Sunday, 30 October 2011

Follow the Rules!

I've been pretty stuck with research for this video project, but I had a really good tutorial with M last week (I think he's an astute guy, with lots of good energy) and as he put it, I need to stop researching and just shoot some 'stuff'!

I think part of my problem is that I'm so aware of my own pressures of time, that I have an idea of what I want to do and therefore only work towards that particular outcome; of course, the down side to that is that you miss other opportunities on the way - like so many other parts of life.  Research is something that's easy for me, I can do it after a day's training, I can do it on the train to work etc, much easier than getting out with the camera (it always seems to be raining!!)

So I realised that I've fallen foul of some more of Mr Cage's rules, nos. 7 and 8 to be precise:

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work.  If you work it will lead to something.  It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time.  They're different processes.

Wise man that Mr Cage!!

Keep Calm and Carry on!

At least that's what I keep telling myself!  Unfortunately, it's easier said than done when I seem to have been living with an undercurrent of panic and fear for the past couple of weeks.  A wise friend told me recently, that being at university is like having a layer peeled off the world and you begin to see everything brighter, and I know they are right, it's just that I'm kind of being blinded by that brightness right now!

Don't get me wrong, these first few weeks of 3rd year have been amazing, but they have also passed like a whirlwind; I haven't had the chance to really get to grips with everything I'm learning.  And there's so much of it, coming at me from various directions, that I'm afraid I'm missing something really important; something hovering just out of reach that would really mean something if I could just catch hold of it!

But despite the fact that I feel I can't be far from reaching my poor brain's limitations, I know I'm not; if I just following the advice given out in 1939 at the beginning of WWII, I'll boost my morale and be able to continue with my own wee war against knowledge overload!!! :)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Laurie Anderson

I'm finding it quite difficult to research video art; it's not that I can't find it, it's that there's so much of it -I'm finding it quite hard to find things I'm interested in or that I feel are relevant.

I am however, really enjoying discovering more about Laurie Anderson. Until now, I only knew her from her 1981 hit 'O Superman' which I loved at the time (was reminded of it recently as it was used in the Louise Bourgeois film: "The Spider, The Mistress and The Tangerine"), but I think some of her work is really interesting - she's such an excellent story teller.  I think the thing I'm most drawn to in a lot of her work, is that the soundtrack doesn't always match what we see - her voice is often distorted in some way.

I'm particularly interested in making a piece of film which either has an 'opposite' or unexpected soundtrack and it's this which I'm finding hard to find.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Video Art

Whenever I've talked about starting 3rd year, and in particular the 1st term, I've always said that I'm really not that interested in video, or making video art.  I certainly enjoy going to the cinema and my appreciation of cinematography has increased as I have learned more about art and photography, but I've never really fancied trying my hand at making a video art.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to realise that in recent years, every time I've gone to a contemporary art exhibition, the thing I've enjoyed the most, seems to have been the video piece!  So here's a quick run down of the ones which had the most impact on me (in no particular order):

Sam Taylor-Wood - "Brontosaurus"

Will I ever stop talking about this?! Just last night I showed it to my American friend Z, who immediately associated it to the New York gay scene with which she is more familiar than me - obviously!  This then sparked a discussion about drag queens and feminism - so many layers to this piece of work!!

Willie Doherty - "Ghost Story"

An unending walk and a haunting script, I thought this was a really intense piece of work.

Pipilotti Rist - "Sip My Ocean"

This is the only Pipilotti Rist piece I've seen in real life and the scale and colours were just so mesmerising.

Duncan Campbell - "Bernadette"

Old enough to know of Bernadette Devlin, but not to actually remember that much about her, Campbell's film is a documentary meets fiction portrait of the young, Irish dissident and political activist.

Elizabeth Price - "User Group Disco"

Fantastic imagery and an excellent, specially commissioned sound track made this a really powerful piece for me.

Johan Grimonprez - "Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y"

Definitely one of the best films I've seen.  Again it's sound track added to the power of the images about hijacking of airplanes - a must see.

Christain Marclay - "The Clock"

Although you know that it's a serious of film clips, it's so cleverly put together that you are really drawn into it and I found myself wanting to know what happens next! Wish I could have seen more of this.

