Projects in the Pipeline…

I have been exploring some ideas about projects that I have lined up for the future and how I want to execute them and so far have a few that see me returning to photography another that will possibly be produced in a drawing format and one that may include elements of collage and embellishment.

The first project I am keen to start on revolves around memories, a subject that my final piece for my Foundation Art degree focussed on, and will see thoughts and ideas developed from that project getting pushed further forward. (the posts for this original work can be found here and here ) However, after doing a bit of thinking about the final outcome I would like, what format would suit the subject, what I am trying to portray and the direction I would like to take this project in, I have decided that I’d like to create images via photographic means.  I would ideally like to shoot with 35mm film in black and white but have lost the facility to develop and print my own images, and sending off film to be developed can be pretty slow, I think I may use a digital camera to take my images and then use editing software to get the right feel for the image.

The other photography project I am thinking about is to do with self portraits and self-representation, again drawing on previous projects…this one drawing from research that I undertook toward the beginning of my Insta Rips and Anti Social Media degree project.  I want to investigate further, what constitutes a self-portrait, if they are a fair representation of ourselves and if there are other means of self-representation that are more true to our person.  I have already decided that I would like to use photography as my means of image capture as it is the means we now seem to favour when creating a self-portrait over painting and drawing.  I am considering using my phone for this project in order to share freely my images on social media in order to gain feedback and ask questions of the viewer and their perception of the image.

A spin-off from the self-portrait/representation that I have been thinking about is to do with personal information, the data that follows us around and is part of us and our digital make up, whether it be a PIN for a bank card, e-mail address, phone number, passwords, all the information which can be traced back to us.  I am thinking about creating a mixed-media piece for this, but at the moment I’m still working through the very basic ideas of the project.

The other main photography project I am keen to start is using the images I already have printed and adding detail to them using embellishments, whether that be glitter, lace, buttons or pieces of newspaper to add texture, interest and depth to the image.  I have already selected several images that I am wanting to use to experiment with this idea and should be sharing these shortly!  🙂

If you want to see behind the scenes images of what I am up to and other things I have been doing, head over to my Instagram !

 

Advertisements

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 2

After the first post that I wrote (which can be found here) I have decided to run a series of blog posts covering each year of my time in University.  This post will be covering my first year undertaking my Photographic Art BA Hons) degree and all that happened in that year.

September 2011 was the year that I began my Photographic Art degree, a course that wasn’t my first choice of degree (more to come on this later in the series…)but one that I was looking forward to none the less.  I received a recommended reading list and an equipment list prior to the course starting and sourced all the necessary books.  I spent a long time sourcing all the equipment stated and stocked up on camera batteries and plenty of film ready for the course to start.

I remember the first day bundling my equipment together and heading off for the bus ride in (at that point I still hadn’t learned to drive!) and being so nervous I was nearly sick.  When I got to uni I met up with a few people who had been in my class for Foundation Art which settled me somewhat.  We all made our way to the assigned class room where we would meet all our other course mates.  That day passed in a bit of a blur of meetings and talks about the university and what we could expect from the course.  The course started pretty much the next day with our first assignment being handed to us not long after.

In the first year we got taught how to use an analogue camera (one that you load with film), how to process black and white film and also how to turn the negatives into prints.  We learned two different ways to create prints bit using the same method of paper exposure to transfer the negative image onto light reactive paper, one of these was a manual, wet room way where you mix the chemicals and process the print fully yourself and another “mechanical” way in which you expose the paper and then feed it into a machine that is filled with the correct levels of chemical and processes the paper for you, the image then being fed through the machine and out the other side once the process was complete.

We leaned to use a Medium Format camera which uses a larger film and can create beautifully detailed images.  I now own several different kinds of Medium Format cameras including 2 Box Brownies (one a higher spec than the other) a Holga and a Voightlander and I really do enjoy using them.  The class took a trip to  Gregynog Hall, a beautiful old mansion-house, where we undertook a project to produce “Film Noir” style images.  A few weeks before the trip we were split into groups and were given a piece of text to use as the basis for our images, the images needed to illustrate the text and act as a visual story.  The text my group was given to work from was Roald Dahl’s Lamb to The Slaughter.  Part of the work for this project focused on planning.  Our group had several meetings where we discussed the text and chose parts of the story to illustrate.  We then went on to discuss how we wanted the images to look and how were to be shot.  We spent a lot of time sourcing props that could be used in the final images to make them look authentic, spending time in many charity and antique shops.  Once we got to Gregynog we spent a day exploring all the rooms and deciding which would provide the most suitable backdrop for the images then setting the scenes up and sorting out where the cameras would be and how to light the images.  I really enjoyed that project, it taught me a lot about the technical side of image creating and that there is a lot more to consider than just the final image.

Other projects we were given to work on included using colour film, from taking images to processing the film through a specialist machine and then onto printing the images.  I found colour photography really interesting, however I really struggled with the printing of the images as there is so much that needs to be considered.  We worked on several different projects under the umbrella heading of colour photography, one of the projects that really sticks in my head was a diary that I worked on, inspired by Corrine Day’s “Diary” and work by Ori Gersht and Tracey Ferguson titled “Day by Day”.  I was set a project about Photography and Physiognomy (definition of Physiognomy here).  I started off looking at how important the face is in recognising someone, and how the image of our face is used on so many different things, from ID cards to passports and as our profile image on social media, but after looking at “Day by Day”, a series of images taken by Ori Gersht and Tracey Ferguson when they were in a relationship together and documenting the break up of that relationship and seeing the differences in the artist’s faces as that relationship failed I became interested in creating my own diary.  I took photographs each day, 3 x a day and noted my thoughts and feelings.  I had hoped that the images produced would convey my emotions at the time.  I was surprised to see, through the images, the small changes that took place in my appearance, from my hair getting longer, my face starting to thin out and how tired I looked in some of the images, and although the emotions I was feeling didn’t seem to come out in the images I felt that I had achieved something.

