Thursday, 29 September 2011

Slow progress

I had planned to be able to print using the repeat screen today, and to print on 6m of fabric.  It turned out not so simple.

On Tuesday I emulsed my screen. Left it overnight to dry and exposed it on Wednesday.  I was already running a day late because Monday was spent sorting out a dentist.  When I came to wash out the exposed screen, as soon as I put the water jet on it, all the emulsion started shedding.  Disaster. 

I took advice and it turns out I had left the emulsion coating too thick.  We are meant to do 2 wet pulls (coats) each side, followed by 1 dry pull to remove excess emulsion.   I had been distracted, and omitted the dry pull on one side.  This means that when the screen is exposed, the coating is too thick to react and set properly, thereby reabsorbing water when washed.  This disaster meant I had to clean, dry, and re-emulse the screen on Wednesday, and expose it again on Thursday during class.

I had planned to work on black linen, using white hi-cover paste in order for it to show on the fabric.  This was not my preferred option, but feedback indicated this was the most effective design.  It was also comparatively simple as it only used one colour, and only needed one screen.  I still wanted to work in colour, so also had some white linen in reserve.

Also on Wednesday I was told that if I wanted to use the hi-cover print paste, I needed to provide my own, as the class supply was too expensive to do a full 6m run. It was agreed I could use class supply and then replace it afterwards as it was too late to order before class. 

Then in class today, I was told that hi-cover was too advanced to use for a first session creating a 6m run, as hi-cover dries a lot faster and there is more chance of the screen clogging.  So I was advised to use translucent binder and work on white fabric in multi-colours, as had been my original idea.  So I changed the plan, and prepared a batch of coloured binder.  I gummed down my white linen fabric on the print table, and the tutor suggested I should try out my ideas on calico first.  Which I don't have.  And there is no shop at uni where I can buy it.  Which means I needed to go to Perth on the bus to source it.  So I achieved precisely nothing in today's class.

This afternoon I went to the specialist fabric suppliers in Perth, Potters.  They did not have any calico.  So instead I bought some rather nice cotton/linen fine canvas at $5.95 per metre.  So tomorrow, I take my 3rd roll of fabric to class, and a group of us will be working together to see if each of us can achieve something.  We only have about 2 weeks left to the end of semester.  I hope I start achieving something, because for the last 2 weeks, everything I have touched has fallen apart.

I have an essay for Historical Issues that is due in 10 days, and tonight I started writing.  I had been waiting about 10 days for a book on Grayson Perry to arrive, and fortunately it is an excellent book.  Let's hope the words flow over the weekend.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Not one of my better days

I had an emergency appointment with a dentist today.  Oh dear.  I have a tooth infection and require a root canal followed by crown.  This will take several appointments to resolve, and will cost c$1400!  Looks like I will be talking to the medical insurance people.

But at least I have found my 2 x 6m lengths of fabric for my final pieces for my Pattern & Meaning print module.  Tomorrow I emulse my screen, Wednesday I expose it, and Thursday I print on a 6m length using the repeat screen and mechanical printer.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Two days of mixed fortune

Friday was a long, but successful day at Curtin.  For my Pattern & Meaning class, I copied my design onto 14 sheets of paper - the right way round! - and started trialling different layout options.  I had a tutorial part way through the morning, which gave some expectations for our final piece of essay writing for Historical Issues.  By early afternoon, I had set out the pattern accurately and taped 12 sections together, a bit like a jigsaw.  I was really pleased with this.  I carefully rolled up the pattern, and took myself off on the bus to Office Works to get it copied.  The copy shop does all sorts of large bespoke copies, on paper, vinyl, photos etc, and I thought $3.70 was a good price for something that was about A0 size.  The copy was carefully rolled inside the jigsaw copy original and I took it back to Curtin on the bus.  My original plan was to take two buses home, but I was so laden (with rucksack, splitting plastic bag of print gear and the precious rolled patttern) that I decided to take the pattern to uni (one bus ride) and leave it there over the weekend rather than take it home on one bus, and back to class on another.

