Sunday, 27 February 2011

Camberwell Space "Elusive"

see below for more about this exhibition


"Elusive" is currently showing at Camberwell Space in Camberwell College of Arts. Alongside this yesterday was a symposium about self publishing with "Self Publish , Be Happy". As a photographic exhibition it is interesting and enjoyable, but also elusive as the title suggests. The works are hung without titles or authors; slightly irritating as one has to use a map to work out which work belongs to who. There is also no explanatory text to describe the authors' intentions; I am sure this was deliberate, but I felt it diminished  the overall experience. The free catalogue contains an essay about three of the works, but the rest are left for the viewer to make what they will of. 

The work above by Verdi Yahooda , entitled "Romillys Tools- an incomplete set" interested me , as I had previously been looking at Susan Hiller's work in archival boxes, which was varied and fun. This work was different; the old box was left closed, and I wasn't immediately sure whether I was permitted to touch it and open the drawers. Having opened the drawer I found prints of old tools printed on plain paper, with strange haloes around them, as if the artist had had difficulty in Photoshop. I have no idea what the haloes were about, and will probably never find out. 

I had been thinking of presenting some items from the home as if they were in a museum archive, for example the contents of a make-up bag, or drawer. Seeing this work made me realise that I don't want to do this in a three dimensional format. Maybe taking photographs of items in archival boxes, or as some form of catalogue would be more appropriate, in the manner of Christian Boltanski, as seen at Chelsea last week.

Friday, 25 February 2011

from Foot's cray meadow; reflections in the River Cray

my brother used to eat dog biscuits..........see below

Word association on my morning walk 06.30-06.45

empty take away carton

plastic fork

polystyrene cup










put litter in archival boxes

still life



keeping litter

plastic bags




Susan Hiller




lunch box; was lost and is found






dog food on dinner plate

dog food in lunch box

my food in dog bowl

dog biscuits

my brother used to eat dog biscuits

dinner in dog

man eats dog food

raid the larder

my mother had to put a lock on the larder to keep my brother out

British Airways





my street












pictures in frames

personal objects in wrong places

wrong pictures in frames



some thing will come of all of this

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

creativity in the kitchen

My project is  about my "ordinary life". The dilemma I wrestle with most  of the day is what should I include?

I could take a photo every five minutes, or perhaps every hour?

I could photograph my porridge on a daily basis to show you how skilled I am at using the microwave, and how much sugar I put on top.

Should I take my camera to work, or when visiting friends?

Can I venture into abstractions of normality? ( more than likely I will whether you think I should or not).

All of these thoughts buzz around throughout the day, along with wondering whether to write in my workbook, take more pictures or read something relevant to my subject area.

Today I decided to tackle FLASH; a skill that has eluded me for the last 40 or more years. I got my camera and a bottle of ketchup out on the kitchen table, and the work began. I didn't get very far, because something totally out of the ordinary happened; a man called Martin arrived to clean my oven.
Nothing ordinary about that; never before have I had a man wearing a head torch delving into my oven, down on his knees while I pretended that I know something about flash photography. Turns out that Matin is a keen photographer; he directed me to You Tube to find out what to do. Sadly, the Nikon flash that I borrowed does not talk to my Canon camera; after an hour of messing around I realised that I had no control whatsoever over exposures. I retreated to my computer. 

Martin transformed my oven, and I produced a rather unusual image of a bottle of ketchup.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

the word on the street

there are words everywhere, even on the slabs beneath my feet


I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that art students find the need to write on the toilet walls.
Seems the desire for fame overcomes the desire to keep works of art to the studio; the toilet walls are regularly re-painted to allow for new masterpieces

Monday, 21 February 2011

English lessons and ivory towers

I mentioned earlier that I couldn't understand the text for the exhibition "Aphasic Disturbance". In particular two words stood out as being in the way of my understanding what the exhibition was about ; a shame really, as I didn't have a dictionary in my handbag, or access to Wikipedia.

I looked up synecdoche and metonymy this morning, only to find that they mean almost the same thing; a part of something being used to represent the whole , such as "Westminster" being used to describe the "government of England".

Maybe I am ignorant ; maybe I should know these words.

So I did a bit of research; I presented fellow students, my tutor and college librarian with the sentence that I struggled with. NOT ONE OF THEM UNDERSTOOD IT................and the librarian has an English degree.

This begs the question; did the curator of the exhibition realise that his explanatory notes did not do the job intended? Did he want to impress? Or did he not even realise that most of the population, even those with degrees, don't speak his language?

