Friday, 31 October 2014

End or beginning

Before I get to the nitty gritty; a few observations...
  • There's someone in my Contested Territories class called Ulysses, how beautiful a name is that?
  • It's exceptionally mild for this time of year (had to carry my coat around)
  • Apparently now I have a personal tutor, he's called Nigel.
1.    Contested Territories...
We discussed ideas for the work we are to produce between us, amongst us, starting with thoughts on communication which led to the vagaries of language, dialect: cultural translation studies including issues regarding reactions to de-globalisation which led to 'words': use of, change of... this in turn led to a discussion on gender, countries at war. Then...guides, maps, routes to remnants of planes crashed in the Peak District...very interesting.

This led to everyone deciding not to do a symposium but an exhibition or a festival of exhibitions; there seems to be 3 distinct camps and possibilities for groups to form:

a. Mapping 'exhibits', that are already there (in the street) that represent some territory contested (I like this one)
b. Producing work to be 'pasted up' on the boarded up windows of boarded up houses along a full boarded up street, am not sure what the work would be based on (but I like this idea)
c. Gender issues relating to nations at war
+d. (Secret) communication within Illustration by means of coding 
We then spent a good 40 minutes trying to set up a group Facebook page and adding everyone. I need to post on this tonight and hopefully infiltrate group no.1

2.    Anticipating Change; The Final Chapter OR
 Anticipating Change; Anticipating the Presentation (all morning)
I had recently posted some new research on our blog, I had also offered to present some of said research during the group presentation this afternoon, due to me feeling guilty about being a (very) part-time member but also wanting to contribute to and support the group at our final 'showdown'. However, I was rather hoping it wouldn't fit in. But due to the kindness of Nick & Helen wanting to 'include' Jack and I, I was allowed. Mmmm. I played my small part with what seemed to appear to others to be confidence, but was actually slight panic, not least because it was being FILMED.
So, now that is over. I'm not sure yet how much of our research will inform my overall 'Practice 1' outcomes but the pure fact of doing research will surely prove a bonus. I'm hoping that now will come a chance to get some practical work done.
 Reading back, my comments are not really very evaluative OR here's some of that:
On the collaborative aspect and the overall experience:
Put into groups, randomly, for a 4 week long, collaborative research and presentation project to answer, in essence, ‘What are the influences on future design?’ 
(See blog for more in depth information:
At the outset I felt a little unsure, nervous yet resigned, as I had known this was coming, admittedly though, perhaps not so fast.
When introduced to (or rather when I found) my group – number 7, I wanted to appear ‘as good as…’, ‘confident but not fake, pushy or arrogant’ (because I am not) and not as ‘a leader’ but definitely as someone who would contribute. I certainly didn’t want to push myself forward nor shy away from tasks. I was happy with (most of) the group; one member who shall remain nameless, immediately proceeded to tear strips off me for not committing to more than one day a week. Great start - not. This made me feel embarrassed, completely shocked that it actually happened. I am still shocked. The rest of the group more than made up for this ‘incident’; creative thinkers, interesting, friendly people, very fair and who got on with the job (very well). It was a great exercise to introduce us to each other and I was glad of that opportunity. I have said in an earlier post that overall I felt academically inadequate but this group did not make me feel that way.
The positive aspects of this working group has meant I formed new relationships with my peers, (and didn’t have to find people to work with myself – as this may have been like being the last kid to be picked for the team in PE), met other part timers who took part in my initial experiences and who shared their information, met full timers who I wouldn’t otherwise be working with and it gave us all a common ground and a common goal. It encouraged us to begin researching immediately with a focus and a starting point. Also by spending the first few weeks on this, I am even more excited to start some textile work.
On the negative side; during the tirade I suffered, I felt I didn’t stand up for myself (I was shocked into complete stupid silence) which made me feel small, although I realise this was just unlucky. Mixing full and part time students, although had it’s advantages also meant I felt some guilt not doing as much as others did.
If I had to do it all again I wouldn’t do anything differently, I don’t think I could to be honest. It was how it was, mainly due to external factors & influences. As for my own performance within the presentation I could have prepared my part better and in a more timely fashion by checking my emails the night before which was when my part had been identified. As it was, I quickly did extra research and tried to get it straight in my head - over lunch, which was quite stressful! Oh but then I forgot to look at my crib sheets with the facts and figures on and ended up skimming over the main points I was trying to get across. However, I did manage to do it without betablockers :-)

In conclusion I feel it has set the MA tone: rightly or wrongly, to be academic, conceptually and personally challenging, with no room for a comfort zone and it has helped me to know what to expect for the next 2 years (to be proven either way – watch this space).