I took the pattern to Mark, our technician, to find a safe home for it, and spent a productive half hour chatting to him.  He told me some details about an incident in another class where a new bucket of expensive emulsion had been spilt (possibly wilfully) wasting about $70 of materials.  I checked with him when he would be around to supervise me emulsing a large screen.  He said the remains of the spilt bucket might not be enough to emulse a large screen, and because he was not sure whether it had been contaminated, he would activate a new bucket of emulsion.  Mark said he needed to add the sensitising chemical to the emulsion to activate it, and I asked if it could be done by Tuesday when I would be ready to go.  I asked if I could take down the health & safety details of the emulsion, because I wanted to expand the full range of my knowledge as a printer.  He was quite pleased with this and I think he may let me be involved in the mixing/preparation process.  I suppose that, at the back of my mind, I'm wondering whether, when I return to Herts, I can work as a Student Proctor, to cover some of my education costs.  The more print specific knowledge I can acquire, the more likely they are to employ me, and the more use I will be to them.

The plan for next week is to buy the fabric on Monday, emulse the screen Tuesday, expose it Wednesday, repeat print with it Thursday.  I will be the first in class to print using the repeat screen, and it looks like everyone will be observing how to set up the repeat screen in the mechanical printer, using my screen as the example!  Oh dear.  I hope it goes well! 

Today, Jim and I went to Potters, the fabric warehouse to see if I could get 2 x 6m of fabric for printing, they are only open Monday-Friday 10-4.  Then we went for tea and buns.  This was a mistake, because I had a lovely almond slice, made with whole almonds, and while crunching the nuts, broke a large filling.  I think this is going to cost a fortune to fix because I think it's going to need a crown.  So I've found a phone number for a recommended dentist, and will have to see how soon I can get an appointment.  And next week I had great plans to get my printing done!

Thursday, 22 September 2011

A good result in class

I got 80% for my Pattern & Meaning mid semester assessment.  That is just starting into the Higher Distinction grade (80-100%).  I was absolutely delighted.  I had worked really hard and very much enjoyed the module content.  I have worked out why I don't like some patterns - because I'm not keen on symmetry or rigid repeat, but once we learned how to do a repeating pattern by creating a jigsaw effect, I was away on a wonderful journey.

Today after class I was scaling up the pattern repeats to be the first in class to use the mechanical printer to do a whole table length of print. I need to be ready to print next Friday. And I'd just taped it all together - when I offered up the small screen to check it fitted - and realised I had copied it all reversed!  But as Jessie the tech observed, at least I have time to rework, rather than the tears that happen when students are working right up to the deadline! 

I have to admit I've been really lucky with the large repeat silkscreen I've been given.  These big frames are easily damaged because of the size of the stretched silk, and a lot of them have not been cleaned well, so are absolutely covered in grot.  But because I was first to volunteer to be ready to do the large print, I've been given an almost perfect screen.  I made a good job of cleaning it again, and it is now labelled with my name, waiting for me to emulse the screen, and expose it with my multiply repeated pattern.  I'm hoping to be able to use my small screens from the metre square project, to work into the 6m piece and get some good handprinted variation along the length.  Wait and see!

Yesterday  in Historical Issues of Art & Design, I realised my personal art style is quite closely aligned to the philosophy of the Romanticists - whereas Jim would be a Classicist.  This is why I love these classes.  On learning the theory, I analyse my own work and realise the art periods that support the way I work. We were comparing Classicism and Romantism.  Classicists like reason/rationality; order/control; symmetry; light; idealised form; normality; and calm stability.  Romanticists like feeling/emotion; asymmetry; darkness; indviduality; abnormality; and dynamic instability.  The only bit I don't like is darkness, and I'm more inclined to use darkness to accentuate light or colour.  So I think I am a high colour Romanticist in my art style.

I've been reflecting on my sociology module - Private Lives, Public Issues.  Although I've decided the subject is not for me, it has been a really interesting module which has expanded my interpretative skills.  One of the skills we learn is how to analyse social observations in detail, leading to the ability to make an accurate generalised statement.  I've been reading Dick Francis books in the evenings here, and am now seeing them in a completely different light.  His books are written in a way to make an interesting read, but I can see he makes a detailed narrative from which generalised patterns of behaviour can seen in the wider social context.  And some of the conclusions are pretty unpalatable.  I've just read Decider, where he describes a family that often has fierce battles in private, but will always present a united front to outsiders, despite the internal cover-ups costing them dear.  And right at the end, the reader finds out just how distasteful the final cover-up is.  I really did not think I would get some of the application of a sociology module in my light reading! 

