Monday, 13 June 2016

MA-Ness Week 10 - last formal week, pop up meth lab fun, tidying, sorting, sad sad news...

This weeks post it note and an experiement in glossing flowers...

I'm writing this on Monday afternoon - trying to get back into the habit I'd got into of writing it on a Monday and I'm struggling to be honest. The ongoing misinformation,scaremongering and barely disguised racism of some of the Brexiters coupled with the truly appalling, depressing, shocking and sad news from Orlando means I'm finding it hard to concentrate to be honest. The news makes me feel not only helpless but also quite hopeless and a bit what's the point of doing anything.

But having said that I must press on and get this post finished and start putting my portfolio together ready for final hand in in mid August. That seems like a bit of a big ask though at the moment and 'portfolio' keeps appearing on my to do list, so really I need to start breaking it down into its component parts - eg write an overview, sort the separate pieces I've been working on into coherent pieces so that it doesn't feel quite so overwhelming. I also need to sort out what pieces I need to get printed too.

The fact that it is coming to the end of the time I have at Leeds College of Art is at the forefront of my mind too - I've had such a fantastic time I don't want it to stop, which is part of the reason I want to do a Phd. I've not made much headway on that score (got a couple more open days coming up) think I might have to put aside definite time to do it (like this blog/research journal) so that I make more progress than just keep writing it on my to do list.  But I have also got a draft copy of a successful phd proposal which is going to be a guide for trying to come up with mine.

One thing I am really going to miss about the college (apart from the tutors, the facilities, the other students) is the library - even if it is the warmest room in the college and makes me feel at times murderously hot. I love libraries - I always have. On my wall is a quote from Anne Tyler about books - 'I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place'. Books are one of my biggest passions and take up so much room in the house - 2 to 3 deep on shelves, in piles both next to and under the bed. More bookcases and how to fit them in the house are also on the to do list...

And in spite of the fact that the house is almost overflowing with them and I haven't read all of the ones I've got (I've had some from the college library on almost permanent repeat loan since last year) I got some more on Friday on the way home from college - a copy of Vanity Fayre by William Makepeace Thackery which began to be published in serial form in 1847 and was published as a collected edition in 1848. Mine is the BBC tie in version from 1998 and was a quid from Meanwood Community Shop (which is in my opinion one of the finest charity shops in Leeds - partly because of the work it does and partly because of the stuff it sells, the books in particular are excellent). I've seen adaptations of the story and listened to it on Radio 4 Extra too but I've yet to read it for myself. Though first I must finish North and South which I am really enjoying now I've properly got into it.

I also got a copy of Victorian Women by Joan Perkin, and The Victorian House by Judith Flanders - so as you can see my obsession with all things Victorian shows no sign of abating as yet. I also got a copy of Nigel Slaters Eating for England which is delightfully nostalgic and makes my mouth water when he talks of such things as Fry' Five Centres and Mint Cracknell.

I did a bit of experimenting with making bookmarks from coffin lining offcuts and bits of detritus I'd collected from the ground at St George's Fields, covering them with sticky backed plastic hadn't worked brillianty well but a fellow ma-er has suggested laminating them instead - think this will work much better so am going to give that a go next. Just need to find a laminator.

I had fun in the pop up meth lab aka garage yesterday developing the Ilford Delta 3200 I used last week - I reckon we need a couple of trips to the charity shop, a couple of trips to the tip and a trip to Poverty Aid to buy a new set of shelves/cupboard or small wardrobe and I'll be able to convert it into a bit more of a darkroom. It won't be so dark that I'll be able to do traditional black and white photograph printing but that's okay as that doesn't make my heart sing but I will be able to cyanotype prep and make and that's okay - because that does.

Am pleased with some of the pics I took but a lot are out of focus, I've taken pics on a film slr before using Delta 3200 and was really pleased with the results but that was on a Minolta SLR and it clearly likes the dark better than my Canon SLR which really struggled whatever settings I used on it. But at least I got some I'm chuffed with plus I quite like agitating. My ever supportive and lovely husband has an app on his phone (I don't have that kind of phone and so would have had to use a pen and paper to write down the times/chemical concentrates needed and then used a clock) which made it all a bit easier. But even a couple of the out of focus ones are so out of focus to be kind of interesting in an abstract way so am counting it a win all round.

I finished reading Brix Smith Start's autobiography last week - it was really interesting to read about someone else's creative process and also about The Fall - a band I have loved (even if it's just Mark E Smith and a granny on bongoes) for almost 30 years. (Writing that sentence makes me feel really frigging old) and of course their drunken rambling shambling but also wonderful leader the aforementioned Mark E Smith. A man who it appears moved his new girlfriend in whilst his old girlfriends dirty underwear still littered his flat. This added to the way in which he treats people so badly that they leave makes me think that song and lyric writing skill aside he is not a very nice man. But as a chum pointed out - oftentimes bad people make good work. The separation of work from character of the creator is something I have often mused upon. Gary Glitter is an utterly repellant and vile individual but he did write some good pop songs.  The Young Gods version of Did You Miss Me is one of my favourite songs and I console myself that even if he did write it - I am not listening to him singing it and as I playing the version I bought on vinyl many moons ago he is not continuing to get any royalties on it from me - apart from a one off payment way before he was charged and found guilty of his offences.

I didn't go to the end of year overview session at the college on Friday but I did go in for a meeting about our end of year show (which will be at the end of October) and a sneak preview of the other end of year shows - I wasn't in the mood for the hustle and bustle of the evening opening and so just wandered about looking at the last of the stuff being put up. There was some amazing work - the kind of work I look at and think wow I wish I had the skill/thought to make that, some good thought provoking work and some work that I look at and think 'mmm, just not getting it'. It's on til June 16th so get down to Blenheim and see it for yourself and see if you see anything that makes you go 'wow'.

I did do something on Friday though that I had been putting off for ages - namely a tidying of my workroom which had become more teetering piles of disorganisation and I was struggling to both find things and get things done. It took me two hours (The Chemical Brothers are usually my cleaning soundtrack of choice though I did also use the soundtrack to Cecil B Demented) and now I can find things again and see what I'm doing - all my library books are in one place ready for me to (finally!) read them and you can see the floor again which is going to help when it comes to portfolio pulling together time.

The sofa bed is still in use as an extra temporary book shelf but at least it is now only one end of it - the end nearest my desk and you can sit on the rest of it. There are still piles of folders under the desk but at least they are now neatly stacked and I can find things again. A box of papers and out of date brochures went into the recycling bin...

And so here we are - almost at the end, certainly at the end of formal teaching though I still have a couple of tutorials before hand in. Not sure whether or not to carry on writing this blog in this way though, I might do though as it's become a good habit, plus I've had lovely feedback on it too and not just in an academic setting. This is important to me as although this blog became my research journal for handing in to be assessed and jump those academic hoops I don't just want it to be an exclusive academic document. The feedback was from a chum who has moved to Australia and she says 'I love the way you write, it's like you're talking to me over a cup of tea' and this added to the feedback from my fellow ma-ers about how much they have enjoyed the talks I've done gives me good cheer. This and Ilford have just retweeted one of my gig pics that I took last Saturday :-)   

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