Friday, 24 October 2014

Some words…

A moment in time memory jog: I managed to a) find 3 books in 3 different wings of the library AND b) withdraw 3 said books (self service!)

Personal insight or realisation: I am resistant to change (in all avenues of life), but only for about 4 soon I will be fine.

On Visual Research:

Primary Research:
Photographing and drawing dereliction, desolation, destruction, discarded, (all the 'd's' in fact) plus...forgotten, unloved, still, lost, left, bereft, rejected, cast aside, inanimate.
Making marks; descriptive, emotionally propelled and loose, abstract. Using and including tiny pieces of the buildings themselves, giving an unseen (emotional/emotive?) depth and unimagined/unexpected honesty and truth.
This (textural) response will contrast with measured, directional, straight, ruled lines and geometric shapes taken from the perspective, the respective, lines and forms of the photographed interiors. The complete, combined visual studies (relate to) a contested*/ constricted work of opposites; pockets of jewels (the detritus of a life) flicker, glint like memories. Under the surface. Precious pockets, pockets of precious, glimmers of hope and future.

Surfaces; textured, peeling, smooth, matt, bubbled, blistered, shiny, layered, laid, pastel, papery, plaster-like, torn

On Theoretical Research:

Primary Research: A little trip to Chernobyl?
‘Dark Tourism– specifically the emotional pull and significance of sites associated with death and tragedy.

 *'Contested' definition - 1. A struggle for superiority or victory between rivals.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Crux of the Matter

The following is a concise (150 words - very difficult) overview of the body of work I would like to produce during my MA study. I have changed it already... from the areas of fashion/haute couture to interiors/installation, chance for a change. 

'My personal aims relating to my own practice during the MA include; to investigate new technology, mechanisation & computerisation to produce innovative embroidery designs/samples together with the exploration of non-traditional materials & 3D techniques within the craft of embroidery. I intend to produce a collection of embroidery & embellishment samples investigating, not least, the notion of scale and 3D elements. I should like to discover how to instill my work with characteristics that evoke emotional responses. I will research current ethical and cultural issues that directly inform and relate to my specific interests initially focusing on ‘Dark Tourism’; a form of macabre pilgrimage in which people journey to sites redolent with death or disaster to emotionally connect. I intend to extend and develop my limited skills regarding conceptual thinking, whilst still producing highly aesthetically pleasing outcomes specifically for high-end interiors/installation market. To do this I will engage with primary research sources leading to a deeper understanding of theoretical issues raised. An integral aim is to communicate my ideas and intentions in a clear, concise, exciting and confident manner whilst critically analysing and evaluating my work on an ongoing and in depth basis, generating a valuable, constructive, personal resource to inform future planning and problem solving.'

My 5 keywords are: Fragmentation, Dark Tourism, Discarded, Forgotten & Remains; lets see how they change...

Friday, 17 October 2014

Third Day Nerves

Week/Day 3:

A moment in time memory jog:' Person on the Stockport viaduct' alert last night = difficult  journey…

A 10am start of my Options Unit, I have chosen 'Contested Territories' over my second choice 'Objects in Context' which is all about collecting, classifying, detail, emotional attachment, things etc…right up my street, I know this, I love this, I do this but I am also interested in the issues raised within Contested Territories and this I do not know, I already have an interest in Dark Tourism and this was mentioned along with other related subjects I had not considered, but some of which I have a tiny insight into through refugee and asylum seeker's stories I heard whilst doing volunteer work. It tugged at me and I thought I would be brave and venture out of my comfort zone and I know the research will be helpful within my practice - somehow.
Since I was about 13 years old I have had an interest in the holocaust, maybe because it is just so unbelievable - unfathomable and heartwrenching and human and for some reason I have always had an urge/pull/need/want to visit Auschwitz. Since Urbexing too, I would love to visit Chernobyl. This unit made me think about why this is; we had to introduce ourselves to the group and whilst waiting my turn I tried to think of what I was going to say. I didn't say, ' I've always wanted to visit Auschwitz'… because someone may have asked, 'Well why haven't you?' I thought I'd better consider that question. I conclude, I have been too afraid of breaking down and crying in public when I feared I might. I don't like to show emotion, I was horrified when I went on a Catholic retreat once and spent the whole weekend in floods of tears or trying desperately to hold them back.

