Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Learning the Letterpress

At the beginning of the year we signed up for some inductions and workshops. As well as ceramics, woodwork and bookbinding, I thought I'd try out the letterpress induction. 10th November was the day we were introduced to this workshop.

In a tiny room by reception are the letterpress machines. Inside is a very helpful technician who showed us how to use the machines and how to work efficiently in such a confined environment.

To begin with, you should collect a tray and decide which size and font you would like to work with. The tricky part to the whole procedure is remembering to put each letter back-to-front so it appears the right way when printed. After choosing some ink and material to print onto, you can get started on the printing; line it up and start pressing!

A minute or so later, you are left with some lovely typography. As I really like the finished result of the letterpress, I plan on using this technique more often. As well as jazzing up notebooks and journals, I think I could use it within graphic work or drawings and illustrations, perhaps even combined with photography.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Dig the life fanstastic

Tuesday 3rd November; a slow afternoon, so off we went to the Conerhouse with a plan to see Wes Anderson's latest film, Fantastic Mr. Fox. Which is already a wonderful story by one of my favourite children's authors, Roald Dahl.

As a child I loved his books but I especially adored Quentin Blake's beautiful illustrations. To me they appear delicate, random, and full of movement. The detail of each drawing is captivating. He uses inks and watercolours as washes to add colour, and despite the chosen media, the illustrations hold amazing vibrancy on the page.

Fantastic Mr. Fox is a piece of stop-motion animation work, made entirely with models for all of the characters. Each scene was painstakingly crafted, usually involving several models. Of course it was highly time-consuming for the entire film to be completed. Apparently it was all shot using a Nikon D3 which has a higher resolution than that of full High Definition. It was shot using a rate of 12 frames per second rather than 24 frames so the viewer was more aware of the stop-motion. I think the enhanced stop-motion adds even more charm to the film.

I also really enjoy Wes Anderson's other films. Fantastic Mr. Fox was lively and brilliant, but others; The Darjeeling Limited and Rushmore are also favourites of mine. The Darjeeling Limited is about 3 brothers journeying through India on a train and how the country is filmed is extraordinary. It truly captures the essence of the culture and amazing scenery.

Monday, 16 November 2009

I spent the night in the toilets.

7th November 2009; Saturday night, not just any Saturday night though, as on this particular evening there was the annual Glossop fireworks display. The bonfire night celebrations were spectacular and very impressive. Afterwards the chill in the air soon sent us on our way to the pub.

The pub in question was The Oakwood. This pub had recently been taken over by a couple of young brothers who were giving the whole place a huge make-over. They were currently in the middle of decorating the upstairs toilets. So we got started on finishing the job off.

The decor was a collage of magazine articles, photographs, and posters. Using a mixture of watered down PVA glue brushed over the walls we stuck our chosen image in place. Then we brushed more mixture over it to ensure a glossy and secure finish.

The walls ended up a wonderfully eclectic mix of old posters from previous nights at other local pubs, and images and articles from magazines. Such as; Uncut, Derbyshire Life, National Geographic, high-end fashion mags and astronomy magazines. This meant pictures of Prince, Blur, ancient tribal masks, the Milky Way, Rolex ads, and landscapes of rolling hills all shared wall space.

Doing this collage reminded me of some work by an illustrator called Matthew Walkerdine, who collaged a landscape onto a wall for an exhibition of his work called; 'Unfocussed Eyes.'

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Image No. 1

In the autumn term we have to choose an image or man-made object to write 1000 word critical analysis on it. Then we choose a further 7 images/objects in relation to the first image/object to write 500 words of narrative on.

For my first image I have chosen 'The Garden Of Earthly Delights' by the Dutch painter; Hieronymus Bosch. I am interested in writing about this particular painting due to its historical and religious imagery and connotations. At the time it was painted, society was very religion-orientated and Bosch quite literally recreated the superstitions, ideas and religious allegories of the 16th century. I think this religious theme will provide a lot of information to write about, considering analytical interpretations of the painting and comparing the themes with modern day ideas.

It is an old painting from the 1500s yet the theme of religion still holds relevance today.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Invention He Never Invented

26th October, Michael Howard from the Art History department came to us and told our course about an exhibition that is soon coming to the Museum Of Science and Industry. 14th November sees the arrival of Leonardo Da Vinci, a celebration of his machines, techonolgy and creative mind.

The brief was to create an A4 image of a machine or invention that he never got round to inventing. This could be a model, drawing, or computer animation, something witty, funny or completely serious.

Da Vinci was born in Italy on the 15th April, 1452 and died in France on the 2nd May, 1519. During his lifetime there was great speculation on the theory of the end of the world, according to the Book Of Revelations, which was meant to be happening around 1520/1525.

Da Vinci was curious but troubled. He constantly questioned where is God, the soul, the truth, what is beauty, what is perfection; what is man capable of?

Curiosita - intellectual curiosity

Dimonstrazione - to test experience through practice; willingness to learn and keep an open mind.

Sensazione - engagement of all the senses, the gateway to the intellect.

Sfumato - recognise the essential ambiguity, contradiction and mystery of life.

Arte/Scienza - balance between art, science, logic and imagination.

Corporalita - grace, fitness to purpose, poise and understanding of our corporality. The relationship between body and grace.

Connessione - a recognition and appreciation of all things and phenomena.

Da Vinci believed that man was the centre of the universe, this was the medieval belief of the time, an idea from Classical thinking. The fear of the Apocalypse was echoed in the politics of the time. For Da Vinci, geometry was God.
He wrote with his left hand, backwards, for ease and this was a reflection of Arabic thinking, which states that the Sun is the centre of the universe.

