Thursday, 31 December 2009

Canada Christmas and Alice in Wonderland

After travelling for nearly 24 hours, stopping off in Halifax in Nova Scotia on the way and consuming as many free airline beverages as I possibly could ... I arrived in Channel-Port aux Basques in Newfoundland, Canada with my partner where I have been spending the Christmas and New Year period. We are lucky enough to be staying with two amazing and hospitable people; Peter and Mary Ann Boote : )
It is absolutely beautiful here and so so peaceful. There has been unusually clear skies since we came ... when the sun is setting at the end of the day it glows in the sky and reflects and glistens off the water in the bay we can see out of the window. The weather changes so quickly, all of a sudden the fog from the behind the mountains is blown into the bay and everything is covered in a white mist ... and as quickly as it appears it seems to disappear! As we are staying on an island, there are beaches and rocky coastlines all around us, shadowed by mountains and snow capped peaks.

We are having an absolutely fantastic time here. I begin to feel replenished and my mind is finally clear from the art/PhD/teaching interconnected gooey blah that it seems to have been! As I have relaxed and reflected, I've started to gradually become more at peace with who I am and even started to knit and play the flute again! Its amazing how your creativity can be re-energised from being relaxed and changing your perspective and appreciating things.

A couple of days before Christmas we drove out to find a Christmas tree! We literally drove out for a bit past the small towns and were totally surrounded with pine trees and tuckamore, a type of terrain that covers the rocky land. The tuckamore is so so weird and strange; being cushiony to walk on and lie on
and start to sink into and also intertwined with pine trees that have been weathered so much by the strong winds here that they are the same height as the mossy covered rocks in other areas and if you walk in the wrong place, you find yourself knee deep in pine trees! You can sometimes find areas that you can crawl through and find there is a whole other world beneath the surface!! It made me feel as though I was Alice in Wonderland!

Christmas day was absolutely perfect and I was so so lucky to receive a beautiful scarf in the most fantastic shade of purple I have ever seen and an absolutely AMAZING pair of slippers that had been hand-knitted for me by Mary Ann! This lady rocks I tell you! It was such a peaceful day filled with discussions about art, life, theology and philosophy and we helped each other to make a really really fab Christmas Day meal ...
 ... an eclectic ethnic fusion of Jewish, Greek, Indian and other foods from around the world! My mouth is starting to water as I'm starting to recall it --> veggietastic baba ghanoush, greek salad, a butterbean and tomato and onion salad, falafel and hoummus made from scratch, pinto bean salsa, lentil patties with curry sauce ... I'm sure there's more!

I'm now really looking forward to the new year and my new perspective on things ...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Another place ...

My research is developing and now ready to be submitted to the research panel for registration ... scary! It feels like such a burden has been removed though and I can now concentrate on getting stuck in with my research and writing : )  I'm starting to develop the mapping strategies I used in the textstallation thematically and trying to allow them to evolve as more of an object in a large sketchbook, which will hopefully itself develop physically like my research diary and installations.

As I won't be in England for Christmas this year, I spent the weekend at my parents having a Taylor Christmas! I've had such an amazing time and am finally starting to relax and get on top of things ... We went to the Widnes Cemetry where we went to see my grandparent's grave. I've only been once after the actual funeral aso it was pretty emotional. It was a really nice day as the sun was shining strongly, despite the chilly air and there wasn't a cloud in sight. Someone had also recently put down fresh flowers and a christmas wreath.

I also found out a lot about my family - that my greatgrandparents George and Ellen Taylor were buried in the same cemmetry and my other greatgrandparents (the Ryans) on my dad's side were Irish immigrants who came to Ireland and settled in the Liverpool docks but were unfortunately killed in the war. It really made me appreciate what my family had been through 60 odd years ago so much and was quite emotional. We also visited Crosby Beach, home of Anthony Gormly's 'Another Place' at low tide when the sun was starting to set.

It was really nice to see the sculptures whilst the sun was setting and the sky so clear as the shadows that they cast were really beautiful and moved as the sun got lower. As the tide was at its lowest we could walk out to see the figures that would usually be submerged most of the time and they were covered with barnacles and other things that had used the figure as a home. Visiting them was also an opportunity for me to wear my pink sparkly wellies : )

After having my first christmas dinner and present opening, I also saw some of my parent's photos from their recent travels in Argentina, Uruguay and Chille ... I'm very jealous!! We settled down with mulled wine and homemade mince pies to watch my first Film Noir Double Indemnity as well which was fantastic.

My blog title seems to refer to a few things; obviously Gormley's work but also that I will physically be in another place over Christmas and New Year and the heritage of my family and I guess my head as well! It is last week of college this week and I'm really looking foward to a break, especially after endless ammending of UCAS statements and (70+) essay plans to look through!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Anonymous Santas and finally being productive ...

