Owing to some personal/family goings on, I haven't been able to spend much, if any at all, on my AA2A residency. I've thought about it often, and have ideas galore bubbling under.
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I found myself with a free afternoon, so I quick made my way over to Derby and found myself a slot in a darkroom. Thankfully it wasn't very busy, being Easter/Reading week, so I had the whole darkroom to myself. That was a good idea, as it's been a while since I've done any dark room work, and I felt a lot more relaxed about spreading out, and taking over the space!
I work with glass mostly, and I want to explore how people see glass. A lot of people love glass for its beauty, it's fragility, for me it's also it's technical wondrousness (is that a word??). I love the way glass casts patterns and shadows. How it can distort. What it does to light.
So I want to explore photograms - where objects are placed directly onto traditional photographic paper and exposed to light. It can actually be done without any specialist equipment, apart from a dark room, but the traditional enlarger set up, with lights, timer, etc makes the whole process easier.
This time's session was about getting to know the dark room again, and seeing which patterns work. A lot of the results of kiln fired glass are unexpected, due to the nature of the glass, capturing bubbles, irregularities and how the rounded off edges refract the light. Given time, I hope to see how coloured paper and devleoping could be affected by different coloured glass and filtering. And also to see if I can specifically create 'images' in glass that I then photogram.
Essentially, I am wanting to show a different view of glass. I want to capture my glass on film. I dare say that a photograph of one of my glass pieces would only be of interest to a gallery wanting to promote work, or for me on my website, or as publicity literature. Maybe I can find a way of producing images of my glass that are artworks in their own right. Of course, it's a great excuse for me to play in the dark room, and go back to a love I have had since I was 14 or 15, of traditional darkroom photography (no, never do it now, with the advent of the dSLR.
So, here is the first result - only one image so far, as I haven't been able to scan each image yet (photographing the prints brings it's own issues). Can't wait to scan the images and manipulate them with effects in Photoshop.
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So far, during the Southampton Solent residency, I have steadily gathered material for my Itchen Valley project e.g. the Wingnut Trees just outside the City of Winchester. For this I took snapshot photographs and used parts of them for the three, textural, screenprints (see previous blog): Wingnut, Red Spot and Autumn Wingnut.
Also, I made a collection of the location drawings (see location drawing blog entry) of contractors working in land managed by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust.
Now I am in the final two months of the residency and in this time I am expecting to create prints that bring these two aspects together dramatically. I have made expressive trials using wax resist and ink, compressed charcoal and wax crayons, sepia ink and watercolour. My expectation is not forming just yet. Meanwhile, I have hung prototype drawings on my wall and am looking at all I have done and watching to see what exactly is developing that goes into new ground for me.
It was with somewhat of interest that I downloaded the newsletter and as am a quick reader made my way through the literature in the leaflet it was full of very useful information from how to start as an artist, advice how to register for PAYE in regards to tax so that you are not at any fault with the taxman, to magazines and places to register to encourage your practice as an artist. For a complete novice who although have sort of got going and not yet set up in a studio space but am extremely good at networking it has given me a wealth of useful information which could help me on the road to becoming an active practising artist. I would most definately recommend this to prospective artists at what ever stage they are at in their practice and wished this much information had been available to me during my second year at university but it is never too late to start and hope that prospective artists everywhere take the opportunity to make use of the newsletter at a very reasonable price for under an hour's pay it is a worthwhile investment. Make use of your AA2A newsletter it could be the starting point of your art practice.
Hi AA2A Artists
We're back from the Easter break and its lovely to see your projects through the images and blogs on Dotbiz. Remember you'll still have access to the site up until September and after that we'll be offering you the opportunity to renew your web page annually for a small fee. In the last 12 months we had well over 34,000 new people visiting our websites, thats nearly 190,000 pages viewed each month!
It's just as exciting to find out about the inspirational student support that's been going on. Our AA2A student reps have ben blogging highlights of artists talks, demonstrations and exhibitions for students during the scheme. A big thanks to them and to all of you who have been encouraging, interacting and mentoring alongside doing your own work. Have a look at our students newsletter for a brief roundup.
Don't forget our digital pack 'Making it out there' is now available. This is the first of our 'digital packs' aimed at artists, graduates and students, with more than 80 embedded links to key arts organisations. You can buy it from our new website sales area for £5.95 or view sample pages here.
Only a few weeks left to be our 'Pic of the Week'! We'd particularly like to feature work from the following institutions, as they've not been represented yet, so if you'd like the chance to be on our Facebook and Twitter pages please upload some of your images over the next few weeks:
University of Sunderland
Bradford School of Arts and Media
University of Salford
De Montfort University
Anglia Ruskin University
University of Hertfordshire
London Metropolitan University
Camberwell College of Arts
Wimbledon College of Art
University of Reading
University for the Creative Arts
As always, a big thank you for making our job such a pleasure!
Jo (and the AA2A team)
After finishing university for the Easter break and a lovely one to one with AA2A Artist Katherine Russell a long awaited break to Liverpool is much appreicated even though this has meant scrimping, saving and collecting tokens to pay for the break means a stay in Ainsdale with a 20min walk to train and catching a train to either Southport or Liverpool for the day is well within reach. Liverpool has the Tate, Walker Gallery, Lady Lever Gallery, Liverpool Museum, and a recently opened gallery called appropriately The Open along side the many real ale pubs has made for a lovely Monday to Friday break at just under £100 including transportation to and from events. Having done the Tate and Walker gallery several times in the past explored Liverpool Museum with its newly opened film about how Liverpool was a vibrant and trading area the suprising thing learnt is how many slaves where traded in the docks and how people where thought of as commodities. To then go on to The Open where an interesting selection of old photographs of the second world war mostly of families and how poor these people, along with maps that had been reproduced made for and couple of interesting exhibitions and made me realise that the printing techniques am currently exploring could be a new direction.
