I have been busy planning my pilgrimage recently. I have been ordering outdoor clothing and maps from the internet, as well as compiling a list of all the things that I will need. I’m hoping to leave at the end of March and arrive at my parents’ house on Easter Sunday. I went for a 10 mile walk earlier in the week to see how I cope and I think I coped surprisingly well. Apart for being very tired at the end of the day, and my hips aching, I felt fine, and I had completely recovered by the next day. I’m hoping to manage at least one long walk per week in preparation. It has also pretty much been decided that my husband will come with me and film the walk. He’s a script writer and aspiring film maker, so he’s really interested in helping out. My only condition is that I do not want to be on camera as much as is possible, I hate the idea of being filmed! I have also been thinking about what I could leave behind as offerings. I collected some stones from my parents’ house and I am still considering how best to use them. I had a tutorial today, and we spoke about how this project crosses over with my interest in the sea. Both subjects interest me because of the journeys that take place. One thing that captured my imagination in relation to the sea, was the idea of an albatross around ones neck. I am now considering using the stones in this way, carrying the stones as a kind of weight around my neck and dropping them as I go. Next I need to plot a route from Chester to Sheffield with accommodation roughly every 10 miles.
I also finished and photographed my small tin of grass entitled A Little Piece of Home. I have been questioning whether or not it needs a care kit to go alongside it. I think the tin, as an item, works well on its own, isolated from other works. I intend to still work on a care kit, but it may not make it into the degree show.
The last couple of weeks have been busy but productive. I visited Sheffield during Personal Development Week, which meant that I could get on with some of the work I have needed to do over there.
I have been developing the idea for my planned pilgrimage and I photographed parts of the route I will be walking along as I drove over to Sheffield. I have also been developing my ideas about what to leave as offerings along the way and I have decided to use stones. I gathered some of the stones from my parents’ garden while I was visiting, which I can then leave as I walk, shedding the weight, or burden, as I go. I am also considering writing something on the stones, although I have not yet decided what that may be.
While visiting my parents, I also had chance to dig up a bit of their garden to go in a small tin (which my dad was not very happy about). This piece of work is entitled A Little Piece of Home. The idea is that the tin containing a bit of my parents’ garden can be carried around. Eventually I will make a care kit to go alongside the tin. At the moment I am still getting to grips with the care needed to keep my unusual house plant alive!
As well as these other projects, visiting Sheffield also allowed me to visit and photograph former steelworks and other former industrial buildings around the city. I could have used a digital camera but I much prefer to use film, so shot on 35mm film. When developed, I will make prints and eventually print the images onto sheets of steel. I will probably do this by screen printing with acid.
I’ve been working on a project which revolves around the idea of the loss of innocence. In the summer my mum became ill and I no longer felt any comfort at my childhood home. I especially felt that it was suddenly much smaller than I remembered it to be, in particular the garden which had once felt so big. I’m interested in the idea of trying to hold onto the past and fighting change. I think that people do this because it feels like, by stopping change, we can hold back time and inevitably hold off death.
I began by thinking about cutting up a square foot of my parents’ garden and letting the grass die, but this seemed too literal. I have now moved onto the idea of cutting up a small piece of their turf which will be put into a tin and cared for, allowing me to carry a little piece of home around with me. This tin will also have a portable care kit, including scissors, plan food and a watering can. I like the complete dependence that the grass will have on me and the effort required to keep the past alive.
Another piece of work which has been brought about by this idea of a lost home, will involve me walking from my house in Chester to my parents house in Sheffield. I originally planned to do this after finishing university in the summer, the work for my degree show exhibition coming from the planning required for such a trip. However, at a tutorial yesterday I have been encouraged to make the trip sooner, possibly during the Easter holidays. The walk will be a pilgrimage for me, back to a sacred site, and could perhaps be seen as an act of contrition for having been gone for so long. I am very interested in history and I have been thinking about and researching medieval pilgrimages to shrines. The idea was raised yesterday of leaving a token behind as I travel and I think this links nicely with the idea of pilgrimage and offerings. I am still thinking about what could be left behind but I like the idea of something earthy and natural, perhaps carving into trees or leaving pebbles that have been inscribed. I plan to tweet as I travel to keep people up to date with my progress. I also plan to contact local media to let them know what I’m up to. It would be great if people joined me for parts of the trip as I go along. I have to work out details yet, but the distance will be about 81 miles and I predict that it will take me around 8 days to make the trip, crossing over the Peak District National Park and perhaps making a personal detour to Bakewell where I got married in 2005.
Continuing from my last blog, which discussed how I make use of painting as part of my fine art practice, I wanted to look at the role of painting in photography practice.
I prefer to shoot on black and white film and then further manipulate the negatives or prints, both during the darkroom process and after. I particularly like scratching negatives, to change or remove areas of the image. One image I worked on recently, involved me carrying out a photo shoot against a white backdrop, with the model wearing only white. The photographs were over exposed to blank out the models outfit and leave her hands, face and feet very pale. After developing the film, I used a pin to scratch onto the blank space, manipulating the image to look like the Virgin Mary. After a print had been made, I painted onto it in the style of one of the crude images of Mary which I had been looking at as part of my research. The finished effect is a kind of bizarre collage of techniques.
For another photograph which involved painting, I painted thick black paint onto a piece of acetate. Once it had dried, I placed the acetate over a piece of photo paper and exposed it, giving the paper a black boarder and brush marks where the light had been able to pass through. I then exposed it a second time in the usual way, projecting an image from a negative.
Moving forward I plan to further explore the potential of using painting in conjunction with photography. The more experimental and hands on my photographic practice can become, the better.
It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve given one presentation about my work and now I have another one on the way. I’ve also started another new painting, been working on various pieces of photography work and have applied to enter the John Moores Painting Prize 2012.
This next presentation will be more challenging, as it is about my practice in general. Since my practice is quite varied and I have several different projects currently ongoing, I think I will concentrate on one aspect of my work which spans several projects, namely painting. I do not particularly see myself as a painter, but it is one of the areas of my work that I enjoy the most. When I paint I tend to think about my work and it allows me to think about other pieces I am working on, or ideas for new ones.
My paintings are made up of blocks of colour, sometimes flat 2-D colour, and other times various shades to create a more 3-D image. Neatness is a huge concern for me and I use the tiniest paintbrushes I can find to keep the edges of a block of colour as neat as possible. The paintings are usually finished off with a bold black line around the outside of an item within the picture. My pursuit of neatness also means that I practice a painting over and over again in my sketch books, until I am completely satisfied, before I even begin to think about working on my final piece. I eventually realised the potential of my sketchbooks as a piece of work in their own right. Some people say that my sketchbook work is more interesting than the finished piece and in some ways I would agree, but the sketchbook would not exist without aiming for the finished painting.
Once I have a fully practiced and perfected image I then can transfer it onto the canvas (or other desired material). I used to do this using baking parchment as tracing paper, but when I started working on bigger pieces I bought an old over head projector from ebay and I now use acetate. Each layer of the painting is copied from my sketch book onto a piece of acetate and projected, allowing me to draw around the projection. The final piece becomes a kind of paint by numbers with my sketch book to guide me.
To help illustrate my methods I have included some photographs of the various stages of creating a painting.