I applied to join the MFA at Grays School of Art for a number of reasons:
From the outset I had no doubts that the Masters programme would be a valuable experience. However I was not prepared for how much it would inform, inspire, enhance or change me. It has also made me question the juncture I find myself in my life and career.
The most difficult transition for me will be when my course ends and I return to my full-time post at Dundee and Angus College.
This Friday and Saturday saw me spending two full productive happy days in my studio making supports and photographing my found objects. The past year and a half has flown by with a little over four months left to complete works for my final show and submit my research paper. The list of works I wish to make is too ambitious but this does not trouble me for it means I will have projects to continue with when I graduate in September.
The most important question I find myself asking as the MFA draws to an end is 'what do I need in my life to make me happy?'. Without a doubt I need to continue my studio practice. I will not let slip away what I have rediscovered. I think for too long in my life I have put the needs of others before my own. Not that I intend to be unconditionally selfish. I have now learned how to manage my time and save some of it for myself. To make sure I continue to produce works I will begin to apply for exhibition opportunities and competitions.
I suppose the overall conclusion I have come to is this, that to be happy one must achieve balance in their life and I have been off-balance for too long a time. To redress the balance I have identified that I need to:
It has been over a month since I last saw my personal tutor David Blyth so I was keen to meet up and discuss my plan for the Masters Show. David too was eager to make sure I had begun my dissertation and had a focused proposal for my practical works.
To date for my dissertation I have read several books collecting quotes. What has been frustrating me however is the how to begin and the shaping of that elusive question that I must research and answer. I began by writing down keywords that where important to my practice:
Looking back through my blog I started to recognise paragraphs that I thought should be included in my dissertation and expanded upon. I showed them to David and expressed that I was concerned that my 'voice' and 'journey' was highly personal and wildly romantic. That at high school too it had been noted by my English teacher that I always wrote in a 'stream of consciousness'. David agreed that these passages should indeed be included in my research paper then preceded to help me move forwards by teaching me how break down and structure my thesis into manageable chapters.
Happy that I was now on track to begin my dissertation I showed David my plan for the Masters Show. An ambitious list that I already knew was too long for the short time that there is left to make. Again the wisdom of my mentor focused me and enlightened me to what I already had and had not seen! I will not explain here for I wish it to be a surprise for my show, I traveled homewards excited, inspired and grateful for the guidance of my generous and kind teacher; impatient to return to my studio space.
It is fair to say that I own a collection of around 70 vintage cameras. My love of all machines analogue coupled with an eBay addiction has allowed this obsessive compulsive collection to expand into a miniature museum. Christmas and my birthday is easy for friends and family. I am easily pleased and excited to receive either another camera or hand tools.
Saturday afternoon saw me beckoned to parents house. No special occasion to celebrate but a gift given anyway. Spoiled by my father who won me two lots from a vintage auction. For sure he is a man who knows how to make me happy. Thank you daddy!
Both items need a little TLC but that is not a problem to me. The magic lantern I plan to use as part of my Masters Show. The camera will be put away and given a service later: although interestingly on inspection I discovered a used film inside which I will process next week.
All this week I have been looking forward to a Friday playing in my attic studio. With the initial success of my images from my 3D camera I decided to push the concept further by constructing 3D viewers from materials I have collected from the tideline. I already own a 3D viewer that I acquired from eBay and used this as a starting point for my own design. A delivery of lenses midweek saw me ready to begin the task.
With all the materials requisite the first hurdle I stumbled upon was the lack of a decent saw and I couldn't find my allen keys. A trip to the local DIY store later.......
Happy with my purchases I set to work manufacturing my new toy. The fashioning went well and I was delighted with the uncomplicated functional form that I had created. My delight however was short lived when the next hurdle presented itself. I had not considered or compared the strength of the purchased lenses to the ones in my 3D viewer. Because of the difference in magnification my new viewer did not work. I had spent the whole morning constructing from collected materials and was annoyed with myself for not considering the lenses or making my first construction out of cardboard.
When I hit a problem I always return to the wise advice of my father which is to step away from the quandary and sleep on it. It has never failed me yet. Often I can work out the problem in a dream and if not that then with pen and paper the next day.
I focused my energies in the afternoon sorting out my studio space and was surprised by the experiments I have amassed and the materials I have collected. I drew up a plan for the exhibits I intend to make for my Masters Show in August and felt satisfied with my progress to date and my itinerary for the next six months.
It was Friday 20th November 2015 on a packed train homewards after a seminar at Gray's entitled 'Collaborative Processes' that I first became acquainted with the composer David Ward. After initial polite introductions we shared our personal stories and before journey's end departed with contact details. This was the beginning of our own collaboration.
Since then we have met on a number of occasions, each adding to the melting pot of our joint venture. David has written a piece inspired by my Masters Proposal and I have been making stills and video to accompany the performance which form part of the 2017 Sound Festival. The performance will be a one off show held at the Woodend Barn in Banchory on Sunday 5th November.
Our next meeting will be in June when we will view our labours together making sure the visuals compliment the music.