Monday, 1 August 2016

MA-Ness Week 16 and 17 Final Countdown, Portfolio Compilation-Ness, Seaside Wonder, Cholera, Gaskell, Exhibitions in Manchester and that kind of thing...

two weeks worth of post it notes (please note fancy new lined purple ones) damaged mourning brooch bought from antique shop on the front in Cleethorpes (the pin is broken so it cannot be worn as a brooch plus it also needs a bit of a polish) and the bag with a doodle made by the man who sold it to me. I know lots of people find it morbid that people used to make keepsakes and memorials of their dead loved ones using actual bits from them but I find it rather lovely and wished we still did. Sadly this brooch doesn't have any makers details or details of the deceased either, and part of me is wondering if it might be more of a mass produced fashion type item rather than a more individual one - though of course this could also be because that was all the person doing the remembering could afford.
Sweep rocking out on his cardboard bass guitar in the Humber Pastimes Arcade on the front at Cleethorpes - Sweep never fails to make me smile and every so often I have to go on pilgramage to see him in all his dusty rickety motheaten faded glory and put 50p in and watch him rock out to Buddy Holly and the Crickets..if you want an original Sooty and Sweep soundtrack and them playing Polly Put The Kettle On or Pop Goes The Weasel and a 'bye bye everybody, bye bye' by none other than the original Mr Corbett and less dust and sellotape and no led lights then head over to Southport and the pier where there is an arcade filled with just such wonder.
Forgive poor quality pic - taken on phone, it was quite high up on the wall and I'm not very tall plus quite a lot of wine had been consumed by this of the birthday presents from my lovely supportive husband was a book from Thackray Medical Museum about the impact cholera outbreaks had in terms of public unrest, public health reforms, building of cemeteries and it is absolutely fascinating - Cholera and Conflict 19th Century Cholera in Britain and its Social Consequences (2009) edited by Holland M, Gill G and Burrell S Medical Museum Publishing. However he didn't share my giddiness at standing in the above spot.
A nineteeth century wedding dress on the left - reputedly worn by Miss Heald of Parrs Wood for her marriage to Dr James Wood in 1831 or 1832 and the red dress is an evening dress printed with pineapples and is from 1828-1830 - both on show at the Costume Museum in Platt Field Park Manchester.

So it's less than two weeks til final hand in and I'm trying not to stress too much about it and am steadily plugging along with portfolio compilation. The research journal, public engagement and academic presentations part of it is good to go, the bag to put it in just needs ironing and printing and so all(!) that's left to do is to go through the work I've made and decide which pieces to submit - one complete piece is ready though. My 12 Belle Ends and A Sock On The Door complete with Come Curtains Viewer (TM) is good to go...more or less. I'm still trying to decide whether to compile it by production method or subject matter or some combination of the two, so that's what I'll be concentrating on for the next few days. My work won't end though as then I'll be concentrating upon a paper for Death and Culture, a mini solo show at Lentos in Headingley, putting together a Phd proposal, making work for inclusion at the third Gothic Festival in Manchester just for a start....

So this is going to be one of my final blog posts for this MA malarkey (think I'll keep it on though as it's a useful way to  record what I've been up to, and it's a good way in which to reflect on what I've been up to)  so I'd best get cracking on with it and then I can do some more portfolio compilation. My aim to make an anthotype of St George's Field that was literally of St George's Field has been partially realised in that I got a faint but undeniably there result from an anthotype I made using minced up grass and weeds from St George's Field and an acetate negative of a picture I took on my crap kids digital of a reflection of the trees in my husbands camera lens. I'm not sure exactly how long I left it in the sunshine as I can't remember when I left it on my workroom window ledge and then I went away for a couple of days to Cleethorpes to celebrate my birthday and then I had an overnight trip to Manchester when I got back. In fact I'd forgotten I'd left it there so I had a nice surprise when I opened the curtains when I got back - so maybe 6 or 7 days.  So the method works - so it just needs refining and I need to use an acetate of St George's Fields as a negative. I hope to do this later this week so I can include it as part of my submission.

The other thing I've had some small amount of success with is acetone transfers, apparently they work best when you're transferring an image from a freshly photocopied image and it's a handy other technique to have had a go of, it's smellier than matte medium image transfer but quicker plus acetone is also a handy nail varnish remover. I've tried them on canvas, cotton material and I did try on a bit of coffin lining offcut but that just kind of melted so I won't be doing that again.