Paul McCarthy - "cisuM fo dnuoS ehT/The Sound of Music"

It's quite disconcerting, but at the same time strangely addictive to watch such a family favourite upside down and played backwards.  Hard to stop watching!

Artur Zmijewski - "80064"

This one has stuck with me mainly because I was really unhappy with the contents - a definite question of ethics in art.

And a couple others:

Nina Fischer and Maroan el Sani - "Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway"
Douglas Gordon - "24 Hour Psycho" and "To and Fro"

and a couple I can't remember the names or artists of! One is a double projection one side of which is a man running towards you and the other is the view of him running away from you - is this another Douglas Gordon? And the other I saw at Tramway a couple of years ago and I've lost the name of the artist: it was a haunting black and white film based on the death of an actor from Aids and included words from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke.  I  anyone reads this and can help me identify these 2 films, I'd be extremely grateful!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

This Blog is Cancelled ...

... due to brain overload!!  At least that's what it felt like by the end of Thursday last week; thought I'd finally discovered the limit to which my mind could be stretched!

Continuing to follow Mr Cage's advice ("Come or go to everything.  Always go to classes.") I decided to go to the Design lecture first thing and the Learning Support session last thing; the lecture was interesting and I'm glad I went, the support session was great and extremely useful.  I've done ok with my essays so far, but we're on the lead up to dissertation year and I figure I should take all the help I can get in preparation for it!

It was the bit in-between that did the serious stretching!  The guest speaker was Ron Broglio from Arizona State University, discussing "Art, Ethics and the Animal Other".  It was a really interesting lecture, and one that I hadn't really thought about given that I prefer not to have anything with a heartbeat in my images!  He talked about which side of the fence you are regarding the use of animals in art, about what are the limits, and who gets to decide.  He presented several examples of art involving animals - some acceptable, some not acceptable (to my measure of 'ethical') and certainly raised a lot of interesting points and questions which were then carried over into the workshop straight after.

I was a wee bit worried about this workshop as it was being led by a tutor who can sometimes go over my head, but he was great.   In our small group we discussed whether there were any ethical questions which arose from our own individual practice, and whether our work responds to any ethical, social, political, etc issues.  We also discussed whether we passively reflect a situation or actively create one; we generally felt that none of us were far enough into our practices to be able to consciously make that choice, but it was certainly lots of food for thought.  We continued to discuss the question of ethics for example, is it that your work is ethical, or does your work question the ethics of others, and is art the space outside ethics?  Considering the work of Marco Evaristti we discussed where the line is between art and ethics/legality; if it's within a gallery space, is the artist above the law or above society?  Bearing in mind the principle of 'cause and consequence', if for every piece of art there is a consequence, is the artist to be held responsible and/or accountable?

Anyway, you get the general idea - big topic, lots of really interesting discussion, limited time to process it before on to the next session!

I came to GSA to become a different person - by the end of this 3rd year, I'm going to be unrecognisable, even to myself!!!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Is John Carey right ...

...when he states in his book 'What Good are the Arts?" that in his opinion, literature is the greatest of all the art forms?  He argues that, amongst other things, only literature can create such an impact as to effect a change on a reader.

Quite a controversial book it seems; I read it recently and wasn't convinced he's right.  Some people are enraptured by a piece of music, overawed by a sculpture, or deeply moved by a painting - I cried the first time I saw Ansel Adams' "Oak Tree, Snowstorm" I was so overcome by its (unexpected) intimacy and beauty.

And having just returned from seeing Lars von Trier's latest movie 'Melancholia' at the film theatre this evening, I'm even less convinced. I understand Carey's argument; I am a great lover of books (and the power of books), but I think there are also films which can create a 'shift/change' in your mind, your perception, your attitude etc; that can have just as much of an impact as a piece of literature.

There were aspects of the film which I wasn't so keen on, but without doubt it was visually astounding - cinematography at its best, put together with a soundtrack that left me (and several others in the theatre) stunned.

Of course, that's only my opinion!

Kirsten Dunst in '

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Space of My Own

One particularly nice thing about reaching 3rd year is getting my own studio space.  I'm sharing with C, S and eventually R when he comes back from exchange, it's interconnected to three other studio spaces, and it's lovely!

