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'