Sophie Lives – Exercise 1.3

Get writing with emotion by choosing one of the two subjects below:- This lit up my day or This darkened my heart. Such writing may become very emotional, so before you begin remember that you won’t ever have to show anyone what you’ve written if you choose not to. It is always up to you what you send to your tutor. So you can write deeply… emotionally… without concern. As previously, read it through, enjoy your writing, but don’t try to change this for now. 

“Oh for fucks sake, I’m not supposed to have woken. Can’t i get anything right” Sophie thought. “I’m supposed to be dead”. She lay still underneath the cotton colours, a musty smell hung in the air. A tear trickled to her nose from the corner of her eye. She lay there empty, feeling defeated. Her heart crushed and barely beating.

Tears turned into breathless sobs, snot running down her face. She didn’t care how she looked, her mind with desperate thoughts of death. The room was beggining to get lighter as night turned into yet another bloody day. Death doesn’t come easy to some people.

She wiped her nose on the sleeve of her jama top, pulled her hands down over her forehead, ensuring her finger nails dug deep into her skin. It’s bizarre how trauma can leave the victim feeling an urgency to harm themselves. She didn’t care about the pain, or how others may react to the scars, not anymore. She used to be self conscious about the marks on her skin, the occasional stare, but now she was oblivious to it. Her life didn’t matter. Fuck it. Fuck off.

Sophie felt the urge to go to the bathroom, decided against getting out of bed. The sensation of warm urine turning cold against her skin turned to a fug of wet fabric against her legs. Depression. Overwhelming depression, wrapped in a venomous self hatred.

I’m not sure if I was meant to write fiction or prose so I just went with the flow. I’ve stopped at this point, but feel this passage is something that I may be able to return to at a later date. 

What Is Creative Writing – Research Point 1.1

What is creative writing anyway? Think about what you believe creative writing to be. Make some notes, then write a couple of sentences to define your thoughts on paper. Be sure to complete your thoughts before reading on. 

Isn’t it possible to see any writing as creative writing? Whether that’s people writing copy for a product, company policies and procedures, an academic essay, journalism, poetry, biography or a novel. All of the above involve creativity and imagination to various degrees.

However, I suspect that creative writing is considered to be just a few select genres, poetry, novels, play scripts and perhaps at a push, song lyrics. Use of the imagination to express ideas that may stimulate emotion in others is perhaps closer to the mark. But I also feel that journalism and biography should definitely be included.

Now search for further definitions, using encyclopaedias, dictionaries, books on writing and the Internet. Google the words creative writing + definition to see what you get. We’re your ideas similar or different? Remember, your opinion is as valuable as anyone else’s.

noun – writing, typically fiction or poetry, which displays imagination or invention (often contrasted with academic or journalistic writing).” lexico.com/2020/creative writing/Online: At: https://www.lexico.com/definition/creative_writing

Creative writing is any writing that goes outside the bounds of normal professionaljournalisticacademic, or technical forms of literature, typically identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or with various traditions of poetry and poetics. Due to the looseness of the definition, it is possible for writing such as feature stories to be considered creative writing, even though they fall under journalism, because the content of features is specifically focused on narrative and character development. Both fictional and non-fictional works fall into this category, including such forms as novelsbiographiesshort stories, and poems.” wikipedia/2020/creative writing/Online: At: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_writing

I particularly like the Wikipedia definition stating “identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, character development” and I’m also pleased to know that feature stories fall into the bounds of creative writing. The photo essays which I write are not stories, but they are magazine features, just with the emphasis being academic rather than fiction. Who cares, I feel that they are creative writing, so there.

Write What You Know – Biography – Exercise 1.2

Below is a list of things you are likely to know about. Choose one and write for 60 seconds about any personal experience of your choice; my pet; my job; my mother; my home; my hobby; my sport; my family. 

My job

Work is not a part of my life just now for health reasons. I’m a student and I’ve just completed Foundations in Photography, and have now begun to study creative writing.

