Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tiny Book of Tiny Stories

...what he said! This is going on my Christmas wish list...

Inspirational idols: the film character, Amélie

Amélie's outlook on life is almost perfect for an artist.
She is smart, independent, organised, thoughtful, creative and proactive. She treats the people she meets as problems to solve, and does so in elaborate and unusual ways (and does so whilst always looking neat and well-presented herself!) If I could site any one person's philosophy to aspire to, it would most definitely be hers.
Shame she's not real.


A reoccurring problem keeps stopping me in my tracks! After hours of quite intense work (usually knitting/sewing/drawing) where I have to concentrate closely on the detail, my eyes go funny. Sort of like the beginning stages of a migraine where my vision blacks out or will not focus on what I'm trying to look at. At first I panicked and thought 'do I need glasses?!' but I've come to the conclusion that it's probably just inadequate lighting, which is annoying as I have a very handy lamp on my desk (purchased from none other than IKEA in the children's section). Apparently when it comes to light, only daylight really works the best. Unfortunately for me, this means when I have a sudden bout of arty activity in the dark hours I have to put up with the inevitable blurry eye moments.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Live brief work finally beginning to take shape...

I can't disclose any specific details of the brief for reasons of confidentiality, but a theme of my work is dance halls. Here's a sketch I did today, trying to capture the dreamy nostalgia of ballroom dancing.

Monday, 14 November 2011


My housemates and I visited an exhibition at The Holden Gallery in Manchester, showing some of Jonny Hannah's latest work. This was also the first time I attended an official exhibition launch, and it was quite intimidating being around a room full of such knowledgeable artists/critics/ whoever else they were. I got the sense that a lot of the people weren't really appreciating the work. Overall, it felt like more of a social occassion; an opportunity to try and make connections with the people attending the event or to assert your presence as an artist yourself. We felt rather out of our depth and timid about approaching people, but managed to talk to a few people there, including two women from Ink Illustration who seemed keen on giving us advice, which was nice!

Before the exhibition I'd never paid a great deal of attention to Hannah's work, but seeing it so up-close made me realise how much I like it. It was presented on a black board with wooden pegs through bulldog clips pinning the work up, which looked very neat and made the work stand out. The lack of frames and glass covering the paper made it accessible-within touching distance. I appreciated how the more labour-intensive pieces were displayed amongst what looked like quick ink paintings/drawings- it's encouraging seeing how such an accomplished artist can still enjoy doing work which seems more care-free and spontaneous. In fact I found a lot of the simple black ink paintings more engaging than the bigger, more detailed pieces.

The first thing that grabbed my attention was this:
The simple dress shape suggests the symbolism of a woman. Perhaps this music is relevant personally to Hannah, relating to the lyrics. I have found the song particularly moving since discovering it in the soundtrack of 'Candy', when it is played at the heartbreaking ending. Hannah's hand-painted lyrics seem to be expressive of his own connection to the song, shown by certain lines drawn bigger and darker than others. I'm not sure exactly what drew me to this piece; it is so simple, and I have a weakness for elegant hand-drawn type.

Here is a trailer for Candy (I highly recommend it!):

Tim Buckley's Song To The Siren:

This was probably my favourite one of his ink drawings on display. The mark-making is so simple but charming. By displaying work that looks like it could be hidden away in a sketchbook, Hannah has exposed his unprocessed drawing style, something which I think is far more insightful into the mind of the artist than a piece of work which is more clearly the 'final product' of a project, and therefore often a lot more interesting.

Here are some more examples of these double page drawings:

Some notes and sketches I did whilst at the exhibition:
*'that dude' = Kenneth Andersson.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

"Memories. You're talking about memories."

Our current project is focusing on the impact of dementia and the importance memories hold for people. During our briefing we were shown a brief clip of Bladerunner. I have been desperate to watch it ever since (one of my favourite films ever, thanks to my dad's love of 80s sci-fi), and tonight decided to indulge.
It's a very interesting thing to consider; how our memories essentially shape our personalities. In Bladerunner it suggests how memories may be the very thing that make us human. In an early scene, Deckard interviews a replicant (artificial human) to demonstrate that the replicant detection test is effective. The replicant, Rachel, is only exposed as non-human after over 100 test questions, when on average he guesses that 30 is roughly the standard amount needed. This is because Rachel is unaware that she is a replicant. She has been implanted with memories to make her more human, giving her a false past so that emotionally she is more mature.
Deckard: She's a replicant, isn't she?
Tyrell: I'm impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot one? 
Deckard:  I don't get it, Tyrell...
Tyrell: How many questions? 
Deckard: Twenty/thirty cross-referenced. 
Tyrell: It took more than a hundred for Rachel, didn't it? 
Deckard: She doesn't know. 
Tyrell: She's beginning to suspect, I think. 
Deckard: Suspect? How can it not know what it is? 
Tyrell: Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell. 'More human than human' is our motto. Rachel is an experiment, nothing more. We began to recognise in them a strange obsession, after all, they are emotionally inexperienced, with only a few years to store up the experiences which you and I take for granted. If we give them the past, we create a cushion or pillow for their emotions and consequently we can control them better. 
Deckard: Memories. You're talking about memories.
If it is true that memory is a key part of being human, the thought of losing it is a terrifying prospect. Without memories, the replicants in the film only exist to serve someone else's purpose for them. They have no chance to explore their own dreams or consider their own experiences to have much worth. Their lives are an empty existence.
Memories teach us how to live; they remind us of our own actions and experiences, and so we act based on our knowledge of our lives so far. Losing these memories essentially makes us less functional. Concentrating on our past is important for everyone, it reminds us of our value. A lot of people subconsciously keep their memories active by writing diaries and reading through old ones; keeping photo albums and browsing them regularly, sharing and reminiscing with family and friends; collecting personal letters/postcards/drawings and notes. I've always been keen on keeping a diary, recording random thoughts, writing down days I don't want to forget. If something needs to be treasured, human memory isn't particularly reliable on its own all the time, but sometimes a few words written down are all that's needed to refresh what is stored deep in your mind; just as photos can evoke a much richer recollection of a particular time that's been captured. For dementia patients, these kind of reminders can become invaluable. I would highly recommend that everyone keep as rich a record of their lives as possible, or eventually the little (but potentially treasurable details) will fade and be lost forever!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

