Thursday, 30 August 2018
slightly emptier notepad this week, another matte medium image transfer - this time onto canvas using a two week old black and white photocopy and finally(!!) started reading Sebald and the blue post it note stickers indicate places in the text where there's something I need to look up, something I want to think about a bit more, something I want to quote or some mention of death/funereal custom - I'm not sure where I got the copy from though, I usually remember where I get books from but can't remember with this one and it doesn't have a charity shop mark I recognise in it.
So finally started reading some Sebald - Rings of Saturn 2002 edition and so far I am absolutely loving it, in a similar way to the way I completely fell in love with Barthes Camera Lucida because it is so immediately emotional and personal plus he is writing about things I love - the past, bones, burial and fascinating recounts of individuals histories. There are also stark shocking figures about the bombing raids during the 1939-1945 war which originated in East Anglia. So far I'm up to the silent housekeeper and her inheritance - I am looking forward to reading more and thinking about the themes of the book and the way it is constructed and written.
Along with looking up some of the references in Sebald's book I also need to do some investigating into the life and work of Elizabeth Fulhame who published a book called An Essay on Combustion with a View to a New Art of Dying and Painting in 1794. She is credited with discovering photoreduction - which is to do with light dependant reactions and the concept of catalysis - which is to do with what chemicals can be added to others to alter the speed of chemical reactions to give a desired outcome. I think. I'm not really au fait with chemical terms and so I can forsee a lot of dictionary checking and asking questions of my chums who are chemically literate in my future.
I had never heard of Elizabeth Fulhame before last week when she was talked about by Irfan Shah during his very excellent Measure of the Moon talk at Leeds central Library last week. He talked about the connections between photographic and film experimentations and Leeds. It was fascinating to hear him trace the threads and leads between the invention of the micrometer, calotypes, daguerreotypes (am especially pleased because that's the first time I've been able to spell that word correctly without having to look it up!!) and the creation of moving images by Louis Le Prince. Much more investigation needed on my part to find out more about Elizabeth and also to hopefully read her book and ideally be able to understand it....
I'm interested in her work - partly because she was a woman but also because of my work transferring images onto material and to see whwther or not she uses any techniques I could learn from or copy.
As ever I've been really struggling with concentration, flitting from one thought to another or one website and another so am going to make a concerted effort to do one thing at a time, either until that particular task is finished or for a set amount of time before swapping to something else - essentially the pomodoro technique. Sometimes though it is the chance finding of seeing another potentially useful source whilst looking up or working on something that is most fruitful but also potentially most distracting. This most often happens when I am having to look a word or a reference up which either leads me down another path or down the siren path of social media. Must be a bit more disciplined though and make productive use of as much of my time as possible eg like reading more Sebald whilst on the bus earlier this week, whilst waiting for a chum and whilst waiting to be called in the health centre waiting room.
This also makes me think about procrastination, it was a real light bulb moment when I read about procrastination often being a mask for fear of failing the task you're putting off. A feeling I can all too readily identify with, though sometimes my procrastination is also useful as it means I'm mostly on top of the non scarey more routine tasks and life admin type stuff. Though in spite of checking my diary almost every day - I still often forget to get birthday cards in the post in time for folks.
The Tetley run an artists associate programme and I applied for it through the very marvellous Curator Space a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit of a last minute application as I'd not checked Curator Space properly and so was only aware of the opportunity thanks to the email reminder of last chance opportunities. I've had an email to say I haven't been successful which I'm not surprised about partly because last minute applications are not as well thought through and put together as ones done well in advance and also because I'm not sure the kind of work/subject matter/approach is what they're looking for but I've asked for feedback on my application so I'll see what they say.
Last week was very busy in terms of lots of lovely things too - namely Infest which is an annual goth, dark wave, industrial, synth pop festival in Bradford. It's usually three nights but this time it was four as it was the twentieth anniversary. As there were other family things going on we only went for the Thursday night which was also the evening that our friends Zeitgeist Zero were playing and they were brilliant and so were Peter Hook and the Light. There was also the Gravediggers Union and Empirion but I didn't watch those as my attention was all for Zeitgeist Zero and Peter Hook and the Light.
Peter Hook was one of the founding members of Joy Division who became New Order after the death of Ian Curtis in 1980. I've kind of grown up with Joy Division and New Order - coming from Manchester you'd be hard pressed not to have heard of them, even if you're not a fan of the music they made. So it was amazing to hear such wonderful iconic songs that have meant a lot to me and so many others over the years played live with such passion. A friend writes with much more eloquence about the performance and its link to the goth scene here.
