Monday, 20 April 2015
Monday, 13 April 2015
Ma -Ness Week 14 or should I stop counting as it's officially the holidays......forms, exhibitions and deadlines......
|this weeks post it note and notebook|
I am a bit of a notebook junkie and so always carry one round with me in my bag (at the moment this is a supermarket own label one which is a moleskin wannabe complete with pocket at the back and an elastic enclosure.) I also have different notebooks for different different books I'm reading (and now all labelled on the outside with what books are noted within so I can find them quicker....in theory....) and then there are notebooks dotted around the house - this one normally lives in the kitchen and is used for shopping lists but I had taken it into the living room so I could write down things whilst they were fresh in my mind.
They can be a mix of to do lists, shopping lists, inspirations, notes from others and that kind of thing - I like notebooks best with a spiral binding or an elasticated closure and I prefer them to be lined too - I do use plain papered notebooks too - but I use those to stick pictures in and so they become photo albums as opposed to notebooks.
It's been really lovely having a week away from doing things of a collegey nature - caught up with housework, tidied my wardrobe out a bit, have given myself the luxury of lying on the sofa just fecking about on the laptop, catching up with chums, going to the newly refurbished Whitworth to see the Cornelia Parker exhibition and taking lots of pictures on my phone camera, finally making it to a WI committee meeting and last but not least reading two David Sedaris books - When You Are Engulfed In Flames and Me Talk Pretty One Day - both of which made me laugh out loud at times.
As you can see the post it note which lives next to the computer is fairly blank The Kirkstall Art form note on the notepaper is underlined because I forgot to write the deadline in my diary/do a reminder on my phone and so it was only thanks to a reminder email that I remembered to do it in time - so learning point there: write deadlines in diary as well so you don't forget!!
Have also made the deadline for expressions of interest to the Love Arts Festival too, signed up for a conference at Sunderland University and done two lots of washing and made tonights dinner - so it feels like the lovely days of doing feck all last week are already far away but it's all positive exciting stuff so am not complaining.
I think it did me good to consciously take some time out though - and one of the things I want to get better at this coming term is a better work/life/study balance and making time for the gym and catching up with people and most importantly DOING NOTHING for a bit is going to be high on my list of things to to achieve this term.
So alongside with (hopefully) learning lesson of putting deadlines in diary (I use a paper diary which is purple and fastened close with an elasticated piece of black ruffled ribbon of the kind I used when I made a veil to wear at a friends funeral - I like it because it looks vaguely victorian funeral to me but a chum said this week it also made her think of a garter which made me smile too) I am hopefully also learning the lesson of DOING NOTHING occasionally. It's good for the soul, but equally it's good for me to have goals and structures and I am still finding the do social media on tablet in bed before I get up and get dressed prior to sitting down to work at main computer approach more productive as I am getting less distracted by online stuff - though of course if it wasn't for being online I wouldn't hear of half the things I get involved with or do. I'm also a big believer in mailing lists - have heard of loads of stuff just by signing up for mailing lists.
So lessons like writing stuff down aside (as opposed to trying to keep it all in my head - which doesn't work nearly as well as my brain is like a sieve at the moment but it does mean I need to look at my diary and lists or else I won't remember either) what else have I been up to? Well in spite of it being good bright prime cyanotyping weather I haven't done any - though I have got some acetates to use as negatives but it looks like we're in for some good weather over the next few days so I hope to do some more over the next few days.
But I did take some photographs on my phone camera at the Whitworth and at Manchester Museum on Saturday (the Easter Island head exhibition was interesting but there was mention of how the heads had been mentioned in popular culture but I couldn't see any mention of Squidwards' house which would be a terrible oversight if that were the case - unless for copyright reasons it couldn't be included) and I hope to get them off the micro sd card later - I was especially intrigued by the shadows cast on the walls by the single light bulb source in Cold Dark Matter:An Exploded View and the remains of bits of objects. I used these to take a series of shadow based self portraits which I hope to make into cyanotypes.
I am not comfortable in front of the lens and if I'm honest am occasionally uncomfortable behind it too, but I like taking self portraits either in shop windows, water sources, shadows and that kind of thing - I like the shapes they make and the fact that they are 'kinder' than traditional photographic self portraits as they don't show the things I don't like about my appearance in such sharp close up or relief and I can continue in my belief that I look okay as the reality of my not looking okay which close ups and photographs throw into such sharp unavoidable relief is avoided that way.
Which makes me think of the verse from the book of Ecclesiastes 'vanity, vanity, all is vanity'.....
