Friday, 11 December 2015

Show (and tell) time...

A very handy pinboard with 'censored' lengths
I have been quite stressed, somewhat, or rather what comes with being mentally busy. Preparing for hand in today was slightly fraught to say the least. Other things were determined to get in the way but I eventually got there, minus 2 x A2 paintings that strangely have disappeared off the face of the earth, no doubt I shall find them tomorrow. Maybe it was a sign.

Bound to be writing
I have less practical work this time, more thinking and focusing though..and, there is still a way to go; sampling, experimenting, refining (repeating ad infinitum) and only then producing final pieces.

Pantone colour for 2016 :-)

Today I had to present my work, I had a plan but as is usual it went by the wayside once I started rabbiting, as sometimes I am wont to do. I managed to continue to speak for a good 20 minutes and for someone as quiet as me (!) I think that's an achievement, and I only slightly 'filled up' with the emotion of my subject, once.
I said all I had to say, another achievement as usually I'm kicking myself for missing out that all important, crucial word. (Although one will probably come to me later).
Anyway, I feel good.

Worn out. Raised pile

AND I have big idea's. I will tell you more/them next week...Ciao

P.S. I have just remembered... I forgot to mention Auschwitz.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Seminal Moment Occurring…

Hospital No. 2, Pripyat
 Why was I so struck on producing a 'flat' looking outcome? Just to make my work seem seamless and because it's been noted that my sketchbook work appears very flat, I now think that meant my 'painting' style. I have come to the conclusion that that doesn't mean ALL my work has to have a similar feel/look, I am multi faceted and a multi disciplinarian. 
Anyway, I am happy with the 2D impression my visual studies portray but equally so with a textured, more 3D sample sketchbook. I deal or rather this project is dealing with layers, as it turns out, who's to say that that is even determined yet? It should need never to be determined actually, surely?
Can you tell I've been to a creative writing workshop … a 'free' (not in £££'s) writing workshop. I think it means on some occasions you are allowed to produce 'drivel'.

I've designed something... and then tweaked it and submitted it as a 'beautiful'(?!) scarf to Front Row Society, if it gets through the first bit please be ready to vote...thank you!

Look at this vertically :-)
I made myself cry (a bit) in a tutorial, I think I was so overwhelmed by the passion I felt for my research subject. Talking about it, and just realising and recognising a eureka moment (keep reading - it's further on);  we were discussing the layers within my work, how they might be a timeline of images one transparent layer over another, depth-wise, and my idea of an installation (can't give too much away) and realising it was imperative that I bring both spaces together, the one over there and the one over here, the one from 1986, the one from 2016. I wish I had recorded the conversation, looking back it doesn't seem like an especially intense thing but I suddenly realised I FELT like this was the beginning of my life's work, it feels like this was meant to be my life's work,??? AND I had a brilliant idea borne from only inklings of thoughts that have been simmering and have now come full circle. It can be known as 'site specific' for now.
Silk Thread Stitching
As for my Pecha Kucha presentation, it went ok, one of my video clips was sideways - it didn't matter, just gave everyone a crick in the neck. Feedback was that I should have included more examples of my practical work responses, I knew that as soon as I watched the first students'. I think my work is good too. I am going to do another, an updated one, for fun. And I may subject my students to it again. I had practised it on them, they had more critical feedback for me, maybe I'd successfully ironed that out, I was more aware of the importance of 'silence' at particular points and didn't talk over the 'emotive' Auschwitz slide this time. I would like to do one on only my process and the development of work, it could form the basis of my reflective essay, that I need to start to write, right now. Or maybe I actually won't. 
The afterwards pairing of '3' was very useful.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

A Grand Day Out...

FROM: Manchester School of Art.
Windy, occasional light rain. Walking.
TO: The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester University.
FOR: The ‘Art_Textiles’ Exhibition.
A short narrative about it in pictures.
First pictures are pencil drawings (these were in a different part of the gallery, a different exhibition) - I was blown away by these...