One of the biggest issues for me with 2nd year was the studio space, or lack of it.  Not having enough space to sit and study, to display your work, and the constant to-ing and fro-ing of other students using the space as a meeting area and kitchen, meant that I always went back to my flat and studied on my own.  This reduced my interaction with the others, which often meant I felt isolated and on the periphery of things.  Now I feel very much part of things and the group

So far it's been nice and quiet, and although I worry that this won't always be the case, it feels great to be able to go back to it after classes etc and just sit and write up notes, blog, and so on.  Need to make it a bit more homely, but that will come with time no doubt.

My studio space :)

A, B, C ...

The presentations for the rest of the year group took place this morning - again really good to see what everyone has done/is doing.

A has a particularly interesting concept - the female A to Z.  She has already worked on F (for Female) and W (for Wanton) - unusual choices of words.  I think the alphabet would be different for each woman, probably depending upon where they are in their life; I would probably have gone for Fatigue and Work, but that's probably more to do with my lifestyle than being a woman! Perhaps I would have A for Aging and W for Wisdom - the two seem to go together -  but I'm certain of my L and M!!

Will need to ponder over the rest of my alphabet.

Monday, 3 October 2011

And so it begins!

3rd year that is!  I can't believe how quickly time has flown - but then I was warned that it would go by in a flash!

I was a little worried about this year; was expecting one tutor and with very short notice, this was changed to another.  Needless to say this was a little unsettling - not because one was better than the other, but that I knew a little more about what to expect with the tutor from last year.  So this year we have M, and if things continue as they have started, we are in for an interesting and dynamic year.  I like his enthusiasm and apparent commitment to us and to the course;  I'm really looking forward to working with him.

Our year group has changed of course - some have gone on exchange, some have joined us on exchange - but it is as great a bunch as ever.  It's so good to be back among them again.  This morning we had short presentations of our work and I was really interested in some of the work by the new students.

One in particular combined new photography with traditional processes  - cyanotype and van dyke - which I thought was very exciting.  M is planning to run alternative processes this year and hopefully they will go ahead as planned (I was very disappointed that they were cancelled last year).  Being interested in the 'craft' of making photographs, I would really love to be able to do something like this (must find a link to his stuff if I can!).  I thought it was particularly interesting in light of P being at GSA in the last few years and getting the feedback that his work, and his interest in the older black and white photographers, was too 'nostalgic'.  A's work proves that you can still create contemporary work whilst embracing traditional techniques, thus avoiding such criticism.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Quick Summary - Part 2

So, this summer I tried to follow John Cage's 'Hints' at the end of his 'Rules' that L sent me:
HINTS: Always be around.  Come or go to everything.  Always go to classes.  Read anything you can get your hands on.  Look at movies carefully, often.  Save everything - it might come in handy later.
Not easy considering that I've also tried to work as much as possible during the break, but here are some of my highlights from the seeing part:
  • David Mach at the CAC - didn't manage to get round all of it in my first visit so will be going back, but first reaction - astonishing!  I've always liked his 'Big Heids' on the M8, but seeing his 'Golgotha' up close (and I mean really close!) was breathtaking:

  • Ingrid Calame at The Fruitmarket - beautiful!  Was quite surprised how really lovely her work was - went twice!
  • Martin Creed - Work No. 1059 - very beautiful on the wet day I walked down them, but if you know Edinburgh, you know marble cladding isn't going to change what happens on them!!! :)
  • FutureProof 2011, Street Level - seemed to be a wider range of universities this year, but 5 out of 19 were from GSA, so well done to them.
  • Narcissus Reflected at The Fruitmarket - just loved the Pipilotti Rist film 'Sip My Ocean'.  Sat through it several times although it took a couple of times to control my giggles at some of the singing! Glorious colours and the way it was projected over the corners of the room really pulled you into it.
  • The British Art Show 7 - think I'll post something on that separately.
  • Hiroshi Sugimoto - took the opportunity to hear him speak at the National Gallery, but while he was very interesting and it was great to get to see him, I would have liked to hear more about his photography and less about his architecture and collecting.  Did get his autograph in my sketchbook though - told him I was a student and couldn't afford one of his books!!

