks are finished or not leaving the computer until I've a least made a start on certain tasks. Last Friday when my knee was at its most painful I did manage to distract myself with making a proper start on the Victorian Representations paper I'm due to deliver at the conference of the same name at Leeds Trinity University in May and am about halfway through - in as much as I need to write about 3,500 words and so far I've got 2,079 done and a much better idea of how I need to develop it further and how to redraft and hone what I've already written. I know it's also a good month off but I'd far rather be ahead of myself if I can rather than trying to catch up.

I've had some more conference news this morning - my abstract for the 3 day conference on Death and Art at York University in September has been accepted. This fills me with a mix of YAY and EEK - some of my favourite death scholars are due to speak at it and I am somewhat amazed and giddy to be in their company. Note to self - if going to be fan girly then do it in a considered and coherent manner. Plus it will also give me a good chance to look at possibilities Phd-wise. I've decided that is definitely what I want to do next but with a bit of a break.

The Victorian Representations presentation will form part of my portfolio hand in I think as this kind of research and presentation is just as much part of my practice (I still feel a teeny bit pretentious writing that but nowhere near as much as I did and it's not a word I could even have used at all before starting the course - though I don't feel at all pretentious using the word work so I might use that one instead in future but am still trying it out for size...) along with the visual images I make and create.

Visual images which I've not made many of recently - the planned infra red picture taking at St George's Field didn't happen thanks to the field being full of  sprint runners (even if they were the slowest sprint runners I'd ever seen - even with a busted knee I could have outmoved some of them) and earlier this week I thought I'd take advantage of the spring sunshine and do some cyanotyping but then I listened to the weather forecast which said it was going to cloud over. So rather than get something started which then might fail due to lack of light I didn't and did lots of reading instead - including Protecting the Living/Protecting the Living by Maxine de Vincenzi from Historical Perspectives June 2012, Julie Rugg's What Makes a Cemetery a Cemetery from Mortality Vol 5 No 3 (2000) and Wellington's Funeral in Victorian Literature and Culture by Cornelia DJ Pearsall (1999) and I finally got round to finishing the English Way of Death - The Common Funeral since 1540 by Julien Little (2002 ed) and the Art of Death by Nigel Llewellyn (1997 ed) and I made a good start on The Politics of Focus by Lindsay Smith (1998) and Camera - Victorian Eyewitness by Gus Mcdonald (1979) and my reading list shows no sign of abating/decreasing as I get more suggestions from the bibliography of each paper or book that I read.

I do find it easier to read a physical copy rather than a virtual copy still though and the kindle thing that I borrow from my husband is all well and good for checking social media and reading news stories in the Guardian (once you can get past those bloody annoying loading adverts) but I can't read anything more in depth than that on it. I am slowly but surely getting past my squeamishness about writing in books too (though only in pencil so it can be rubbed out if need be) - after all they are tools to help me do my work and sometimes a pencil does the job better than a post it note.

But I've digressed from the point I wanted to make re weather forecasters - me and my husband (I don't care if it would be grammatically more correct to say 'my husband and I' as that makes me think of Elizabeth Windsor and I'd rather not) have often joked that they are paid liars. And every time they get the forecast wrong which then has an impact on how I choose what to do I get cross and call them paid liars. I appreciate they are not liars in the grand scheme of things at all and perhaps just a bit mistaken. I  am sure politicians get paid far more and tell far more deliberate lies than weather forecasters for instance.

Whilst laid up this weekend with a pack of frozen mixed veg I got round to watching the dvd I'd borrowed from the college library before we broke up for Easter - namely Murder My Sweet aka Farewell My Lovely. This was the 1945 version directed by Edward Dmytyrk and starring Dick Powell, Claire Trevor and Anne Shirley. Oh my - it was wondrous, utterly compelling black and white cinematography (the shadows in particular were gorgeous) witty, snappy, sharp dialogue, divine outfits, scotch drinking on an empty stomach, more plot twists than you could shake a stick at and it makes me want to watch The Maltese Falcon again...and again. Whilst I adore the technicolour sumptuousness of the Hammer Gothics I also adore the monochrome wonder of the golden age of Hollywood. Completely enchanting and whilst of its time in terms of men doing the fighting and the hard drinking former show girl adulteress getting her come uppance by being killed it was nowhere near as bad as some modern programmes and films are at portraying women. They were quite feisty and mostly in control of what they wanted in this one instead of just being portrayed as just sitting around being decorative and at others beck and call.

So what next - well immediately lunch though am not sure what I fancy and we've not got much in as I've not been to the shops and we treated ourselves to take aways and fishfinger sandwiches instead this weekend... though I've just remembered there is leftover greek bread and tsatsiki from last night's treat in the fridge, the sun looks like it might be out long enough to do some cyanotyping - except I don't think my knee is up for kneeling over the bath so will leave that for another day but I can prep some images to make cyanotypes with instead. I also think I'll do a bit more reading and more paper preparation. I also need to sort out my diary for the next few weeks and make sure I've got everything scheduled in properly....

I need to crack my social media habit too - which is a tad more difficult when using a tinternet based site as my research journal but I have mostly got through writing this without checking it, I also need to make myself read things through to their conclusion better - for instance I signed up to Goodreads a while back and last week it informed me it is 1441 days since I started reading a Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

1441 days is just under 4 years and in spite of my best efforts (well okay not best as otherwise I would have finished it) so in spite of my half hearted efforts I am still at page 74 and the bookmark is a ticket stub from the Valentines Day showing of Brief Encounter at Jersey Arts Centre...I really must make an effort to get this book finished as in that time I've seen Brief Encounter at least twice more.

Might have to start it again from the beginning though and fingers crossed I'll get on with it better this time. I want to read it as my late and much missed chum Henry called me Madame Defarge (thanks to my knitting habit as opposed to my watching of public executions whilst knitting and my knitting skills aren't such that I can include the names of those I want to curse in it)plus am feeling the need for a bit of genuine victorian era ness too.


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