My favorite project was the final project of the year that I worked on.   I can’t really remember the project brief but I called this project “A Model Family”.  With this project I examined the bonds between family and friends, trust and friendship circles and the relationships between friends and family.  I also looked at how communication within these groups happened and the movement between friendship circles.  For example, having a close friend in work can change to a friendship that only takes place on social media or email and phone conversations when the job position changes, how friendships change due to other factors such as moving and relocation.  This project became less about photography and images and manifested itself into a series of models based on atoms.  The models that I created used different sized polystyrene balls and wooden skewers painted in different colours, each different sized ball represented a different friendship group or part of my family and differentiated in size depending on the size of the allocated group.  As I put these models together it became apparent that they looked like models used in chemistry to illustrate chemical structures.  There are 4 models in total, each having a “Chemical” like formula name assigned to them, the largest is called

M=F(1IF,1EF)+Bf(1SF,1AF)+Fr(1BF,1CF)+O(1UF,1WF,1CF,1SF) which equates to Me = Family (1 Immediate Family, 1 External family) + Boyfriend (1 Step Family, Adopted Family (Boyfriends Family) + Friends (1 Best Friend, 1 Close Friend) + Others (1 group of Uni friends, 1 group of work friends, 1 group of college friends, 1 group of school friends).

The smaller models started off as just me, then my family and worked its way up in groups to become the largest model.  I really enjoyed this project the most and it changed so much from the beginning where I couldn’t really think of anything I could do into something that I am still super proud of today!

I learned quite a lot in my first year of my degree but there were some points where I questioned myself on what I was doing and whether the course would be worth it.  At the beginning of this part of my “Uni Life” I mentioned getting the equipment list and buying everything as I thought I would need it all.  I did feel a bit misled by the list as it turned out that some of the equipment I bought never got used, and wasn’t needed which had an impact on my finances because of the belief that if a list was sent out to us then we would need all the items on the list.  I think if I was to do it all again then I wouldn’t just go out and buy everything on the list but get the very basics and build up my kit as I needed things.  I also struggled as I’d never used Photoshop before starting this course, which nearly all the other students had experience of, that for me was a sharp learning curve especially as training sessions with my tutor fell through and I had to teach myself the basics.  I purchased the best book ever, one that I continue to use regularly called CS3 for Dummies, which helped me get to grips with all the things that I wanted to do.  I wouldn’t say I’m an expert by any means and am continually learning new tricks and ways to do things in Photoshop.

So, in a nutshell, that was my first year of my Photographic Art Degree.  I hope you enjoyed it!   Stay tuned, or even subscribe if you so wish(!!!) for further stories from my degree!!!!


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!!!!

First Solo Art Exhibition

Exhibition 2014

The end of last week was an exciting one for me!  Not only as thursday saw me turn another year older but friday became the date that my first SOLO exhibition was hung!  This is such a big thing for me as it is the first exhibition I have undertaken that displays my work since university but it is also my first exhibition where my images are the only ones on show!  🙂

I was expecting to undertake the hanging of my images on Monday 20th October but in the end, we were able to hang it on the friday before.  My curator (Giulia) made the hanging of my images super easy, fun and quick to install, the whole process went without a hitch and I’m so pleased with the work, it looks better than I could have ever anticipated!

The work is titled “Turning of the Seasons” and focuses on the colours and textures of nature as the seasons change from summer to autumn.  I love the change from summer to autumn the most as it is the most drastic change that happens, from the leaves turning different shades of yellows and orange and red, to the textures we can feel underfoot

The exhibition is taking place at the National Assembly for Wales for the next few months!

In other news, I have submitted several images to the Nikon Photo Contest (http://www.nikon-photocontest.com/en/) .  The theme for this contest is “Home”.  I chose to submit some of my images from a previous body of work which I shot at a friend’s house which has a bit of a sad story attached to it.  The friend whose house it was had died and I went there once the house was cleared to document the remains of a life past, the emptiness left behind and felt that this was a suitable “theme” for the contest, how a house is not a home once the person has gone.  The images talk of loss and emptiness but also of the promise of new beginnings.  I will be uploading the images as soon as the first round of judging has taken place (January 2015).  These images should also be published to the Nikon Photo Contest page around then too.

Future Projects

I am currently in the planning stage for a new project which will see me taking an image every day for 365 days and using the images to create a new art work.  I will be beginning this project on the 1st January as it will be easier to track the start and end of this year-long project using the first calendar date of the new year.  It will also be part of my New Years resolutions too!  I am planning on creating a video piece with the images taken and also a book to accompany the video.  I may even produce some prints at some point too.

I am also going to be having a meeting next week with the Arts Development Officer for Torfaen next week with a view to exhibiting some work in Torfaen which is pretty exciting as Torfaen is my county of residence and many of my images and artworks have been produced around that area!!!