Rachel Maclean Make Me Up

 

 

I came across this film via one of the OCA Facebook pages (thank you Catherine, Sarah-Jane). I’ve watched it two or three times now, it’s on BBC iplayer online until tomorrow night (4/12). If your preference is toward the surreal, the satirical, the feminist, you might enjoy it. I’d love to find a way to watch it again. Language is strong and there are some scenes that are very uncomfortable to watch.

It’s like a feminist rendering of a cross between Ru Paul’s Drag Race and Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation. It is stuffed full of contextual references spanning ancient art to vloggers and social media. It makes me think about the pressures applied on women about what we wear, what we eat, how we are judged. A superb section in the latter part of the film provides a soundtrack of women’s voices through recent history, and a view of  feminism over time.

This is the kind of film that makes me think that if I was studying UVC I would be able to write about it in a lot more (intelligent) detail. As it is, I watch it, and things chime with what I know and I know that there’s more feminist work to come from me. I was intrigued by how Siri paints an extra pair of eyes onto her face to fool the surveillance software, this reminded me of Julie Cockburn’s use of embroidery on images to confuse Google’s Reverse Image search. The saccharine hair colours and manga style costumes remind me of my ten year old daughter, who recently requested pink hair dye to go with her pink glasses. Followed in short order by her comment that any designer who thinks girls need bows and charms on their underwear “needs to get a life”. This film is dripping with curves, with pink, with stereotypes and the patriarchal gaze delivered via an “authoritarian diva” as Siri and Alexa struggle to subvert it.

I’m wrapping this up here because I need to write something about it before it disappears off iplayer and I have only my memories.

https://www.itsnicethat.com/articles/rachel-maclean-make-me-up-film-051018

Full film – until 11pm 4/12:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0bqt8g3/arena-make-me-up

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Marlborough Open Studios

After two years of fully intending to visit open studios but not doing so, I got organised and planned an afternoon visiting three local studios with Holly Woodward. We were made very welcome at all three studios and it was a great way to spend a very hot Sunday afternoon.

Susie Bigglestone had been top of both our lists. Her work is rooted in the rural and the personal, and she meshes analogue and digital processes with ease. She made us (and my ten year old) extremely welcome in the sweltering heat and spent a large amount of time talking us through her process and her work.  There were two highlights for me. Firstly, Susie’s sketchbooks. She works with large hardback sketchbooks – A3 ish but broad and short. They struck me because of the s.p.a.c.e that they offer for documenting and exploring ideas. She pasted in text, images, research from corners of the web, contact sheets. This really inspired me. My sketchbook for EYV grew wings and flew with ideas and what-ifs. My sketchbook for this course has been a rather more pedestrian affair and I’m not entirely sure why, it feels like a disused studio with the curtains drawn and the books unread, the pages unturned. Perhaps it has something to do with my sorting out a proper study and creating room within the house. Whatever the reason, I’m going to try a larger sketchbook on my next course, whatever that turns out to be. The second work that inspired me was her series on shoes, she explored so much about them – context, colour, use, disposal…. I loved the sketchbook dedicated to this and I liked the photograph of the shoe pickled in a kilner jar, mustard seeds floating in there too. She moved the everyday, the loved, into a forensic, preserved format with the shoe preserved not just in memory or photograph but who knows, in vinegar, formaledehyde? The shoe becomes evidence. We left with promises to return and make work together.

The next studio we visited was that of Diana Neale, who makes delicate work using her skills in both photography and watercolour paintings. Texture is a key element and a keen eye for colour and detail. I had met Diana a couple of times before and had been impressed her determination to make her work the way she wanted to make it. My daughter fell in love with one of Diana’s watercolour paintings and that came home with us.

Finally we went to Aly Storey’s print studio. It’s hard to explain her work so here’s a quote from her website:

“All the designs you see in my shop are screen printed by hand using water based fabric binders and pigments in small editions and are then made up by me. I draw inspiration from an imaginary landscape where the natural environment meets contemporary graphic iconography, and develop ideas through a mixed multi-media process using photography, social media, computer software, drawing and cut paper, to create bold geometric and graphic print design.”