The AA2A artist from Manchester School of Art have got together to do a talk to BA and MA students about their experiences in April and I will be recording the presinations hopefully to upload onto the blog soon!
At the university.. sitting in the canteen... tuesday afternoon... no-one around except some people doing crit-type reviews with tutors.. half-listening and wanting the attention, and half-enjoying not having to talk about what I'm doing too much...
Its funny looking back at my initial application for this course, and my early artists statement, I'm almost doing the opposite of what I set out to do - (which makes me worry I've slipped into my bi-polar, crazy pattern I've had throughout my life..) - but this drawing, painting thing is real..
Had a wonderful life-drawing session with Martin Brooks last friday - I knew him at college before but never had any classes with him.. I was off in techno-art land - It feels very special to have an opportunity to learn from someone so experienced in this field..
We were talking about William Coldstream and the technique of 'sight-sizing' - which, to some may seem overly technical and tricky, but to a computer-programmer, it seems utterly logical and fabulous, combining the two sides of my brain in a very beautiful way.. Really looking forward to doing some of this - and finding someone who can actually teach me feels very special..
'When the student is ready, the master will appear..'
(I think thats from Star Wars..?)
..was very pleased with my second drawing of Leonard...
also, politically, I feel it fits with my feelings of stuff disapearing with our collective techno-obsession.. A technique like sight-sizing - could very easily die out, like the dodo..
and up until now I've thought - so what - let it, let the glorious evolution continue.. but now I'm stopping, and I'm discovering other stuff - that the practise of stopping, of drawing is extremely meditative, and its almost the process itself that is so special, not the finished result - which can and will at some point be shovelled through the mincer of art critique.. good, bad, ugly, pretty, saleable, popular, relevant, etc.. - all that is always there.. But at the point of creation, I am recording a movement, the marks i make are as if a dancer had attached crayons to her arms and legs and is dancing across the paper.. And something undefinable.. When looking, really looking... really seeing..
Someone once said to always do something which scares you.
I'm scared of many things. Balled up bits of paper, slugs, frogs, exams, sun-dried tomatoes for example. Organising an event for me; is beyond fear... it's the very probably possibility of publicly falling on your ass and the self-doubt which follows the humiliation. I've just last week hosted a public event in the name of art. It scared the be-jesus out of me, and it still does, but isn't it funny what one will do for what they love?
I blindly found myself acting as a secretary for a volunteering sector in the Ouseburn valley a few months ago. Thats a small area in Newcastle, with a very concentrated community of artists and creative people. Its beautiful and has so much to boast; and yet, its quite insular. In some sort of moment of sheer madness, I volunteered myself to run a networking event for all of the like-minded people. And heres the recipe for what (thank the Lord) turned into a very successful night.
1. NEVER refer to a networking event as a networking event. Its an instant way to put people off. Networking conjures up images of men in suits, shaking hands and talking in mono-tones voices about stats and printer inks. Think of a FUN and FRESH name. I went with SCHMOOZE. Say it. Go on. Its just nice to say.
2. People stick in their groups. Its not often someone comes along who will approach a stranger and start having a chat. And lets me fair, if they did, we would probably dismiss them as odd. This is why networking is probably doomed to fail, without some organisation and a good concept. Enter brainwave number two. The SPEED-SCHMOOZE. Speed-dating meets networking. Genius.
3. Find a venue. Design a poster. Publicise. *It might be handy to have some computer skills at this point. I don't recommend making the poster by hand and spelling the title wrong, twice. TWICE.
4. Plan in advance and stick to it. This is much better than realising late the night before that your plan is ultimately floored as traditional speed-dating only means half of the people actually meet, i.e. the men and the women. This may result in detailed floor plans, colour and number assignment and a small panic attack.
5. Find a buddy. Someone who makes you calm and is good at brewing tea. A collaborative arty partner is fabulous for this. This tip is especially helpful if you have organisation-phobia like myself.
6. Revel in your success when people turn up and you realise that there was some sense in your original plan. Thank everyone profusely, especially the people who you near-drove insane. Collapse.
The things I should have said a long time ago, at the beginning of this project, I believe the phrase is 'better late than never'...
One of the few things I like more than receiving a letter in the post is sending ‘brown paper packages tied up with string’. Or indeed parcels wrapped in old military maps, with 1940s luggage labels used as address stickers. A hand written letter feels much more personal than an email. Yes, I am definitely old fashioned compared to my peers. I like how clunky a typewriter feels, I secretly like queuing up in the post office and I think the Royal Mail is an undervalued institution. I think it is this part of my personality that enjoys to sit in a dimly lit gallery and draw, that relishes putting on my wellies and apron to go to the print room, that thinks the day has been a success when I go home in the dark excited about the prints I’ve worked on and unaware that I have unwittingly dyed my ear orange during the course of the day.
I like the feel of pulling dye through a silk screen and the knowledge that the tiny squeegee in my pocket will be needed to print on the bias binding that will complete my design. And the knowledge that scrubbing the screen clean will enable me to produce something entirely new. I like the satisfaction of drafting a pattern, of hand stitching a label or the tiny details I’ve laboured over that others may not even register. I am delighted to have been awarded a place on the AA2A scheme, I will experiment in the print room on paper and cloth. My project will be inspired by old military uniforms, early aircrafts, sailing ships, the art of correspondence, the delicacy of Victorian stitches and the preciousness of memories.