One of the notes on my post it note says 'feeling like a boss sorting a computer problem out' but I can't remember what the problem was now. I can only remember feeling exultant at the time. Oh well. I'm not the brightest when it comes to computers and often struggle to make them do what I want - I still find photoshop uninituitive and unuser friendly though I am using it more often these days. Mostly to boost levels in and to invert images and of course to get rid of unsightly modern bloody bins in otherwise lovely vistas of Victorian graves...oh and of course getting rid of cat hairs which no matter carefully I clean the scanner bed and gently wipe the negative with nonabrasive cloth/use the puffer blow thing on it ALWAYS end up with a cat hair on them. I guess Mapp just doesn't like being left out.

The 12 Belle Ends...and the solo show at Lentos are down to my love of John Waters - the 12 Belle Ends is my response to his seminal (and I use the word advisedly) '12 Assholes and a Dirty Foot' piece and the solo show is thanks to my using his mantra of 'a no is free' and so when I was waiting a couple of weeks ago for some films to be developed at The Photo Shop I popped in to Lentos to get a cold drink. I noticed that instead of the usual whats on flyers there were photos (of summer schools set up by Mussolini in the 1930's in Italy now in advanced stages of disrepair and covered with graffitti) so I asked if they were looking for images for the future and luckily I had some on me as I was on my way home from the print room at college and the answer was yes :-)

Very pleased about this as I'd only been saying that morning that I'd love a solo show and this fits the bill nicely. Probably going to concentrate on images I've made of local bridlepaths as opposed to the more funereral ones.  It's exciting though and something to look forward to after the end of the course and the start (fingers crossed) of the next one as it's looking like Phd plans are coming along nicely and fingers crossed they come to fruition.

I am a big fan of Twitter (and especially Hacker T Dog on Twitter as he never fails to make me laugh/groan in equal measure) and I use it to find out what's going on locally, nationally, plus I find it excellent for showing art opportunities as well as finding out what it out there artwise to go and have a look at. It was seeing a tweet by Arts and Minds Network asking for contributors that partly got me started on this making work to show people as opposed to just making work, which then led to my taking part in the Place and Memory Project which then led to me applying to Leeds College of Art and what I'm doing now. I also use it to chat to chums but not as much as other social networks. Anyway I asked what weeds have the highest chloropyhll content so I can make anthotypes more successfully and was chuffed with the response - looks like nettles are going to be my best bet. So I think I need to get some gardening gloves and develop the art of grasping them firmly as that way they don't sting apparently. I'm not entirely convinced by this - hence I shall be getting some gardening gloves.

Part of the reason this is a fortnightly catch up as opposed to my more usual weekly catch up is because I was away most of last week - initially in Cleethorpes celebrating my birthday, visiting 19th century cholera outbreak hotspots, having champagne afternoon tea in a restored Victorian pier tea room and doing the usual seaside things like playing the twopenny falls, air hockey at which I uncharacteristically trounced my husband 7-3 and getting our photo taken by a reincarnated disembodied Van Gogh in a booth. I also went wild in the camera shop and bought a zoomy lens for the Canon film slr I bought in a charity shop this time last year. My husband also got me a Holga pinhole lens for it too - really enjoyed using that on the beach at the Fitties   - a beautiful bit of the seafront we'd never visited before and where we'll definitely be visiting again.

Can't really see anything through the pinhole lens so I set up the shots using the nifty fifty for framing, a handy breakwater to balance the camera on and with the help of my much more maths literate husband and a light reading worked out what exposure times were needed. 10 seconds in the sunshine on the beach, 15 seconds in the less bright Humber Bridge. Got some results I'm really pleased with too - especially as I've post processed them to black and white. They have a lovely other worldly quality to them. Hope to make more like them soon.

I also took the opportunity to rephotograph one of the angels from Cleethorpes Cemetery that I use repeatedly in my work, plus the weather and light and surrounding shrubbery were very different when I took the first lot of photos in February 2015 and it was an excuse to play with my new zoomy lens too. I also made a point of taking details of the people buried in the tomb too as that felt appropriate somehow though I doubt I would use that detail visually in my work, but I feel I might detail it in any accompanying literature. I might also try and find something out about the sculptor/stonemason.   

