The Need to Write (or a Reflection on the Past) Part 3

In September 2012 I started what was my second year of my Photographic Art degree, and my 3rd year in Uni (having previously completed a Foundation Degree in Art, Media and Design (which has been written about here) and my First Year as a Photographic Art Student (read about the first year here)).

I was really looking forward to this year as it was to be the first year that our grades counted towards our degree, though I’ve never really understood why our first year didn’t count towards our grade.  We had been set work to complete over the summer term, anything of our choice, so long as we had research and a completed piece of work to show for it.  I used the topic of insomnia for my body of work and chose long shutter speeds to capture the restlessness felt by the sufferer.  (That work is documented in these posts found here ) .  We all got set the task of visiting an exhibition in the holidays and writing about the visit as well as completing a full project.  I chose to go to the Tate Modern and see Damien Hirst’s exhibition and write about that.  We were to exhibit our summer projects and hand in the writing about the exhibition in the weeks after we started back for marking.  When it came to it though, we got to exhibit our work but not one of the lecturers seemed to care about the written work at all which was really disappointing on my part, not because I hadn’t enjoyed the exhibition but because I had tried really hard to produce some really good writing about the exhibition and it felt like the lecturers didn’t care and were not really interested.  This didn’t really set off the year in the most positive way for me.

One of the first projects we were set was the task of producing some kind of work in a “Make” project to ease us into the new study year.  We got to choose our own theme so long as we produced something that was made by us which was nice.  I chose to create work inspired by the colour spectrum, focusing on how the colour spectrum we were taught in school, made up of primary colours – red, blue and yellow, secondary colours – purple, green, orange, differed from the “light colour spectrum” or “Additive Light Spectrum” where white light is made up of different colours of light.  I produced a set of 3 canvases based on this theory, sets of overlapping and linking circles all painted with varying degrees of tone (this can be seen here).  I also made a hanging model of how the colours interact with each other – another balls on sticks piece!  We had to talk about our work in front of the class, which was quite nerve-wracking and I’m still not sure, to this day, whether anyone understood my work or even liked it.

The second project we did focused on the town I am from, we were to produce work about the town which could have the opportunity to be displayed in the town, which was undergoing renovation works, to hide the ongoing building work.  The whole of the class had to produce work about the town I’m from (Pontypool) and upon completion of our projects were to exhibit our work in the town for all to see.  I can’t say that working on a project that is based in your own town is easy, for me this was really hard as I have done so many projects about the town, through school and college respectively and for this project I wanted to come up with something original and different to other projects I had done on the town.  In the end I chose to create maps of the town, taking all information out of them and leaving bare roads, no distinguishable features in sight. This can be seen here.

It was through this project that I met and started working alongside artist Alexia Mellor with my friend Meg.  Alexia had been bought in to Pontypool to work on art projects for the town and was the Resident Artist.  We assisted her with art activities and were encouraged to create our own projects on the town, rather than write about these projects here you can view them individually here.  This was probably the best outcome of the work and was the most fun.  From this has stemmed a new project that I am currently part of, based in Pontypool which I will be writing about soon!

Other projects that I worked on in this time were based upon social media, the umbrella title we were given for this work was “Voyeurism, Surveillance and Control”.  My idea was based around how social media can encourage voyeurism and surveillance and control us in ways that we are not conscious of – Facebook, one of the biggest social media sites, apart from twitter (and now Instagram – which this month (December) became bigger than twitter with a reported 300 Million active users (as reported in The Guardian here ) allows users to add friends and interact with others as and when we choose, and depending on the security set by the user, can allow you to peruse other users pages and see what they are up to without even being their friend on the site.  In order to set up a page on Facebook (and by page, I mean a new person profile page, the kind that people have in order for you to “add them as a friend”), from new, the site asks for lots of information from you, some of it relevant to the site, and some not really necessary, it was this gathering of data and how the site may use it that interested me the most.  I decided to set up a new user page to see what was asked and see how much information I really needed to share.  When you start a Facebook page there is information needed, you start with your name, email, date of birth, then further boxes come up as you complete each step – hobbies, interests, schools, education, work and so many other information gathering boxes.  These boxes come up and it makes you feel that you have to give the information asked, its like you are mis-lead into giving the information out, you can skip much of the information but upon the set up of the page being complete there are prompts that come up on top of your news feed from time to time asking for further information about yourself.  I decided to take screenshots of these information boxes and reproduce them, getting them printed into a book, the idea being that most people are happy to fill in all this information which can then be shared with “friends” and can be viewable by a larger audience than you are aware of if you are not careful but would those people be happy in writing down all this information into a book which can then be picked up by anyone and read.  I then went on to produce the final piece of work for the year, which went into our end of year exhibition, which I called “Screen” – a backlit frame that contained all of the data boxes that Facebook bombard you with when signing up for a profile with them.  The work addressed the vast amount of data that we give away to these companies without really realising and just how much information we share to others without even noticing.  My interest in this field led me to write an essay on the subject (here) and I went on to cover the subject in my dissertation also.