It was also especially lovely to hear, dance and sing along to those versions without the usual annoyances of having to watch it through other people's phone screens or being forced to listen to other people's inane conversations. That's not to say that those things weren't happening but they were few and far between and easily avoided. It was also a lovely opportunity to get properly gothed up, wear lots of make up and see lots of friends in real life as opposed to chatting to them via social media. Social media is exactly that - social but it's also a media as opposed to a direct physical immediate experience and whilst it is a good way of keeping in touch with people it's so much lovelier to see them in real life. In the same way that I'm all about the analogue when it comes to images - in real life I'm all about the real as opposed to the virtual simulacrum.
Nothing of note except for yet another rewatch of Jacques Tourners Night of the Demon (1957) its monochrome gorgeousness is just enchanting, especially the corridor Caligari-esque scenes and the scenes in the wood (it's in the trees, it's coming!!') with the lights in the distance has given me an idea for a photo sequence I want to try using dusk, torchlights....and maybe even a smoke machine.
(finally) started Rings of Saturn by WG Sebald
still reading Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayer and am struck by the arguments around women and work, careers, marriage are still being had today - some of the archaic language being used aside. Given that the novel was first published over 80 years ago and we have had things like The Equal Pay Act in place for 40 years makes me feel that Sayers was a prescient and still relevant novelist and depressed that not more progress has been made.
No art ones but did go to Yorkshire Air Museum last week. My brother was up for a visit and it was his choice to go there as he is a bit of an aircraft nerd. I've been there a few times now and there were quite a few new planes and others were at more advanced stages of restoration than when we'd last seen them but the thing that struck me this time was the lack of context around some of the things on display. There is lots of technical information around dates of use, size of engine etc and displays around the development of aircraft and the use of aircraft in the 1939-1945 war in particular.
However the object that to me was without much context and that I found especially horrifying and depressing was a cluster bomb, on display with half of the cover removed so the smaller bombs it contains with technical details next to it, but nothing about who designed it, who makes it, who sells it, who profits from it, where it has been used and that kind of information. I also had my usual cognitive disconnect/does not compute on visiting the Chapel, my reading of the new testament was a long time ago but I am fairly sure Christ wasn't reported as saying many pro-war/fighting things if at all.
So a busy week of doing a bit of reading, some photo editing - did a lot of flipping of images ready to print them for matte medium image transferring, some dressing up, some dancing and some socialising - all of which are good for my soul.
Monday, 20 August 2018
In this weeks picture - the plastic skull I fill with notes about nice things that have happened, a book I bought from a lovely independent bookshop called Forum Books in Corbridge earlier this year, my new bookmarks/page markers - I put one of these or a coloured post it note on the page where I've read something that is particularly interesting/apposite, the last weeks notes and my talk which I delivered on Wednesday evening for the PhD In The Pub Leeds - before then coming down with a bad cough and cold which left me unable to do much other than cough, splutter and watch repeats of Columbo and Law and Order for the past few days.
So in the same way that rain stops play in cricket, snot stopped me from doing much last week, I'd felt a bit sore throaty prior to the PhD In The Pub in Leeds on Wednesday evening (held at Slocken on Call Lane - never been there before but they do a very nice gin and tonic) and I was feeling okay for talking about my research and the talk and questions and answers bit went well but my throat was very scratchy by the time I got home and by the following morning I was just a sneezing snot monster and fit for little other than lying on the sofa trying to read but even that without much success as I couldn't concentrate for long or I couldn't stay awake.
Feeling a bit better today (have only had to use my inhaler once so far today so that's a definite improvement) and just trying to gather my thoughts about what I got up to or didn't last week. I've already mentioned the PhD In The Pub talk and it is just talk as they don't have anything other than a flip chart so there is no accompanying powerpoint presentation. I did take along some of the pieces I've been working on recently though - the lightbox image of Ann Carr's tombstone and a couple of embroidery hoops. I thought it'd be in a small room with about 10-15 people but it was in the upstairs floor of the bar and there were actually about 60 people there, including two women who love cemeteries and had seen it advertised on Twitter and came along especially to hear me talk about St George's Field, and a chap I met at the Curator Space meeting I spoke at in Wakefield last month, who then came to the talk I did at Leeds Central Library and who brought along two of his friends to hear me. This is especially flattering as it makes me think I can't be that bad a public speaker and my subject matter is interesting if someone comes to hear you more than once and brings their mates along.