Roll on tomorrow when hopefully I get my screen design correctly copied!

Monday, 19 September 2011

A trip to the Theatre

On Saturday afternoon, I took myself for a trip to the Perth State Theatre to see Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  This was a drama that focussed on the interactions between family members anxious to be in favour with Big Daddy, who does not know he has terminal cancer.  The family are posturing to position themselves in his favour as he has not yet made a will distributing his extensive estate.  The posturing takes place between the wife, the favoured son, injured athlete Brick and his wife, who are childless, and the less favoured, career successful son, Gooper and his wife and 5 children.  During the family jockeying for position, it transpires that Brick is a repressed homosexual who is never going to father children, and who is drinking himself into oblivion as he is bereft at the loss of his athletic "best friend".  A very thought provoking drama.

The theatre building is a modern, newly finished building.  It is just a couple of hundred metres north of the train/bus station (so very accessible by public transport - yippee).  The inside of the auditorium is clad in jarrah wood (I think).  It was absolutely stunning to look at, and the rake of the theatre was quite steep, so everyone had a really good view.  Jarrah is a very hard wood, which means white ants and other termites won't destroy it.  Apparently termites are an endemic problem in this environment.

While waiting for the matinee performance, I had a look around the art gallery next door.  I had a discussion with the receptionist, who said the building was a fine example of Brutalist architecture, and had just completed a renovation. From what I could see the building plan was an irregular polyhedron shape with no right angles. The building was not very old but had needed specialist cleaning of the concrete exterior, and really the staff would have been happy for it to be pulled down.  However the heritage lobby had got involved and there was now a preservation order on the building as it is a fine example of an architectural style that did not last very long.  Sounds like the UK - where I formerly worked we had modern buildings designed for us, but never included the ability to clean them in the specification - so we had lots of buildings that could not be cleaned unless scaffolding several hundred feet high was erected - so we worked in absolutely filthy working environments.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

An easy few days

Having managed to get myself completely wound up over homework at the beginning of the week, I lightened up a bit.  I read the essay for Visual Inquiry that I was so uninspired by, and much to my surprise, it read quite well.  This motivated me to read the instructions for the bibliography and referencing, and add the relevant information at the end.  (I find bibliographies really difficult because of the mind-numbing level of detail required). I read the instructions for the essay on the class handout - 2000 words required, and also read the Essay Assessment marking criteria - which said 12-1500 words required.  I had done 1800 words!  So I've emailed the tutor to clarify how many words required.  I hope 1800 will suffice - I've said everything I want to say, and more words would not add to the substance.

We are looking after our landlords dogs, two chihuahuas, while they are away for a day or two. The night before last, at about 9pm, the dogs started barking.  A tremendous noise.  We went up to the main house, thinking that the dogs were barking at intruders, because they did not stop.  We went in ... and found the intruder!  The dogs were standing either side of a frog!  Barking constantly.  During the day, when the doors were open, the frog must have come in from the courtyard garden.  Once the sun had set (and the doors were closed), he'd obviously decided to find his way back, and the dogs had found him.  We ushered him back to the courtyard garden, and peace reigned once more.

I've lightened up a bit about the homework.  I have done one essay, and have made progress on research for the other two, due in 3 weeks.  I have found some articles on Grayson Perry and have ordered a book recently written by Jacky Klein, which has a rave review in a library journal.  I hope this means it is a decent book.  I have discovered that libraries seem to have stopped buying books, as most of the books in both the Curtin library and Perth State library seem to be over 20 years old.  For my Private Lives Public Issues essay, I have decided on my topic and found some articles that back up what I want to say. 

Because I was feeling relaxed, I made scones and a fruit cake yesterday.  This pleased Jim no end, as he is constantly prowling around the kitchen looking for something yummy to eat.  Yet when he is out grocery shopping, he refuses to buy cakes because they are too expensive, and "I'd just eat them".  Does this mean we are parsimonious, or just behaving like students?

Today is Saturday and I have planned a trip out this afternoon.  I'm going to see the matinee performance of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams at the Perth State Theatre.  Fortunately the theatre is right beside the bus station, so it's easy to get there and back.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Tuition free week

Tuition free week began with a trip to uni, to finish the piece of print that I had left there on Friday. I had been disappointed with my class feedback on my 3-colour prints and was advised to work on overlaying the outline print. I had carefully printed in glue some of the outlines and shapes on the eucalyptus, about halfway across, to three-quarters across the fabric, to represent the deterioration of personality in Alzheimer's disease. I spent the first part of the morning foiling this part of the fabric, and was delighted with the result, in the way in which it obstructed then obliterated the beauty of the original print. Exactly the effect I wanted.