Sixty seconds is not very long. When you stopped after one minute, did you feel you had more to say? Did you carry on regardless of the instruction? See if you can carry on now: Choose something else from the list and write for two minutes. Choose a third subject and write for three minutes. Keep going until you get to your last choice, and attempt six minutes of writing. If you can’t write about one of the subjects, for example if you’ve never had a pet, substitute something else (my sister; my school). Did that feel like creative writing to you? This is how most writers start. By writing for a few moments, then carrying on.

My Pet

My first pet was a rabbit called Bunjy. I was six years old, and I don’t have that many memories of him. Although now I have started writing I can remember feeding him rabbit pellets. He was an albino with white fur and red eyes. I remember the day he died. I was at my nana’s house. Mum told me that Bunjy had been found dead in his hutch. I burst into tears. It was close to Christmas and we went to see santa.

My mother

My mother fucked up badly, and I stopped speaking with her in my early twenties. As time has gone on I’ve come to realise that she did the best she could with what she had. The hardest part is knowing that I’ve fucked up in some ways too. I’ve done the best I could with what I’ve got. Coming to terms with an inconsistent and inadequate parent is hard work. It’s taken all of my adult life, and the process remains as one that is ongoing. She died 5 years ago. I didn’t grieve, I had done that during those 20 odd years that we didn’t see each other. Somehow I find myself speaking with he now she’s dead. Life is bizarre.

My Family

I guess it makes sense to follow on with my family. I have no contact with most of my family now, and I have no desire too. In fact, I don’t wish to add anything further.

Pause…

Its hard to be the black sheep of the family, especially since being so is as a result of the abuse I experienced whilst growing up. I’ve stayed away from my family for my own protection. I see happy families sometimes, and wonder what it must be like to have that closeness. It’s not that I long for it, it just not my experience.

I am in touch with two cousins. They express their love for me, and then I feel confused. What is love? Love makes no sense to me.

My home

It’s taken a year to begin to feel safe in my new home. The flat is lovely, the difficulties are living in close proximity to others, and the busyness on the street. I can hear the sounds of my neighbours above, below and to the side. I’ve put sound-proofing down under the carpet and upon the ceiling. It’s helped a little. I’ve been scared that my neighbours can hear everything that I say and do, it feels like I’m living in The Truman Show. It’s developed into paranoia, which becomes intense when I can hear them talking, and I’ve had periods when I have thought they are planning to kill me. The paranoia led to a suicide attempt last year, and to a very difficult summer during which I couldn’t tolerate being at home. However, my neighbours are lovely. Whenever I bump into them it has been a positive experience and being able to reflect upon these encounters has helped me to begin to feel safe in my home.

My hobby or sport

Photography is far more than a hobby to me. It’s helped to turn my life around, and it has improved my mental health considerably. When I first got a camera I had severe agoraphobia and panic attacks, which lead to me being housebound. Holding a camera in front of my face helped me to tolerate the fear for a short time. Gradually, the length of time I could go outside increased. Photography has given me a voice, a way of expressing myself and a way of exploring my life and that of the world around me. One of my biggest life achievements has been completing a project around anorexia, and my recovery from it. I haven’t published the results because I have embroidered on top of self portraits, and I struggle with my body image and how I look. An arts project once to exhibit the photos. They are unique. I’ve done considerable research into embroidered photography, and I’m bringing something new to the table. I’m feeling very proud about that.

The Shaman Draws – Exercise 1.1

Here is how you get writing. You start with what is in your head – and that means putting something in your head, then writing about it. Before you begin, get yourself ready. Either pull up a blank page (word document or similar) on your screen, or pick up a pen and a piece of paper. Now, once you’re ready, look at the image below. Look at it for as long as you like, take it all in, or merely snatch a glance, but only look away from the image once something has come into your mind that is formed in words. As soon as that happens, get writing. 

ca_2248804bhttp://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02248/ca_224804b.jpg

Write down what came into your head as you looked into the picture. This might have been one of several things: a description of what you see, something you thought about the picture, a memory that came into your head as you looked, something about what was happening to you as you looked at it, some other, surprising thing! 

You might enjoy reading your work through once you’ve finished writing. But for now, don’t tamper with it. Let it be what it is – a first attempt to get writing. Don’t be dismayed if it doesn’t feel as good as you were hoping. On the other hand, if it pleases you, that’s a bonus. The one thing you should feel, after completing this first exercise is pride. You got writing. Well done. 