A Magical Halloween Weekend

Nut Crack Night is a major new family arts event offering an antidote to the over commercialized ghoulfest that Halloween has become. The team behind the award winning Just So Festival will take over the magnificent Astley Hall in Lancashire on October 29th  and offer families a slice of the magical and macabre with an evening of theatrical performance, wild dancing, light spectaculars and masked mayhem.
Nut Crack Night was originally a northern term for Halloween, when people would throw nuts on to the fire and predict their futures based on how the nuts cracked and sparked in the flames.  Wild Rumpus will reinvigorate the old traditions with their own twist, an evening where audiences can expect to see the wonderful Astley Hall and its grounds transformed into an enchanting and terrific space where they will thrill and delight in the mysterious and magical.

On Saturday my housemates and I volunteered at a children's art festival, Nutcrack Night.
We applied to help out before really knowing what we were getting ourselves into, so had no idea what to expect as we were driving up to the location. None of us had ever been to the site before, so we had to rely on Jadine's trusty sat-nav to lead the way. We arrived at the car park of Astley Hall.
Astley Hall is a stunning country house hidden away in its surrounding grounds, the public Astley Park. The house and its nearby coach-house are known as Astley Hall Museum and Art Gallery.
We spent the morning helping with odd jobs around the site, then went to help prepare for the lantern making, which involved cutting up willow branches and taping them together to make the bases. 
Once it was almost time for the event to begin, we were briefed with the basics of what we needed to do throughout the evening, then sent off to get changed into our 'Victorian Villain' costumes. 
We were then split up and assigned with rotating jobs. I started by helping with the mask-making, then was paired together with Cat to go and greet people at the gates of the park. Once it got quite late we were allowed to go and get something to eat and have a wander round the site for ourselves. We visited the woods, Astley Hall itself and then joined in with the lantern parade at the end of the night.
The best coffee wagon I've ever seen! I treated myself to 2 lovely hot chocolates that evening.
The mobile pianist played even while it began to rain.
...we were brave enough! Despite meeting a skeleton playing his violin...
...followed by ghostly dresses hanging in the trees...
...and last but not least, the lantern parade, lead by the huge puppet (Hekkity?)...

Banner in progress

I began by painting out the shark on a piece of large black fabric, using undiluted acrylic and a huge brush. I tried to paint as quickly as possible to avoid over-blending and caking too much paint on, keeping in mind how effective Ed Hall's paint work had looked when it wasn't done 'perfectly'.

Once the shark was finished I cut it out and positioned it over the red fabric I had chosen to use for the background (the bright red to represent the blood and death). The size of this banner has admittedly pushed me out of my comfort zone, which is usually working at a small, intimate scale where I can use a lot of detail. Because of this, I found it harder to really consider the composition, and as I positioned the shark on the red fabric I forced myself to add the text in a way that would fit around the image.
At first I really struggled with what the slogan could be. I came up with lots of ideas, but none of them were punchy enough. In the end I decided to use a slogan suggested by my friend, Amber. 
"Don't eat fin fo yo din. Have a heart, leave the shark."
The slang/casual lingo gives it a bit of humour and makes the message more accessible.
Hand-sewing on the letters has proven extremely time consuming, so I haven't quite finished as yet. But on Tuesday our class presented our work to each other and were assigned a 'lucky dip' person whose work we had to do a mini-crit on. Jadine pointed out the following about my banner:

like the caption/slogan
text is clear and easy to read
black on red is good 'warning' colour scheme

perhaps more work on the composition and where the text may be placed
colours?-maybe another that is more vibrant/contrasting

I definitely agree with the criticism of the composition, but I'm not sure it is something I will realistically be able to alter before the module deadline. After seeing the banner on the wall it was easier for me to examine how effective the composition was (unfortunately I have a very cramped room with not much space to look at it properly from a distance) and it occurred to me that it might have been a bit more interesting to change the scale of the image- perhaps to have big text in the middle and surround it with multiple smaller images of sharks.