What do masking tape, sandwich bags and Derrida have in common? You may well ask…
At the weekend some of us from the Salford Restoration Office Reading Group got together with the intention of making a publication in two days. The feeling was that we wanted to do something more as a group beyond our activity so far, which has been largely reading and discussing texts and inviting speakers to the fortnightly Open Sessions. When we talked about possible ideas and projects, making a publication was a popular suggestion which we all felt would be interesting for the group to explore. The plan was to make something deliberately low-tech with only very minimal forward planning: we would just turn up on Saturday morning and get stuck in!
Well, I think we may have been a little optimistic with our plans: our final ‘publication’ wasn’t perhaps quite what I had expected (and yes, it did involve masking tape, sandwich bags and Derrida!) but we did have some fun in the process, including experimenting with an old letter press, reading about Collage Party, the odd trip to the pub and making a pinhole camera from a cardboard box, taking photographs and developing them in our very own improvised dark room. The picture above is one of the photographs taken in the office as we’re all working: I like how ghostly and mysterious everything looks.
I’d been really looking forward to getting stuck in after a long and tiring week at work. Since I started my current job three months ago, I have had very little time or energy to do anything creative for myself, so it was great to put a weekend aside to play, even if the end result wasn’t quite what I had anticipated! I was also supposed to be attending a two-day writing course this week, but disappointingly, it got cancelled at the last minute. I didn’t know whether to be sorry or relieved when I found out: I have never taken any kind of writing course or class before, and I was quite terrified at the prospect of showing others my work, though I do think it would have been very good for me. I am trying hard to find a way to kick myself back into writing regularly at the moment but it’s surprisingly difficult! But hopefully writing here will be a good start.
On Thursday night I went to check out the private view of Broadcast Yourself, the new exhibition at Cornerhouse.
On Friday, I headed over to International 3 for the launch of Artranspennine08, an exhibition taking place across various locations across the transpennine route over the next two months, which will include work by a number of my pals.
Afterwards, I went along to the preview of the MMU Degree Show, where I picked up all these lovely postcards. My favourite piece in this year’s show was by Amy Davies, a student on the Interactive Arts degree programme: a whimsical and beautiful installation made up of hundreds of images cut from old Ladybird books that appeared to be growing across the gallery wall. However, I have to admit that it’s always the sketchbooks that I like best. Looking at them makes me wish I had chosen to study art or design – actually, I haven’t even got a GCSE in art. I think I decided not to study it because I felt I wasn’t good enough: teachers were always telling me that my work was ‘too messy’ and I knew I couldn’t draw ‘properly’ (i.e. draw things that looked ‘real’) so I felt it wasn’t for me. I didn’t realise that being messy and making work that didn’t look exactly the same as everyone else’s could actually be a good thing. But now, I look at all those sketchbooks and I feel quite envious – I want to make a sketchbook too!
this week I have also been…
reading: mainly The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. Whilst I didn’t enjoy it as much as some of her other novels, I was impressed by the back-in-time structure of the book. At first I didn’t find the characters especially engaging, but by the end, I was completely engrossed and I found myself wanting to go straight back to the beginning to see how it all fitted together. For me, wanting to start all over again the moment you’ve finished is always the mark of a good read.
I have also been browsing a newly-discovered blog, hulaseventy (full of lovely photographs) and the latest issue of the mighty fine Blanket magazine.
listening to: CSS and the Juno soundtrack whilst sitting on the bus and gazing out of the window trying to spot the unexpected secret things that no one else is noticing: hidden fragments of graffiti; a bird swaying on a t-v aerial; wild flowers growing on a building site; an abandoned bicycle with no wheels (one of the saddest sights of the city); and, predictably enough, any passers-by with particularly cool shoes.
eating: homemade burgers and sweet potato wedges; pineapple and mango for breakfast; my favourite vegan pizza at Cornerhouse; udon noodles with king prawn, ginger and spring onions; and erm… jammie dodgers.
and most importantly of all, sleeping: as much as is humanly possible.
follow the yellow brick road
is named after a kind of diary I had when I was little, which brought together writing, drawing and all kinds of different things I made. It was mainly stories and poems (my personal favourite is entitled “greenfly” – “i am a greenfly/I live on a rose/I eat all the little bugs/And I am as happy as a greenfly”) but also collections of stickers or pressed leaves, drawings of animals, slightly strange “fashion illustrations” and all manner of other things. I kept it all together in a big blue and red ring-binder with the title ‘The Yellow Brick Road’ on the front in peeling Lettraset.
I would like to think this space can be something similar – a place for writing, but also a collage of ideas, thoughts, images, general amblings and meanderings. I’m just going to see where it leads…
Today I made a decision to do something which has absolutely terrified me for years. I have signed up for a creative writing workshop – a two day novel-based course coming up in the next couple of weeks.
To anyone else that might not sound so scary, but I have always been petrified by the idea of sharing my writing with strangers. I don’t know what it is I am so afraid of, but the very thought of it gives me The Fear. However it’s far too late now – I’ve decided to take the plunge. Also I have already paid, so I’m going to have to go through with it and be brave.
With that in mind, I am back here again. It’s not so very adventurous I know, given that (so far!) I would estimate my current readership to be a grand total of nil. However, it’s still a step in the right direction.
In view of all this creative fear and angst, I’ve unearthed my copy of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way for artistic inspiration and support. I always find it a particularly peculiar book – perhaps just because I’m not always comfortable with the terminology used and the approach Cameron takes – there’s a bit too much about God and it has that slightly discomfiting ‘self-help’ quality to it. However, there’s no doubt that it’s a great source of inspiration to get going or to carry on when the going gets tough. It’s a good place to go for straight-to-the-point advice that always hits home: today I opened the book to read mistakes are necessary… progress, not perfection is what we should be asking of ourselves.
Couldn’t be better advice. As The Fear looms like a nightmare monster, I’m taking a quote from Henry David Thoreau as my motto: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!
… this is the first post!