I don’t think I can bare to wait much longer. I am full of energy and completely exhausted. We have been dancing around the fire all night to the sound of drums. Dancing so that we can help the Shaman on his journey to the underworld to meet with the Spirits. The village is truly in trouble this time. The white man has destroyed our closest villages. They have killed families and generations. Apparently they have some new magic glued to their hands, which shoot balls of metal into the skin. They will attack us soon.

I hope the Spirits have some guidance which will protect us. What will the Shaman have drawn?

Please be good news. Please.

Movement ahead. The people at the front are beginning to enter the cave. I make baby steps to begin with, eager to go into the cave as soon as I can. 

We gather inside to see what the Shaman has drawn. Torches flicker, light and shadows dance together. I crane my neck, stretching as hard as I can to see, to learn our fate.

Hands. Hands.

Are these hands of help, or hands of surrender?

Word Definitions

This is a page in which I will record words that I either don’t understand or that I have only a vague knowledge of. Definitions come from a Google search. Descriptions in brackets are my attempts at understanding an alternate meaning from the sentence that the original word was in.

  • Alabaster – A translucent form of gypsum or calcite, typically white, often carved into ornaments.
    made of Alabaster. “the gilded alabaster tomb of Sir Anthony Browne” (if a person is described as having an Alabaster face this must mean their skin is translucent.) 
  • Alacrity – Brisk and cheerful readiness
  • Caroused – Drink alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.
  • Cove – A concave arch or arched moulding, especially one formed at the junction of a wall with a ceiling.
  • Curmudgeon – A bad-tempered person, especially an old one.
  • Friable – Easily crumbled (such as soil)
  • Furtive – attempting to avoid notice or attention, typically because of guilt or a belief that discovery would lead to trouble; secretive. “they spent a furtive day together”
  • Geas – (in Irish folklore) an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person.
  • Gonnagle – Name of Gaelic origin (The Nac Max Feegle in the Disc world are also known as Pictsies, this suggest they are of Gaelic/Celtic inspiration)
  • Kelda – A girls name in Norse – meaning spring or fountain (maybe referenced as a leader.)
  • Lament – A passionate expression of grief or sorrow. “his mother’s night-long laments for his father”. A complaint. “there were constant laments about the conditions of employment” Express passionate grief about. “he was lamenting the death of his infant daughter”
  • Lye – A strongly alkaline solution, especially of potassium hydroxide, used for washing or cleansing.
  • Obliquely – not in a direct way; indirectly. “he referred only obliquely to current events” in an oblique direction; slant wise. “the strings of the instrument run obliquely away from the player”
  • Patrician – An aristocrat or nobleman. Belonging to or characteristic of the aristocracy.
    “a proud, patrician face” (The Patrician of Ankh Morporkh is authoritarian and the suggestion is that a Patrician is a dictatorial leader.)
  • Pavane – a stately dance in slow duple time, popular in the 16th and 17th centuries and performed in elaborate clothing.
  • Pottage – Soup or stew.
  • Requiem – (especially in the Roman Catholic Church) a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead. “a requiem was held for the dead queen. A musical composition setting                    parts of a requiem Mass, or of a      similar character. “Fauré’s Requiem. An act or token of remembrance. “he designed the epic as a requiem for his wife”
  • Repose – a state of rest, sleep, or tranquillity. “in repose her face looked relaxed” Be situated or kept in a particular place. “the diamond now reposes in the Louvre”
  • Reynard – A name for a fox
  • Roister – Enjoy oneself or celebrate in a noisy or boisterous way.
  • Sage – (especially in ancient history or legend) a profoundly wise man or woman
  • Sidle – walk in a furtive, unobtrusive, or timid manner, especially sideways or obliquely.
    “I sidled up to her”
  • Steadings – A farm and its buildings. A farmstead.
  • Swarf – Fine chips or filings of stone, metal, or other material produced by a machining operation.
    “a curl of metal swarf”
  • Visceral – Relating to the viscera (the Visceral nervous system). Related to deep inward feelings rather than interlect.

 

  • Woad – A yellow-flowered European plant of the cabbage family. It was formerly widely grown in Britain as a source of blue dye, which was extracted from the leaves after they had been dried, powdered, and fermented. Dye obtained from the woad plant, now superseded by synthetic products.

 

 

 

Notes For Future Reference

My notebook will probably mean nothing to you. It’s a page for recording inspiration, ideas and points of interest that I may or may not use at a future date.

Terry Pratchet – comedy

“Now her second thoughts were at work, thinking about what she was thinking.” p63 The Shepherds Crown, Pratchet.

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Seeing the doors left me curious as to who lived behind them and questions as to what the walls have witnessed.

Considering The Characterisation In Disc World

I love the Discworld series by Terry Pratchet. The characterisation is incredible. The personalities are bold, funny and magical. And despite these wonderful quirky appearances, the people are so believeable. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to create such dynamics if I were to write stories. Granny Weatherwax is developed throughout the disc world series, but not in a descriptive account of her persona. Rather, she develops as her actions are portrayed, and my sense of her personality comes from this. I find that interesting, as I’ve been wondering how you develop characters and how I would ‘describe’ a personify. Pratchet draws his people in words.

“You (cat) kept away from the Bees, but stalked through the garden, following Granny as she moved through the herbs, touching a frond or a leaf as she passed, and the whole garden seemed to answer her, the plants almost nodding their heads in respect. ‘ the sense I get, and this follows on from the previous paragraph, is the Granny Weatherwax is dying. P40 The Shephards Crown.

Creative Writing Begins – Diary Entry One

Its funny reflecting up my writing, when I haven’t written anything. No matter. Thing is, I’ve began to read through the creative writing coursework, and I feel motivated now. For a couple of months I’ve felt demoralised at settling for second best. I want to take a degree in Photography, but my health isn’t going to permit that.

Reading the manual has helped me to reflect upon my writing experience over the past two or three years. I’ve written for fun, I’ve written to connect with others, I’ve written essays on themes that I feel passionate about, as well as writing for study. I am a writer, and that’s why I chose creative writing. I’m Richard, and I write.

Nam June Paik And Olafur Eliasson With The London Regional OCA Group

Got to be honest here and say that I really struggled with the Nam June Paik exhibition. My childhood was such that I went to sporting events and airshows, and have had no experience of exhibitions until recently. I think the lack of artistic culture in my formative years has left me with a lack of expertise when viewing art at exhibitions. I’m going to make a point of reading “How to read a painting” by the National Gallery.

On the whole I found the Paik exhibition to be confusing, bewildering and overwhelming. There was a cacophony of sound and light, and other exhibits that I felt little connection to. Whilst trying to connect with what the artist was trying to communicate I found my mind was left blank. I didn’t connect with his art at all. I feel almost tearful at my inadequacy when it comes to reading art, especially of this discordant and abstract nature.

However, there were two exhibits that I connected with. The first of these were a selection of artefacts from Paik’s studio.

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I may not understand what Paik is conveying, but I appreciate how ideas formulate and concepts develop, and I find the creative process to be fascinating. Ideas emerge in the space between the minutiae, little seeds germinate and creativity branches forth. Some of these will die along the way, but they still remain valuable to the branches which produce fruit.

The second exhibit that I connected with was a projected, blank, 16mm film.

hdrplZen for Film (1964)

The accompanying text states that the film represents “emptiness, boredom and random interference… events such as the shadows cast by the spectators, became part of the work.”

Bev, Johnathan and I enjoyed became part of this transient piece of art. It highlighted to me that the meaning of art changes dependant upon the setting and the viewer.

Interactive art then became the theme for the rest of the day with the Olafur Eliasson, In Real Life, exhibition.

Wow. What an experience.

Welcome to a new world Richard.

In Real Life is not an exhibition to watch and read, it was a fully immersive experience in which one interacts mentally, emotionally, physically and, dare I say, spiritually.