I was very taken by the colours, the textures, the patterns. I liked how something as mundane and everyday as a tea towel can be rendered into something so thought absorbing as well as moisture-absorbing. I was mesmerised by the pattern, how the circles are the same but different, the gentle changes of colour and form, and the integration of social media and graphic design. I need to learn more about this, there’s definitely a photographic element to the process but I think that might be at the beginning, making the screens rather than at the end which is screen printing onto fabric (or I could be wrong). Aly also had the large format sketch book, which was interesting. Holly tells me that they’re quite common outside of the photography course.

The day was very well spent. I can now see why we (students) are encouraged to see as much work as we can and not to discount the smaller local artists and galleries in favour of the big shows. It’s tremendously encouraging and inspiring to see the work that’s being made, the challenges that people are facing and how they resolve them.

http://www.susiebigglestone.co.uk

http://www.lateinthedayimages.co.uk/

http://www.pinkhousestudio.co.uk

 

 

 

 

John Stezaker Study Visit 27/4/18 – an initial response

draft post: will return,tidy up and add more images.

This study visit was organised and led by John Umney and Stan Dickinson. Held at the Whitworth Gallery in Mancester it was a bit of journey from Wiltshire but I am keen to do study visits further north than London. I had agreed to share some work with Fitz and Alan before the study visit started to get a bit more value from the trip and also to see something else afterwards if time permitted.

I had read and viewed the suggested resources beforehand, and had also encountered an essay about one of John Stezaker’s works in the book that I was reading at the time. I’m not really sure where to start. I chose the study visit because I wasn’t really understanding the work and knew there was something there for me. I read the notes and realised there was actually quite a lot there for me. I’m therefore choosing not to document extensively either him or the visit but my learnings/observations/plans arising from it.

For him, the images are the starting point for his work. So all those “virgins” (headshots of b-list actors) would have been regarded as finished work when they were made, but Stezaker applies something of a synergistic approach – either adding, subtracting or both – to make something else entirely.

For me – the risk of destroying something in the pursuit of art. Wounds and healing.

Putting things together – like the self-portrait layers

He lets the work slide between contexts from the “silver screen” to the modern day

Shows similarities as well as difference

How does he decide which prints to cut, which to keep intact as a the background? Some of the work looks like it’s made in thirds, but it’s actually an entire whole background with one ripped piece on top, so it’s more like halves.

Portrait/landscape thoughts: firstly because he puts postcards of landscapes on top of portraits of people, secondly because of the play on orientations (a landscape postcard on top of a portrait portrait or perhaps a landscape postcard placed in a portrait orientation on a portrait portrait ADD IMAGE FROM PHONE), the strong transposition of person and place but often with the suggestion of the place within the person rather than the person within the place.

 

What happens to the text on the postcard? Removed from view for eternity. Discussed on the interview – he considers that this might have been his last ever communication from Uncle so and so, and then sticks it down anyway.

What happens to the leftovers? He keeps them and collages them.

RISK.

Inside out ness.

I forgot to pack my hairbrush, so ended up buying one that was so pink it hurt my eyes. After reading the study visit materials, I put it down in the hotel bathroom and watched it spin. I videoed it, then converted it to mono. Taking the colour out changed it, added to it.

 

Walking in Manchester after the study visit, I commented on the pinkness that was everywhere from taxis to hoardings. At Piccadilly, waiting for my train, I photographed more pinkness, and wondered what the world would look like without that pink? What would it be replaced by (black? white? beige? blue? that empty Photoshop crosshatching?)