He was interested in light, air, geological and intellectual foundations and aerial perspective. Overall, the density of the atmosphere. Also the subject of meditation. Da Vinci believed that 'observation is the mother of all certainty.'

Freud claimed that in several of Da Vinci's paintings of Christ and Christian imagery, the shapes of birds showed homosexuality in his subconscious.

The most famous painting he ever painted, and probably the most famous painting in the world is the Mona Lisa. It shows two kinds of time; human time and the geological time of the landscape yet this painting has become a symbol of immortality. As many have commented on the painted woman being; 'older than the rocks behind her' and as having 'died many times'.

As well as portraits and religious paintings, Da Vinci was said to have cut up over 30 human bodies in his lifetime. And this shows in his biological drawings as they are all medically correct. He was interested in turning the body into a machine and taking away it's organic quality. Considering the human body he was keen to know why human beings had lost their grace and elegance about their posture and walking. This particular thought of Da Vinci's lead me to create an image of a 'posturing machine' for my A4 'invention that he never got round to making.'

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

What I thought was Junk-ola

The Finnish film artist Fanni Niemi-Junkola came to the Whitworth Art Gallery for a talk about her work on 20th October 2009. I hadn't heard of her before but I soon discovered that I wasn't that keen on her work. The first video she showed us was 'Giants' (1998). It featured two women fighting, almost wrestling, on the beach. It was close up, slowed down and the disgruntled noises coming from the women were slowed and heightened. I found this unsettling and uncomfortable to watch. As it was slowed down slightly, to me it seemed lacking in drama. And I thought considering the content of the film is should be full of it. The women didn't seem to be using all of their energy and effort either. The fighting didn't seem real and full of strong emotions. It seemed very controlled and like the women were holding back instead of letting go. It is staged and I know as an art piece it is more about what the 'fighting' stands for rather than how real it appears; but personally I feel that the meaning is somewhat weakened if I don't believe it is actually happening.

The next film she showed us was probably my favourite of them. 'To begin' (made in 2001) was of a woman near to the point of giving birth. It only showed two people throughout though, the woman and who I assume is the father of the child. This was a very stark video. It was grey and lacked colour but full of medical equipment. Niemi-Junkola suggested that the artistic gesture in this was the absent emotional context which seemed almost cruel. The fact that there was only two people, highlighted this and a sense of loneliness.

In contrast to the first two videos being depictions of women, 'Tower' (2008) was a landscape piece. It was a view from a helicopter of the top of a lighthouse in the sea. A harsh noise constantly blared out. The 'music' gave me a headache but I appreciated the meaning of the power of a small community.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Food Glorious Food

A personal project for us to get our teeth stuck into. No brief though, just the one word to start us off: FOOD. Usually I like to rely on a direct starting point for a project so getting started was a bit of a challenge considering the broadness of the topic. I thought about almost every aspect of food; nutrition and science, obesity and anorexia, Christmas and Ramadan, food chains and animals, even cannibalism. After a brainstorm of epic proportions and researching different areas, I became particularly interested in gluttony. The superstitions, stories and ideas from years ago, about this deadly sin, really fascinated me.

Gluttony is the over-indulgence of anything to the point of waste. It is an excessive desire for food and to withhold food from the starved and needy. An obsessive anticipation of meals, the constant eating of delicacies and extravagantly costly foods. It is associated with pigs and the colour orange. The punishment for being gluttonous in life is to be force-fed rats, toads and snakes in hell.

So many artists have looked at the seven deadly sins, from Bosch to Paul Cadmus. More on Bosch later.


6th October 2009; a rainy tuesday evening with nothing to do but throw ourselves into the Free for Arts Festival taking place in Manchester that week. So off we went to the art special of Quizimodo at Odder Bar.

We didn't win. Infact we didn't even come close as we came joint second to last. But we won an '80s style waist trimmer for our efforts, watched some Art Attack clips, and learnt some arty facts along the way. For example, contrary to popular belief that Van Gogh didn't sell any paintings during his lifetime, he actually sold one. Just the one though.

Instead of the usual drawing round of the quiz, there was a sculpture round. Each team was handed some plasticine and asked to create their finest 3-dimensional masterpiece. We produced a whole exhibition of underwater delights. This included my very own dragon-of-the-sea who was affectionately named Greg, as well as a button and a conch. It is a well known fact that buttons are found in the sea. Neither did we win this round but Quavers and biscuits at the end made everyone feel like winners.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Mission Impossible

Brief number 2; another group task. This time we were set a video project. Similar to the Sweded Movies which Be Kind Rewind is made up of, we had to parody a film. We were tackling Mission Impossible.

I'd hardly done any video projects before this one but I really enjoyed it. It was fun to mimick such a serious sort of film and be so resourceful. Not all video footage needs to be an expense and I think Michel Gondry proves this perfectly through The Science Of Sleep, which is a lovely film.

Definitely going to try my hand at some more video work in the future.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

First Blog & A Negative Space Party

This is the first blog I have ever written. So far so good. Once I figure out how to add pictures and videos I'm sure it'll be a breeze. The hard part for me will be the regular posting, as many times I have tried to keep a diary of sorts and every one of them died a death shortly after.

Our first project was a cross-year party project. This involved each group being given an artist to be inspired by. Artists included: Bill Viola, Heath Robinson, Van Gogh, Alexander Calder, Picasso, Jean Tinguely, Marcel Duchamp, Rebecca Horn, and the artist who influenced the party we prepared; Rachel Whiteread.

The sculptress primarily focuses on the aspect of negative space. We included a large white cube, a response to her Embankment sculpture and the space we were given to work within. Surrounded by black balloons, another reflection of space, or rather, lack of.