Delivering the talk was the main thing I did last week, though I also did another bigger matte medium image transfer onto canvas (not pictured) which I was pleased with in terms of technique but not so pleased when I realised that the image was the wrong way round and the f**king modern bin that gets in the way of the Victorian era I am trying to evoke was on the wrong side of the Chapel steps - I had forgotten to flip the image. I feel such a dolt as a result. Hence the highlighted 'NEED TO FLIP IMAGES' on my notes. One of my jobs this week is to 'flip' the images I want to make matte medium image transfers of.
The other thing I made a note of was check image ownership before retweeting - as the image that the organisers used for my talk wasn't an image of mine but one of Dr Tina Richardson's from her Particulations blog. I knew it wasn't one of mine because it was in colour but I presumed it was one the organisers had taken or had permission to use but after chatting with Tina on Facebook it transpired they hadn't. Which was a bit cheeky on their part - if they'd asked me I could have given them one of mine to use. I then retweeted their tweet with the correct image accreditation. This taking of images from the internet without asking permission or giving credit is why increasingly I don't put images I've made or taken online.
Nothing of note other than Columbo or Law and Order repeats, they along with The Goldbergs are my comfort viewing of choice. I did start watching Jacque Tourners magnificent Night of the Demon (1957) which is one of my very favourite horror films but by then the Nightnurse had kicked in and I fell asleep not long after Karswell summoned the storm at the childrens party.
I really struggled with concentration the past week - having to stop every few minutes to blow your nose or cough doesn't make for easy reading. But I did make headway with my book being read purely for pleasure: Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers, my edition was printed in 1939 and I am now about halfway through one of my birthday presents - the very marvellous Death A Graveside Companion (2017) edited by Joanna Ebenstein which is split into different chapters all focusing on different aspects of death with essays and illustrations. I especially enjoyed the essay by Karen Bachmann entitled 'The Power of Hair As Human Relic in Mourning Jewellery' which included thought provoking lines like ' the hair represents a private communion between the wearer and the deceased' and that it is only when the hair is cut that it makes its transition from 'natural artefact to cultural relic'. The copious accompanying illustrations are gorgeous too but the text is quite difficult to read as it is shiny gold print on brown paper and I have to be sat under a very bright light in order to make it easily visible.
I've also been dipping in and out of 'Why Are We Artists? 100 World Art Manifestos' selected by Jennifer Lack and published by Penguin Modern Classics in 2017. Again this is the proof of the power of a sentence to me - as these two have given me much food for thought:
From Adam Pendleton's piece Black Dada (2008) a poetic repetitive manifesto which includes the line:
'these buildings don't uncover a single truth, so which truth do you want to tell?'
The other manifesto which has given me much food for thought and one which I need to do more research on is that of Deep Lez by Allyson Mitchell.
I shall continue to dip in and out of that book.
I have however completely failed to ready any of Sebalds's The Rings of Saturn - something I must remedy this week.
So all in all not a very productive week - unless you count . I am little bit worried that I am in danger of falling behind a bit with my reading plan in particular but once I've properly got my concentration span back and under control I'm hoping I can get back on top of it. I might have to do it in pomodoro style chunks though to make sure I finish it.
Monday, 13 August 2018
PhD-Ness Part 2 in weekly series - Thinking, Reading, Writing and Doing and sentences that make you stop and think
things I've been working on this week - pictures are two of the images I was working on last week. One has been put into a larger hoop and finished with black bias binding and felt on the back - looks neater but also doesn't allow any light through, the second has had the excess material at the back of the hoop sewn and pulled together the same way as you do when making a 'suffolk puff'* which lets light through but on this example isn't very neat as I didn't start out with a piece of muslin at least twice the diameter of the finished piece. The third hoop (not pictured) I finished with grey bias binding and just trimmed the excess material at the back - lets light through beautifully, looks neat BUT makes it extremely difficult to re-tighten the material in the hoop to make the image flat as possible. Also pictured are my new highlighter pens cunningly disguised as nail varnishes, my note pad (packed to the drawstrings with handy comments**) my trusty reading glasses (none of your modern varifocals for me) and a copy of Sebalds Rings Of Saturn which has been on my 'books to read list' for months but which as yet remains unread -
one of my goals for this week is to have at least read the first chapter by Friday.
I am properly back at 'study/work' even though it still seems like the summer holidays in lots of ways......
