Mostyn – Live Project (29/11/15)

I held my 2nd art session with The Gingerbread group on Sunday November 29th   For this session I was asked if I could plan the activity, I was happy to do this as I felt it would be good experience for me. As it would be the last session before Christmas it seemed natural that I plan something Christmas related.

I browsed the internet looking for inspiration, creating a Pinterest board as I went along, I needed to keep things relatively simple as some of the children were quite young at the last session but I didn’t want the older children to get bored either.

This month’s session was held in the same room as the parents meeting, I was very aware that everything I said could be heard which made me a bit self-conscious at first.  I had raided Mostyn’s store cupboard for supplies of tissue paper, material, glitter and anything sparkly that I could find. I had been collecting cardboard all week and had a range of Christmas shapes, Christmas trees, Stars, Angels.  Whilst the younger children enjoyed themselves, the older 2 could have found the activity a bit basic,  however still got engrossed with the card making accessories which I had brought from home. Towards the end of the session I had a chat with the older children about what they would like to do in the next session which is in January.

As a result of having completed my work placement and continuing to maintain contact by regularly attending the family art club as a volunteer, I have now been given a zero hour contract at Mostyn. Whilst this means I only get paid if and when I work,  the discussions I have had with my line manager there, indicates that there may be other opportunities open to me in the future.



Future Options

Rebecca from careers came to talk to us on an individual basis last week. I initially didn’t really feel I had anything to discuss with her,  but when she asked if I knew what I was doing after graduating I had to admit that I didn’t.

Rebecca asked me a few questions, what had brought me to education (as a mature student) Whether I was hoping to use my practice to earn a living or whether I thought I would use my degree as a stepping stone.  It was different to talk to someone about what I may do to earn a living in the future rather than talking about my work.  It actually helped me focus and clarified a few things for me.

As I mentioned that I had been thinking of self employment, Rebecca gave me some information about The Venture Programme, where you can access a range of support and guidance. I hadn’t realised that the careers & employability were accessible to students for up to three years after graduation.

From here I am going to make a further appointment with careers so that I can discuss things in more detail, and find out what other support is available.

What Happens after Graduation?

Last week we had the pleasure of Simon Grennan, a research fellow at the university, speaking to us twice in the same day. In the morning he joined us in our photography group to tell us about his time working in the Viewpoint Gallery in Manchester.  The photography gallery opened in 1985 as a result of local photographers working with the council to demonstrate that photography should be viewed as an art form.  Photographers were concerned that their work was considered a purely mechanical process and their photographs were journalist aids for commerce.


Viewpoint Gallery, The Old Fire Station, Salford

Simon’s time at Viewpoint was pre-internet and the distribution of paper marketing was very important and books or catalogues to accompany the exhibitions were evidence that the work was worthy of exhibiting.  Simon still believes that there is an argument to have a physical catalogue as they are more permanent, and have the capability of controlling the viewer as they peruse the exhibition.  This was definitely food for thought for future exhibitions.

The afternoon talk was in Professional Practice it was to make us think about what will happen to us professionally after graduation.

The following is an exercise Simon recommends we should complete as Final year students

Think about what resources you have  (Identifying what is applicable to you) such as

  • Discipline
  • Creativity
  • Opportunities
  • Body of work (ie your proof)

People.  Who do you know and can they help?  i.e

  • Connections
  • Family
  • Lecturers
  • Fellow students
  • Local scene

What are your plans and dreams, how can you get there?

The plans and dreams are yours alone and it’s what separates you from others, even if you share other things with them such as qualifications.

Final Pointers to think about

Turn what you don’t have into what you have

What have I got?  What do I want?

Henry Pulp

Henry Pulp was a guest speaker last week,  he was really inspiring, full of energy and enthusiasm, and obviously passionate about his work. He told us about his background and how he started off in business, which was a less conventional way than one would expect a business to get off the ground.

Henry (real name Michael Bennett) is a musician and an artist based in Liverpool, who produced his own branding, and the promotion material for his band, marketing under the name of Milk:Presents.

For this blog posting I’m going detail some of the pointers/advice which I found interesting

  • Planning an exhibition? Make people feel involved
  • Collaborate with people who can help you, and who you can help
  • Don’t undersell yourself,  (very important message)
  • Become an autodidact, (yes, I had to google that word) self teach, otherwise you will pay others to do the work for you
  • Don’t wait for the perfect job, create your own
  • Create a manifesto
  • Believe in yourself (ties in with not underselling yourself)
  • Find your motivation, what you want and why
  • Create platforms

“Education make you a living, self education makes you a legend” Habeeb Akande

“Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind – The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself” Baz Luhrmann

Henry now collaborates with Constellations which is a community driven creative environment based in Liverpool, which provides a platform for food, art, music and events.

This sounds like a really inspirational environment to be in and somewhere I plan to go for lunch next visit to Liverpool as the food looks amazing!

5×4 Camera Workshop

We had a 5×4 camera workshop today with Andrew Sanderson, I was particularly keen to attend this as I am aware that the quality of image from medium and large format is superior to 35mm and I was keen to refresh my memory with these processes.  Andrew is considered to be one of Harman’s “master printers” and regularly gives lectures, demonstrations and workshops across the UK.

