Sunday, 12 November 2017

PhDNess Part 3 - Slightly Less At Sea-Ness Part 2, Taking Pictures, Doing, Thinking, Reading...

Ice Skulls - plan to experiment with using twice boiled water, de-ionised water in attempt to make clear-er skulls - then to try make them using food colouring or home made ink or bits of site detritus with aim of filming or photographing their melting  

Mapp unimpressed with my experiments and attempts to see how long it takes them to melt

attempts to transfer colour from leaves, flowers onto paper and felt with aim of making some kind of eco-prints 

this weeks notes - am loving my day of the dead notepad
Been a busy few days and going to be busy over the next few days too - hence my writing this on a Sunday - a time when I would normally be lying on the sofa watching reruns of lovely proper 70's Columbo ('just one more thing...') whilst sipping tea.

It's been a week of reading Grayson Perry's very marvellous 'Playing to the Gallery', mulling over the meaning of anniversaries, taking some medium format photos in St George's Field using my lovely Lubitel twin lens camera, listening to podcasts about Mary Elizabeth Braddon and finishing Aurora Floyd, looking up recipes for home made ink, researching eco print techniques, experimenting with making ice skulls using a silicon mould and thinking about Victorian light.

I find Grayson Perry's work wonderful and intriguing to look at, I really enjoyed his Reith Lectures (almost as much as I enjoyed Hilary Mantels) but until now I hadn't read anything by him - other than his and Alan Measles twitter feed. Playing To The Gallery (2014) is wonderful - accessible, thought provoking, funny, and a lovely mix of text and drawn image/cartoon. Wonderful stuff.

Anniversaries can be happy or sad occasions - one of the ways I'm thinking of developing my work is by looking at the dates on the tombstones I photograph, and then either make more work using it on the anniversary of that date or going back to it to make more work on the anniversary of that date. I need to do some more research into why/how the associations of wedding anniversaries like paper, iron etc came about, and why we celebrate big numbers in particular eg centenaries and the like. I suppose part of their appeal is the fact that they are a fixed feast in the midst of uncertainty.

I've been taking more pictures in St George's Field - this time using my lovely secondhand Lubitel twin lens camera - since I got bifocal glasses using cameras like this (with a viewfinder at the top of the camera rather than the back of it) has become easier as I just have to move my head to get the camera in focus and then the view as opposed to having to switch between two pairs of glasses, I have taken 8 pictures on the roll so far so there'll have to be a few more days of good weather for me to finish it - or I could take it out with a tripod if the light is low and long exposures were needed.

I don't have a smartphone (I have a PAYG phone that has a camera and a radio on it but nothing more fancy than that) so the world of apps and podcasts unless you can access them from a PC or a laptop are a bit of mystery to me. But whilst I was working and reading last week I caught up with a few by the Victorian Scribbler and the Bonnets At Dawn people and loved them. They were about Mary Elizabeth Braddon (I didn't know she was such a keen hunter but was pleased also to learn she loved strong tea and split her working week into 4 days writing - she wrote until her death in 1914 - she was a long lived Victorian and two days hunting - with presumably a day for church going) or books by her or about 19th century novelists in general and were good to have on in the background whilst I was working. Braddon remains one of my very favourite writers - she writes such rattling good yarns with strong female characters (to a point - one of my criticisms of her work is that they tend to fade away at the end of the novels) plus for me it is very interesting to read stories that were written and set in the 19th century as opposed to just set in them.

I took part in a read along of Aurora Floyd (1863) twitter based experiment organised by Courtney Floyd in which we read Aurora Floyd in monthly installments of 3 chapters - the same as when it was first published in Temple Bar Magazine. I found it very difficult to stop at the end of the alloted 3 chapters at first and made a note in my diary as to when I could read the next installment. But over the summer I kind of lost where we were up to and got distracted - with such a big gap (and various life events) I found I had to reread previous chapters as I had forgotten key plot details and then when I did get back into it again - I read it to the end. I'm not too much ahead of the curve as it would have ended next month as it has 36 chapters in total. Plus I wasn't the only participant who read ahead - one participant finished it in the summer, one in the spring almost as soon as we started it as he 'couldn't put it down'. It made me wonder if it was accompanied by a 'story so far' type introductory paragraph but apparently it wasn't so I'm guessing Victorians had better memories or kept previous copies of the magazine close so they could catch up if need be. 

I enjoyed it but as not as much as Lady Audley's Secret but am not sure how much of that is down to the story itself or the way I read it. I devoured Lady Audley's Secret over a few days and so it was a concentrated hit of Victorian loveliness (if you count a tale of bigamy, arson, attempted murder, the status of women as lovely that is) and so I found my experience of Aurora Floyd gappy in comparison - though the opening chapters are wonderfully gripping - it was very hard to put it down. Hmm as ever food for thought re method of consumption and what effect it has on the experience of the novel as opposed to the novel itself.

Sometimes while I'm working (the research and reading type of working - when I'm taking or making photographs then it's the ambient noise of wherever I am taking or making images) I put music on - but it has to be music without words or singing or else I get distracted and want to sing along. I can listen to people talking though - I find the sound of voices and sound radio quite comforting as it makes me feel less alone I think. Radio 4 was a habit I got into when I first left home but I have been listening to Radio 4 Extra recently as it is less depressing and stressful to listen to than Radio 4 with its regular news programmes. The news at the moment is just so unrelentingly grim that I don't want to listen to it anymore. I get my news from the internet these days instead - it's still painful but it's much less awful that way.

One of the things I've been experimenting with over the last few days is making skulls out of ice using a skull mould my ever lovely and supportive husband bought me off the tinternet - I've been inspired by the work of Carol Sowden and Mel Dewey who were on the year below me MA-wise. I'd like to take time lapse pictures of them melting and also to try putting things in the ice - either food colouring or home made ink (I've been looking up recipes) or fallen petals/leaves that I have collected. So far I've not had much luck making clear ice - the tinternet advises using cooled twice boiled water and I've gotten clearer ice that way but it's still bubbly. I've tried de-ionised water today to see if that makes a difference - I have no idea what de-ionised means but that along with the reading I've been doing about mordants (what a wonderful sounding word) and eco printing methods means that I might end up learning a bit more about what de-ionised means and other basic chemical stuff.

I'm still thinking about Victorian light - in terms of the methods that were available in the Victorian period, and what effect the kind of light available to you had on the way you saw and did things. I'm also thinking along the lines of how to light pieces of work using Victorian methods. As ever lots of food for thought and lots of experimenting to do...along with lots of reading. I am really going to have to start reading more theory that I do/have done so far......Foucault here I come.....but I am also looking forward to working on this with my tutor and hoping that she can provide some useful insights and pointers.

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