    Went to see his 'Lightning Fields' at Modern 2 (?!) and although it was good to see them, again I would have preferred to see a retrospective of his work.
There were a few more at Glasgow Print Studio, Still, St Margaret's Art Complex, the French Institute and the GSA but those were my highlights!

Oh, and I went to an etching course at the Print Studio - really enjoyed it!  Think I prefer the screenprinting though.  :)


Thought I'd post a wee update on my progress with this 'titles' issue, and the good news is, I think I'm getting over it!  It's not so much I'm getting over it, as I think it just might take me longer to figure out what I'm actually interested in/trying to say with my images.

After my last post (which was a wee bit of a rant, I confess) L and T made some constructive comments that I've been mulling over and trying to take on board, but I think it's like a lot of things in my life, I just take time to process some of them.

I entered the images that I originally insisted on calling 'Untitled' into an exhibition for which I had to write a statement.  It was then that I realised why I'm so interested in these gates and the land around and beyond them (at least one of the reasons I think) - it's about what you can't have.  So I called the series 'Promised Land'.

The particular gates in this series are on the site of an old hospital that will eventually become new housing -  a promise of new beginnings, a new lifestyle, new hope etc.  Most of the gates I've photographed  have blocked the way to empty land - a promise of something to come.  And I've been thinking about the Leipzig trip too, and how much I'd like to take my camera back to the border land - the land between the east and west that offered a promise of freedom and of better things.

So I'm comfortable calling it my Promised Land project (ongoing of course) - loud, proud and Scottish @L ;-)  - thank you L and T, what would I do without you? x

A Quick Summary - Part 1

Yet again it's been another long gap in my blog postings, but instead, I've been enjoying working on my sketchbooks this summer break: and I've mentioned this before, when you don't post anything for a while, you think you should post everything that's happened and then you always end up playing catch-up!  So, once again, I've decided not to play catch-up and just post a quick summary of the things I did mean to post about!!
  • 2nd year book project - was so looking forward to this and in the end it was both a highlight and a low-light. High because I got to make books and I'm really pleased with my end result (a tribute to my great aunt, partly inspired by my 1st year tutor and another set of books inspired by Dieter Roth) but low because it didn't seem to go down well at assessment time! 

  • 2nd year assessment - happy with grade, unhappy with comments - unhelpful and confusing.
  • Liepzig, the second part of the project - let's not even go there!!
  • 2nd year fizzled out rather than ended, not a great ending.
  • Degree show - quite good; I thought photography did well this year, but the best work in the show for me was by Robin Leishman.  I'll eventually post about him separately!
  • 3rd year and PhD show - for me the 3rd year show was much better than the PhD show - I just didn't 'get' a lot of it!  The works I liked best in the 3rd yr show were photographs by Scott Brotherton, and at the risk of appearing biased, the 2 pieces by Theresa Moerman Ib (better known as T on this blog!!)
    T's beautiful and delicate slides made with cobwebs she saved from our fire earlier this year
    • The MFA show - maybe it's my lack of understanding, but I was pretty disappointed with this show.  Aren't the MFAs meant to be 'the best', the cream of the crop so to speak?  Certainly there were some good pieces, but there were also some really bad ones.  It's not so much the 'what' that was bad, but the 'how'; I thought the standard of some of the presentation was really bad.  There was one body of work (which also made it to 'FutureProof', so it just shows what I know!) which I like the concept of, but the book was made incredibly badly! I wanted to contact the artist and offer my services!  I guess I just feel that by the time you reach that level, the execution of your work should be of a much higher quality - it was certainly stressed upon us as 2nd years that it was important, and I agree.  However, it has given me an idea and I fancy making a BIG book at some point!
    • Degree Show - Visual Communications.  Fabulous!  Really loved their show!  Had I gone to see the Vis Comm show at the end of 1st year, I'm not sure I wouldn't have been banging at their door trying to change courses!  I hadn't realised how varied the work could be - some photography, some art, lots of books! Imagine all the wonderful books I could have made!  However, much as it shook me up seeing it (I really felt for a while that I wanted to change over), I came to get a fine art degree - I want to understand how to think and produce like an artist, I want to understand the artists process.  I'm definitely going to try to make some use of their equipment in the next 2 years and who knows, maybe Vis Comm will be my next degree!! :)

    My apologies for not being able to add names to these works.

