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.

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