I then went to the library to start researching my 3 essays that I need to write in the next few weeks. This was not successful. I could not find any critical writing on Donatello's David that explored the secret meanings in its representation. Both the books I found were 40 years old, and I could not find any journal articles either. I started a literature search on Grayson Perry as well, but most of what I found was very repetitive and did not go into the level of detail I required. There is a book recently written about him, but it is not in our library. All this research (or non-research) took me the rest of the day.

On Tuesday I tried to work more on research for my projects.  This was completely unsuccessful.  I read around the articles on the Visual Inquiry DVD and tried to find one that inspired me to write a 2000 word essay.  None of them inspire me.  Most of them are long-winded and ponderous, and I suspect most are an abbreviated version of the author's masters project.  I finally settled on one written by Michael Brennand-Wood, whose work has been exhibited at my university at Herts.  I was thoroughly out of sorts by the time I went to bed.

The only cheerful thing during the day, was that Jim and I went for a walk along the riverside.  We saw a small dead tree, which had a procession of ants walking up its trunk.  There were no branches on this tree, it was just a 7' high dead stump.  I wondered why the ants were purposefully marching to top of the trunk.  Jim sagely observed that it should be obvious to an ex-railway employee like me.  They were making their way to a Termitus.

Today, having had a frustrating day of study yesterday, Jim and I decided to have a day out.  We took the buses to Fremantle, to go to the Photographic Portrait exhibition at Fremantle Prison.  This was a wonderful exhibition, portraying all sorts of Australian people, where the caption was intended to make you re-evaluate the content of the portrait.  To my mind, the best pictures were the ones where there was some emotion in the portrait.  I was not take with the "straight portraits" but with the ones that portrayed the very old, the very young, people with physical and learning disabilities.  There was one of an elderly father and his brain-damaged son in a swimming pool for hydrotherapy; a moving portrait of parents and stillborn child; a streetwise youth who happened to be deaf; elderly sisters who are always laughing.  This is an exhibition worth seeing ... and even better, it's free.

Then, I went on the tour of Fremantle Prison. I had a student entry ticket, and Jim decided to stay outside, drinking tea in the cafe.  It was a very enlightening tour.  We looked at the admission facility, and the compulsory washroom.  We toured the outside areas and then entered the main accommodation block. There were 4 levels of cells with a suicide net at the first floor level, and the photo below seems to make the circulation area brighter than it actually was.  The tour guide had some gruesome stories to tell, sometimes humorous, about warders only walking under the walkway, because if they stepped outside, someone was likely to accidentally kick a slop bucket over at the edge of the walkway above, and the contents would make their presence felt!  The prison was only closed in 1991, after a major riot and fire in 1988.  To consider the facilities (no toilets and only slop buckets) at the end of the 20th century seems appalling.  And now the site has been given World Heritage status.

View of interior of Fremantle Prison, world heritage site!
We were also able to see the location of the last hanging in Fremantle Prison.  This was done in 1964, and a serial killer, who committed completely unprovoked attacks, was hanged, and the local population did not object, due to the revulsion with which he was viewded.  The last hanging in Australia, which was in Sydney, provoked massive public outcry.  This part of the tour was not for the squeamish, but was most enlightening.

Smoke from controlled bush burning, with storm cloud forming over the top.

When we returned to Salter Point, we could see massive clouds forming across the water.  We later found out it was a controlled burn of bushland, prior to the summer.  On the weather forecast, it stated this rising smoke normally caused a storm cloud to form.  Not sure why.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Heaved a big sigh of relief, then realised how much more is coming up

Woke up on Saturday morning, planning an easy weekend, followed by a week of a little light work, getting ahead with the reading for my Private Lives, Public Issues essay.  But then I had a look through all my modules to identify what needed to be done by when.  I realised that I had a lot of homework coming up, in the next four weeks, before end of semester. 

For Visual Inquiry I need to write a 2000 word essay for the written project, by 2 weeks time.  I also need to produce a 2 page project proposal.  At present I have no idea what to write about.