    There was also this great video by Lu Sisi, although it made me smile that she calls all the cameras 'antiques' - I think I use a fair number of them!!

    Monday, 18 July 2011

    John Cage - Rules

    Thanks to L for posting this in response to my John Cage post, I think they deserve a post all of their own:

    "some rules for students and teachers

    RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

    RULE TWO: General duties of a student - pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

    RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher - pull everything out of your students.

    RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

    RULE FIVE: be self-disciplined - this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

    RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail, there's only make.

    RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

    RULE EIGHT: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.

    RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.

    RULE TEN: "We're breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities."

    HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything - it might come in handy later. "

    I think John Cage was a wise man.

    On Being Confused - Part 2!

    While writing up my sketchbook and notes about Gina Glover, I'm once again confused over the difference between primary and secondary research!

    It's not that I don't understand the definitions of each, its just how to define them within the context of studying art, and when they overlap:
    • Primary - original, first-hand accounts. In photography terms, I think that means my own work? Where I'm finding out information first-hand by making and doing. But what about finding out about an area first (such as my coastal defenses), and then looking at other photographer's work in this area, before I go to make my own work?

    • Secondary - I think this is when I look at other photographer's work, searching through the internet for styles, other photographers doing similar work etc, going to talks, galleries and so on.
    But, what happens if, like this weekend, I go to an artists' talk and discover that they have taken similar images to mine, and then I look up this work - is that primary or secondary?!

    Haha, maybe I'll just make all my sketchbooks and notes on loose leaf pages so I can sort them out into bundles when I finally work out the differences!! :)

    Gina Glover

    Went to hear Gina Glover speak at Street Level this weekend and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I know that sounds a little bad, but I had looked at her website and although I really liked the content, I wasn't so sure about the style of her images.

    At first it looks like they are all taken with a Holga, but turns out they are all pinhole photographs. Now I love my Holga, don't get me wrong, but there just seemed to be so many of them! But, I've taken my time, and really looked at her work, and with the exception of a few which are a bit dramatic for my taste, I really like it.

    Although quite a lot of her earlier work was undertaken as artist in residence at various hospitals etc (, the title of the Street Level exhibition is 'Playgrounds of War' and started in the early '80s when she first visited the site of the Thor nuclear site in Harrington. She now lives opposite there and this work is about her memories of the land, and memory and its association with the way land is used (and its changes in use).

    Needless to say, this really clicked for me! She particularly talked about photographing war, after the war has gone. My HNC project was going through my head when she said this - where I photographed the WW I & II coastal defenses which remain along the Forth, and then she brought up images of the very same ones!! I was really pleased and I'm more convince than ever that this is a project I should return to.

    Control Tower, Dallachy, Morayshire

    Pillbox, Estonia

    Some of my own images from Lower Largo Beach in Fife and Cramond Island, Edinburgh:

    I particularly liked the quote Gina used:

    The sum of our pasts, generation laid over generation, like the slow mould of the seasons, forms the compost of our future. We live off it.
    Simon Schama
    I'm really glad that I went to see her, she was a very good speaker and a really nice lady to speak to afterwards. I felt very inspired when I left the gallery, something I hadn't expected!

    I was even more pleased to discover some of her older work is obviously influenced by William Christenberry - a woman after my own heart!!!

    Sunday, 17 July 2011

    Work/Life/Study Balance

    Or how to work and still be a full-time student! Damned if I know!!!

    That was the other feedback I had at the end of 2nd year - I work too much! Actually, it's not that I work too much, it's probably that I don't study enough! Actually, it's not that either!! What happens is that I work, I'm both physically and mentally exhausted at the end of the day or the week, and don't have the energy to go out and make photographs. Or, come the weekend I have normal everyday things to catch up on, or, it's raining!! This invariably means that I find it much easier to study and do research (which I got good marks for) but have very little photographic work.