In all I enjoyed my second year, the projects we were set were very broad-based and we were able to run with our own ideas and work production methods, I was happy that I got to produce some large-scale maps as I had been wanting to use maps in art for such a long time but never really knew what I wanted to do with them and I really enjoyed producing a book as well.  I got to learn more about what Photoshop was capable of in terms of using it for production of my work and it boosted my editing skills.  I bought the book “Photoshop CS 3 for Dummies” which helped me learn how to use different parts of Photoshop to produce my work and I still refer to it now if I need to learn something in that software.  There were some points that were not so good, the length of time we had on projects seemed, sometimes too long and I felt, at several points like I had run out of steam and inspiration for the work I was undertaking, at times I felt that there wasn’t enough support available from the tutors and that sometimes they didn’t quite understand or like the ideas that were being discussed with them and there seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm from other students when we put on our exhibition in Pontypool.

Several times I thought about quitting the course and went through so many mixed emotions during that year but I stayed and returned in September 2013 to complete my final year of the course – stay tuned, (or even subscribe!) to read the reflection of my Final Year coming soon!!!!

The Need to Write (or A Reflection on the Past) Part 1

Its weird, this is a blog I started up near enough 4 years ago (on the 6th May 2011 to be precise, making my blog just over 3 and a half years old!).  I created the blog as a way to share my artwork, uni projects, notes and things of interest that I have discovered.  I wanted the blog to be more image heavy than contain lots of writing, however, as time goes on I seem to have spent more and more time writing about things than sharing images and this is something that I feel I need to address.

I find I have bred a need to write, and I’m unsure where it has come from, it’s not writing in a creative (NaNoWrMo for example) way, nor is it probably very interesting for others to read, but I’m finding the whole experience rather therapeutic for myself.  It’s my way of recording things that have happened, of documenting my thoughts and ideas, a way of preserving something of myself for the future that is less likely to be destroyed than if it were written on paper.  I feel like, since I have finished Uni, that I have been neglecting this blog, not sure what to post, and not really having many images or projects to share.  I have one in the pipeline which I will be starting in the New Year, and several other thoughts about other projects I would like to pursue but no projects currently underway, but I have been thinking about these projects and how I want them to go and what kind of outcome I am aiming for.

Anyway, this post isn’t really about talking about the future, I have been wanting to write a post documenting the past four years, the years that I have spent working towards a degree in Photographic Art, a nod to the past and what I have achieved in that time!

I worked for a charity in the payroll department for 3 years prior to starting university, I had been thinking about getting back into art as it was my favorite subject through school and when the news broke that my colleague and I were being made redundant it seemed the perfect opportunity for me to begin life (again) as a student.  I went to an open day with my partner and met the lecturers of the course I wanted to take (Foundation in Art,  Media and Design or F:AMD) at The University of Newport, Caerleon Campus.  I learned a lot about the course and what kind of things the students got to produce and decided it was the course for me.  I enrolled and was surprised to receive a letter inviting me to an interview, even more surprising was that upon attending and going through the interview, at the end I was offered a spot on the course unconditionally!  That was back in 2010!  It seems such a long time ago now!

So, I started the course, catching the bus each day as it was prior to me being able to drive, or I’d get my partner to drop me off on his way to work and picking me up again on his way home (doing 12 hour days in college!)  I learned so much on that course!  We covered lots of different things in our first term, the lecturers designing the course so we could have tasters in lots of different art practices before we decided what kind of “artist” we wanted to be, and where our specialties lay.  We covered photography, fine art, fashion, animation, 3-d Art and printmaking in the first term.  I remember not really getting on with animation, we were required to create a stop motion movie of our name morphing into a chosen characteristic or description word of ourselves.  I created a flick book first and that seemed to work ok but when it came to turning it into a stop motion film I just couldn’t do it.  We were set a lot of fun “activities” to work on, for the fashion element we had to create head-wear based on a love song, I chose U2’s Sweetest Thing and created a hat which had a tear through the middle of it that had been sewn back up with ribbon and had a giant needle sticking out of it.  For the fine art module we had to create a fantasy animal that combined elements of other animals…we got to go to Bristol Zoo as part of the research!  I can remember constructing this fantasy animal, spending hours with chicken wire and paper mache, spray paint and glue, working out how to meld a zebra, flamingo and rat into this creature that then needed to be suspended through a canvas and hung from the ceiling.  That module was probably the hardest to execute.

