Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Beginning At The Other End, Dark Shadows, Collage, Walking, Grieving

This was a light refraction image taken on my trusty go to lomo camera phone earlier in the summer when there was still quite a lot of daylight. It makes me think of Covid virus images but in this case it's sunlight refracted through the patterned surface of a drinks tumbler onto my grey marbled kitchen worktop. My lomo phone camera (I do not have a smartphone) has become my camera of choice over the last few months despite its lomo limitations. Its very poor zoom, limited focus and lack of flash are outweighed by the fact that it fits easily in my pocket, plus it's very light in weight and it only relies on electrickery to take and transfer the images to the computer rather than chemical developing the film in our cold, slightly damp and not very nice garage before scanning it into the computer.

This is a close up of the doll I got from my Nana when I left home just over 30 years ago. The doll usually has a hat on as well as a peach dress and she guards a toilet roll under her faded crocheted peach dress.  This year she had a respite from toilet roll guarding duties and became a film star when I took her out of the toilet roll and put her in my mini studio and took photos of her.  She along with other images I'd taken became part of an experimental short film I made earlier this summer, when I took part in the Facing The Mind project. I got so much out of the project - it was both beautiful and welcome distraction from grieving and lockdown fears plus I learnt some basic video-editing skills and learnt a little about the Kuleshov Effect - you can read more about the project here and see some of the other participants work too.  


This is a still of Barnabas Collins as played so beautifully by Jonathon Frid in Dark Shadows - a daytime gothic horror soap opera which ran on american television from 1966-1971. In this image he is staring out from the Old House wishing harm upon his young relative David Collins. There were over 1200 episodes made and I've seen almost 700 of them so far. I started watching it this time last year and was instantly hooked on its dark grim storytelling, for all its shonky-ness in places (line flubs, scenery malfunctions, boom mic shadows) it is also completely compelling and often telling versions of stories inspired by the gothic classics - Dracula, Frankenstein, The Portrait of Dorian Gray, The Pit and the Pendulum, Jane Eyre to name but a few - I've now reached the Lovecraft inspired Leviathan storyline and I am loving every moment of it. 

I have fallen completely in love with Barnabas Collins - the reluctant and sympathetic gentleman vampire with the most excellent eyeliner and eyeshadow and almost all of the residents of Collinwood, the old house and Collins Port. I've joined online fan clubs, got audio versions of the books featuring the same characters but not quite the same story arcs and one of the soundtrack albums. The haunting theme tune by Robert Cobert perfectly fits the weird world dreamt up  (literally - the idea came to him in a dream) by Dan Curtis and fleshed out by writers like Sam Hall. The theme tune has become a kind of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) in our house as hearing it takes us instantly to a calmer contemplative state in these otherwise fraught and frightening times. 

The other thing that has been helping to keep me calm and keep me relatively sane in these otherwise gruelling and distressing times is being able to go a for a walk as thank goodness the plantar fasciitis issues that were so crippling and disabling me are in abeyance. This is a picture taken on my lomo non smart camera phone and post processed using the basic free photo editing software that comes with Microsoft Windows. Being able to go for a walk around the nearby woods and bridlepaths continues to be an absolute lifesaver for me. Especially as my usual outlet for distraction and relaxation the Hyde Park Picture House has been closed for refurbishment and would have been closed because of Covid. 
I have tried to keep up with exercising at home and have gone to the gym when I could but I am hoping now that I can get a clear run or rather clear chest press and shoulder press towards my current goal of being able to deadlift 100kg. I've really learnt the value of exercise and a place to be able to do it over the last few months. 

Until somewhat ironically the start of the first lockdown earlier this year I was only able to manage about 10 minutes from home by foot, every trip out on my own had to be planned so that I could easily call a taxi to come and get me or get on a bus if need be. Needless to say the mix of pain, physical discomfort, lack of mobility and frustration that nothing seemed to be working in terms of making it better were really getting me down.  

Plantar issues severely limited my mobility and choices of places to go to and things to do whereas now thankfully I am mostly pain-free and it is either Covid related restrictions or my own choices to minimise my risks of catching Covid that put limits on where I want to go. It's almost a year since I have been on any kind of public transport, nine months since I went in a supermarket though I have been to the local shops a few times for things like milk, bread, wine and cake. For the rest we've been relying on companies who have diversified from supplying restaurants to supplying individuals. It's quite hard to eat a kilogram of hummous though but we went halves  on the kilo tubs of hummous with friends who live nearby and thankfully it now comes in pots of a much more manageable size. 

I can't tell you how much I am missing going to the cinema, looking/listening/absorbing in art galleries, sitting somewhere other than my desk to write my journal or read a book, treating myself easily to the occasional fancy decaff coffee as opposed to planning exactly where to go and queue and remembering to take hand sanitiser as well as well as wearing a mask. Carefree or rather comparatively carefree spontaneity is one of the things I miss most of all.

This is a close up of a detail of the piece I made in memory of my father who died earlier this year and which is part of the Arts and Minds Annual Exhibition - you can see it and the other pieces here. I have started making collages and including it as part of my practice after a prompt from the Facing The Mind project. I find it rather soothing to cut things out, arrange them on the paper and then glue them down.

Having something to do with my hands has been very important in stopping my mind from racing or dwelling on things. Along with making collages I have been doing a lot of knitting too. I took this pieces title from a chapter in Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon as it seemed appropriate for a time post death and the beginning of grieving for a loved one.

I'm not going to call it a grieving process as process implies something orderly that can be managed and I don't think it's like that at all
. As ever Victorian sensation fiction has proved to be excellent distraction and that along with the support of my husband, family and friends, Dark Shadows, exercise and snuggling up with the cat is helping me get along.

I'm hoping to get back into a more regular blog habit again. I let one particular unsupportive and destructive naysayer get in the way of my writing it and I shouldn't have let their nasty negativity get in the way. Blogging is more important for me as a way to marshal my thoughts than who is reading it and whether or not it's 'good writing'. 

Thank you for reading. 

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