For Private Lives, Public Issues, I have a 2000 word essay for 3 weeks time for which I have to set my own question.  I think I will take an art theme for this one, as suggested by the tutor.  This will be about Dontello's David and secrecy in what is represented by the artwork.

For Historical Issues in Art and Design, I have another 2000 word essay for 3 weeks time, and again I have to set my own question.  I will probably take Grayson Perry as the main theme and analyse what historical styles influence his work.
But for Pattern & Meaning I have already completed the mini-thesis of 1200 words.  Oh good! 

And I have 4 weeks of classes and background reading as well!

Today I had an easy day.  I took myself off to Kings Park.  It was a lovely day to spend in the Botanic Garden, and was packed with people for the Kings Park Festival.  There were various events for children - Adorable Florables (flower people), aboriginal bush tucker, face painting etc.  I did the wildflower tour with a volunteer guide, and had a good walk around the bush area of the park. Then I had an extortionately expensive sandwich and cup of tea ($12.90!), then spent the afternoon drawing eucalyptus macrocarpa, using charcoal.

I forget what this plant is called, but the fluff was used to stuff mattresses, like a native form of kapok.

My hero, coming to meet me from the bus stop.

So I need to spend most of tuition free week getting the research done for the 3 essays, before I go back to class.

Friday, 9 September 2011

First half of semester 2 completed.

The last couple of days have been a bit of a whirl.  On Wednesday evening, after my Historical Issues in Art lecture, I staged my work for the Pattern and Meaning assessment on Wednesday.  Lauren, one of the students, kindly gave me a lift home, so I was back by 7.30, otherwise I would not have been home until after 8pm. 
Work ready for Pattern & Meaning assessment

The P&M assessment did not go the way I had expected.  I had displayed my best work - the large 3 colour samples, the colour experiments, my sample folder, my experimentation with repeat patterns, my visual diary and my mini thesis which articulated my reasoning for my project. I thought it looked good.  I had ironed all the samples and it was as professional as I could get it.  But when I spoke about my work and where I wanted it to go, my tutors and peers all thought the black sample with the overprinted outlines was the strongest piece.  And I hate it.  I only put it up because it showed a different technique, and filled a gap on the wall!  The audience thought the overprinting symbolised the confusion of Alzheimers.  So I've been advised to explore this aspect of my work, rather than the colour work that interests me.  I think the sample they like is truly hideous.  What matters to me about the concept is that Dad and I had common interests in beautiful plants, and his Alzheimers, for a period, obstructed our mutual vision and enjoyment.  I don't want to produce work that represents confusion.  So I need to work out where to take it next.. 
The half metre sample of overprinted honkey nut outlines, and silver half drop repeats

Close-up of overprinting - you can see why people thought it represented "confusion".
I still think it is hideous.
After the assessment, I used one of the metre samples to work up my initial idea for the print.  I used the outline screen, and one of the colour screens to apply printed glue to create lines then an obstructing pattern over a section of the fabric.  This is intended to represent the deterioration of thought patterns of Alzheimers, then the return to normal life (and the beautiful fabric) after the individual has died.  Once is has dried, I will add foil and see if my idea works in reality, as well as it works in my mind's eye.

When I got home, I completed a piece of homework where we had to attend a 3rd year student's review and apply feedback given, to our own work and working methods.  This turned out a very useful exercise, because it made me identify why my review had gone in a different direction to what I had intended.  I need to be more careful with the use of words that I use in my assessment review, and very clearly direct where I want the conversation to go.  Had I said my work was about celebrating our common interests and how Dad's Alzheimer's obstructed part of this view, they would not have started thinking about "confusion" and going in that direction.  The words I used focussed on how I had met all the assessment criteria and the breadth of what I had completed.

Today I went to class early.  I spent a happy hour drawing various plants in the university grounds, then went on to Historical Issues in Art tutorial.  I had expected lots of students to be missing, as it is the last day before tuition-free week, but I was wrong.  Most of the class turned up, and we had a couple of student presentations.  We got our results from the written test, and presentation in this subject.  I was pleased - I managed 90% in the short answer written test, and 78% in my presentation on Lucienne Day.  I think the marking in the presentation is a bit generous.  I know my analysis is not particularly hot, and I did not have enough referenced quotes.  But I also know you are marked more leniently if you go first (which I did) because later presenters have had the chance to amend their style by learning from others mistakes.  This is why I prefer to be amongst the first to present.  Then I can relax and pay attention to others' work.