For the duration of my hugely delayed journey home I went through all the photos of my daughter on my phone, tagging all the ones with pink for a separate album. I wondered what these photographs would look like with no pink in them, and reflected that had she been male rather than female we would be unlikely to have many, if any, photos featuring pink. In Stezaker’s Tabula Rasa work he cuts the image so that we see a blank cutout, no clue as to what was there. If I remove a colour, what happens to the context? What does the action add to the understanding of the image? If I remove pink from the photographs of our Disney trip will there be anything left?

monstersinc

Darkroom course 7th/8th April

The course was at Bristol Folk House and I attended it with Holly Woodward. Many thanks to Holly for letting me know about the course. I can recommend the venue, they run a variety of very reasonably priced photography courses and are located in central Bristol a few doors from an excellent bookshop that sells most of its books for £3 each.

There were six students and one tutor, we worked in the dedicated dark room which is based in a cellar with an adjoining small room for inspecting prints and negatives. The cellar had six enlargers (all donated and of different types!) and a very large ceramic sink that could take three large trays and a water bath. There was also a small length of counter with a paper safe and a print dryer.

On day 1 we spent the morning learning to get the undeveloped film wound onto the reels in the dark.  Even when successful this still felt a bit unsuccessful, it’s definitely something I need to practise whilst watching tv. The actual processing mechanics were fine, we used the Ilford rinsing method which uses less water. The developer has to be within half a degree of 20 C, any warmer or cooler required changes to the length of time that the film was developed for. Getting the processed film off the reel was a surprising challenge considering that it was done in full light, 36 exposures is slightly too long for intuitive handling and I think I may have got some dust on Holly’s film.

In the afternoon we made contact prints, which involved making a test print first. This is done with a strip of paper placed diagonally across the neg holder, and then another wider strip of card is used black side down to mask off sections of the photopaper. Each section was exposed for 5 seconds. Some of us then ended up working with 10 second exposures depending on how well the first one came out (I increased my intervals in this way). Once a satisfactory test print was obtained we inspected the residuals (the black bits between images) to identify the point where the residuals showed true black, and from that position on the strip we calculated the cumulative exposure needed.

Day 2 was about making prints. The neg goes into the holder in the enlarger and any filter changes applied. In red light, the image is projected onto the easel and the enlarger adjusted to get the desired image onto the desired size paper; this is done with the enlarger opened up two stops to give a bright image. Then the image is focused using the enlarger control first, then a manual focusing tube that allows you to inspect the grain of the projected image. After this you stop back down two stops and get paper for a test strip, then you make a test strip again.

Once the test strip is exposed you use consecutive baths of developer (2min), stopper (30 sec) and fixer (about two minutes). Don’t dip the tongs in the wrong tanks. That moment when you see your image start to appear in the dev tank really does feel like magic. It did make me wonder if I should shoot my fairies on film. After those three baths the print went into a tank with running water for 2-4 minutes before going through the dryer (you can also hang them to dry). This time, the test strip is inspected for the exposure that is just starting to show detail in non-specular highlights, and the exposure is calculated on that basis. Then a sheet of paper goes into the easel and you make the full print.

We were shown how to dodge and burn. Despite learning the technicalities of doing this in PS/Lightroom on the Foundation course, seeing it done on paper really helped my understanding of how and why you would do these processes.

Lots of learning for me over the weekend, and not just the obvious stuff. It’s tempting to look at a test strip with the same logic of looking at a digital histogram, but that doesn’t work. In digital, an overexposed pixel is white (blown) and underexposed is black. Whereas the shorter exposures on paper were whiter because the paper had less chance to react to the light and longer exposures were darker. I kept trying to read my test strip back to front on Saturday until I realised.

I loved the printing process – it’s very iterative, which I liked, but also it needs to be very precise and that continues to be a bit of a challenge to me. You need to be accurate in measuring fluids, in measuring timings, in squaring up paper in the easel, in focussing…  I am definitely going to do more. A friend has some old dark room gear that she is happy to lend to me, though the siting of the enlarger presents a couple of challenges. There is also a local private darkroom literally moments from my home and there is some availability to work there. Developing film at home and then printing at the darkroom might be a suitable compromise. I would love to work with layered objects and fabrics on the paper during exposure, I would have to see if that could be done in a commercial setting.