Andrew started off with explaining the benefits of working with large format. He then showed us the workings of the camera demonstrating how all the camera functions worked, how to position the front and back risings, setting up the composition, taking a meter reading and taking the shot before returning to the darkroom to process the negative. For the purpose of this morning workshop for convenience we used paper negatives.

Andrew positioned the camera for this shot and I checked the settings and pushed the button..

Andrew positioned the camera for this shot and I checked the settings and pushed the button..

Andrew encouraged us to get familiar with the workings of the camera before returning to the darkroom to process the negatives.I was amazed by the quality of the negatives, and hadn’t realised that they could be printed in the darkroom using the enlarger. I had assumed that we would be scanning them and inverting them in photoshop. Printing the image in this way gives a different, more unique quality to the print, than processing digitally.

This was a really enjoyable workshop Andrew was extremely patient explaining things to us and even took time out from the darkroom to talk about incidental light readings, f-stops and generally share his years of knowledge with us.

The workshop has inspired me to venture out again with the 5×4 camera. Andrew has a blog called The Web Darkroom where he shares his knowledge of analogue techniques,  anybody who is interested in working in the darkroom should take a look and follow it as I have.

An exhausting day of culture in Liverpool

As I had a free day, I decided to head to Liverpool and see some of the current exhibitions,  I did a bit of research to see what I wanted to see before going, planning my route to avoid having to walk more than was necessary.

Starting in the Walker Art Gallery, on to The Bluecoat, Open Eye, The Museum of Liverpool and finishing off in The Tate. A lot planned for one day.

Walker Art Gallery

Reality – Modern and Contemporary British Painting

“After many years of swimming against the waves of fashion in art, I’ve heard it said once again that painting is back in fashion. I think that it has never been in or out of fashion”                                                          Roy Richardson 2014

This statement which was on the walls of the first gallery room for the exhibition was particularly pertinent to the previous weeks lecture with Tom McGurk The death of painting?  And the subsequent reading material Why Nothing Can Be accomplished in Painting and Why it is Important to Keep Trying by James Elkin.

The Exhibition is made up of British artist who are concerned with British identity and the ways that British people deal with the modern ever changing world.  There is a range of subject matters however the changing landscapes appears to be the prevailing theme, with each painting conveying human presence or absence.

David Hepher - Tree (2010 - 2011)

David Hepher – Tree (2010 – 2011) (own photo)

One of the pieces of work which I was drawn to was Tree by David Hepher (2010-2011) This is a series of 3 huge mixed media canvases, displayed as one piece of work. Hepher likes to work from council blocks where the facia of the building has been eroded by time, weather and by the people who change the appearance of the building with their décor. The middle canvas has a huge tree to one side, the other side is textured concrete. The 3 canvases are brought together not only by the reqular pattern of the windows, but also the green of the stairwell which I felt could be a reference to nature and the positioning of the graffiti which is pink and green. The word tree is included within the graffiti on the right hand canvas. The subject matter may suggest that he is addressing social issues but Hepher states that he is more interested in portraying the personalities of the residents in what he calls his Housescapes.

The exhibition as a whole was really interesting for me, I have tended to go to photography exhibitions more than painting over the last few years, but I was surprised at how long I spent at the Walker with this exhibition and the looking at the previous John Moores prize winner’s exhibition. For further information on John Moores Prize

Heath’s Willendorf Venus charts his efforts to draw the famous sculpture whilst blindfolded

Claude Heath. Winner of John Moores prize winner 1997 Willendorf Venus

Claude Heath. Winner of John Moores prize winner 1997
“Willendorf Venus” (own photo)

Detail of Willendorf Venus

Detail of Willendorf Venus (own photo)

I’m not going to discuss any of the rest of the exhibitions in any detail, but am going to share some of the photos which I have taken.


Niamh O’Malley at The Bluecoat

The Bluecoat was showing Niamh O’Malley’s work, working within a range of mediums, sculpture, drawing, photography and vidoe she uses “reflective surfaces through which images are constructed, revealed and obscured” this is a concept which I am interested in and have been exploring within my own photograph and studio based work.

Niamh O'Malley

Niamh O’Malley

By now I was getting a bit hungry, so after some lunch and renewed energy it was down to the The Open Eye, I love the reflections in the building down there, so snapped a few photos en route.

Reflection of the Liver Birds in the glass buildings

Reflection of the Liver Birds in the glass buildings of the Open Eye

The Open Eye was showing Vukani/Rise the work of Zanele Muholi who’s work as a  photographer and explores gender, race and sexuality particularly in South Africa

Zanele Muholi at The Open Eye

Zanele Muholi at The Open Eye

Zanele Muholi

Zanele Muholi

The final exhibition of the day was Poppies, Women and War, a photographic exhibition by Lee Karen Stow,  this was in the Museum of Liverpool and explores the personal stories of how woman have been affected by war

Lee Karen Stow - Poppies, Women and War

Lee Karen Stow – Poppies, Women and War

I did make it to the Tate, but I had already seen the current exhibitions, so decided to call it a day, my aching feet and back were grateful, and to return there once the new Matisse opens on November 20th

Portrait commission (Live project)

I haven’t been overly keen on doing portrait for a while now, even though when I initially started to study photography my plans for the future were to become a commercial portrait photographer. Since my work started to become more personal I moved away from this idea, however following the talk from guest speakers Steve McCoy and Stephanie Wynne where they told us about how they combine their commercial and personal work, and I have thought about how I can make a living from the photography. The most obvious ways are commercial portraits and weddings, so when I was approached about taking a child’s portrait I agreed to do them.

