Waiting 3 months isn’t exactly ‘posting more’ is it?

Hello hello hello to future me, and anybody else who may happen across this post during their travels of the wide and wonderful web.

I thought it was high time I updated my blog because yes, I did intend to post more frequently this year, and yes it has been a long and silent 3 months since I made that declaration with festive conviction and post-break energy. I don’t really feel bad about the silence because it has been a busy and productive few months where my writing has been limited by a failing laptop and lack of time in which to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) - and this is good. It is better to have things to write about but no time in which to right them, than to have time to write but nothing really to say. It is refreshing to feel like I am going in the right direction and even more fulfilling that this direction is one I am feeling out myself and not being told to follow by an educational institution or some other ‘higher power’ (like tequila). SO I do not know where to begin and how much detail is necessary to part with but perhaps I should keep this relatively concise so as not to risk losing heart half-way through and going to pursue something simpler, like toast. Perhaps a list would be useful. What have I been doing? 

Well, this year so far carries the theme of new work and new skills.

I was lucky enough to enjoy the Colour Darkroom course at Stills, which was really informative and great fun. Colour processing and printing is something I was always pushing to learn at University but for numerous reasons there never seemed to be time or facilities or staff available to show me the ropes. Being able to process my own film is going to save me a whole lot of money (but  equally lose me a whole lot of Boots points) and learning from my January experience, when there are mistakes at least they are MY mistakes (see last post if this makes no sense). I actually processed my first two solo rolls of colour yesterday and managed to load one of my films onto the spiral completely wrong - which I knew had happened in the back of my mind but didn’t have the heart or the time to try and correct it. I’ll add a slice of this happy accident at the end because I actually quite like how it came out.

I conducted my first Exhibition Tour during the open day at Stills last month, spending longer than was probably expected in the gallery pointing out (with glee) as many of Alan Dimmick’s individual images as felt acceptable for a Saturday afternoon. I hope that I showered the tour-ers (?) with my enthusiasm for this work and shared some of how intensely excited it made me feel about images and people and everything, really. They were friendly enough, and if they hated it they did a very good job of feigning appreciation. It was a really interesting show and one I feel very privileged to have invigilated as it caused me to question my own attitudes toward photographic collections, the nature of buying and selling work and the relevancy of physical images in an increasingly digital world. Plus, Alan Dimmick’s work was just magic. A few words from my written response to the work:

‘Put simply this is the best exhibition I’ve been to since Jason Dee in Talbot Rice a few years back. Not that my gallery going life is particularly long and not that these things can really be measured in terms of best or worst-but let’s say I enjoyed Alan Dimmick’s work immensely - that the sprawling and delicious throb of life he has presented gives me goosebumps and what’s more, the notion (that sometimes in this tech filled life seems crazy) that to shoot pictures and record moments has meaning.’

I am in the midst of shooting a new body of work, currently untitled, about my frustrations maturing as a ‘Millenial’ in a society that seems to consistently exhaust and infantilise its young adult population. I am sure there are plenty of young adults with different experiences of their twenties but as someone used to hard work but with ambitions to be creatively fulfilled in a way that is useful to my immediate community, so far graduate life has been a test. Things I was brought up to associate with ‘growing up’ - things like having a car, having a career, buying clothes that aren’t in the sale, the mystical ~disposable income~ and ~time to pursue your hobbies~ and the fabled ~~mortgage~~ seem faraway from this reality. When my parents were this age my dad got his flat free of charge as a perk of working in a greengrocer’s, my mum left uni with no student debt and in a matter of years they would be having my brother and buying a house. Meanwhile: 2017 and I am still receiving colouring books as gifts, wondering what I want to do when I grow up and watching cartoons when I should be asleep. But this feeling of somehow being misled and ill-prepared I guess extends to art world too. I haven’t printed anything for myself since university ended. I ordered two prints as xmas presents but somehow packing them in my duct-taped suitcase and shuffling them down a train carriage seemed more like a performance than an authentic present. In my day to day life I try not to allow myself to buy luxuries. To give you an idea, last week I bought a piece of feta cheese in Aldi for 95p and regretted it the entire walk home due to conflicting emotions of understanding the dairy industry to be morally problematic but also struggling to justify 95p to myself when I could equally have bought raisins or nothing at all (and ALSO loving feta cheese - especially with roast carrots). It’s difficult to be told that ‘art is passion’ ‘art is something you can’t live without’ ‘art is necessary’ when in actuality the process of producing it, to this kind of accepted standard that we see put on walls is so expensive, in time and finance, that it can only be regarded as a luxury and therefore somehow lesser than your hours at work and the muesli  and potatoes and the podcasts that are free and that make you think in a similar way.

But I digress. Translating this into pictures is still in its early stages where my ideas are making me excited and the potential that this could communicate something to somebody and start a dialogue is very real and I haven’t managed to sour that for myself yet so I am enjoying myself very much. You can see a couple of sneak peeks of this work, shot almost entirely on my 40 minute commute to work each way on my instagram, but it is still taking shape.

Oh, and I shaved my head! Which is a pleasure I would suggest everybody tries at some stage. I’ve always been curious and once I start considering something I find it difficult to let it go. I think once it dawned on me that I didn’t actually have to have hair - that it was very possible and very easy and very cheap to just shave it off - it was going to happen. In the end I didn’t shave it because I thought it would look cool, or even because I was curious about how it would look (although of course I was), I shaved it because the more I thought about it the more curious I was about how it would feel to have no hair. It was the sensory curiosity that got me. I guess the greatest pleasures are those unknown to us. And once I had started to imagine how it would feel to stand in the shower without a curtain of hair catching the drops, but to feel that sensation directly on my skull, and once I wondered how it would feel to wake up not in a muss of long hair but with warm head on warm pillow and to rub the skin with my fingertips and ONCE I had walked down a windy street with hair whipping in my eyes and in my mouth and dreamt of how it feels for men and other short-haired ladies to walk confidently in the wind it was all just bound to happen. The longer I left it the more experiences I started comparing to my imagined pleasure of having no hair. And so one morning I woke up and I did it.

