Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Taking it all back home

Today was packing up day, last day in college, and results day.  All rather sad, but also joyful.

It is interesting how much quicker it is to take something down, than to put it up!  College was stripped bare by 10.30, while it had taken days to get it all cleaned and tidy and hung.  Hmm. 

Here is my pile of things, looking rather forlorn, and ready for a taxi home.

I decided to bring all the cut strips home.  I think they still have life in them, and if all else fails, I can turn them into paper mache bowls.....

Oh, and we got our results, and I was delighted and not a little stunned to get a Distinction!

Doing Foundation has been an absolutely brilliant thing, has transformed the way I think about art, myself, things in general. has given me new skills and awareness, some new friends, and a new direction.  I am so grateful to the college and the tutorial team for leading us through it all, and for being such great people. 

So now for a long summer, keeping myself busy (there is lots to be done) and trying to focus a little on print-making and what I want to get out of the MA course at UWE.  And doing as much as I can of drawing, mark-making, printing, photography, looking at art, and thinking.  And perhaps, even, remembering how to use my sewing machine and doing a bit of much-neglected quilting too.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Final Show

The Final Show at Queens Road previewed on Friday night, and then ran until Tuesday, with a rota of students taking turns to steward it.

The opening night was a great success - but ridiculously crowded.  Over 100 students were finishing, and the college space is tiny, so it was quite a squeeze with parents and children and friends all winding round the corridors trying to see all the work.

I thought the standard was generally pretty high, and it was good to see the finished work of so many of the full time students, who we have had very little to do with most of the time.  Here are some images of some of the work I particularly liked, but I fear I did not always securely attach names to images, so some are unattributed.

I really liked several of the painters' work, but especially this one by Georgia Smith.

This was an amazing construction of a garden shed, complete with a full complement of bits and pieces.

These face casts were cleverly located half-way down the stairs to the ceramics studio.  

This was by Maeve Anne, who is going on to do an MA in Dublin, and is about the way we perceive meaning in relation to images.  It was huge, about 4 ft in diameter. 

This complex map of Easton, a Bristol neighbourhood, was by Jo Knight, and represented the women in this culturally and ethnically diverse area, and recorded the places they had come from. Jo did a series of taped and transcribed interviews with the women too.

This is part of a group of pieces by James Norman, called The Departed, which was about the loss of lives in the First World War.  This piece is a relief, rather than a painting, and includes a muddied and battered pair of soldiers' long-johns, and a lot of hatred fruit, and ash, and quite a lot of mud and pva as well as paint.  James also had a small excavation in the college back yard, and a very moving continuous sound accompaniment, of his reading, in dead-pan tones, a random selection of lines from Wilfred Owen's wars poetry.  It sounds chaotic when described like this, but in reality was both moving and visually (and aurally) exciting.  James is going on to do a BA in Fine Art at UWE 

And finally there was my box of bits of paper.  I attached a note to the box, in the hope that people would play with the scraps: 

a life in words and paper
shredded, scattered and strewn
feel free to touch, delve, build, search find
de-constructing is also re-constructing

It seemed to work - people did investigate, and lift and dig and sculpt with the paper., so I achieved a result in terms of getting people to engage with the feel of the paper, and perhaps to think about how we throw things (including ideas) away, and how ephemeral our work can be.

 People also seemed intrigued by the tiny snatches of meaning on the scraps of paper strip - and they lifted them up to read and wonder about the words, and to search of other interesting snippets.  Someone said it was a bit like getting Fortune Cookies at a Chinese restaurant.  Or a Christmas lucky dip.  
Overall, I was quite pleased with how the show went, and how my pieces fitted in to the whole.  My film was on the show reel with 7 others, os it was quite a challenge for people to sit and watch the whole lot.  But whenever I went in to the film room, people generally were sticking with it, even though there was no punch line.  I didn't hear any negative comments so I guess that was as much as i could hope for.  I rather liked the film, anyway.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Good News!

I heard today that I have been offered a place on the MA in Multidisciplinary Printmaking at UWE, to start in September.  More info about the course is in the link here.

I am very pleased, and not a little excited.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Exhibition preparation

Monday was the day for us to bring in all our work and our final pieces for assessment and for the exhibition which will open on Friday.  It was a rather nice day - college was all clean and tidy with fresh white paint on every wall, and there were lots of students fidgeting with their final pieces, fixing things to walls, arranging things on plinths and shelves, doing last minute adjustments, and setting out research files, sketchbooks and  development work for the assessors.  There was plenty of time to look at other people's work, before what will hopefully be a very crowded Private View on Friday evening.