I find it amusing that after months of saving and toing and froing over buying a digital printer that my first prints are analogue. They are not perfect, even to my uneducated eye I can see issues with them, and focus is an issue too as they were my first prints from my Olympus OM-1 and I am definitely struggling with the manual focus on that. I did love the process though, enough to continue exploring.

My final prints:

Specs.

My photos were taken on an Olympus OM-1 camera that was given to me by an OCA student last year. It’s been serviced, and these were the first prints that I’ve seen from it. I am undoubtedly at the start of a substantial learning curve re manual focus and manual exposure.

Film used was Ilford HP5, as requested in the course materials.

Paper was Ilford Multigrade, and we used the enlarger filter settings to adjust contrast/tonality.

I used f4.8 (I think, couldn’t really read it in the dark) when setting up and focussing the enlarger, f8 when making the prints.

 

Exhibition – Tribe at the Fox Talbot Museum

I’ve been to this exhibition twice now. The first time saw me so confused and perplexed by reading the artist statement that I didn’t really give the work enough attention. So I went back, with OCA student Holly Woodward.

The Fox Talbot Museum is showing three exhibitions of women’s work this year. This first one shows work by six solo women artists and one partnership. The work is mixed media in a range of formats.

So here is the artist statement.

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This statement was by Lori Vrba, one of the women whose work was shown. I’m actually quite puzzled by how far this statement distracted my attention from the work itself and coloured my appreciation of some very engaging work. I needed to understand why the words had such an effect on me and I need to engage more critically than a simple “fart-speak” or “it’s feminism gone too far to the other way” proffered by another visitor to the gallery. I was impressed by Holly’s observation that the statement was marginalising the work.  I think this “marginalising the work” is what was getting to me. The artist statement barely mentions the work, which is such a shame as the work has much to say.  I’m puzzled that there is absolutely no overlap between the “greats” listed in the statement and the 40+ female artists showcased at the Avant Garde Feminist show at The Photographers Gallery last year. Granted, “feminist” and “feminine” are not the same thing, but I am surprised that there is no overlap at all given that female identity is such an important base to this work.  Where is Judy Chicago? Nan Goldin? Francesca Woodman? Julia Margaret Cameron, although not American, was clearly an influence with her delicate images of women and children. The second paragraph didn’t engage me at all. It’s odd because much of my work is rooted in the female experience and the feminist perspective, but I wouldn’t consider or describe myself as part of the “greater good” simply due to having a womb. Equal, yes, greater, no. I am uneasy too about the use of “feminine without apology” – how many men apologise for their work? Come to that, how many women apologise for their work?

From my point of view the work was about family, about stories. It was about using craft and materials with photographs, to tell stories. The scope to me is primarily about the personal, the family rather than wider society, with the exception of Kirsten Hoving and Emma Powell’s environmental saga. Most of the work is rooted firmly in the past – either in style, colour or presentation (I suppose that fits with the nostalgia in the artist statement).

Anyway. Moving onto the work. The artists showing work were:

  • Tama Hochbaum
  • Lori Vrba
  • Heidi Kirkpatrick
  • Heather Evans Smith
  • Anne Berry
  • KK Depaul
  • Kirsten Hoving & Emma Powell (mother and daughter)

KK DePaul’s work was physical collage with objects in a vintage, faded palette, they were shown inside a recessed mount in a recessed frame, I had the sensation of traveling back through time before even reaching the collage. The work is a mesh of stories, and the more you look the more you see. “Barbara” is a mix of the inside and the outside – photographs of a face, drawings of a skeleton, and actual medical slides. Text is used sparingly and with precision and it was so rewarding to take the time to look in detail.