What a strange week or so it has been! It didn't start off too well when I was 'temporarily suspended' from the BIAD library for forgetting to return a Derrida book (for quite a while ...). Bad times! On my journey to attend the PhD reading group, I hadn't realised that my railcard had expired and was 'detained' as the two burly security staff explained to me and made to pay another fine : (  Needless to say I burst out crying and then headed straight to buy a chocolate muffin and a hot chocolate to calm me down!

I have been feeling particularly christmassy however, especially after this little chap anonymously appeared in my pigeon hole at College ...
It totally made my day by the kind festive gesture by the unknown person. Whoever you are ... thank you : )

I finally decided to stop procrastinating and complete my 9r in time for my tutorial on Tuesday and feel so much better now its nearly done! Its strange sometimes how a bit of pressure and urgency such as an upcoming tutorial can suddenly influence productivity! My supervisor and I have have decided to submit it to the university research panel, so fingers crossed that it will be okay and hopefully soon I'll be registered!

I had some really positive feedback as well about my textstallation and realised it has provided a sort of framework to work from and develop the research after the 9r will be submitted. I am hoping to writing up the first part for after Christmas, so fingers crossed ...

I visited the German Christmas Market in Birmingham as I have done for the past couple of years and although I realise that they are commercial and westernised and not being tempted to buy anything, I was compelled to take photographs as it looked so beautiful at night and the lights seemed to have a kind of peaceful and mesmerising quality about them.
My christmas shopping is nearly done and cards nearly made (I cheated and bought a lot of them though!)and the end of term is appearing fast so I'm now looking forward to going away over Christmas and New Year! 2010 feels like it will be a good year ...

Monday, 30 November 2009

Slow and steady wins the race?

Well ... it's been a while and its nearly December! Aaargh! Where has the time gone?! I feel so guilty for neglecting my blog and have been documenting the past couple of weeks mentally in the back of my head to catch up in an uber blog post!

The month started off by visiting the Tate Liverpool. I saw Rothko's Seagram Murals and Jean Tinguely and Michael Landy's special exhibition which were amazing! I wasn't expecting Tinguely and Landy's work to affect me so much, but it was one of those exhibitions that you see and are just like ... wow! Unfortunately photography wasn't permitted : (  even though I tried vainly attempted to take some photos on my phone ... the invigilators weren't too impressed! I really liked in particular the drawing machines that Tanguely used in his work; not so much the machines themselves but the randomness of the mark-making that they produced. After treating myself to an absolutely delicious chocolate cake in the cafe, I

decided to have a wander around the docks area around the Tate for a while. It was so peaceful walking around there it was hard to imagine I was actually in a city. There wasn't a soul in sight either which enabled for some post-Tate and chocolate fix reflections ...

The last couple of weeks seem to have been slightly unproductive in comparison to the crazy textstallation week. Ive been teaching extra days on the Foundation course which has been really great and have really enjoyed, but Ive been so tired Ive hardly managed to do anything ... I think though that something clicked when I was working with the students particularly as we were exploring colour and the floral : ) which I found particularly inspiring and I found myself wanting to create the work with them! The result at least is that its made me feel excited about drawing/mark-making again which is a kind of ephipany as it's usually writing and text which seems to take over any creative output.

The weekend before last, me and my lovely friend Georgie Barney managed to take some time out for a trek around The Long Mynd in Shropshire. It was absolutely beautiful despite the weather which gradually got worse the nearer we got there and despite us both being ill since!

I am now making preparations for getting back on track ... I feel less ill and more relaxed and hopefully far more productive! We shall see ...

Wednesday, 4 November 2009


Last week I had been working in the Margaret Street gallery space at BIAD to create a textstallation//researchstallation of my research. I only had a broad idea of how I was actually going achieve it, as I wanted the ideas to evolve from working with the materials and in the space and through the processes of writing and making. I wanted to create a physical map of my research, developing the idea of mapping being a methodological tool to allow ideas to form and relate to each other through a sense of interdisciplinarity and complex interweaving and interrelations of thoughts and text.

I began by writing and using Letraset text to map out areas of importance or particular ideological concepts onto the gallery wall; gradually interlinking and interconnecting them through the space using thread, strips of handwritten text and texts by Derrida, Barthes and Cixous and also text taken from Chinese, French and Polish newspapers.

I also went to the private view at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and saw Jann Haworth's exhibition POP and Vered Lahav's exhibition Sleepless. There was a really great opening speech as well about their work; siting the artists as working against the masculine framework of Modernism which I though unintentially linked with my research and appreciate it more! I was lucky enough to indulge in the complementary Krispy Kreme doughnuts and wine as well! I particularly liked the images of books and glass and feathers pieces in Sleepless.