Tonight when I got in, I found my essay result for Private Lives, Public Issues on e-mail.  I got 60% which was a massive relief. I would have been happy with anything over 50%.  I find this subject really difficult because it requires a style of essay writing that is completely different to anything I have done before, and I have never studied sociology or anthropology.  It is enlightening and interesting as an input to my thought process, but academic musing as an output is not going to be my forte.  I will complete the module and be satisfied to simply pass (I have to do a major essay in the next 6 weeks).  I know I will benefit from the writing experience but the subject is really not for me. At the end of this semester I will change the planned module in this series for another art based subject.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Sometimes I'm such a clever dog ... and sometimes I'm not!

Monday and Tuesday were always going to be busy days.  I am running up to an assessment on Thursday and had to print two metre square samples.  I had made it slightly more difficult for myself because I wanted to do a 3 colour print on each one.  I had problems with one of the screens, so had needed to clean the old emulsion, and recoat it on Friday.  But on Monday, I just had to expose it, and I was ready to run.
Jessie, our technician, who did not want her face shown. 
You can see her red hair instead!

So Monday morning I exposed the screen, washed off the unexposed residue, and dried it.  So far, so good.  But when I offered it up to the other two screens, I discovered I had exposed the original back to front - so the design was reversed!  And I only had two days to get all the printing done (and a half day class as well). 

But I took time out to reflect.  I had to clean, dry, emulse, dry, wash and dry a screen, which was a nuisance.  But I had two screens that I could use first, and I had to iron, and gum down fabric.  So I interwove the processes.  While I was waiting for the screen to dry each time, I either ironed, or gummed down fabric, and repeat printed two of the colour layers.  This meant that by the end of the Monday morning session I had one metre sample with two layers of colour, which I was allowed to leave gummed down until the following day, and the new silkscreen had been exposed, washed and was drying overnight. 

During the afternoon Visual Inquiry class we receievd our results for assessment last week.  I was delighted to get 74%!  I had really struggled in this class at the beginning of semester, and had to work very hard to raise my game.  But work hard I did , and raise my game I did.  I think had I been the assessor I would have been a harder marker, but I think my personal reflection on my work at the review, and the appropriate use of controlled emotion when explaining how my art technique fitted the concept about my Dad, led to a good result. Unfortunately I did not take my camera, so did not photograph my work when it was displayed.

On Tuesday, I checked I'd exposed it the right way round (yippee) and cracked on through the rest of the printing.  And both the white sample, and the beige sample looked rather good.  The beige one in particular looked excellent, because the background was coloured, not white. 
Stage one, outline print complete

Stage 2 - Green colour added, and half of Stage 3, blue

Fully printed. Beige fabric, although looks white.  Looks very William Morris

Green on green print, on white fabric

Compared to the rest of the class, I think I am well prepared for assessment.  Other people have not done their full range of samples, and several did not start their 1 metre samples until Tuesday and are planning to finish them on Wednesday.  Had I left it that late, my reversed print screen would have been a disaster.  And I would have become very stressed and ended up in tears.  This is why I like to work early ... I've engineered myself far too many disasters in the past to assume I will get it right first time.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

We had visitors this weekend.

Yesterday I spent most of the day doing homework for my Visual Inquiry class on Monday, because I wanted a day off on Sunday.  I gave Jim a shopping list and he occupied himself doing the weekend shop, and watching the football/hockey at the local playing fields.

I also completed my "mini thesis" for my Pattern & Meaning class.  This is a bit of a misnomer, as I would call it a proposal for my final assessment.  I wrote this quite easily because I have a clear of what I want to create, and know the supporting artists and references that I want to use.  I want to create an installation artwork relating to Australian flora and Alzheimers Disease which my Dad had.  This will be a length of cloth, mounted horizontally, and with the right hand end wound onto a cardboard tube.  I want to print design and print a eucalyptus design along the fabric.  It will start at the left with bright clear printing, then incorporate some silver lines, to represent thought. The silver lines will get denser, then form clumps (amyloidal plaques which obstruct brain patterns in Alzheimers), and will eventually completely obliterate the eucalyptus pattern.  The silver clumps will stop in a straight line, representing death, followed by the continuation of the perfect fabric, indicating life continues.  Winding the excess fabric onto the roll, indicates the continuity of life for others.  I was pleased with how well the proposal came together.