    TJC's advice was to work more through 3rd year in order to not have to work during 4th year. Understandable advice, (although I don't want to miss 3rd year) but I have to be realistic - I want a good degree, but when this is over, I'm more than likely to still be a trainer. My aim is to help other artists build their own businesses, and that's not going to happen if I've let my own business go. It's taken me 11 years to build my business and a year out will leave me starting again - not an option at my age.

    So, if anyone reading this has any ideas about how I can balance all these bits of my life, I'd be very happy to hear it - and yes, I'm already doing the Lottery, just in case!!! :)

    Song for Whoever

    My last post leads me nicely on to an a-ha moment I had recently.

    Many years ago, when I lived in London, I dated a musician for a while. We were part of a bigger crowd, many of whom were singers and songwriters and being a typical starry eyed, romantic twenty something, I used to ask him to write me a song! Perhaps I thought he'd declare his undying love for me in words and melody, but he never did!

    Fast forward to this year and we reconnected via FaceBook. We've exchanged a few emails about those London days, and he recently sent me some of the new music he's been working on - and there I am, finally, in his songs!! Not directly of course, but listening to the words of the songs, it made me realise that song writing is an art form too and like most artists, songs aren't written on demand anymore than paintings are painted, photographs made etc. I know some songwriters do work like that, but for most it's about a culmination of other influences - emotions, ideas, thoughts, events etc - that lead themselves to being expressed via a chosen artistic medium. I now know that I will be in his songs in the same way it's inevitable that he'll be in my images. Not literally, but there none the less. It's my constructed image a-ha breakthrough all over again!!

    On Being Confused - Part 1 (of many!)

    So while I'm on the subject of personal versus private, I wanted to say something about how confusing my feedback at the end of 2nd year was. Grade wise I did fine and can't complain about it given my lack of images/produced work, but the actual feedback did leave me confused, and to be honest, a bit unhappy and annoyed; it kind of left me not knowing what to do!

    The 'conundrum' appears to be that on the one hand my work is very impersonal, but on the other hand is extremely personal and private. I got the impression that this is something that is wrong. When I look at other people's work, some of it is very personal (boobs and bits galore!), or at least comes from somewhere very personal, and yet they didn't get the same feedback.

    Today I went to hear an artist talk at Street Level and a lot of her work comes from some of really bad times in her life (and other people's), some of it comes from memories of her childhood. I just don't understand - surely as an artist, your work is an expression of how you think and feel about certain things, so how can it being personal be wrong?

    Maybe I'm over analysing this, but I was feeling much more comfortable with the work I was producing (what little there was) after J's feedback earlier in the year. He had pointed out that I shouldn't be so concerned about how people viewed my work; I felt that I'd now understood what he meant, and had become a little more confident about putting my work out there. Now I'm not really sure where I am!!! Need another a-ha moment for this lesson I think!

    It's been a while - again!!

    I've said this before, and I'll no doubt say it again, but one of the things about blogging is that when you don't post anything for a while, you think you should post about the things that have happened, in the order they happened! But then you always end up playing catch-up. So, here's another list of some of the things that I'd like to post about and, once again, I'll just post things as they come to mind and if my timings are all over the place, so it goes!

    • The book project in 3rd term of 2nd year
    • 2nd year feedback - confused! :(
    • 2nd year just fizzling out
    • The degree show - my highlights
    • The 3rd year show and the PHds
    • The MFA show
    • The Vis Comm degree show - awesome!
    • Work/life/study balance - the problem with being a working student :(
    • Old friends, songwriting and another a-ha moment (outwith GSA this time!)
    • Being homesick!

    So that's my reminder list - I'm going to try to post some thoughts on all these things in the next few weeks.
    However, I have a dilemma with blogging. I talked to L once about how different my blog is to T's, and she said that T's was about her ideas etc, but mine seemed more about the process of going through this course. And therein lies my problem, so much of what's been going on is my very personal process and a big part of me wants to share it, but a part of me thinks that might not be such a good idea! Will try to work it out, as I think some of what I've been going through is very pertinent, albeit very personal - it's all about balance, MJ, all about balance!!

    Thursday, 21 April 2011


    Looking back at my last post and thinking about John Cage, although I really like 4'33", I think the best thing from him (that I'm aware of) is his quote: "I have nothing to say, and I'm saying it".

