Wednesday, 25 May 2016

MA-Ness Week 7 - Identity, Running To Stand Still, Trains and Coaches, Spray Mount, Camera - PHEW!! Busy, Busy, Busy

this weeks post it note, conference programme and poster - I supplied the image and they did the design and of course a University of Warwick pen...
I have pens from lots of different institutions now...

I normally write this on a Monday (I cannot thank first year me enough for getting into such a settled habit of writing this research jounral aka blog up each week as not only is it a way for me to collate my thoughts, it's also so much easier to click 'print' when it comes to hand in time) but it's now Wednesday and I'm only just about catching up with myself after the busyness of the past few days.

This time last week I was making lists of what I needed to take with me to the Materiality of Mourning Conference at the Univeristy of Warwick and ticking things off those lists as I put them into my bag - I travelled as light as possible. I was also avoiding breathing in large amounts of spray mount by mounting the images I was taking with me in the garage. I had the images i;d taken on film digitally printed on tracing paper and as I knew it was a dark board they were going to be shown on I mounted them on white card - but this time instead of trying to centre the image in the middle of the A4 card I put each image up to the corner of each iece of card so when placed opposite one another there is only a border all the way around them as a whole. I think they look better that way.

I didn't do as well at not breathing in spraymount though when I was covering the box to hold the words for the collaborative piece I've been working on for the Pedagogy Research Cluster exhibition...think I could have opened the garage door a bit wider as well as made time to do the box earlier so I wasn't so flapped doing it. The exhibition is on til mid June I think - in the basement of the Leeds College of Art campus opposite the university so go see it if you can. The piece I made was in collaboration with a colleague - Karen Tobias-Wood and it features a blackboard, chalk and words and you are invited to take the words and use them to make comments/drawings/interactions/found poems with on the board. I am fascinated by the use of words in/around/about art but it is a world away from my usual visual image based practice.

But as I didn't get back from Coventry til late on Saturday and was determined to have a well deserved complete day off on Sunday (went to the Friends of Hyde Park AGM and watched the very wonderful Our Man In Havana (1958) Reed C Columbia Pictures UK) and was busy with meetings all day on Monday, - including a really interesting meeting about the format of the conference/conversation part of the Love Arts Festival which will be on October 19th and then a really positive, energising and validating tutorial with my personal tutor so Monday evening was the first chance I got to cover it....repositionable spray mount is wonderful stuff - I love that I can repostion stuff if I'm not quite happy with it, even if it does stink a bit and make my fingers sticky - as I was spraying the insides and outsides of a photocopier box lid with lots of pieces of paper as opposed to just single A4 or A3 sheets I was using lots more of it. So much that I got it all over my fingertips and had to scrub it off with a pan scrub afterwards - a more sensible chum than me has suggested that I wear latex gloves next time I use it - it's a good idea and I have loads of them as I use them when doing cyanotypes (haven't done any for ages - must do some next time it's sunny and I have the time) or dying my hair ....but the box looked okay and people seemed happy last night taking words from it to make a conversation on the black board.

But I'm digressing - this time last week I was sticking bits of velcro to the back of the images I was taking to Warwick Uni (note to self invest in some Sellotape Velcro Dots as they are slimmer and so images would look flusher to the board surface) so that I wouldn't have to take pins - or hurt my thumbs pushing pins in to recalitrant boards) so that when I got there it would just be a case of peeling off the backing paper and putting them where I wanted on the board. As I was travelling light the only camera I took was the one on my phone and it doesn't have a big enough zoom to take all the  boards with artwork on in at once - plus the way the room was set out it was too difficult to stand far enough back to fit it all in - but this will give you an idea of what work I took and how it looked:

I was quite pleased with how it looked and it was also good to see one of my images as the basis for the conference poster - I had forgotten I'd been asked for an image and had sent one. But next time I must take titles and descriptions too - so that people can see a bit more about how and what it is made of.

I didn't design the poster though. I didn't sumbit an abstract to the conference for a paper as I knew I would be so busy with preparing for the Gothic Creative Showcase at Sheffield Uni, the Victorian Representations Conference at Leeds Trinity Uni and the first walk and talk I did for Darling Roses WI round St George's Field in the previous days so I just suggested bringing some work and they were happy with that. And though I was nervous - it didn't feel as onerous as it would have done if I had been delivering a paper as well. It was much nicer to just display my work and answer questions about it informally over lunch or coffee.

The conference was very full on - packed with papers on all sorts of different topics (though all connected to material culture and mourning in some way) from all sorts of different academic backgrounds, artists, funeral celebrants. It was absolutely fascinating and I learnt lots - came home with my head swimming with both new facts (learnt a bit more about the mythology surrounding chinese hopping ghosts) as well as new ways of looking at things I already knew a little about - the state power exerted over ways of dealing with the dead for instance, the way headstones are reused in Denmark, the survivor tree from Ground Zero in America, the common signs people often say they've seen after a loved one has died eg feathers, birds, the role of the authorities after the Hillsborough disaster and many other reading list never gets any less.....

I was very anxious indeed about going to Warwick Uni as it involved going somewhere completely new for me, getting a very early train (had a lovely chat all the way to Birmingham though) and having to be up at 4.45am but thanks to an online chum of some years who is now a real life chum part of this anxiety was minimised as she not only kindly put me up for a couple of nights but she also picked me up from the station and took me to and from the campus as luckily that is also where she works.

Having done it though it has reminded me that just because I find it rather stressful it doesn't mean I can't do it, and it wasn't that bad and it was well worth it...somoene please remind me of this when I am flapping about getting to Lincoln which all being well will be next February.

But as fab as this busy-ness is in lots of ways - learning new things, making new connections, it has also been absolute bliss today to not have to go anywhere or be anywhere by a certain time. I'm sad that folks feel they have to take strike action (not because I don't think they should strike but because they feel they have to in order to make their point) but I am also relieved as it meant the appointments I had today in college have had to be re-arranged, meaning I get a lie in and a chance to catch up with myself and stop feeling like I am 'running to stand still'.

So not only am I feeling a massive sense of relief because I can have a bit of a breather (but not too much as portfolio hand date in gets ever closer and I have a LOT of work to do to get the work I've been making into a state good enough to hand in) but also becuase my beloved Canon film slr that I got from a charity shop and which has become my go to camera only needed new batteries - it wasn't broken PHEW!!!!

A couple of other points I'd made a note of - there was a programme on Radio 4 last Tuesday - other than making a note that it was Tues am I didn't make a note of its title but it was post Today and pre Womans Hour and was talking about identity - and the point was made that identity is made of memories and memory and how it works or doesn't is something I'd like to work with a bit more...which makes me again think there just aren't enough hours in the day....

The other thing I noted from last week was I was chatting to a colleague about how much writing I'd done over the course of the course (approx 292,500 but with this blog post approx 294,500) but how much I had struggled with the dissertation - and I had thought that my struggle with it was because of the events surrounding it - I was still intensely grieving for my beloved Lucia and my sister in law died suddenly and unexpectedly - I am still grieving for them both but it is not quite as all consuming as it was at the time, but my colleague pointed out that something like a dissertation has a very strict laid down format and academic conventions which you have to adhere to, wheras a blog is much freer and only limited by the software you use to create it really. This makes me feel a little less scared when it comes to applying for potential phd places - or rather the writing I will have to do when it comes to thesis time.

So busy, busy, busy but it's all good :-)

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