My installation was fine, I was grateful for some help from James in assembling the open box onto the square plinth, and then I filled it up with my paper.  It looked like this....

I thought this was OK - except there didn't seem to be quite enough of the paper.  I wanted to create a rich sensation of being able to delve into the heap, and it was, frankly, a bit thin.  So I rushed home at lunchtime and furiously sliced up a bundle more women's history magazines and journals from way back, and a few other things including at least one of my essays.  When I could face using the guillotine no longer, I rushed back to college and added all this new material to the heap.  And it was considerably better for being much fuller. Like this..... 

It is now possible to pile up the strips and create little landscapes and sculptures, which is what I wanted to achieve.

I had to do another title for my film on the show reel, too, but I was pleased with the ways the film looks on the bigger screen.  The noise of the emergency siren, coming in the middle of the film, still seems to be OK, even though it obscures the sound of the paper falling for a while.  Anyway, it is all done now, and I just hope it comes out OK in the assessment - and I also hope that the box and plinth will be ok in the bustle of the Private View.  They are just a little vulnerable to being knocked into or knocked over in the place I've been allotted - but I mentioned this to several of the tutors and hopefully it will be moved, at lead a little, before the doors open on Friday.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Finished at last!

I have spent the best part of the last few days doing all the last bits and pieces for my Foundation Diploma assessment and the final show.  Our work has to be delivered to college on Monday for assessment and the final show opens on Friday evening.

I thought I had more or less got everything done, but there was still a lot - including the bibliography and project evaluation.

Well, at last it is all done, and all packed up in boxes and folders ready to take in on Monday.  And here it all is.....

And I am feeling quite cheerful about the work itself, and the way it has all come together. My two complementary final pieces can't be shown here, although I will have some photos later on, once the show is done.  

I am submitting a short film I made at college which is  of thousands of little strips of cut-up paper falling into a big heap on the floor, complete with sound.  

And secondly an installation consisting of a big flat open wooden box, 3' square and sitting on a pedestal about 3' high, which will be filled with those same strips.  Visitors will be invited to delve into the heap with their hands, to pick up the strips and drop them again, to listen to the sounds they make, to pile them up into weird and wonderful shapes and sculptures, and generally to experience the exhilaration of letting go of an old life full of words and papers and essays and report writing, in exchange for a new freedom to create and experience textures, sounds, sights and shapes. 

Well, that's what I hope will happen.  I have a private nightmare that the plinth will get knocked over and the paper scraps will be spread across the floor....  I am a little worried about the location I've been given within the exhibition rooms, and may need to negotiate about this when I take everything in on Monday.

I am so pleased to have it finished!  But what on earth will I fill my time with now?  One urgent task is to give the house a much-needed clean and tidy.  The kitchen has been totally invaded for weeks, and somehow things have found their way into every corner of the house.  

So, given the continuing rain and wind, what better way to spend Saturday afternoon than having a good old tidy? Actually I can think of a great many nicer things to do, but needs must....

And the second thing to do, which is definitely nicer, is to make the Ginger and Rhubarb loaf which my lovely daughter Charlie has just up-loaded onto her blog and which sounds scrumptious.    

Thursday, 14 June 2012


I've had a lovely, spur-of-the-moment two day visit from my daughter Charlie and her partner Lu,  which has meant a lot of eating and talking and lazing around, and not much work on my final pieces and materials.   We did go together to see the UWE degree shows, including the Fine Art BA at Spike Island (which I felt was very disappointing:  a lot of rather odd posturing, and very little art which made any sense to me) and a second look, for me but not for them, at the Drawing, Illustration, Photography and Printmaking at Bower Ashton, which was altogether very uplifting, interesting work, skilful drawing and printmaking, professionally exhibited.

Never mind, there are still a few days to go, and I am always best when working under the pressure of a looming deadline....

And meanwhile, since it didn't actually rain this morning, I had a couple of blissful hours on the allotment, planting my french beans...

and exalting in the fact that neither slugs, rain, wind nor rabbits have so far got at the runner beans (below) which I planted on Sunday.

Moira (who is helping with some of the gardening) has planted potatoes which are doing fine, even though they went in rather late.

And I had another go at strimming the grass paths, and generally tidying up.  It was good to be there: it is such a lovely peaceful site - and by the time I got home, the rain was just beginning, so I think I got the timing right and made best use of the best of the day.

So now, no more procrastinating, but back to work for the assessment and show next week.....

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

almost there

This week is focussed on getting everything ready for the final show.  Monday was spent in college, helping with the mammoth tsp of transforming the relatively small studio space at Queens Road into an exhibition space.  Lots of 4x8 boards of mdf, lots of white paint, lots of planning and direction from tutors and cheerfully willing hands from students.  Amazingly somehow it all works, and quite quickly too.  

