Sunday, 24 October 2010

Rainbow pie

I've never seen a rainbow before where you can see it as a full semi-circle and was met with this unexpected surprise as I was travelling through none other than Wolverhampton! The camera couldn't really pick it up but it was there for at least 20 minutes. I guess that's the bonus of having crap weather in Britain, it's just a shame we don't see more rainbows!

I had a bit of a crisis of confidence yesterday when I realised that I just have sooooo much to do and doing a PhD is such an overwhelmingly massive task. I've been loving working in my new studio-office (and it's vacinity to various coffee outlets) and have been trying to write a sort of structure of my thesis and what's going to go in each chapter as my aim is to have a draft of part of the first chapter by Christmas. No pressure then eh?! I'm generally a pretty disorganised person and have been trying to give myself a routine and some sort of structure since studying  full-time otherwise I tend to go off on all sorts of (work-related) tangents and then before I know it, it's about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and nearly the end of the day!

For the past couple of weeks I've been disseminating the research diary I've kept since I started and have been working on a huuuuge roll of sexy fabriano paper where I've been physically mapping it out to try and link together my ideas. I'll post some pics when it's built up a bit more. I also found one of the books that I'd been working in when I've been organising my stuff. This is definately something I want to keep working on and I've been steadily accruing lots of lovely old books to work into.

I had the most a-mazing experience in a fab little second-hand book shop recently. There is a really beautiful and quaint little book shop that I've been in to a couple of times called Paramount Book Exchange which is on a small-ish road at the back of the Arndale Centre in Manchester. There's jazz music playing and a sofa to pop your feet up and have a flick through something you're thinking of buying and every type of book you could want. This place is a little gem. I'm a self-confessed bibliophile/book geek and ♥ books; the physicality of them, the texture of the pages and the aesthetic qualities of them (I think I need to get out more).

I'd been looking for a book by the poet Ezra Pound for a while and I noticed one in this book-shop a couple of weeks ago. When I first saw it I didn't buy it as I'm a bit stingy and I don't really like spending money, but when I went back recently it was still there and I saw it as a sign that I should get it. I bought it with another book and to my surprise when I got to the till, the gentleman who owned the shop told me that because I'd spent over £10 ... I qualified for a free piece of fruit!!! He was genuinely quite sorry when he said all of the oranges had gone as they were the most popular so he only had pears left! I of course exclaimed that a pear would be amazing and that he had made my day! I have to say it was a bloody nice pear as well! Now that's customer service!!

After my fruitful experience (gettit?!) I headed to the Chinese Arts Centre and stumbled across a right beauty ... a piece of street art by Space Invader! Some idiot had painted some dodgy black paint around it so I thought I'd better check that it was actually his and there is a great image on his website here of the original before the black paint was applied.
I came across his work originally in the film Exit Through the Gift Shop by Banksy which is actually GENIUS if not a little mental and definately worth seeing. Ever since seeing it, I've had an intense desire to make work on old walls etc. but I guess I shouldn't really admit that incase I ended up doing it and then someone realises it's me ...

I visited the Chinese Arts Centre and although the main exhibtion space was undergoing a changover, I got to see Sonia Khan's work 'The Mother and her Untamed Entity' in the installation space that leads to the lower floor.
I really liked the piece and how it worked in response to the exhibition space. I also noticed Tsang Kin Wah's site-specific installation, I Love U, which was printed onto the walls on the lower floor. As I've been working with text quite recently, I was really fascinated by his piece and the way it spilled over onto different areas of the walls quite organically.

Afterwards, I went to Manchester Art Gallery and saw the new exhibition called Recorders by the Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. If I'm honest, I was expecting it to not to be very interesting as I am not that interested in digital and electronic art, however I'm so glad that I had a look as it was absolutely amazing! The exhibition included seven interactive installations where each of the pieces record memories that have been obtained by the works throughout the show such as thumb prints, visual images, voice recordings and pulse rates.