Heidi Kirkpatrick’s work is object orientated too. I loved the vitrines of little things – tobacco tins with photographs printed onto the inside, mah-jong tiles with photographs on their backs. My daughter loved the vintage dresses calotyped with ferns and plants, and wanted to know if we could buy one. The calotypes on embroidery hoops were exquisite too, but I’m not sure how far I get with unpacking their meaning, although I would love to make one myself.

The work with the most contemporary feel for me was Kirsten Hoving and Emma Powell’s series.  Made with a process using pigment over palladium, this didn’t make me feel as if I was looking back through history, even though it’s about a fictional fairy tale.

It is amazing how much of my photography learning seems to be about text, this is the second time that I’ve seen the impact of a statement that’s misaligned with the work it’s introducing.

Holly Woodward’s review of the same exhibition is here. My thanks go to Holly for seeing the exhibition with me and helping me to deconstruct my initial response into something more rational and balanced, and thus seeing past the artist statement to the actual work.

http://www.kkdepaul.com/

http://heidikirkpatrick.com/

http://www.emmapowell.photo/svalasaga

 

 

 

Grayson Perry The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever

I went to see this at the Bristol Arnolfini with Holly Woodward. Grayson Perry always seems slightly familiar to me. I saw an exhibition of his tapestries (The Vanity of Small Differences) in Bath a couple of years ago, and have read some of his books and watched several of his tv programmes. It felt a bit odd to be going to see work that I was already familiar with, but I was curious about the staging and also wanted to see what his ceramics looked like in real life.

It is a huge exhibition over three floors, and was sufficiently crowded for me to think that indeed it may be the most popular art exhibition ever. There’s a mix of media – as you would expect – from ceramics to sculpture to tapestry, carpet, bicycles… The exhibition is pitched to everyone and it must be an uneasy balance to maintain – working with the people on the street whilst selling to the art elite. He’s obviously aware of this, as you can tell from the “Puff Piece” vase which is covered with fictional art critic quotes.

 

His work depends massively on text, and not just text but handwriting, print, logos, currency, typeface, icons….  I think that some of the sculpture didn’t include text but text was definitely in the majority. I suppose, again unsurprisingly, there’s an emphasis on the qualities of the physical surfaces. The pots are richly coloured, layered, detailed and textured. I liked the creases dug into trousers on one of the Brexit vases. The more I looked the more I saw. The glossy ceramic texture contrasted with the Red Carpet work and the tapestry, and the rough unglazed sculptures. I wished that the plinths were slightly lower so that I could see into the necks of the pots. They really looked as if the detail continued inside and I wanted to see that. Much of the work extends beyond the 2d. The tapestries carry the same idea of layering as the ceramics, from lottery tickets to wallpaper fragments. I never tired of being able to walk around each pot and see all of it, never entirely sure if they had fronts and backs or were one continuous vista. There were the bikes – push and motor – equally glossy.

Another thing that struck me about the pots is that they have an inside-out-ness to them. We’re seeing Perry’s views on the UK, but rather than being inside a human container they are plastered around the outside, they are demanding that we touch and engage with them or display them in our homes and offices but of course we can’t, they are confined to a gallery setting or to the homes of those who can afford them. It does makes me wonder what, if anything, is on the inside. Does the layering and gloss continue? Is there a hollow core to Brexit? To the art market? It also made me return to the idea of a self portrait as a Mobius strip, which I plan to explore for A3. It’s the way that both the inside and the outside are visible on a continuum.

As Holly pointed out, “less is more” does not apply to Perry’s work. The meanings are literally layered atop one another, with text and graphic images guiding our thoughts. Colours are rich and abundant, as are cultural, historical, personal, artistic and literary references. Each work has multiple access points and layers of meaning.

My favourite Perry work was not here – but luckily a print of it is at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. It is the Map of Days – a self portrait of Grayson as a walled city, and somehow it is mesmerising. It was made as a linotype print and always makes me think about and question my own creative process.