I was back home for a night before I was off on my travels again, this time to Manchester (or as a long time devoted Victoria Wood fan more often referred to as Manchesterford) to do a few things - discuss my involvement with the Gothic Festival in October, go to the very interesting and thought provoking Emerging Infectious Diseases lecture (about the connections between the science of disease outbreaks and some of the literary responses to such outbreaks) , catch up and have dinner with a lovely chum and the following day go to wonderful temporary and permanent exhibitions, go wild in the aisles of the fantastic John Rylands library and sample their very fine indeed sausage sandwich, go round childhood haunts and be a bit sad to see them in a comparatively sad state (there are no boats anymore on the boating lake at Platt Fields Park) before getting a rather delayed coach home and so being too tired to go and see Elvis and Nixon at the Hyde Park.

The exhibitions were in order of attendance - Fahion Freedom at Manchester Art Gallery and part of the 14-18 NOW WWI Centenary Art Commission. Some beautifully structured pieces - I especially liked the rather 70's looking in terms of the material it was made of (shiny and itchy looking) homage to the Red Cross nurses which made them look sort of superhero-ish, a lot of the costumes featured were yellow in homage/remembrance of the women who worked in the munitions factory and who were known as yellow canaries as the chemicals they were working with made their skin take on a yellow tinge, it was a mix of photographs and costumes and I wish I'd had a longer time to peruse it.

I also spent some time looking at the incredible prints and articles in the Magic, Witches and Devils in the Early Modern World at the John Rylands library which included a fantastic print of Death and the Devil Surprising Two Women by Hopfer, first hand  accounts of the haunting by Old Jeffrey of Epworth Rectory - home of Wesley, Lo Stregozzo's Witches Procession, accounts of the 1762 Cock Lane Ghost Affair and bracelets for shackling a child to life and warding off death and a recipe from John Dee for a liquid to keep your skin looking young whose ingredients contained cinnamon and donkeys milk. Plus to see such items amongst the wonder of the John Rylands library itself just makes it extra special. Plus there was also the tantalising and incredible tale contained within the Malleus Maleficarum which details the case of a restless corpse of a witch who caused a nearby town to be overcome with disease by chewing on her burial shroud - her corpse is only made still when she is posthumously beheaded.

I also very much enjoyed looking at the Schiaparelli and Thirties Fashion exhibition at the Museum of Costume - such beautiful gowns though I had gone primarily to look at their 19th century fashions and I will hopefully be making an appointment to go and look at the mourning items they have in their collection. It wasn't just the costumes that I loved but also the very fine pair of huge vases by Grayson Perry at the bottom of the staircase up to the bulk of the collections - I especially loved the used condom motif as decoration though initially I walked past them and didn't notice the intricate detailing as I'd initially thought they were the kind of vases you often find in stately homes - note to self - look at things closely and properly!! The setting of some of the Schiapirelli gowns were in what had been the dining room and were accompanied by a fabulous 1930's soundtrack on mannequins not in cases worked especially well plus Platt Hall itself is a wonderful 18th century building.

Then it was back through the rain and the considerable roadworks on Oxford Road back to the Art Gallery to see Vogue 100 A Century of Style on recommendation by the curator at the Gallery of Costume (which meant I didn't go wild on the shops on Oldham Street instead and so saved my bank account further distress ) - some of the photographs were amazing. I especially liked the torn creased one of Francis Bacon, the ones taken during the second world war and in its immediate aftermath. I also especially liked the one of Stephen Jones in one of his  pink feathery hats and a pink suit which he said made him feel like 'Barbara Cartland on acid'.

The photographs and galleries were split into the different decades Vogue has been going and there were some that left me cold, some left me uncomfortable with their designer consumerism and one made me want to throw something at it - though that was because of its subject matter - Margaret Thatcher and my feelings towards her. Horrible to be confronted with a large portrait of her sitting comfortably in a chair in a gown - I had a really visceral response to that one. I had my usual 'I just don't get the appeal of Kate Moss' response to all the pictures of Kate Moss because I just don't get the appeal of Kate Moss and don't understand why she is so popular as a model. If I get chance I'd like to go back and have a proper longer look and savour some of the pics by Lee Miller (one of my photographic heroes)  amongst others and marvel again at the excesses of 80's fashion.

Well I'd best crack on with both my portfolio compilation and my reading of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell - I'm on a Gaskell kick at the moment and so far have read North and South (and marked with a post it note every reference to death/dying/burial customs) and couldn't put it down, Cranford which I was very sad to finish as I just loved it but apparently Mary Barton is filled with death and disease so it's just as well I bought some new post it notes last week as otherwise I might have run out.

 Plus just remembered what it was that I solved computer-wise - the difference between using blogger in googlechrome and firefox, in the former it's much easier to format and in firefox it's a pain in the arse....

No comments:

Post a Comment