Richard Forster

Sorry about the non referencing, I lost my notes!
Then a peer critique - a virtual group hug about all our work. Thanks to Stephen, John, Lorenzo, James and me. Wish I had taken a picture of that.
AND to top it off a fabulous impromptu pop up photography exhibition!
AND THEN straight off the train and to Alyson Agar's photography exhibition opening at House of Blah Blah, beauty! 
Alyson Agar

Friday, 23 October 2015

Progress and ‘Thinking by Writing Things Down’…

The fundamentals and essentiality of my research is based on an inspirational (and to be repeated) trip to Chernobyl: initially being to look at self-settlers and their reasons for returning to a homeland that could potentially kill them. However, after in depth research, I soon realised there are a multitude of issues connected to the 1986 disaster that are still very much relevant worldwide today i.e. real-time safety issues regarding the highly radioactive waste still stored at Chernobyl, recognition of the disaster as catalyst for world change (i.e. Glasnost), collective memory – a cognitive resonance, relating to the sudden evacuation of Pripyat and displacement trauma, as well as the effect of human error on mass population (responsibility) and not least the heroic, almost suicidal bravery of individuals who really did save the world. After initial research, subjects broadened (to include the Holocaust, Dark Tourism etc) and became too much. Therefore I have concluded what it is I am most interested in – ʻChernobylʼ and the ʻpoignancy of a fleeting moment in timeʼ and through this message –visually and emotionally communicated through my work, I will selectively choose particular resonating ʻsnapshots in timeʼ attempting to raise awareness of the wider and far- reaching issues through a textiles exhibition piece or installation, the title of which should definitely be…

'What Once Was There'

or rather

‘What Was There Once’

The next step is more research, but not exclusively as I need to produce physical work – which will form the basis of my future ‘mastery’. This ‘mastery’ can also be of my subject, my concept. In the first instance I therefore need to extend my memory life, like a rechargeable battery. Duracell, preferably. 

Digitally printed silk length with discharge screen print

Now though I have arrived more at questions than answers…

Q: How to capture ‘a moment in time’?

A: Photography being the most obvious, and I have plenty of photos…so kind of disregarding (for the moment) all the artwork, drawing etc. that I have done, which will never be useless as by doing that I have refined and defined my colour story, compositionally testing out figurative, textured and abstract responses which will no doubt, have subconsciously informed my future outcomes (OR I could actually use some of those images, marks and shapes for a layer of print). An aside: I feel I am still putting too much into/onto a design –you decide?

Q: How to choose the most evocative moment in time?

Q: What if I combine a number of photographic images to create a moment in time?

Q: Do I manipulate the images?

A: So far in some cases I have merged and layered them and decreased the opacity but little else. I do like them and mostly they do, I feel, create a mood, an impression.

Q: Should they tell a story? Can you expect every photographic image to tell a whole story, is that feasible?

A: The one piece that does say what I want to say is this one;

Cyanotype print - Pripyat Interior

Mmm what to do with it now.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

This MAGIC thing that happened last week.

The Fleeting Moment
I had already collected a list of words that I felt were of the utmost important to my project:












                 And so on

However, I still had a box of frogs in my head and knew I needed to bring them all together and then FOCUS on one or two aspects of all my research in order to progress and start producing some work. But what to choose? Everything about it is fascinating to me.

At a group seminar the ‘Watchword’ technique, described as ‘an inverse mind map’ was introduced as something that could be applied to our work (originally a psychotherapy test – ‘how to know yourself’ sort of thing) to produce a title or to narrow things down a bit to a core aim. Before I filled it in I knew this could solve all my problems.

And it did - like magic! The result was what I already had written in my original P2 proposal, I already knew it but this made it perfectly clear. You should try it, just don't think too hard - here! It worked for my students too. 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Auschwitz/Birkenau...September 2015

I've spent a while processing my trip to Auschwitz and the thoughts of that trip.

Poland is fabulous - and I will definitely go back.

Research-wise, of course I HAD to visit Auschwitz/Birkenau. Everybody should go, they just should. It's a worthwhile thing. Disquieting, if a little 'cold'.

It was not at all what I expected although I couldn't say what I actually did expect. For a start it’s huge, a massive area. It was impossible to get a real sense of how it was, of course. I do feel being with a guide and in a group shaped the experience, the guide was necessary in the first instance – he was knowledgeable and we were given factual information in addition to what could be gleaned from the information points, but I would have liked to have some time wandering around alone, thinking. That was the downside of being in/with a group. There wasn't really time for thinking during the tour, it was on to the next part, then the next part, in the queue, ushered through and so on.

The group I was with was a group of old soldiers (REME Association – Teesside Branch) which gave a different, yet positive slant; they laid a wreath at the wall where the shootings had occurred, which was a touching and respectful moment.

Laying the wreath at 'the wall'

I had imagined I would be in pieces the whole time yet I wasn't, I tried to feel empathy but in the main that was actually difficult. I tried to concentrate, to connect and 'feel', but it was unbelievably difficult and almost incomprehensible. There were moments however, when it was completely overwhelming and very emotional, though the whole thing is beyond understanding. 

I became very interested in the other tourists, many, many of them. The number was somewhat unexpected, yet necessary and somewhat heartening. It brought me back to the 'Dark Tourism' aspect of my research – where it all began; the behaviour, expressions and actions of the tourists, from all over the world, were very sobering. 

