Thursday, 28 December 2017

PhD-Ness Part 5, Festive Interim, Films, Forward Thinking, Stuff Done So Far....

My lovely new notepad with notes I've made over the last few weeks and some of my lovely xmas presents - I am a sucker for a shonky action film and there are few more shonky or actiony than those starring Chuck Norris and this was courtesy of my older brother. The experimental photography book was from my mother in law and it is a fabulous resource both in a how to sense but also in a who is already using these techniques - something that will be very useful in these literature review writing times and right at the bottom is a copy of American Gothic by Jonathon Rigby courtesy of my good friend and co-partner in horror and cinematic crime Penny. I've already read the section on Dracula - will be reading the section about Frankenstein later - I was also spoilt by my lovely ever supportive husband who treated me to lots of lovely things but in particular Frayling's marvellous book about Frankenstein, Kinsey's excellent Hammer Frankenstein scrapbook and some instant monochrome film.   

Ongoing experiments with using leafs and petals using hapa zome technique - either using a mallet or a hammer - a teeny tiny hammer that came with a toffee set. It's just right for hitting the leaves/petals to transfer their outline and essence onto paper (currently using watercolour paper) or material - so far have experimented with using muslin and coffin lining material, it's all part of my plan/aim to make images that are literally 'of the place'.

It's almost a month since I've written a blog post - it's not that I've not been writing though, I've been concentrating upon my research plan instead. Annoyingly the month has also been disrupted by the other tradition of the festive season - namely cough/cold/flu lurgy. Thankfully I've not had the cough part of it but I have had the snot, aching limbs and lack of energy part. So I didn't get to meet with my tutor to discuss my research plan and I am very much looking forward to getting together with her in the new year and refining the plan and getting my head round exactly what it is I need to do as well as want to do.

I knew that PhD research would be a lonelier journey than the MA research but it is taking a bit more getting used to, I'm not as clear about the academic hoops I have to jump and I'm finding the library at Huddersfield is a bit bewildering layout wise and a bit lacking artbook wise. I've joined the library at the Henry Moore Institute - this is an excellent artbook resource and it is open to anyone. I've also applied for a sconal card so I can make full use of the library facilities at both Leeds Uni and Leeds Art Uni. So hopefully once I've met with my tutor and got a better grasp of exactly what it is I need to be doing I'll feel a bit more on target with things and I'll have better resources to tackle with it as well.

I have been doing a lot of reading, not quite as much doing but also an awful lot of thinking. Reading wise I've been trying to get my head round some theory courtesy of Geffrey Batchen, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault and history/literature wise I've been reading lots of British Association of Victorian Studies blog posts, Sarah Wise's Blackest Streets, and Adkins Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England - because I figured I shouldn't be quite so fixated Victorian era wise - plus things that are Victorian didn't just begin out of nowhere in 1837 or end in 1901 - they had a before and an after life.  At times though I've found it difficult to concentrate and at times writing my research plan felt like pulling teeth but I got it into a shape/format I was happy enough with - without further direction or feedback that is and in plenty of time for the deadline set for me by my tutor and the admin staff.

I've also treated myself to my favourite bubblegum for the brain reading over the festive season - a Jackie Collins epic bonkbuster called The Power Trrip - it is absolutely terrible in so many ways - it's all exposition, product placement and utterly improbable un/intentionally hilarious sex scenes, identikit plotlines and characters but they are also such a good giggle and the best way to unwind - I am not looking for a subtext, or analysisng them from either a gender politics or a class politics viewpoint when I read them. They just make me laugh and wince in equal measure (see also action movies)

So looking back - it's been a mixed year, I've struggled with poorliness (having a poorly knee has really limited my mobility at times and had a damaging impact on my mental health) but have also done some stuff I'm really pleased with/about. So my plans for the next year are to build on those things, work on improving my knee and thereby my mental health and really get to grips with this PhD malarkey.....  I've also seen a lot of films - think my favourites of the year have been:
Multiple Maniacs (1970) - John Waters monochrome 'masterpiece' which is possibly the most sacrilegious film I have ever seen
A Quiet Passion (2016)- Terence Davies utterly enchanting and captivating biopic of Emily Dickinson played so beautifully by Cynthia Nixon
England Is Mine (2016) - M Gills Morrissey biopic which I loved - partly for its Shangri La filled soundtrack and partly for its being filmed in so many Mancunian locations which I recognised from my own childhood (plus Morrissey wasn't the knobhead he has sadly become then)
Headhunters (2011) M Tyldum  one of the most visceral, gripping, funny heist turned murder stories I've seen in years
Dave Made A Maze (2017) Bill Watersons's funny, fantastical and inventive story of Dave who builds a maze in his apartment.
Fargo (1996) Cohen Brothers - second time I've seen it on the big screen - it was the first film that my husband and I saw at the pictures when we'd just started going out together.  It had lost none of its funny grimmness and I remain in love with Frances McDormands pregnant police officer.

So onwards and hopefully upwards - just had a response to an exhibition opportunity saying 'thanks but no' but got all sorts of other opportunities coming up this year and fingers crossed they'll work out better.

Thanks for reading and all the best for 2018 :-)


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