    My friend T really dislikes artists who call their work 'Untitled', and I've just read on another friend's blog that she too, feels the same.

    I totally disagree!! It took me ages to decide what to call the images I had in our recent exhibition; I tried to think of something deep, meaningful and 'arty', but I just really wanted not to call them anything. I know that for some artists "Untitled' is just a cop out, laziness on their part, but I felt that my images said everything I wanted to say: there's nothing here, there is nothing to see, there is only emptiness. I didn't want to give them an 'arty' strapline; they are what they are, nothing, nameless, 'untitled'!

    Untitled I

    Untitled II

    Untitled III

    Monday, 18 April 2011

    John Cage - 4"33"

    "I have nothing to say, and I am saying it"

    Wednesday, 9 March 2011


    I've been searching for quotes that can maybe give me some inspiration or other avenues to look into this idea of silence as a presence, not as an absence and I heard one this morning in a song on the radio that I really liked:
    I've never heard silence quite this loud
    Reminded me that I've always liked the Manfred Man's Earth Band album title 'The Roaring Silence'. It had a close up picture of an ear, and inside the the ear was a mouth, opened in a scream.

    But my favourite quote involving silence, is from Ansel Adams:
    When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.
    If anyone reading this has any other quotes, please pass them on!

    International Women's Day

    Today (8 March) is International Women's Day. Apparently it's the centenary celebration, but I have to admit, I didn't know that much about it until last week when I saw a blog post asking for women to knit squares for an art project to celebrate IWD.

    International Women's Day

    100 Million Stitches for 100 Million Women

    T and I got together and knitted our squares (well, she knitted 2 to my 1 - she's a bit of a knitting machine! In fairness though, I was trying out her unusual techniques or I would have been quicker with mine!):

    We then went down to Tramway to hand our contribution, and were greeted by the sight of lots women furiously sewing thousands of squares of knitting together!! Apparently the response to the request had been phenomenal! We arrived in time to see some of the squares laid out in what will be the 'art' version of the work; the rest will be made into smaller blankets and distributed around to world to various women's charities.

    I know that it's a serious message that the IWD are trying to get across, but for me, it was just so reassuring to see so many women (and some men) still knitting! It's something my mother taught me when I was really little, and something my great aunt encouraged me to do too; all the women in my family always seemed to be knitting something! My first business in 1985 was knitwear design and although I very rarely get the time to sit down and knit nowadays, it's comforting to know that in this age of technology some of the lovely traditions still manage to continue. T and I really enjoyed our own wee 'stitch n bitch', as the Americans would say!!

    The Wall of Fame

    Friday, 4 March 2011


    I've mentioned before that I have two lives, and a very big part of my business life is commuting. I seriously dislike commuting!! Sometimes I travel by car, which stresses me out (and creates a surprising amount of road rage in me), but more often than not, my journey is on the Scotrail Shuttle service between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

    On the whole, I can't complain too much about the service; it pretty consistent, especially as it's a major route. But why oh why can't we get quiet carriages like they have down south? Ones where all forms of communication via technology are banned!!!!!! Last night's train home was so noisy! The girl opposite me 'clicked' her way through almost the whole journey (55 mins usually, but 65 last night) sending endless texts, various iPods and MP3 players (including hers!) scratched out tinny, indecipherable tunes at levels that can't be good for your hearing, and various ridiculous ring tones announced calls and texts to passengers, arranging dinners, pick ups and dates!!!

    And in order to escape from all this noise, what did I do? Yep, that's right, I had to put on my iPod!!! Generally, I don't play music though; I have several relaxation tracks to listen to, to help me avoid getting stressed by all this noise. When I do play music, it's usually Einaudi or something else equally soothing (and not loud!). Why can't people just be happy to sit, read their newspapers, watch the scenery go by?

    But I must go now; there's someone a few seats away with the loudest text notification tone and it's starting to get to me, and the man opposite has just reached for his iPod! Now, where are my earphones?

    Sunday, 27 February 2011

    German Contemporary Photographers

    I've spent all day surfing the net looking at lots of German photographers, mainly because my own photography is often described as having a very 'german' aesthetic. Anyway, there are a lot of them out there, so here are a few that caught my eye: