Thursday, 15 September 2016

Post MA-Ness - Distinctive Relief, Work On Show, Elizabeth Gaskell, Conferences-Ness and What Next?

Image of burial plot size piece (7ft by 3.5ft)- part of ongoing work for degree show (October 27th November 6th Studio 24 Mabgate Leeds) image printed on it is a digitally reinverted lumen print of a grave ornament from St Matthew Cemetery Chapel Allerton - two other pieces the same size but in different colours have also been printed. Image taken at St George's Field.
Post it note which looks very neat indeed - written in archival quality ink with the fancy fountain pen I treated myself to for finishing the course, next to copy of Mary Barton with a post it note on the page where there is a mention of death/a death/death practice/death belief in the text.

Cholera burial ground in York just opposite the railway station
View of some of my work on show at Lentos Cafe, North Lane in Headingley - on show til September 30th.

It seems rather strange writing this - for the last two years it was my habit to sit down on a Monday and write up what I had been up to the previous week. But all that changed on August 12th when I handed in my portfolio for assessment, it was the last formal part of my time at Leeds College of Art on the Masters in Creative Practice course and I haven't written since then. The good habit I got into of writing up each week what I'd been up to was no longer needed for assessment purposes (for the last two years I have been using this blog as my research journal) and so it was one less job to do and it's been quite nice having one less thing on my to do list - though that list hasn't got any less really.

I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with this blog now - I don't think I'll do it every week but I think I'll try to do it once a month instead as a round up as well as a place to advertise what I'm up to. I think that might be the way forward with it.

Although it's a month since the course formally finished I haven't really had a proper rest yet and I have been running round like a blue-arsed fly. I have been doing mundane things like catching up on the ironing and attending dental appointments and suchlike but I've also been busy writing a paper (my third proper grown up academic paper) which I presented at the fabulous Death and Culture Conference at York University and that took some considerable time. I also had some of my visual work on show there too - some of my coffin lining prints which went down very well. I've also put up a mini show in Lentos, as well as working on a draft phd proposal as well as feeding what has become my considerable Elizabeth Gaskell habit (I've now read North and South, Cranford, Ruth and Mary Barton and have just started Wives and Daughters) and on Monday I attended a very interesting conference on 'Pernicious Trash' at Leeds Trinity University which focused on the 'lower brow' literature of the Victorian period including broadsides, sensation fiction (including my beloved Mary Elizabeth Braddon) shop girl fiction and that kind of thing. It was fascinating - as was the Death Conference - the practice of dissection in the medieval period and the death practices carried out in Hong Kong were especially interesting.  

So as you can see even though college may have formally finished I'm still just as busy in lots of ways and I am currently working on - putting together some of my images to be used as a backdrop for Bunker 13 on September 24th at Eiger Studios in Leeds, aformentioned phd proposal, the work I'm submitting for the third Gothic Festival In Manchester in early October, the burial plot sized work for the MA degree show, the death and disease days I'm helping out with at Abbey House Museum and Leeds City Museum and the Love Arts Festival Conversation...I think that's everything - oh no I'm also working on some images for the Dark Arts Journal too...and then there's the graduation ceremony in late November so I'm looking forward to a proper rest and some decent time to sort stuff out in December...but at least the last two days I've been able to have a bit of a lie-in.

Plus I have been suffering from mounting tension with regard to my results, I worked really hard to get my portfolio into as good a state as possible prior to hand in as I was aiming for and wanted a distinction grade ie over 70%. I joked that I sweated blood but it definitely felt like it at times. And thankfully my hard work paid off as I got the grade I was after....though I didn't find it out until early afternoon on Monday as I don't have a tinternet phone and was at a conference at Leeds Trinity University so had to wait til lunchtime before I could log onto a computer to find out what they were.

Cue much shaking, relief, disbelief, pride, giddiness and all round general 'oh thank fuck for that - all that hard work has paid off' type feeling and immediate phoning of husband to tell him - he more than anyone has supported me over the last couple of years and I'd have never got through it without his amazing constant and supportive help. I then over enthusiastically celebrated when I finally got home (hour and half later than planned thanks to bus cancellations and so no buses from that end of Horsforth from 6pm til 7.45pm) by drinking my own bodyweight in fizz again and telling all the people who had helped me get that result over the last couple of years.

So as a result most of Tuesday was spent in a hungover state before going to the Hyde Park to see the new documentary about Gary Numan Android in LalaLand at the Hyde Park where some black treacle flavour ice cream and sitting in the dark watching the screen worked wonders in perking me up. Film was quite interesting too - always good to see someone else's creative process and the way he writes songs was quite fascinating as it involved a visual element too. It looked like he played around with noises on the keyboard, made a guide vocal of just sounds as opposed to words, then drew a kind of morse code as to where the words would go and then wrote the actual lyrics. Fascinating, it was also interesting to hear someone else talk about their battles with depression and panic attacks and how that impacted upon his creative as well as day to day life. But it wasn't a very impartial documentary (in as much as any documentary can be impartial - it can't but some can be more objective than others) and this was definitely more of a celebration - the director who was there for a Q+A described it as a bit of a love story and a road movie. There was no mention or questioning of his political beliefs for instance or cosmetic surgery. It was entertaining though - the dog turd with a kitkat in it, the conversation about 'good' serial killers and the putting on of make up prior to going on stage all made me chuckle.
Plus as I've said even a not so brilliant film is made all the better just by dint of seeing it at the Hyde Park which is the most wonderful cinema and my very favourite place for watching a film.

So what next? well a proper clean and tidy and sort out of the house and my workroom is high on the list, as is the to do list for the next few days in terms of sorting out images and what have you but I think more than anything I need a proper rest for a couple of days or so and let that distinctive relief well and truly sink in. 


  1. I'm pleased to hear that the blog has a future. I enjoy your ramblings - not just as a way of keeping in touch and hearing about your exploits but as a virtual 'kick in the butt'. Your eclectic selection and promotion of films, exhibitions, conferences etc always sparks a creative buzz and frequently sends me off to find out more, start writing, pick up drawing pencils, all sorts of things.
    In short, I'd really miss your musings - so thank you - from one happy reader xx

  2. Thank you, it's especially heartening to read that my musings have inspired you in some way :-)