Reflective Research Journal – 3rd Year – Week Twenty One

Posting this a bit late, meant to post it it 5 days ago!

Discovered Ivan Illich this week. His books ‘Deschooling Society’ and ‘Medical Nemesis’ sound right up my street. I have heard his name before and he might have been mentioned or certainly been an influence on some other books I’ve read in my home educating days, about child-led learning but glad to have found him properly. Some of his quotes are so spot on. He was a big influence on the Dark Mountain Project guys, Dougald Hine and Paul Kingsnorth which is also an interesting project; “a network of writers, artists, and thinkers who have stopped believing in the stories our civilisation tells itself”. And produce anthologies of “uncivilised” writing and art, which I like the idea of. They are seen as ‘doomers’ and ‘nihilists’ though according to Wiki, and as having an unrealistic, romantic, utopian ideal, about going back to a less technocratic time, right up my street ha ha and I liked their manifesto. They do an open call for writing every year though, so I might submit something.

I worked more on my studio installation and after my tutorial with Delia, started to get more excited about making it come out the wall more and then appropriated a large free standing metal frame, covered it in canvas and painted a large pink shape reminiscent of a vulva (cliché!) and started pinning labia like pieces of fabric onto it. I thought of it as something that could be looked through or climbed through (re-birth) and attached to the rest of the structure, supporting branches and other things coming out the wall.

I also sewed some long tubes and dyed them with the beetroot from pickled vinegar and stuffed them full of non-recyclable plastic rubbish. I had thought of them as worms at first, but also, they could be tentacles, sometimes a bit phallic, sometimes labia-like and intestines too. I like the way words from the packaging shows through in places and some of the plastic. It’s like the processed crap and medicines we stuff ourselves with.


One of the tubes I have started painting in rainbow stripes to represent good bacteria. In fact, the whole thing is an explosion of colour. I have cut up oil on paper abstract mark making experiments and stuck them to the wall like more tubes teeming with microbes. Delia suggested some of the painted paper tubes could be coming off the wall, be winding around things, with the back showing sometime. So, the whole thing is less considered and messier.

She liked the freer intuitive nature of my watercolour paintings, which I have been doing quickly and without much thought, usually from an idea in my sketchbooks but sometimes just from some words I have written. They are fun to do. She said keep going with them and don’t cut them up, which I’d mentioned, but keep them as a separate thing to the installation.

I tried painting an image from one of my videos. My face painted with multicoloured blobs (good bacteria) sniffing a bubbling jar of fermenting cabbage. It was a pleasing enough painting, but not really what I wanted or in keeping with the rest of the work at all. 

We know now that our work will only be assessed digitally and not in the studios and it all has to be down for the 4th year degree show students to set up. (it’s sadly not being opened to the public though, even though the restrictions will be much less by then, which makes me fear for ours even more…) This has taken the energy, impetuous, fun and point out of the installation for me, as its just to be photographed and then taken down again. I am wondering if I should just make bits at a time and video them and make it into another film? Hardly anyone is coming into the studios and with no socialising outside of them either, it’s really pretty miserable and boring and I definitely feel my work is more lack lustre as a result. All work and no play makes me a dull girl!

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