Now all I have to do is the fine tuning of my sketch book, project diary, research file, developmental pieces, project evaluation.  So much, suddenly, to do and so few days left.

Yesterday I had my interview for the MA Multi-disciplinary Printmaking at UWE.  It is such a great course, I have fingers and toes crossed in the hope that they will offer me a place.  I've been down to see the degree shows at Bower Ashton twice now: some really great work in printmaking, drawing, illustration.  I so hope I can be part of it soon....

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Upfest: spray paint and music

Fantastic! the music has at last stopped!

Upfest has been happening in venues and car-parks and streets all around here, all weekend.   One of the main sites is in a yard immediately behind my house, so I can see all the painting going on from the back windows.  And hear the music!   

This was the view from my little back bedroom.

This is how the website describes it all:

Welcome to our new festival website for Upfest Bristol 2012, by using the buttons above your be able to find all the information of this years festival, from where to find toilets too the location of your favourite artists. Upfest Europe’s largest urban art festival has announced the impressive international line up for its fifth year and has unveiled plans to take over the cultural home of UK graffiti, Bristol.
This year Upfest has attracted over 250 of the most groundbreaking graffiti artists the world has to offer. Descending onto Southville, Bristol they will consume over two miles of the city to paint live for three days and create over 20,000 square foot of artwork. Along side all of your favourite artists, DJ's, Beatboxers and Bands your find a great selection of genuinely affordable artwork.

It is a brilliant festival of urban street art, and I am amazed and impressed at the range and quality of the work on show - all done with spray cans and very quickly.  There have been loads and loads of people about, even today when the rain has hardly stopped.   Quite a lot of the shops on adjacent North Street have had their shutters painted, which will no doubt help cheer the place up, especially the far end which is still a bit neglected.  

But the music has been loud and relentless with a heavy and repetitive bass beat all day long since 11.00 am.  So it is bliss indeed that, on the stroke of 9 pm, the music has stopped - or at least, it has retreated indoors to the Tobacco Factory and several of the other pubs and bars along North Street.   

Here are just a couple of images taken from the work in the yard immediately behind my house....

Tomorrow there will be more - and the weather forecast is OK for Monday, so the painters and spectators should have a much nicer day.   But what a turn-out, even today in the pouring rain: the organisers and local traders must all be very pleased.  

Friday, 1 June 2012

Retrofit City

Walking home from college I called in to The Architecture Centre on Narrow Quay, to look at the exhibition called Bristol: Retrofit City.  

This was a small but extremely well presented and interesting show, looking at how some of the city's old and otherwise neglected buildings have been revamped and re-vitalised through sensitive architecture and careful development.  Not everyone in the city would agree, of course, and Bristol has had at least is share of planning horrors, and some others only narrowly averted over the pat few decades.  But the examples on show in this exhibition were impressive, and uplifting in terms of confirming that there is scope, and hope, for really sustainable and imaginative alternatives to Tesco-style new building.  

Leonardo Drawings

This is the last week of active term, when we can use the college facilities.  I am pretty much OK with my work for the final show,  but it is still slightly anxious-making to be in college full of feverishly busy people, some of whom still seem to have a long way to go to get their work ready for the show.  

I went in to college on Friday (not one of our usual days but effectively the last working day of term) in order to paint the 'sand box' which Jan has made for me for the show.  It was an easy task, and gave me time to hang around little, and take a last session in the library.  

But it needed two coats of paint, and while I was waiting for the paint to dry I went along to the City Museum to see the Leonardo Drawings currently on show.  

                  A study for an equestrian monument, c. 1485-90, Leonardo da Vinci 
                                    The Royal Collection © 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

There are only 12 of them on loan from the Royal Collection, and perhaps we are all getting a little too familiar with reproductions of his work, but I was less excited by them than perhaps I should have been. The drawings were of a range of subjects - the foot, the shoulder, detailed plant drawings, a map of the Pontine Marshes, various improbable war machines.  I can see that the selectors (presumably from the Royal Collection who have farmed out various bundles of drawings to provincial galleries this year) have tried to provide a representative sample of different types and periods of Leonardo's work, but the net result felt like a rag-bag - a teasing set of tit-bits which left you with no clear impression.  Or so I thought.  

There were very few people there, and I gather there have been no queues (in contrast to the Birmingham Art Gallery, where - when I was there in february for the Lost in Lace exhibition - there were quite long queues of people waiting to see the equivalent Leonardo show).   Perhaps people have maxed out on these drawings - or perhaps it was a sunny day and people had better, outdoor things to do.