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Susan Hiller has a work entitled "dream mapping". Participants of the project slept in a field among fairy rings, and recorded their dreams. They then mapped out their dreams visually, and Susan combined them into a map.

last night I had two dreams that I remember; one was about trying to play a tennis match with a floppy racquet, and the other was about arriving at a friend's house having eaten supper. She presented me with a plate of chicken in gravy with salad, but had removed all the meat. I had to tell her that I was not hungry, and was left wondering why she had served me half the meal.


how would you map these dreams?

why am I still thinking about food?!

the right to speak

Having seen Susan Hiller at the Tate yesterday I have been a little preoccupied with words and language today. One of the differences between my home and that of the local Leonard Cheshire Home is that there are a lot of signs around the building, for example labels on cupboards and safety signs. Most of us can see to read them. But what if you couldn't read out loud? One of the residents has aphasia ( the inability to communicate verbally ). He understands perfectly and has to communicate with nods and facial expressions. I was humbled by my inability to have a meaningful conversation with him. He carried in his pocket a small laminated book that enables him to spell out words; how many of us have the time and patience to sit and listen to someone speak by spelling out each letter of each word by pointing at the card? He is a young man, rendered speechless by disease.
I shall explore the use of the written word further, as it seems to be becoming important.

in the dog house

well; having sung the praises of the dog yesterday, I'm afraid I have to go with the pig today. Dog, perhaps sensibly, didn't want to go for a walk in the mud on a cold grey drizzly day. We got half way across the field and a little switch went in her brain which said " I am not very bright". She stood, for about 10 minutes, frozen to the spot, whilst I chatted to passers by about why I wasn't going to go back for her............until I got so annoyed that I went back for her, and we went home. On the way we stopped at Tesco to get some essential items for the empty fridge that I photographed earlier. It seemed like a good idea to take pictures of my food on the checkout belt which highly amused the young lady on the till, who proceeded to call me David Bailey. Apparently another lady had been taking photos on her phone in the store only today; at which I responded that sadly I don't have a phone that is up to the job.

Home again for some gardening, followed by a nice cup of tea in the happy pig cup, to remind me that there is always something to smile about.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

moments of pleasure

from the installation "PSI girls" at Tate; I was mesmerised by this child actress from Roald Dahl's "Matilda" pouring her breakfast cereal by telekinesis. The musical accompaniment was hypnotic and rhythmical. Not sure I got the deeper meanings alluded to in the catalogue of "scenes from popular culture in which gratifying wishes and needs are connected with infantile fantasies of omnipotence".

I am going to have to work harder at this lingo; the words are so alien; might be a project there.........

dancing trees outside Tate Britain

had a lovely walk in the woods; found lots of empty sweet wrappers lying among the undergrowth, together with discarded drink cans; Fosters seems to be the preferred tipple of dog walkers, closely followed by a Mars bar. Swashing around in the mud was very therapeutic.
I made it to Chelsea Space for the last day of Aphasic Disturbance curated by Stephen Bury. The blurb about the exhibition was slightly more comprehensible than the exhibits themselves; try this sentence for size........." a salient example from the history of painting is the manifestly metonymic orientation of Cubism; where the object is transformed into a set of synechdoches". I wonder what that means? Must be art.

Not deterred, I walked a few yards across a nice square and into Tate Britain, where I revelled in the Susan Hiller exhibition. I learned about dream mapping Now there's someone who is not short of inspiration. I loved " the last silent movie"; watching the words on the screen in the dark and listening to the spoken word of endangered and extinct languages from around the world was an installation that will linger; I never knew there was a language where you could say " go and get the castanets" by whistling. Suffice it to say that I payed £25 for the catalogue, which is praise indeed. I have only bought three catalogues in my life ( and all of them since starting this course, so maybe I am changing in ways that I could not have predicted).

Finally, before jumping on a bus back home, I did a bit of photography capturing the pollarded plane trees outside the Tate.

think like a dog

yesterday I listened to a lot of troubled people; one of the privileges of my job is that people tell me things that they may never have told anyone else. like the lady who sat in front of me in tears because she thinks her grandmother may have abused her. all of this attentive listening is draining at times. my plan was to start today with a game of tennis with friends; a sure way to lift the spirits and refresh the body; but it is it'll be down to the woods in the rain instead.

my dog has the right attitude to life; I came down to the kitchen and fed her a bowl of dubuious looking brown reformed shapes, and she scoffed it in 3 seconds and then ran around the kitchen wagging her tail and showing off her soft toy; it's all about food!!

be happy!

Friday, 18 February 2011

food for thought

sometimes I lack inspiration; even when making my packed lunch; this was a few days ago and was a sad and dry collation from what I could find in the fridge...........I need to try harder! this weekend I intend to get my camera out and really work at finding some images. Today I fared much better; mushroom risotto reheated in the microwave at work. If Wolfgang Tillmans can take photos of food, then so can I.

Wolfgang Tillmans
if one thing matters everything matters”

Thursday, 17 February 2011


I am committed to a project on ordinary suburban life; I normally take photographs outdoors in nature; my dilemma is to combine the two, or to find a slant on my life that feels right and that I can work on with enthusiasm. As a photography student I have seen many different ways of viewing the world, but now need to put these aside and find my own way; the challenge begins................