I feel a bit like a shaken snowglobe after seeing this exhibition. It’s definitely one to take a bit of time and watch the pieces settle, and then see what emerges in my work over time.

Thresholds by Mat Collishaw at Lacock Abbey

This exhibition was suggested to me by my EYV tutor in response to my work with Polaroid prints of the windows at Lacock Abbey. I was very happy to see the exhibition travelling so local to me and organised to visit with Holly Woodward, a student on I&P.

The exhibition was set up in a marquee in the courtyard. It tells the story of the first photographic exhibition of Fox Talbot’s work, held in Birmingham in 1839 Looking at it, all you see from the outside is a completely white interior with white benches, nothing on them. We were helped on with the backpacks and masks, then were guided inside. It was bizarre, this full scale environment that you could see, and interact with, all whilst not being able to see your own feet. My hands appeared as silvery blurs in front of me, and I think I spent most of my 6 minutes happily “picking up” the photographs of lace and flowers and marvelling that I could do so without anything actually being in my hand. It did make me think about how digital photography provides an electronic image that can be seen but cannot be touched. You could see out of the windows and watch the riots going on outside, or you could stand by the fire; both of which I missed as I was so spellbound by the lace. I was a bit shocked when the display came up saying that the allocated time was over. Interactions with the real world changed too. The volunteer who stood in front of me explaining how to pick up the prints could be heard but not seen. Holly could be heard and also appeared as a silvery blue glow. A couple of days later supporting her on a shoot I found that I was still half expecting to see her in her shimmering form.

I think I will have to go back. This has rekindled my desire to explore working with lace, possibly for A2 Photographing the Unseen. It’s made me think about imagination – is it on the inside or the outside? Can the imagined be more real than the real? This is probably the first show I’ve been too where there really is no photography without any signs or security needed – you can’t see your camera and your camera doesn’t see what you see. Though I wonder about maybe setting an interval timer on my mobile…

Encounters at the NPG

This was not a photography show but an exhibition exploring “the creative encounter between artist and sitter through fifty Renaissance and Baroque portrait drawings”. I am keen to explore my knowledge of art and the context that it provides to me, as a photographer. Clearly, there are similarities, not least in how “the encounter” is as much an element of photographic portraits as of drawn or painted ones. And yet….

I felt more than a little bit out of my depth. Art as a school subject and I parted company when I was 13, and not on very good terms. I know nothing about how pictures are made, though I am learning. The first thing that stunned me was the age of these works. It’s actually impossible to see a photograph that’s anywhere near that age, and the very oldest ones will likely neither be open to public view again because of the light risks. When I realised that some of the drawings on display were over 500 years old, I suddenly realised how little I know about art, and what a very young discipline photography is by comparison.

The next jaw-dropping moment was when I read the panel that said “…drawing practice in Europe transformed when paper became more widely available…” There is so much that I take for granted!

Onto the drawings. There were just under 50 of them. Again, this seems very modest by photographic standards, where you might have a couple of hundred small prints under a glass topped table in the middle of a room, as well as all the prints on the walls. Student artists learned by copying other artists. work, and indeed this was how some studios worked, where all the artists in a studio made work to such similar styles that it’s hard to individually attribute each work now. Drawings were often done as a precursor to a painted portrait, or artists might make them for practice. It was interesting that you could see the creation marks and evidence of previous choices on some of the drawings, resulting in perhaps an extra foot or eye on the final version. But it’s only “final” in that that’s the single one that we’re seeing, in reality there might have been several different versions. I bought the catalogue and in there we can see different versions of the same portrait on its route to resolution.

Every one seems to have an individual drawing style (not withstanding those who chose to work to a house style. I look at the limited resources available for drawing, and marvel (and covet) the skill of those who could work with chalk, graphite and ink in a wide variety of styles and showing light, shade, tone and texture.

I wasn’t really expecting to engage with any of the work, but was smitten by one or two. The most memorable for me was a set of figure studies by Rembrandt, that included sketches of a woman nursing a child. I don’t really know why these are so compelling, but they are the reason I bought the book.