In the second term I chose to concentrate on Fine Art and, if memory serves right, 3d Art.  I remember working on a project called Higgeldy Piggeldy, where the brief spoke about how some things can appear as one but are actually the opposite and decided to create 2 perspex boxes, one totally transparent and filled totally full of water and sealed in, giving the appearance that it was just a totally empty clear box and totally lightweight, the other giving the appearance of being full of sand but in reality the inside surfaces of the perspex being coated with sand and filled with polystyrene, giving the illusion of heaviness but being really light.  This was going to be an interactive piece, requiring the audience to lift the pieces to experience the opposite of what they imagined.  I remember being really frustrated with this project, I had so many issues with the perspex, it wouldn’t seal properly, my application of sealant was less than perfect and kept leaking, but the idea was there and I managed to back it all up with almost a sketchbook full of ideas and research materials.  we also worked on a piece called Mechanisms where I looked at work involving kinetics (movement), I spent days lying under my desk with a wooden board suspended under it and finding different ways of having a pen make contact with the surface whilst it swung back and for.  I then moved off into Knex and constructed a windmill like structure which turned with a handle and propelled markers around it before settling on making a version of a harmonograph.  We also worked on a project called Location in which I focussed on the area I live in and spent many days gathering leaves and making them into different coloured crayon rubbings before cutting them all out and attaching them to canvas.

For the third and final module I decided I wanted to major in Fine Art.  We had to design our own brief, conduct appropriate research and come up with our own ideas about the subject we had chosen.  I knew that I wanted to focus on the past and on ornaments, the home and ideas of emotion and sentimentality.  I had lost my grandmother in the January of this course and that influenced the piece heavily.  I chose, in the end, to create an installation of part of a room with a cupboard in it that was semi open.  Inside the cupboard were lots of ornaments that had been wrapped in a kind of insulating fabric that was see through, giving the effect of dust sheeting over furniture…it was my way of making a statement about objects in life, many of them hold untold stories, from where they came from and the reason they came to be in the place to the sentiments attached.  No one knows those stories like the owner does and they are shielded away from many Peoples ears, only shared with the trusted few.  And then you die, and all that is left is this group of objects that seem so insignificant to others yet held so much to the person who owned them.

And, that summarises my first year in university… Stay tuned, or even subscribe if you so wish(!!!) for the stories from my degree!!!!

It’s All in the Detail

I was lucky enough to be able to take some images, for this project on my town, when there was nice weather.  These were taken last week and are detail shots of things around my town, small things that I take for granted or have never noticed.  The first set of images were taken in the Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up of one of the windows in the Bowling Green area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close up of the detail of The Fountain in the Italian Gardens area

Close up of the detail of The Fountain in the Italian Gardens area

Detail on the Library Window

Close up of a wall brace where the train lines used to run (now a concrete open space)

Mosaic detail of one of the towns underpasses depicting parts of the towns heritage

Mosaic detail of one of the towns underpasses depicting parts of the towns heritage

Mosaic detail of one of the towns underpasses depicting parts of the towns heritage

Mosaic detail of one of the towns underpasses depicting parts of the towns heritage

Mosaic detail of one of towns doorsteps that used to be Lion House, a hotel in the town, now a charity shop

Corn Market plaque, was a clothes store recently until it closed down, now empty

Detail from the old Tesco building, now Instores (part of Poundstretcher)

Detail from Nat West Bank, was a mens club in previous life

Masonic symbols?

Masonic symbols?

Masonic symbols?

Masonic symbols?

 

 

Another mosaic on another underpass leading from town, made by the same artist

White Hart, used to be a hotel before it became a pub then was left empty for several years before THI undertook regeneration of the building.

Detail of a mosaic in a covered pathway beside Wetherspoons.  I remember this being covered in carpet several years ago

Another detail of part of the mosaic flooring in a covered walkway beside Wetherspoons

Peeling paint in the Market which is due for regeneration (April 2013?)

Detail of part of the floor in the Market