I particularly liked 'Pulse Room' where the participant holds two sensors for about 15 seconds which then detects the person's heartbeat and then converts them into flashes of the lightbulb to the pulse rate. When you'are in the room, your pulse beats really hard to the rythm of the pulse that the lights are flashing to and it's a really wierd sensation. It is on until the end of January so get down there!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Out with the old and in with the new ...

What a strange couple of weeks it has been! The last week has been a complete write off as I've been off sick with the flu and a beast of a chest infection, watching Come Dine With Me/avoiding Jeremy Kyle, sleeping and trying to convince myself that I'm not actually going to die of the flu. The week before last however (and possible reason for my demise) was one hell of a crazy week and one of those weeks where a lot of things happen all at once and your life changes a little bit. Well, quite a lot in my case.

Firstly I started off by joining a French class - I can already order an aperitif how cool is that?! I've wanted to start French lessons for ages as the gendered structure of the French language relates a lot to my research and a lot of the key writers I've been looking at are situated within French discourse ... although it'll be a long while before I can understand an academic text so I'll settle for ordering an aperitif for now! I also had my panel meeting for my 9r which is the document which officially registers my PhD. I only had some small amendments so I'm looking forward to it being completed and my research being officially being 'registered'.
I was casually flicking through the pages of a magazine called Stylist on the train home from my 9r meeting and I noticed a piece of work which I was certain was by my fellow artist Georgie Vinsun. I checked out her blog when I got back and it turns out it's her painting 'Celestine'! How much of a cool surprise is that to find?!!

On the Thursday, it was a bit of an emotional day as it was my last day teaching at Stafford College and working at the Shire Hall Gallery as I have had some really really amazing news ... I have been really really lucky enough to receive the AHRC Doctoral Award for Fine Art at BIAD where I will be funded to complete my PhD full time for the next two years! : ) I'll also have a studio space at Margaret Street which is really cool as well! I'm a little bit nervous but also très excited. I would have been more excited if I hadn't gone in on my first day and then been ill for the rest of the week ... so next week is really my first week, yey!

I attended the conference for Interrogation: West Bromwich which was a really great day and it was really nice to see all of the finished projects. I decided at the beginning of that week that I would carry out a post-mission reconnaissance before the conference started and extend the project I did the week before. Armed with some hefty signage, duct tape and a giant paper pigeon posse I re-interrogated West Brom.
As it was raining, I  had to pretty much place everything in doors which was actually really good as it meant that everything was placed more explicitly in the public realm.
I tried to be as inconspicuous as you can, putting up signs with a big fat role of silver duct tape, particularly when there was a lot of CCTV cameras around and no-one stopped me or questioned what I was doing. A lot of the signs stayed up all day to my surprise however the Tescos sign only stayed up for about half an hour as it was removed by the shopping centre security staff! The guys at the street stall were brilliant - I paid them £2 to put my sign up with their veg signs all day. When they realised that I wasn't trying to do anything too dodgy, they even tried to barter with me to pay them to put some more signs up!

I put up loads of pigeons and got a really good response from people who laughed and thought that it was quite funny. The picture I used was of a wood pigeon rather than a city pigeon so it was actually quite beautiful when you looked at it.

I also just had to put a picture up of this sign I noticed whist pigeon-putting-up-ing in the market. I really didn't want to find out what was inside the shop ... do they actually sell babies in there?!! Err ... I'd rather not know, thanks.

The conference was really interesting and included talks by Anna Francis, Ania Bas, Juneau Projects, Michael PinskyRich White who talked about his new piece of writing State of Practice and Gemma Thomas who talked about SHOP. It was really nice to see everything brought together and reflected on, especially in the context of the talks and also to all go for a swift beverage at the end of the day in The Public.

I finished off the weekend with a really heavy but interesting conference at the delightful Perry Barr campus at BCU which brought all of the research staff and PhD students across the whole university together. The conference focused on 'What is Research?', a question I will keep coming across in the context of Art & Design, so it was really intersting to hear the question examined by different departments.
Prof David Boyd's talk in particular was really inspiring and focused on an interdisciplinary approach and reflexive thinking.

Anyway, back to bed I think so I stop feeling sorry for myself and start to feel a bit better soon!