 

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Phone photo of part of sheet of Rembrandt sketches

 

So the next steps are to continue, in slow time, exploring art and its history. I have been watching a series of videos on the OCA website and that is building my knowledge, at home I am reading a translation of letters that Van Gogh wrote to his brother, illustrated with many sketches that he enclosed. Who knew that Van Gogh did some drawings in London? Certainly not me. But it’s fascinating.

The Encounter – Drawings from Leonardo to Rembrandt, Tarnya Cooper and Charlotte Bolland, NPG 2017 London.

 

A Handful of Dust – Whitechapel Gallery 2/9/17

This study visit was well attended and was led by Jayne Taylor. The exhibition was curated by David Campion, and it really did feel as if it was following his train of thought. It had a very personal feel to it.

I’m a bit at a loss of what to write. The exhibition was spell-binding, and I think I will, to make an awful pun, have to wait for the creative dust to settle before I can clearly see how my landscape has changed as a result of this show. Undoubtedly, it will have changed.

It made me look at dust differently. You forget that for every part of skin flakes and general traffic crud, there’s meteorite traces, pollen, paper and evidence of traumas past. It’s evidential, of course, but also ubiquitous, universal, fundamental, elemental. It can be smooth and undisturbed or collected into balls or string (both Man Ray’s “Dust Breeding” and Sophie Ristelhueber’s “Fait”) showed this eloquently. We see it in large scale, in man-made destruction (Robert Burley’s Kodak demolitions, Jeff Mermelstein’s Statue) and natural dust storms where the dust swirls and flows like water on the ground and howls in opaque clouds and waves in the air.

 

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Man Ray’s “Dust Breeding”

 

I was fascinated by the smaller scale interactions with dust. Man Ray’s image for example, where the dust was left to cultivate, and even the actual image was a long exposure, left for an hour whilst he went to lunch. Eva Stenram’s Cosmic and Domestic dust – where negatives of images dust in space were left under the bed to collect domestic dust and then rephotographed. In this house, you’d leave them on the tv console for about 30 minutes to achieve the same result. Dust seems to be an incredibly cosmopolitan occurrence. Robert Fillious’ cheekily swiped dust from Louvres artworks entranced me – he simply wiped the dust from 100 national artworks whilst a partner took Polaroids, then displayed the cloth in an archival box, along with the Polaroid.  What a double affront to the Louvre – firstly to their security and secondly to their housekeeping. He claimed to have part of the paintings’ auras along with the dust.  I love that concept. I loved, but didn’t expect to, John Divola’s “Vandalism Portfolio”. It reminded me of something I saw in BJP about alterations made to abandoned crofters cottages in the Scottish Highlands. This one was more engaging though, with the different layers of work and the integration of existing and altered. Ed Ruscha’s Royal Road Test looked so intriguing with bits of a typewriter photographed on a Nevada dust highway but was taped off and you couldn’t really get close enough to get a good look.

 

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Enter a caption

 

I did look hard to find some actual dust there to photograph – the security didn’t look as if they’d be that keen on me wiping the top of a caption board with a clean tissue and I hadn’t brought my Polaroid, so I settled for phone photographs. It was a well dusted space.

 

I could feel my brain starting to fuse, so bought the catalogue, which is letting me absorb this strangeness in slower time. How does it relate to my work? My A3 Decisive Moment for EYV featured pregnancy tests, many of which had acquired dust over the intervening years, along with various dubious biological and microbiological changes. I think also, that David Campion had curated an entire exhibition about something as everyday and mundane as dust, yet we still had to look several times at some images before realising that we did not, in fact, know what they were of, or even have a clue. I like this practice of making the familiar unfamiliar and it resonates with how I work. Less than 24 hours after returning I’ve dusted a couple of the worst places in the house for dust. Not photographed, though. I know there’ll be opportunity to change my mind.