Thursday, 18 February 2010


Sometimes, things hit you, without the slightest bit of warning. There you are, minding your own business and then: WHAM! Whatever it is makes a remarkable impression on you; stopping you in your tracks. On Tuesday, whilst I was in Birmingham doing some PhD research before attending an evening lecture by Elspeth Kidd on Queer Theory, I decided, purely by instinct to visit the Waterhall Gallery, part of BMAG to see what was on. Part of me didn't want to; I remember checking out on the internet what was on in Birmingham and nothing in particular sticking out as something I must see. Yet, I was compelled to wander in. At first, I thought ... oh, it's only a Bridget Riley exhibition, nothing particularly special, but I'll have a wander around anyway ... and there it was:

" You cannot deal with thought directly outside of practice as a painter, doing is essential in order to find out what form your thought takes"

A quote, totally out of the blue, that made an unmistakable impression on me. Her quote made me think of the process of painting and the complex dialogue between doing and thinking and then reflecting and re-reflecting; a continuous cycle that is often so hard to articulate whilst in the midst of making/painting. She also describes the process of painting as including 'colour events' where she organises certain colours and their physical relation to each other on the canvas to create 'colour reactions' that trigger sudden bursts of colour and different experiences for the viewer. The more I thought about it, the more I admired her - a nearly 80 year old female abstract painter, who had iconic status in twentieth century Modern Abstract painting.
I was mostly struck by her piece 'Red on Red' (2007) and the colours and composition. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to take pictures in the gallery itself and even with the greatest stealth and avoidance of invigilators I've had to photograph the exhibition catalogue. The work itself is huge and its presence seems to overwhelm the viewer. The piece is technical and precise, and the process that it used to make it reflects this; being tested on graph paper or coloured shapes of paper that are moved around to 'test' the composition.

I've actually had a really productive week this week : ) Ive also found a video of my textstallation piece but I'm not really sure how to put it on here so I'm working on it ... At the moment, Ive been doing loads of reading about l’écriture féminine which is kind of framework for my research.
I started off researching it in depth and then linking everything to it to create my literature review etc, but Ive decided to start to re-delve back into it to see what connections (and re-connections) I can find. Although a vague plan of what I'm doing, I really wanted to let everything emerge and evolve quite organically, cyclically and relationally.

I also went to the private view of show \"home\" at the Air Space Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent which my PIC Rachel Marsden has curated. The exhibition is on until the 27th March and definately well worth visiting! It
is an exhibition of artists of South Asian descent exploring self-identity, locality, foreignness and origin and includes an exciting mix of work including video and installation. In the exhibition catalogue, Bassam Huaan interestingly talks about how a sense of otherness does not necessarily just exist between different cultures but within a culture, exploring multiple identities.
I also just HAD to take a photo of these amazing mittens that were given to Rachel by Georgie Vinsun. They are beautiful (and are uber comfy as I am modelling them in the photo!). Whilst I was in Canada over Christmas I started to knit again ... although still limited to squares/rectangles, I learnt how how knit lace and also decrease/increase. My aim this year was to knit a cardi and seeing Georgie's fantaastic mittens has inpired me to do it sooner rather than later!

I was sent this really lovely collection of poems from my friend Georgina Barney for my engagement - it is so beautiful
and has poems from Shakepeare and other poets. This is taken from one of my favourites by Stevie Smith:

I like to laugh and be happy
With a beautiful beautiful kiss,
I tell you, in all the world
There is no bliss like this.

Also, just some nice news to finish off ... and in keeping with the theme of LOVE. Ive just found out that my lovely friend Shell has just got engaged!!! Massive congratulations to the future Mr and Mrs Nicholls! : )

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Glittery lights and engagements ...

I feel so far with my PhD that Ive kind of been bumbling along, cruising at a steady 20mph with the odd bit of accelaration and an intense journey; indulging in various bouts of binge writing. At the moment, that binge writing is in process ... I can't put the pen down and all I'm thinking about is writing, writing, writing! I'm still waiting to hear back about my PhD registration for my research - writing//painting; l’écriture féminine and difference in the making. The registration is the actual process where the research has to be registered with the academic research panel at the university so I still have my fingers (and toes) crossed!

I went on a trip, last week with the Art Foundation students at College, to Manchester for the day (I love going on college trips). I had a quick peek at the last exhibition at the URBIS and at a smaller gallery called the 'Cube' and then visited my sister Corinne at Manchester Met Uni who is in her third year of the BA (hons) Embroidery degree : ) I have only seen Corinne's work when she was on her Foundation course and was really looking forward to seeing her uni work! She's been working on drawings and paper-based/sketchbook work looking at illustration in children's books that have a slightly darker element to them such as Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel before starting to create embroidery into them. Check them out! They are beautiful when you see them in person.
I also saw some really interesting work by other students when I was walking through the stuidios that explored text and made me think about the materiality of text itself and how it can become sculptural ... I know after the textstallation I did at BIAD, I have to visually push the boundaries of making that explores the interconnections of writing and painting.
I treated myself to a ride on the big wheel there as well and it was really nice to sit back and watch the busy city life underneath me. As I was wondering back to the coach, I also had a look at the cathedral. I absolutely love really old churches and I think the detail in them is so beautiful, but what struck me about the Manchester Cathedral was the brightness of the colours in the stained-glass windows and the scale of them when it was so grey outside.
Also this week Ive received an amazing proposal ... usually I would probably be writing about news of an exhibition or writing proposal, however this one is even more amazing. It was totally unexpected and particularly emotional as it was a down on one knee and will you marry me proposal! And for those of you who are wondering, I said yes : )