Anyway back to the Cornelia Parker show - I really liked the mix of humour, challenge, physical presence of the works themselves and the way they were presented. I especially enjoyed Cold Dark Matter because I liked the light, I like objects and it was interesting to see what bits had recognisably survived and what had not and how it had changed and the way it moved slightly as people walked past - have decided I prefer things to have a slight bit of movement about them - hence my current preference for printing on tracing paper and hanging by bulldog clips as the images then have a bit of movement about them and I love that she persuaded the British Army to help her - there were also pieces made with help by HMRC and Greater Manchester Police - a sawn up sawn off shotgun which made me smile. I find it fascinating that institutions not known for their creativity have been up for collaborations like this but along with the smiling was bittersweet poignancy and repurposing too - the bullets melted down and made into wire and used to make grids and pictures, the use of her own blood and the rorshach butterfly like pictures made from dissolved pornographic tapes.
All of her work made me smile and made me envious of her incredible powers of persuasion too. The War Room - the walls hung camouflage tent like with what is left behind when the poppy petals are stamped out was especially moving. It makes me want to go back and have another look round when it's not quite so busy - though it was lovely to see so many people there.
Plus it was a lovely walk down memory lane going to the Whitworth too - that was the gallery just up the road from the college where I did my A levels and it was interesting to see how it and the surrounding area had changed and equally how much of it has stayed the same. It was also lovely to see artworks by William Blake, Peter Blake and David Hockney which I had bought postcards of many many moons ago - though it is somewhat of a shock that a 25p postcard is now 80p but I suppose that's inflation for you....
Other works which made me stop and stare were the water piece by Cai Guo Qiang - very contemplative and if I'm completely honest it also made me want to have a paddle...and an utterly incredible portrait by Bernadine Gompertz of Heinrich Wilheim Ernst which was made out of hair on silk - the patience and embroidery skill needed to make that made me breathless - utterly incredible and when must it have been done? surely at the height of summer when the sunlight was its strongest as the thought of doing that in the evening by candlelight gives me a headache and eyestrain just thinking about it.... you can see a picture of the image here and it's really interesting to think it is made out of human hair. Making things out of human hair was not at all unusual or regarded with an 'uck' factor in victorian times. Whereas I suspect if you said you were going to use it today as a medium some people would be squicked out by it - in spite of the popularity of human hair extensions.....
Also on my list was a bit of a to do list - which I've done almost all of bar one email, and I need to fill in my diary too but the other note is with regard to bulldog clips - so far I've only seen them used to hang pictures by being clipped onto the pictures corner and then the silver arms lifted up and threaded with fishing wire/string and hung or pinned to the wall but this was cord strung across the gallery with the bulldog clips placed over the top of and the pictures then placed in the grip of the bulldog clips. It reminded me of that stuff that was very popular for hanging xmas cards in my childhood - namely red or green striped very thin string and little red plastic pegs - the gallery version was much more robust though unlike the xmas card version which collapsed at the slightest breath or slightest closure of a door. I really liked it as a way to hang images and so hope to use it myself soon.
Well I think that's enough for today - going to ease myself back in gently as it were, hoping to catch nup on some overdue reading this week and I may even make some more cyanotypes....
Tuesday, 7 April 2015
|this weeks post it note and ticket|
So term officially ended on 27.3.15 but I didn't feel like it had ended for me til Thursday 2nd April as I was still doing lots of collegy stuff - had a visit to Bradford University to look at a collection of condolence letters from the 1920's and 1950's, a tutorial and lots of sorting out and then finally on Thursday it was long lie in time and just catching up with myself - or rather catching up with what felt like terribly overdue housework - not quite a deep spring clean but certainly deeper than a quick wipe round with a disinfectant cloth which is all I had been doing for the last few weeks and clearing the washing basket too.
This was followed by a weekend of gig going - went to see Laibach on Good Friday and very marvellous they were too, and three films at what is probably the best cinema in the world namely The Hyde Park Picture House and you can see what they've got on here. I saw A Matter Of Life And Death - one of my all time favourite films - I fell in love with the giant staircase and the somewhat camp and dandified french aristocrat who lost his head when I first saw it as a child and it was the second Powell and Pressburger work I'd seen in a week. Strangers On A Train is a monochrome work of wonderful by Hitchcock - from the opening scenes focusing on the two main characters shoes, the depiction of madness and the somewhat frank but wonderful bloodthirstyness of the sentators youngest daughter and last but not least I Am Big Bird - a documentary about the man behind/inside Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch from Sesame Street - I adored Oscar when I was little and even had a copy of a record he made called I Love Trash and it was a beautiful heart warming life affirming film and made me remember how much I loved Sesame Street as a child - I adored The Count and the Cookie Monster and Bert. Wonderful film making.