I feel that this a good place to end, despite there being more to talk about - mainly because my day off is drawing to a close and this has taken three different stints at my incredibly fragile laptop to complete. What’s funny is despite my earlier aside, I did make toast. 

More exciting things to come this weekend, and more things to tell you (future me, unknowable anonymous potential internet audience), and more to do and experience and imagine and discuss. I will be uploading some shots from Palma soon because I went ahead and booked my first ever solo holiday last week. Which was surreal and fantastic - but more of that to come.

Bye for now.

An accident, a new year, sense of relief

Hello, welcome, everybody wave hello to 2017.

A new year has started and as much as I don’t really go in for all that ‘new year new me’ bullshit, 2016 was a particularly draining year emotionally and physically, and even though calendars are a construct (and time is objective and all that other condescending pseudo-intelligence people regurgitate onto others that are trying to feel positive about something new and a little bit exciting) I have to admit I was glad to see it over. 

2017 does feel different, at least for now: I feel relief, I feel excitement. I’ve been thinking a lot in the last few months about our relationships with ourselves - about how we treat our bodies and our actions and ourselves as people. It’s something I’ve only come to consider recently - that how you treat yourself and prioritise yourself is just another kind of relationship with somebody. And it’s not cool to be an asshole to anybody, yourself included. I have a whole discarded draft post about how fragile human relationships are, perhaps most meaningfully with ourselves. For the longest amount of time I have refused to forgive myself any kind of small failure, any kind of awkwardness, any kind of mistake, anything I’ve said that revealed how a lot of the time I’m really quite furious, anything that equally made me seem pathetic or lazy or dim. And it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting being so self-critical and disappointed in your perceived mediocrity because it’s just you against you - the part which is trying so hard to make the other part satisfied is tired, and the part that is so fed up of the other part occasionally falling short is even more so. And so without going too far into the rabbit-hole of learning to be gentle to yourself (as you would be with other people) - this year I’m feeling quite good.

Over Christmas I had an entire fortnight away from work. I was able to travel back to Devon for the first time since 2015 and got to see so many friends and family members, so many hillsides and cliffs and stretches of ocean. I took my cameras with me and shot a few rolls of film, I walked a lot, I discovered some cracking new podcasts*, I baked bread, I ran 3 miles along the beach on christmas day. Jake even took me to Dartmoor, to where we think was Wistman’s Wood (although with my below average navigational skills we can’t really be sure). It was probably the best Christmas break I’ve had since school - the key point being that at no point during the week I was at home did I think ‘there’s nothing to do’ and instead I was met rather abruptly with a ‘oh dear I’m leaving tomorrow’. NYE was your typical montage of cheap white wine, quite expensive white wine, trying to get a beer garden of people in Camden to all sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’, failing to do so, more cheap white wine, crisps, crisps, olives, forcing other people to eat olives, beer, realising your ability to convincingly socialise is plummeting and then waking up in the afternoon to a house you don’t recognise, drinking water from the tap and squinting outside at torrential rain, trying to find your phone and then eventually, when everything just feels like you might one day feel ok again, having a milkshake. My first NYE in London was courtesy of Chanti - thanks again, for everything. 

Flash forward, back in Edinburgh, I rush to A&M to get my films processed and 2 rolls get ‘left in the machine’. They come back pretty much ruined, given to me as two uncut strips,  folded into four and put in a bag. Most of each roll is fog from being over-processed. But here and there you can make out bits of the moor - and in one corner, you can see the ghost of Jake’s face. There’s a very rough edit of these below so have a gander. They’re actually quite beautiful I think. Like looking through a net curtain, or looking back at something you can’t quite remember. Like the year behind has been washed with light.**

I did get some 35mm back with no problems and I’ll upload that somewhere soon. There’s an absolute cracker of an image of a dead mouse in a freezer bag. That sounds sarcastic but those of you who know me will be able to imagine how delighted I was sat at the computer seeing that little mouse scanned upside down and leaping airborne out of the screen. But perhaps that’s just me. Almost definitely just me. Give me a few days to scan them properly and you can have a look and make your own mind up. I’m going to try to post here more in the coming months because I have three drafts that I started before christmas and chickened out of posting, which is sad. It’s better to post something people might think is stupid than to post nothing at all. Oh, and after a year of wondering how a particular body of pictures and words fitted together on a wall I’ve realised they don’t at all - I’m making a book! 

Speak soon internet.

*The Allusionist, in particular, is a dream to listen to.

** You can now see the entire set with accompanying text here.

A selfie (of sorts)

The coolest thing to happen to me last week - getting photographs taken of the back of my eyeballs. Not only do eyeballs look like beautiful planets, or eggs during incubation (and nothing like the white, opaque ball I had in mind) - but the back of my own eyeball is something that would be completely unseeable and unknowable without cameras and very clever opticians.

Sure - I could have, theoretically, pulled someone else’s eyeball out and had a look at theirs (though it would probably look entirely different ripped out of its socket), but to see the reverse of our own living SEEING mechanisms (USING those exact living seeing mechanisms) blew my mind. So much so that a week later I risked a trip down Prince’s Street in the middle of festive panic present-buying hell wielding a USB stick in order to get a copy of this magic. 


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