Thursday, 9 June 2016

Ma-Ness Week 9 - Better Late Than Never, End Of An Era, Printing, Lumen Prints, Collaborations and Cemetery Jaunts...

Quite a full post it note this week - surrounded by experiments with making bookmarks out of coffin lining offcuts, bits of detritus found in St George's Field (also found a £2 coin - result!!) and other bits and pieces.

Well college is officially coming to an end - and I don't want it too, as I am still having far too much fun. I really don't want to leave - last hand in date is 12th August and then we have the end of MA graduation show in late October early November so I've still got plenty of opportunity to be there for a while yet, but part of me is thinking oh I wish I'd gone to more lectures, I wish I'd read more books, spent more time in the dark room, spent more time in the print room but overall I'm pretty pleased with how things have worked out and what I've done - I've made lots and lots of work so much so it is going to be difficult to wittle it down into a sensible submission come hand in time, learnt some new techniques, learnt to look at things in different ways, learnt some art theory, met some really lovely and interesting people, been challenged, been to lots of conferences, learnt how to do presentations well enough to be asked to be a guest speaker (an MA colleague told me it was my sense of humour that makes my presentations - which is lovely feedback but also welcome as given the subject matter they could otherwise be unrelentingly grim),  held but not used a £20,000 camera, written a dissertation, done an awful lot of photcopying, poked about in some fantastic archives, neglected housework, not always eaten as healthily as I could have done, worked on some collaborative pieces, doubted myself and my abilities, regained confidence in myself and abilities, lost it again, got it back again.....and getting better at holding onto it and realising what my strengths and weaknesses are, got into some good habits and tried hard to break some bad habits and got lots of exciting stuff lined up. PHEW!!

I normally write this on a Monday but I spent this Monday sorting out new reading glasses (rock and indeed roll eh?) and then lay on the sofa reading North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1855). It's taken me some getting into as the sentences are quite long and not always straightfoward but really got into it now and am rather in love with Margaret Hale. It is also wonderful to read contemporaneous Victorian literature and am making note of each reference to a mourning custom (she has had to wear mourning dress in honour of a distant relative of her father) and the fact that it is about my home town Manchester - though in the novel it is named Milton is also a bonus.

Anyway I've been busy with meetings and so not had an opportunity to write it ti now - I did think of leaving it til next week but then thought no, get it written now and then you won't have that ongoing feeling of work undone hanging over you. The meetings have been a mix of talking to folks from Leeds University with a view to potential future collaborations based around St George's Field and Leeds Museums with a view to working on education days about the Victorian period. It's very exciting and fingers crossed it will work out okay.

I've also been trying to work with the coffin lining offcuts Luke Howgate and Sons so generously gave me, I've just made some bookmarks but am not sure about them - both technically as the gloss I've used to preserve the dried flower leaves looks shiny on the fabric but I'm not sure I can make it less noticable,  the material frays very easily so I've coated some with that old Blue Peter makes favourite - sticky back plastic which stops it fraying but looks too shiny and doesn't entirely stop fraying either....mmm more work to be done. But the printing I've had done on bigger pieces is looking good - so will be getting more of that done soon. These prints will form part of my piece for the graduation show. I've not submitted anything for the interim end of year show - part of me wishes I had but the bigger part of me is pleased I haven't as I have been so busy.

I've had two jaunts to St George's Field this week - one was an impromptu jaunt with an MA chum and it was really lovely to show him round as he had never been before, I did apologise in advance for the possibility of boring his arse off with facts about the place but he didn't complain. That was when I picked up the bits ot make a lumen print - I really should have taken advantage of the full colour sunshine and done some cyanotyping and had a practice with the Solarfast fabric but I couldn't summon up the oomph to do it. Maybe next week - when the sun has come back....but I did do a lumen print - using some of the detritis I picked up from St George's Field, left it in the sun slightly too long but scanned it in and clicked 'enhance' and am quite pleased with the result. I've yet to make a lumen print using modern paper that I'm really pleased with though. Part of the difficulty I have is not having a proper darkroom so I arrange them under a throw which is not ideal as it is a) v stuffy and b) dark enough so as not to ruin the print but also so dark that I can't see at all what I'm doing.

In discussion with other cyanotyping colleagues I have worked out a way I can do them without access to a dark room - paint the solution on late at night in the garage (don't mind rinsing them off in the house but don't want the chemicals needed to make them in the house) and then out them in a light tight cupboard to dry until I'm ready to use them. So a trip to Poverty Aid to buy a cupboard is on my to do list now.

Anyway my first jaunt to St George's Field was late on Saturday night after a stonking gig by the very excellent Zeitgeist Zero (you can check them out here) at the Lending Room at the Library (which in turn made me wonder what meetings have been held in that building over the years) as I had tried taking some b+w pics (on Ilford 3200 Delta film which is the business at low light conditions)  at their gig (still waiting to see if they have come out) but unlike my beloved Minolta SLR which can cope with low light conditions my Canon SLR can't and I could barely see what I was doing - focusing was a real struggle so lesson learnt for next time - take a torch and use my Minolta instead. I took lotsof pictures earlier on the day at Aberford Churchyard as I was tipped off about a stone sarcophagus propped up against the churchyard wall which have come out okay plus thankfully although my knee is still not quite right it's getting lots better and I can bend to take pics again - HURRAH!!

What else? well need to crack on with rest of my to do list really....that portfolio isn't going to assemble itself for hand in....

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