On Sunday we had our friends, Alan and Wendy Baird, come round for dinner.  They have just flown in from the UK and will be cycle touring from Perth to Adelaide, where Alan's brother lives.  It was lovely to see them.  The first time Jim cycled across the USA on the Transam route, they were travelling on their tandem, a couple of weeks behind.  They were following his journal, and noting all the places where he stopped, which campsites were good, which were not, and where he ate etc. Really Jim did quite a good job of quality control by travelling ahead.  They contacted Jim via the Crazyguyonabike website, where both Jim, and Alan and Wendy were keeping their respective blogs.  Then we discovered they lived a few miles away from us in Essex and have met up a couple of times since. 
Jim and me, being love's young dream

Alan and Wendy - tandem riders extraordinaire!

We should have taken a picture of them on their tandem.  It is a magnificent machine, with lots of tailor-made features, that make riding it an absolute dream.  They have been touring all over the world and their attitude to travel opportunities and the ability to see positive outcomes in all cycle situations is inspiring.  They look amazing on their tandem.
Alan and Wendy are keeping a blog again this time on www.crazyguyonabike website.  This time their journal is called Nullabor Tandem Crossing.  Their journals are always worth reading.

It was lovely having them round for lunch.  None of us suffer from rigor mortis of the tongue, and conversation flowed easily.  After lunch we had a short stroll down to the nature reserve at the tip of Salter Point, where locals were fishing, although there were no dolphins there today.

Friday, 2 September 2011

It's been a productive Friday, and I'm completely spent

Today has been such a productive day - far more so than I anticipated.

I went to class, not sure how much I could achieve today.  I wanted to expose my silkscreens, but needed to copy my design onto A3 paper, and thought there was no paper in the copier (and I do not have a supply of my own yet). And I could not expose the screens without the paper. I needed 2 pieces of fabric to create two 1m square samples for next Thursday, but did not want to take 2 buses each way to Perth to buy some.  
Colour design 1
Colour design 2

Screen standing outside to dry (in the UK it would need to dry in a drying cabinet!)

So I investigated the copier, and someone had left about 6 sheets of A3 in the large paper tray, so I hastily used 2 of them for my two design versions.  I oiled them (yuk), and went to the exposure room.  I cleaned the glass, positioned my originals, put my emulsed screens on top and closed the lid.  I asked Mark, the technician to supervise the process because I am still scared of breaking the exposure glass.  I put the vacuum on, and swivelled the screen to face the exposure light.  I switched the light on and left the room while the screens exposed.  Once exposed, I returned the exposure glass to horizontal, and took the silkscreens to wash out the unexposed residue.  And being a super student (!) I cleaned the exposure glass of residue oil from my originals (after putting the oiled sheets in the bin).  I put the screens to dry, while I went to my tutorial.  All this achieved before 1030.  A good start to the day. 
Mark, our technician, hard at work

Exposing table in vertical position, screens held in place by vacuum pump.
Odd lighting because it is a safe light that won't pre-expose the light sensitive screen emulsion.

The exposure light on the other side of the room

On my return from tutorial, I asked Mark if the fabric in the store was for sale.  He said as it was an educational establishment, they were not allowed to sell it - this is different from University of Herts, where materials are available at close to cost price, and means basic materials beyond samples are available on site, and cheaper than buying at commercial outlets.  However, because I only wanted 1 meter of each, and he wanted some print tests done on two new fabrics, he gave me a metre of two different linens - one white, one beige.  (I did confirm I had paid my materials fee). 

I was really tempted to started printing in repeat, straight away onto fabric.  But for some reason, caution checked me, and I trialled my new silkscreens by printing two repeats on each of 6 sheets of paper.  I had an outline screen, and two screens with different shading of the honkey nuts (local name for eucalyptus).  I worked in different colourways, layering varying shades of blue, green and orange. 