I've been to the ever lovely Hyde Park Picture House twice this past week - to see the restored 4 k (whatever that means) version of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958) and Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker (1953). Vertigo was in colour - in fact colour plays an important part in the film - the vivid green highlighting characters jealousy in places and the costumes designed by Edith Head are utterly wonderful. I've not seen Vertigo as many times as I've seen other Hitchcock films and in places as in all his films it's an uncomfortable watch. I know his films are meant to be - murder, obsessive jealousy and tension aren't meant to be fun but I mean uncomfortable to watch by my feminist standards as Hitchcocks treatment of female characters can be especially horrible and so uncomfortable and difficult to watch. The way Scotty (played so wonderfully by the incomparable James Stewart) pressures Judy Barton (played so excellently by the wonderful Kim Novak) into looking like the woman of his obsession is horrible, they way the worker at the beauty salon reassures him that they can make her look exactly the way he wants and her desperate asking if he will love her if she does makes me squirm. Those misgivings aside I absolutely loved it and it was a real treat to see it on the big screen.
The Hitch-Hiker was also uncomfortable to watch - it tells a fictionalised and slightly less grim version of the true story of Billy Cook who murdered six people whilst hitch-hiking in 1950-1951. The character based on him - Emmet Myers only(!) killed three, as films made in America at the time were still subject to the Production Code and the number of deaths had to be reduced or else it wouldn't be released. This film was in monochrome and was made by Ida Lupino who started life as an actress but also worked as a writer and a director. There aren't many female directors today and there were even less in Lupino's day. She was a groundbreaker both in terms of the work she did and the subject matter she made films about.
The film is strangely claustrophobic given that much of it is set in the vast outdoors though this is always out of reach of the two kidnapped men, visible only through the cars windows or around them as Myers keeps them under constant watch and has a gun. They have lied to their wives about where they are going for the weekend and so it takes time for the combined police forces of North and South America to catch up with them thanks to a tip from cousin of a bar owner and rescue them from Myer's clutches. In spite of Myer's laughing at them and pointing out that one of them could get away leaving the other to his fate, they continue to support one another.
Flowers C Kendall T (producers) 2018, 11 August Sylvia Plath - Inside The Bell Jar [television broadcast] BBC LondonA mix of vox pops from some of her surviving high school and college friends as well as her daughter Freida and readings from poems and passages of The Bell Jar. A book I re-read recently. It was powerful and moving and the photos of her holding a flower - the prop she was given when she said she wanted to be a writer were especially poignant and beautiful.
As you can probably tell I'm still finding this reference malarkey difficult, partly because it's still not second nature but also because I find it difficult deciding sometimes between what is a reference and what is an in text citation when it comes to films/programmes as I'm not quoting them like I am a book but just describing them. Anyway here's hoping that at some point it will become second nature and stops making my brain hurt and put off doing things....
Maybe I need to split these into two categories - books read for study purposes and those read purely for pleasure - though often the two categories overlap considerably. Entirely for pleasure I've just started reading Gaudy Nights by Dorothy L Sayers - my edition dates from 1939 (it was first published in 1935) and it was bought from a charity shop in Carnforth and is delightfully aged spotted and the red cloth binding has cracked. It smells of 'old' and I am 35 pages in and I have enjoyed her descriptions of formal academia for women so far.
Also entirely for pleasure I read 'How Not To Be A Boy' by Robert Webb (2018) - bought from a charity shop in Barnsley. I read this over a couple of days as I found it bittersweet, poignant and laugh out loud funny in places. I enjoyed it so much I've made my husband read it too - he's up to the not taking clothing advice from Mr Shitty Legs section and also laughing out loud as well as feeling lots of empathetic recognition.
I finished The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris and then read the introduction, the opening chapter and chapter 'Vile Bodies' from 'Dirty Old London, The Victorian Fight Against Filth' by Lee Jackson which was very interesting indeed. I am reading books like this to get a more rounded kind of every day knowledge of what conditions were like in Victorian Britain. Plus they are easier to read and understand on first reading than some of the more specialist philosophical texts I need to read too.
I was particularly taken with this quote from a report on the contents of graveyards from 1838 'mephitical effluvia of death' on page 116 (mephitical means foul smelling) and the concluding paragraph of the chapter Vile Bodies which concentrates upon cemeteries and disposal of the dead for me especially resonated with me 'Yet, despite the ravages of time, changing customs, vicissitudes of fashion, the Victorian garden cemetery still survives in its various forms, one of the great legacies of the nineteenth century.'