I think I may have to visit Chernobyl first, I imagine it will make me angry, which is more acceptable to me than pure grief. I intend to research into what makes people have this pull towards visiting places where bad things happened, it seems strange in many ways, I understand it's a (an emotional) connection with the past, an effort not to let the horrors, atrocities be ever forgotten/brushed aside…but is that the same as going on an American bus trip to visit scenes of domestic brutal murders? I don't think so.
All the above may have come out better than my actual words which were an insight for everyone else into how I don't know how to apply conceptual thinking to my work and what a person scrabbling about for words that sound quite good looks like. I NEED TO STOP TRYING TO RELATE MY WORK TO REAL WORLD BIG ISSUES and making it fit conceptually, don't I? But I think that's not allowed. What's wrong with picking the option because it sounded interesting????

Today we touched on borders, real and imagined… it was too short.

Insight of the week:

   Everyone seems to be incredibly academic. I'm not, just average.
   If you were to use all the equipment you wanted to, make things with everything, get to be good at it all, you would need to be in those great workshops for 10 years solid. I'm going to need all my powers of selectivity.
   No-one seems to know where we're supposed to be.

Why am I writing this blog?

The importance of constant, analytical evaluation on one's work, progress and practice is not lost on me. I am aware that I need to write an in depth evaluation in all my modules/units so if I write this account, sometimes brief though it will be, I am sure to find it easier at the end. Fingers crossed. (And I'll try not to write much about TK Maxx.)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

First Day Nerves

Week/Day 1-2:

View from Piccadilly Station #1 of 3
I have been an MA student at MMU for almost 3 weeks now. As I am part-time however, this means I have only actually been there 2 full days so far… so please take that into consideration. This, my first post, will be a little bit of background, first impressions, alongside a sense of terror and hope for the future.
I am making the viewing of this blog by invitation only as I am mortified by my 'progress' so far and do not want the world to know, and as an invited reader, I am hoping you will empathise with me, know what to expect if embarking on your own MA or if you are also studying an MA; a) find out there's someone who feels how you do or b) feel superior because you don't!
I don't wish this to be a negative account but somehow I fear it may be, so let us get that out of the way first…

   I don't think I can do it
   I am not intelligent enough
   I am stupid
   I don't understand the titles of the lectures never mind the content
   I spend longer on the VLE looking for the room I am supposed to be in rather than doing any actual work
   I can't use intellectual language
   My conceptual thinking is ridiculous and everyone can see I am a fraud
   I hate collaboration
   I go bright red every time I speak/ask a question (what is THAT all about?!)
   I WORK FULL TIME TOO, how did I ever think I would be able to manage?
   I thought I would be embroidering!

On the plus side...

   I do believe my practical work will look amazing and I am excited to start a new sketchbook

So, why did I apply in the first place? The college I work for is aiming for university status, encouraging staff to get their MA's, MRes', PHDs etc. and were asking for applications for staff development funding. The day before the deadline I decided to take a chance, apply for an MA in a subject I REALLY wanted to study while I could, rather than apply for one that was wholly theoretical, learning by distance and lots and lots of writing. I thought I was really lucky when my employers said 'yes', they would pay my fees. It made me feel good, worthy, that they were willing to invest in me, extremely excited to be going back to Manchester, to learn how to use new machinery/technology, gain new skills I could pass on, SPECIALISE more, get better at my practice… It could also mean I would be able to teach on an MA in the future and/or work in another university if the need arose, with a proper university lecturer salary.
And so, I got accepted and I started, the main worry being would I manage to get my own locker and would I have time to get a strong coffee at student prices, on arrival, before my first lecture. Then the bad things happened; I was nervous, a little, of course, but I found the room, great. Now, I am renowned for being 'not sociable', I am not sure why, maybe it's because I am not sociable. Or gregarious. Or interested in many people (note 'many' not 'none'). I did ok. I LIKED some people, fantastic. BUT, there was a lot of talk of collaboration, fine, maybe we would discover (and choose) a likeminded person over coffee break and share skills with that person… a small project, running alongside the main one, perhaps attending a lecture or two and spending the rest of the day in the studio and workshops? Errr no. Put in groups to do what seemed/seems a very large task, taking up most of the time available and making me as a part timer feel guilty for being unable to put in equal time and effort. I did try, I really did, but so far it's not working out that well. Not least because I can't find out how to become an administrator on our blog without being invited… anyway, this is it…
In the end I resorted to commenting. With short comments.

The good thing is that I have the chance (at weekends) to do a wonderful collection of new work, where people might  hopefully say, 'How did she DO that?', 'wow, that's gorgeous!' and 'I've NEVER seen anything like that before!'
In conclusion of this first post I will say, it's early days and I am reserving full and unexpurgated judgement until at least week 5. Note use of a big word.

Escalator - Piccadilly Station
'2 Fingers' - Crane