And two of those films made me tear up - I'll leave you to guess which one didn't and the clue is it featured an engraved cigarette lighter, trains, tennis and the very beautiful Farley Granger and equally delicious Leo G Carroll.....
One of the things I included in my portfolio hand in - which I am still feeling surprisingly calm about...it felt good to put it together as it gave me a good overview as to what I've been up to, what I hope still to get up to and it was good to meet with my tutor on Wednesday and do a kind of term overview and plan for next term too - though it seems that next term is much more left to own devices than the previous two and if I've read the course details correctly online then there isn't anything to hand in either until December when it's dissertation hand in time.
This is also part of the reason why I am doing a blog post in 'holiday time' as I want to stay in the productive habits I've got into over the last few weeks but whilst also achieving a slightly better balance with other things like proper exercise (as opposed to just walking to and from college, the cinema and occasionally into town) and making healthier more interesting meals - there have been a lot of 'kiddie' type teas this term ie oven chips, fish fingers and the like and whilst they are tasty they are not the healthiest things to live on long term...hopefully I'll manage a better balance of these things this term and I think the fact that the weather seems to have turned/days got longer daylight-wise might also help with this.
So back to what is on the note - inspiring quotes - well more or less covered that in last weeks post, though it was copy and pasting them from the word doc into this post that proved really fecking difficult as it cocked up all the settings and made it so that although the text was perfectly legible in the create post window, it was invisible and illegible in the view actual blog page window - ARGH!!!!!!!!!! A bit of googling made me realise what the problem might be but not a way to fix it but then my lovely ever clever computery whizz kid husband came home and showed me how to paste and copy using plain text and huzzah it worked. This along with taking a screenshot of powerpoint slides may well just be two of the most useful computer related things I have ever learnt.
There's two phrases on there which I wrote down because I liked 'forensic mental' and 'civic mental' which both featured in Louis Theroux's documentaries on BBC4 last week which saw him interviewing patients and staff at a mental hospital - he was interviewing people who had been found 'not guilty by reason of insanity' and who had been sent there as opposed to prison. It was a thought provoking and intriguing couple of hours which at times made for uncomfortable viewing but I really like the way he interviews people and the way he seems to treat all with respect and dignity.
A couple of months ago I was a speaker at a Cultural Heritage Show and Tell Event at Leeds Museum and also there was one of the archivists from Bradford University Library and she told me that she was in the process of cataloguing the condolence letters related to Dmitrije Mitrinowitz who you can read about here and would I like to see them? Yes was my immediate answer - partly because I thought they would be inspiring - they were and partly because browsing about in an archive is one of my favourite things to do and I wasn't disappointed - they were a delight - they looked and smelled of old, had worn creases, were written in ink - one in a kind of dip in the ink letter as it was black and then grey and then black again within paragraphs, or typed on beautifully embossed letterheaded paper, had double lined envelopes, some were written on traditional black bordered mourning stationery, there were telegrams, stamps from around the world, letters that opened like pages in books. letters from book sellers thanking his widow for all the trade he had given them, photographs, postcards, and condolences from all different kinds of religious leaders but the one thing they all had in common was the very heart felt sentiments of affection for the deceased and offers of help for his widow.
They were very inspiring - both in terms of the way they looked and they way they smelled, plus the special collection unit itself is way down in the bowels of the Joseph Priestley library and it was a delight to be away from screens, noise and just cloistered away for a few quiet hours just soaking them up. They have given me ideas for new types of cyanotypes and also I want to experiment with different ways of artificially aging my work......as ever watch this space for progress.....
Along with filmy goodness this week there has also been noisy goodness in the form of a Laibach gig at Manchester Academy. I was a bit anxious as I had not been to a Laibach gig before and wasn't sure what to expect - I didn't think they'd pull the trick of letting off military strength teargas like they apparently did at one of their gigs a few years ago but as they walk a fine line of subversion and re-appropriation I was a bit concerned that some of the audience might be there because they thought they really meant it - in the same way that not everyone got Alf Garnett as a character. Yopu can read about them here.
I needn't have worried though - it was a glorious highly choreographed evening with a really striking back projection and prerecorded audience interaction and lots of really noisy synths - which I love. They played a lot of Spectre - their latest album and I especially enjoyed their cover of See That My Grave Is Kept Clean which I am thinking of using somehow in my work too....
And speaking of music my very talented chums at Zeistgeist Zero have launched a crowdfunding scheme for their latest album - being creative doesn't just need time and talent - it also needs cold hard cash and if you can help then please do - you can read all about their project here.
Right now for an afternoon of reading some David Sedaris - absolute bliss :-)