This took about 4 hours, between blending colour, printing, print drying and screen washing and drying.  I varied both the colours used and tonal values.  Some worked very well, others were terrible.  But it reinforced that it was an afternoon well spent trialling colourways, before working onto  my metre samples.  I think I will try the white sample with turquoise outliner, slightly muddy lime green, and muddy lime green, and the beige sample with turqoise outliner, chocolate brown,  and muddy lime green.  It might sound an odd selection of colours, but once overlaid they look quite dramatic and I think the white background will look dramatic and the beige one might look quite subtle.  (Does not sound like it, but I think it will work).

And another reason for being glad I trialled onto paper, is that one of my screens is shedding its emulsion, and giving random splotches of colour outside of the design.  So on Monday, I need to start by cleaning and re-emulsing the screen, then re-exposing it (having copied the design onto A3 again, and doing the dreaded oiling yet again!)

There were about 6 students working in our free time in the workshop today.  And at least 4 of us had problems with the emulsion shedding from the screens.  I do wonder whether the last batch of emulsion was contaminated.  We have just started a new container of emulsion over the last day or two.  Because there are so many different students using the workshop, I know there is sloppy practice in a variety of actions.  (Today another class were working on batik, and were ironing the wax out of their fabric ... directly onto the ironing board that we all use.  So now there is melted wax on the fabric cover and the cover is stapled onto the ironing board frame!).  I wonder if people have been emulsing their silkscreens with natural light entering the emulsing room, and have thus started the emulsion reacting.  Although because the exposed emulsion is shedding from the silkscreens, I can't help but think it is more likely we have got grease on the screen, before emulsing.  Or is it is oiled paper when we expose the screens?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Three days hard work

Having worked so hard for the Visual Inquiry assessment on Monday, exhaustion hit me Tuesday.  In the morning I was so tired, I was only capable of sitting at the table doing cutting and sticking.  I had collected all the materials for my Concept Board for Pattern & Meaning over the last couple of weeks, and just had to cut the images to size, arrange them and stick them to the A2 paper.  Jim had collected lots of DIY paint samples, so I arranged some colour swatches, as well as the images of various plants that I had photographed in Kings Park, and some magazine pullouts.  I was quite pleased with the finished concept board. 

In the afternoon I went to college and found myself a quiet spot in the library.  I had brought my Historical Issues folder, and went through all the material to date, making notes on what I thought was likely to come up in the assessment.  At 5pm, I trolled off to the lecture.  The tutor presented a short lecture (and omitted to cover all the material because he had not realised the notes went onto the second page of lecture notes).  Then we were told to space ourselves out in the lecture theatre, one empty seat either side of each person, and it was a closed book test.  I was really relieved I had revised because several of my anticipated questions came up.  There was only one artwork displayed where I did not know the artist - Durer - which is annoying as I had included a quote from him in my Pattern & Meaning visual diary.

"Nature holds the beautiful for the artist who has the insight to extract it.  ... Depart not from nature according to your fancy, imagining to find aught better by yourself, ... For veryily, "art" is embedded in nature; he who can extract it, has it"  Durer

I'm hoping to get a pretty good result for the  test next week.

I still felt exhausted on Wednesday when I went to my Public Lives, Private Issues lecture.  I had done all the reading (unlike last week when I was locked out of the university computer).  I was prepared to speak to the tutors and say I was struggling and needed some assistance to get my essay question set up.  My plan was to do the essay early during tuition-free week, but that I was not going to put in a lot of time as I thought I could only scrape a pass.  But when the tutors reviewed last week's work, it turns out I was the only one to make a key point in the Critical Summaries.  So I can draw salient conclusions at the end of each class.  But I struggle with the analytical thinking required in the essays.  I still think I'm going to only scrape a pass in the essay, but maybe I can increase my final result with my class contribution mark. 

Today, it was my favourite Pattern & Meaning class.  We are now running up to the last mid-semester assessment, next Thursday.  I have most of the work ready, but I just want to do some multi-colour samples.  I talked through my ideas with Kelsey, and spent class (and extra time) making up the designs for two further silkscreens.  I booked out 2 more screens, cleaned and emulsed them.  I have one screen already with the outlines on it.  Two more screens will give overlaid colours to create fairly 3D images.  It would have been nice to get the outline screen made up to colour the background area, but  there is a limit to how much preparation I can do, prior to getting the prints made up before Thursday's class.  In my mind's eye, I can see wonderful samples.  But at least one needs to be 1m x 1m. And I still need to get the fabric.  Probably on Saturday, in Perth.