Reflective Research Journal – 3rd Year – Week Nineteen

I am writing this on the train down to Dundee after getting the exciting email, announcing 3rd years could return to campus. However the health and safety meeting with Gary Hanna dampened excitement again, as we were told we have to wear a mask the whole time we are in our studios now, no visiting other studios, no eating or drinking at our tables (as this would mean masks off), but the cantina is shut and we are not allowed eating in the corridors or anywhere else either…? No talking to each other or even greeting each other in the corridors (even with masks on and more than 2 m apart), he said this was good practice…for what? A completely socially non-functioning society? Also, the art shop is shut, and the workshops are being prioritised for the 4th years, so it may be difficult getting into any. Despite feeling quite disappointed and anxious about all this, I have chosen to go back anyway and try it out for a bit, and I don’t know what I expected anyway, I suppose they just have to fit within the gov. guidelines and maybe it won’t be as bad as it sounds. Its better than the rest of the semester being online, so I should be grateful for a change of scene at least!

I immediately started having ideas about doing bigger painting/sculptures, including canvas, cloth objects and ceramics with holes in them, tied into the structure of a wooden frame, or something like it. So, I really hope I can get into the clay workshop at least. These are things I would never have attempted at home, partly lack of space, and obviously I couldn’t do the ceramics there, but more the idea that it wouldn’t be worth it if no one could see it, or only a photo once it was finished could represent it online. But its more the act of making in a communal studio, being overlooked, it’s like a performance, you get feedback as you go along, we see each other’s work developing, we egg each other on. I didn’t like working publicly the first year, or at least I didn’t like being overlooked as I was painting, turned to performance instead??! But, last semester, I clearly got a taste for the performance of painting and making in a public space. 

I spent the weekend and Monday working on two new films, one for Tuesday and one which I had gathered footage for the previous week (the fermenting fairy), in preparation for Friday.

Still from my Fermenting Fairy Video

We had group crits on Tuesday, with Erica and Delia. I showed a film, which was a combination of the last two poo themed films I made. I have called it ‘Poo Friends’ for now. It was received well. People laughed which is good and everyone said it didn’t have too educational or preachy a vibe. It was good to see the other films/work and have a little contact and an idea of the areas other people are working in. This will probably be one of my final series of film shorts.

Still from my Poo Friends Video
Another still from my Poo Friends video

Eddie Summerton did the CAP talk on Wednesday, as the organised speaker cancelled. It was great to see his work again and the animal/natural themes were useful and relevant to my work. He described a very poignant piece which was a found birds nest made by the birds his elderly mother fed at the end of her life, in which they had used strands of her white hair, taken from her cardigan as she fed them. He had also made a book as a collaboration called the egg collectors diary, I think, fictional egg collecting details, but weaving in bits of contemporary social commentary/politics which made me think about making a poo diary, doing something similar, of even, I have just thought, mine could be more magic realism, weaving in characters, half animal/half human/half plant, like I have been sketching and making objects and videos about. Hannah saw my sketches of these characters on Instagram this morning and said please could I make a short story about them, and this might be a combination of a short story and diary – partially real, partially fictional.

Gary Hanna’s safety talk was Thursday and I worked on my research report for my dissertation, finding yet more research material. I really need to tidy up what I have written now and stop finding more reading material as its due in just over 3 weeks. 

On Friday I had Erica’s focus group where we talked about Luke Fowlers film about RD Laing, All Divided Selves and presented a film of our own. We talked easily and enthusiastically about the film for the first hour. It has so much in it, and we all had plenty to say, it was a small enough group that it worked pretty well. It was great seeing everyone’s work afterwards and feeding back on that too. Everyone smiled or laughed at my film performance again which was great. Erica said she felt it was a breakthrough film and a great performance. I had shown Charlie earlier in the week and he had loved it and said it was brilliantly odd, so I am feeling quite good about it. Not sure now maybe whether to pause or stop with the video making and focus just on making and painting in Dundee. The series of films I have made could probably be finished as they are, or wouldn’t take much, just a little tweaking maybe, to have them finished.     

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