There was also a gift shop, but you didn’t have to exit through it. 

Whilst in Krakow, I visited Oskar Schindler's Factory which is now a museum about life in wartime Krakow, including information and exhibits about the Jewish community and the ghettos; real, gritty, evocative photographs. I would have liked it to have had more about Oskar Schindler, his factory, the events, individual stories etc. but there was very little. 
Schlinder's List
 One afternoon, I took myself off and went back to the ghetto alone. I thought I would explore the back streets and try to imagine/see what it was like back then, physically if not emotionally. Many of the buildings are not original so it was difficult although there were some, again it was hard to imagine at all what life must have been like for the people behind the walls. I stood for a long time at the section of wall remaining that was built around the ghetto to contain thousands upon thousands of people.

After my visit, I now feel I do not want to do 'work' on the subject, at all. At least I know that now. However, I am sure the experience will somehow reshape my thoughts, my inner person and my outlook.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

MA Show 2015 Manchester School of Art (2 short reviews)

Jat Biring
MA Textiles for Fashion
Benzie Building
Jat Biring
One stand out, impactual piece tells the million stories of a million individuals. Jat states it is ‘an abstract illustration of fearlessness’. I see fear, but true it lessens as the eye carries upwards, a journey through and then overcoming anxiety perhaps.
The stark, huge, black and white drawing gets to the heart of the matter, an intense portrayal of lines and tension and adrenaline- the knots are very clever.
A 2D response that ‘feels’, with a 3D form, movement and in the solid areas – stillness, just black.
On the curation:
Hung in a window the white space had a reflective positioning, giving a different effect daytime/nightime… however the white space of the piece was not that pristine whilst it felt it should have been. Attention to detail was also slightly lacking at the edge, giving the work an ‘in progress’ working document feel which may have been deliberate I don’t know.

Eleanor Mulhearn
MA Animation
Holden Gallery

My ultimate favourite, Eleanor’s work was sooo beautiful. She uses discarded objects and flea market finds (<3) and gives them a new, more interesting life. Each piece was exquisite with it’s own personality, well observed and highly sensitive, beautifully made. I haven’t even seen the animation and I love it already.
Eleanor's statement describes these pieces as a reinterpretation of the miniature and a destabilisation of a once personal object. I appreciate how she has not made them 'perfect' but they are created with chips and crevices so you can see into an empty inside, to me they are intrinsically perfect.

On the curation:
Perfect; on unobtrusive naïve shelves, totally in keeping, against a stark white wall, carefully arranged. From a distance and close up, they just looked right. Stand back and take in the original plaster frieze, ornate and historical and sculptural and they look even better, in juxtaposition (had to put in that word).
Eleanor Mulhearn
 And in other news, or rather images:
Deborah Harrington - MA Photography "What Remains' series

Nicholas Young - MA Graphic Design and Art Direction 'RMBK1000'
Steve Oliver - MA Fine Art 'Tiny Hands'

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Summertime and the living is (not that) easy (yet)

It's a while since I was on this train… writing my blog. And it will be a few weeks before I am again. I am on my way to Manchester, and there's a party tomorrow, starting at 5pm. Exactly when I need to leave. So a rethink is required, I think I shall spend some quality time on the embroidery software, visit the Richter exhibition at The Whitworth Gallery then just go to the pub early with the keener partygoers. At least I am being conscientious and doing MA work, also taking (some of) my library books back - how exciting. 

In other news; we have now got our own 'part time MA students' Facebook page which will be a useful place to post ongoing work/ideas and get some peer feedback seeing as there won't be much going on at MMU for us over the summer, note however, we ARE still supposed to be doing work, no time off here… although I may get some days in Devon if I'm lucky. My trip to Auschwitz is still on the cards, paid for and all. It is not something like a holiday to look forward to but it's there.

Work-wise I have been rather busy in the print room but, as is usual, I don't seem to have an equivalent amount of work to show for it. I always forget how long it takes and that it is imperative to: print, take away, look at it for a long time, decide what to do to it next, go and do that something to it then repeat, ad infinitum sometimes, whereupon it is usually 'overdone' and ready for the bin. From about 20 samples I have one resolved, 15 that require further work (but I'm supposed to be limiting content!) and 4 that are good for nothing. My intention being 'to capture a moment'...mmm.

I am supposed to NOT be continuing with portraits but I kind of have, just as it is easy to carry this (pre-printed spare) around to work on at opportune moments, like now for instance...

Ivan's eye in colour
Ivan's eye in black & white