I also read McQueen - The Illustrated History of a Fashion Icon - written by Tom Rammussen and illustrated by R. Song This was a birthday present to me bought from Magma on Oldham Street in Manchester and it's gorgeous. A big brand new hardback with red edged pages and it smells of new paper. An overview of McQueen's life, education and career in fashion and art, it featured two passages that really stood out for me from page 47 when describing his graduate collection 'Jack The Ripper Stalks His Victims' 1992 as 'each piece had a lock of McQueen's hair bonded between two pieces of acrylic on the inside:representing the old tradition of giving hair to a lover as a token, often purchased from prostitutes rather than cut from their own hair' and on page 169 ' McQueen was a master at marrying unlikely references - often the historic with the contemporary'
The locks of hair mention made me think I still have lots of research to do on the use of hair in Victorian mourning jewellery and practice in trying to make versions of them using acrylic hair and patterns from 1875. I've just asked a chum if she can send me some horsehair for padding out the hair and making it stiffer and easier to work with. This was one of the tips from that book by Mark Campbell. I don't think I am a master (or a mistress - why are the words we use to denote skill/knowledge gendered at all?) at marrying the historic and contemporary though it is also one of the things I hope to achieve with the work I make.
William Henry Fox Talbot Dawn of the Photograph - Russell Roberts and Greg Hobson - (2016) Scala Arts and Heritage Publishers - the exhibition catalogue from the exhibition that I failed to go and see in person. It made me think again of the relationship between art and science in photography and how close and inter-dependant that relationship was in the early days and how a photograph can be both a picture and a document. And the role of light in photography and how it both helps create the image and then causes it to fade too.
Pictures taken/Artwork made or worked onHoops - see above
Still haven't taken any pictures - got an almost finished roll of 36 in my lomo fish eye lens camera and am still only halfway through a roll of 36 in my very much not lomo Canon but I've not had much of a picture taking unless it's for straightforward recording purposes mojo. Something I shall have to kickstart and make myself do I think - in the same way that I make myself sit and write this.
None this week - which is a bit shameful really, and something I hope to remedy this week.
But I did forget to mention the rather wonderful drawing of a skull I saw in the recreation of David Hockney's studio in Cartwright Hall in Lister Park, Bradford. The other thing I absolutely loved in the Hockney Gallery there were the recreations of his photo albums with pictures of his family - pictured in all their under and over exposed glory in 'snaps' and it was so wonderful to see pictures that had the shape of sent away to be developed snaps ie square-ish with slightly rounded edges or square with white edges all the way round and that hadn't been automatically exposed/image stabilised/taken using a phone. They gave me an almost proustian rush, but alas I have very few old family photographs to meander down memory lane with - I mostly have memories of photographs instead.
I also haven't mentioned til now the exhibition launch I went to at Dean Clough a few weeks ago - an exhibition by Charlie Goldthorpe which I am immensely pleased and proud to have been involved with. I was one of the people who supplied her with stories about objects and people and how I remember that person through particular objects. Namely my Nana through a toilet roll holder dolly she made and gave me many years ago. It's one of the few objects I would choose to save if the house were to burn down. I am in awe of the skillful, beautiful and respectful way Charlie used that to make the work on show. You can read about and see some images of it here .
I put together a very last minute application to The Tetley to be one of the artists for their mentoring programme and sent it in a full twelve hours before the deadline. I applied late because I have fallen into a bad habit of not checking the Curator Space site itself regularly instead relying on the email to tell me about opportunities but that only tells me of new ones and ones about to close - as the Tetley one was. It wasn't too difficult to put together as I had already put together things like a CV and that just needed updating but I'm afraid it wasn't as tailored as it could and should have been to ensure success but there's still some time til they said they'd be in touch so you never know. Note to self - check Curator Space at least once a week!!
I've also had a book review published and you can read it here and I'm especially chuffed with it as I a)got a copy of the book to review and b) it's a review in a proper peer reviewed academic journal.
I have been experimenting with different ways of working too - some days I have switched the computer on in the morning to check email and then switched it back off again so I could read without getting distracted by social media. It worked well until I came across words I didn't understand and which weren't in the Little Oxford Dictionary I was given for my 11th birthday just before I started secondary school and so had to look them up online. I also made more of an effort to move about more during the day rather than being sedentary which was better in terms of feeling less stiff the day after weight-training sessions (I have a new goal of being able to deadlift 80kg by the end of the year and so far I have deadlifted 57kg) but also meant that I got sidetracked from what I was doing and I felt like I hadn't worked all day. Hmm this work and day planning malarkey still needs work....
I also wrote my presentation for PhD In The Pub - fingers crossed it goes okay....
Jackson, L (2014) Dirty Old London, The Victorian Fight Against Filth London Yale University Press
Rammusen, T & Song R (2018) McQueen The Illustrated History of a Fashion Icon Melbourne Australia Smith Street Books
* for instructions on how to make a suffolk puff see here
** prizes given (well not really) to the person who spots which comedian and sketch I am almost-quoting here - clue she also wrote about an antique shop in Manchesterford