I was also priviledged to meet little baby Max last week who is the most beautiful little boy EVER! (even though he was sick on my scarf!) and gave him my gift - a small canvas that I painted to go in his dinosaur themed room.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Painting epiphanies and then some ...

It's been ages since I actually used paint in my work and I decided last weekend to get round to making a present for my brother that I've been meaning to do since the summer. I worked on a piece of wood that myself and a group of friends cut using an axe in Trentham Gardens with the help of a guy who ran survivalist workshops. I took the bit of wood home with me as I thought that it's context was so interesting

Yesterday I attended the International Contemporary Painting Symposium at University of Wolverhampton, which was organised by Maggie Ayliffe and Alistair Payne ... and it was absolutely fantastic! I've been struggling recently to complete my application to register my research, but the symposium really made me think in a new light about my research. Particularly, the idea of a third space inbetween the masculine and the feminine, and its possibilities outside of the Modernist gendered dichotomy of painting. After the symposium we travelled by coach to a private reception at The New Art Gallery Walsall

to see Neal Rock and Gordon Cheung's work, who were also speakers at the symposium. After I got the courage (from err ... a couple of glasses of complimetary wine), I spoke to Neal Rock and Gordon Cheung! They were amazin and really interesting to talk to.

Next week, I will be working in the the exhibition space at Margaret Street, BIAD, treating it as an opportunity to experiment with creating textstallations and researchstallations to explore the interdisciplinarity and interrelations of writing//painting on a larger scale. Hopefully I'll have some more epiphanies then ... !

Monday, 12 October 2009

This text desires me ...

I woke up this morning and when I looked out of the window, I could see leaves floating and swirling in the sky; almost as if they were raining down onto the street. They seemed so beautiful and carefree; I was envious of them.

After being ill over the weekend, I decided to get out of the house and 'install' some small pieces of work that I had make a week or so ago about Roland Barthes' book: 'Pleasure of the Text'. I wanted to use his text, out of its textual context, to create an intertextual dialogue utilising the space outside.

I walked about 2 miles along a small footpath that eventually leads to the ruins of the old castle and along my journey left pieces of text, fluttering in the wind to be read by someone else, on their journey and continuing the dialogue I had begun.

I sat at the top of the hill at the front of the castle and just looked over the view of the town; so quiet and serene and so far away everything else that seemed important. I thought; anything's possible if you try hard enough, if you have the right inspiration to do it.

Luckily, the journey I had taken seemed to have some effect ... I got home and actually managed to re-write some of my 9r; the application for the registration of my research after a serious bout of mind block.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Alphabet soup without the vowels ...

... is probably how you'd explain what my head feels like right now! I spent the last weekend with my folks in Chester and we went to Blackpool for the day where I took some really amazing photos : )

It was a really nice break and nice way to spend the weekend before a really heavy teaching and research-tastic week! The past two days (and potential cherry on the top of the cake of the alphabet soup-ness) has been spent at INTERđ»OGATION:WALSALL seminar and research conference at BIAD. The Interrogation seminar was a really great day that brought together the different day residencies as part of the project, including key speakers and discussion about the project. I think I realised during the discusion that the INTERđ»OGATION:COLLABORATION project that myself and Agent Marsden took part of was the beginning of a process that would relate to future projects and ideas, particularly the (inteR)linking of ideas, both theoretically and physically throught the mapping of the installation and also the (inteR)collaborations. I also stumbled across the Library of Secrets at the New Art Gallery Walsall which was an amazing mobile library run by the artist Serena Korda, where you can add you own secrets in the books

there for other people to discover, and on your textual journey within the pages of the books also stumble across other people's secrets. I really liked the way that there was a sort of interconnectedness between people that were brought together through the process of exploring the textuality of the books. Also at the gallery was some work by the artist Neal Rock, whom I love, love, love! It made the day even better to be able to see (and document) his work in person as I have only seen images of his

hybrid sculpture-paintings before. They were really beautiful as well. The conference at BIAD with Elizabeth Price (who was frickin' A-mazing!) was also a really good day and really inspirational. It made a lot of connections to my research and made me think a lot about the process of writing itself as a methodology and the possibilities of developing writing and materiality as a way of making/creating research. Ive decided to include my research diary as an output of my PhD as well, so thinking about mapping strategies and becoming more sculptural and hybrid fits in well.

I met up for a coffee with my lovely ladies this morning which was definatey needed to prepare for the next week : D where I also officially start my post teaching on Art Foundation at Stafford College (eek  : s). Adding to the brain mush at the moment is the fact that my house is currently mid-process of being decorated so there is the contents of the bathroom in the kitchen and the living room (including sofa) in the bedroom and books everywhere ... aaargh! Unfortunately there is a decorator down and recovering with lemsip in bed which will slow down things a bit so I think another week of textual chaos awaits ...