The initial discussions were about the cost, and the where and when’s,  It was agreed that I would go to the clients home, I have a mobile lighting kit and backdrop but not much room at home whilst  her living room was large and we would have ample space to set up. She also felt it would be more convenient for her as she doesn’t drive and it would have meant that she would have to take her daughter on public transport.  My travelling time and petrol were factored into the costings along with post production time, and we agreed on the price for the photoshoot. We discussed how many final images she would have, agreeing that the images would be given to her either on a cd or a pendrive and she would arrange her own printing.  In the past I haven’t considered the post production time when setting my prices, it’s something I have learnt to take into account, the client often assumes that once the photos are taken that is it, and it’s just a matter of transferring on the computer.

This is the type of portable lighting kit that I have, I use the soft box option which are relatively easy to set up.

This is the type of portable lighting kit that I have, I use the soft box option which are relatively easy to set up.

Last night was preparation time, I got everything organised, charged spare camera battery, checked for spare SD card, spare AAA batteries for the receiver, reflector, flash gun (incase of lighting malfunction!) It’s only now as I’m writing this that I’ve thought that I should have a check list so that I don’t forget anything….something to put on the “to-do list”

I found setting the lights up a little bit stressful,  I would have preferred to have been able to do this at my leisure, but today I felt the pressure of having to demonstrate professionalism whilst fumbling with my under used equipment. The shoot itself went really well, the child seemed to take to me and performed to the camera beautifully, after approximately an hour of shooting, allowing for clothing changes, it became obvious that she’d had enough, so we followed her queue and called it a day.

Today's little model

Today’s little model

For future photoshoot I think I need to schedule a time slot rather than it being open ended, I think I am undercharging by under-estimating how long I will spend taking the photos.  Today’s shoot has been a good learning curve for me, and by writing this blog I’ve had a chance to reflect on how I can improve future shoots.  Since posting a selection of the images from today onto my social media page, so that the client can have a preview, I have been contacted by a couple of people who are interested in arranging photoshoots with me.

Once I have ironed out some of the flaws from today’s session I will be getting back to them to set a date, I need to take all opportunities which come my way in order to fine tune how efficiently future commissions run.

Studio Space – October 2015

This is how my studio space is looking at the end of October, I’ve still got some of the holiday work up. I have been doing a range of experiments, creating layers with paints, nail varnish, soaking in bleach and burning part of the images. There are a few images there which I feel are a good starting point, also a few which I felt were real failures.

I am currently not too concerned with the original image, I’m focussing more on the processes. I am using photographs which I produced in my 1st and 2nd year, but were mostly not included in any project submission.

studio space 2studio

Art Club

I completed my work placement at level 5 at Mostyn Gallery, Llandudno.  Part of the placement was assisting at their monthly Family Art clubs, where I would help the club leader with the setting up, keeping supplies well stocked and clearing up at the end of the session, and generally assisting if and when any attendees required.  I found this to be a positive experience and continued to attend as a volunteer for a while after the required number of hours for the module had been completed.

Last week I had a telephone call from The Learning and Engagement Manager at Mostyn who asked me if I could lead a monthly art session as part of a local Gingerbread event. Gingerbread is a charity which offers support to lone parents and they had booked the meeting room at the gallery, who would provide an art club for the children. I jumped at the chance to do this, as feel it could lead to further opportunities in the future.

Today was my first session, the only brief I had was that the activity should compliment the exhibition We’ve got Mail ll, showing in gallery 1.

Part of “We’ve got Mail” exhibition – Showing in Gallery 1

The exhibition looks at the history of the postcard in Llandudno, and consists of a range of examples of the use of postcards over the years.

These postcards were made by a 6 and a 4 year old today. I love that they have drawn part of the design themselves.

These postcards were made by a 6 and a 4 year old today. I love that they have drawn part of the design themselves.

The gallery provided blank postcards and I printed sheets of beach related images which could use to create our own postcards. There were only 4 children in the group, I started by talking to them about how lucky we were to live where we did and how people like to come to the seaside for their holidays, we then went to see the exhibition and looked at the different types of postcards. The children seemed to like going to see the display and I was pleased that they engaged with me on the subject.

These were made by the older girls in the group, who were around ages 13 and 11

These were made by the older girls in the group, who were around ages 13 and 11

I feel that I was lucky today and whilst the children had a large age difference, they all worked independently producing some excellent work. I was there for help and guidance when required. They all seemed to enjoy themselves, the length of the session was long enough for them to produce a finished piece of work but not too long that they got bored.  I’m already thinking of ideas for the next session which is at the end of November.