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IMG_20191123_115522Big Din blinde passage

“Big Din blinde passage” was 39 meters of sensory deprivation. The passage is full of fog created by food additives. I could barely see in front of myself, so much so that at one point I almost tripped over a woman with a buggy. I couldn’t see either the floor or the walls, and my sense of hearing increased. What made the experience so joyful for me was the laughter of children walking along with their parents. Sensory deprivation made the laughter so pleasurable. The taste of the fog was rather pleasant as well. When I left the tunnel I couldn’t stop smiling. The experience left me awestruck and lifted my mood so much, which was needed after the drop in my self esteem from viewing the Paik exhibition.

Most of the rest of the exhibition was enthrallingly interactive, and I very much became a part of the exhibit. I particularly like the viewing windows, in which the glass had been cut and shaped into hexagons. Each had been cut at an angle which reflected and reflected the view back as if one was looking through a kaleidoscope. Regrettably I did not record the name of these installations.

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I also enjoyed the room with the mirrored ceiling. So many people were laying on the floor and looking up at the view.

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The whole exhibition felt like play time. I will endeavour to return before the exhibition closes. Never have I found art to be so fun and inspiring.

What the experts say

Nam June Paik 

“I always thought of Nam June Paik as a livewire avant-garde figure from long ago but for decades my experience of him has been as a permanent Art Biennale fixture whose work acted as an instant soporific.

Represented by piles of TVs showing mass-media random information with no particular meaning, the sight of his name on a wall label usually sends me straight into a coma.” (Collings; 2010)

“In 1963, artist Nam June Paik had his first solo exhibition. The show took place in a three-storey villa in Wuppertal, Germany and among the works was a room packed with 13 manipulated television sets. It was the first time an artist had used television as a medium for their art. 

For five decades, Paik built upon these TV experiments and continually bridged the gap between art and technology in a way no other artist had done before.” (Fulleylove; 2019)

Olafur Eliasson

“My works demand the visitors’ engagement; they are dependent on viewers to co-produce them,” he explains. “Many of my works are not only about the visitor’s encounter with the work, but the visitors’ encounters with one another. This is endlessly fascinating.

“I do not mind if people are moved by my work without knowing, or even caring, about any of the theories behind it. I think the art world often treats people patronisingly: take guided audio tours in museums, for example. I enjoy watching people interact without any of this guidance, without the instructions.” (Eliasson; in Alderson; 2015)

References

Alderson, R; 2015; It’s OK to disagree, the divisive work of artist Olafur Eliasson; Online; AT https://www.itsnicethat.com/features/its-ok-to-disagree-the-divisive-work-of-artist-olafur-eliasson

Collings, M; 2019; Nam June Paik Review, Daft, inventive energy from a weird kind of artist; Online; AT https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/arts/nam-june-paik-tate-modern-exhibition-review-a4261856.html%3famp

Fulleylove, R; 2019; Why Nam June Paik is more than the father of video art; Online; AT https://www.creativereview.co.uk/nam-june-paik-tate-modern-retrospective/

The National Gallery; 2019; How to ‘read’ a painting; Online; AT https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/learning/teachers-and-schools/teaching-english-and-drama/how-to-read-a-painting

 

Tutor Feedback For Assignment 5 – Some Emotional States Of My Anorexia And Strengths Of Recovery

Defiance/self preservation

Firstly, I would like to say that I am going to stick with the title “Some Emotional States Of My Anorexia And Strengths Of Recovery”. Initially I had some reservations about the length of the title, but I find that its appropriate as an anchor to the work which I have produced.

I would like to thank my tutor Jayne Taylor for the level and quality of feedback and interaction that I have received from her throughout the course. I would also like to thank the Open College of the Arts for the standard of the coursework, and for their excellent support and kindness with regards to the difficulties that I have experienced with my health, and the impact which this has had on my ability to study. If you are considering studying any of the creative arts, at foundation or undergraduate level then I would highly recommend the Open College of the Arts. You will not be disappointed. Although the OCA is based in the UK, they also accept international student. All of the courses are open/distance learning. Please check out their website here for further information.

Here is the link to the full tutor feedback

Defiance/self preservation
Defiance/self preservation

There a few points that I would like to comment upon

“It was very significant that you allowed the strong autobiographical themes to emerge through your work, and the leap forward can be seen through your assignment output across the course. You’ve worked incredibly hard and have put a lot of time and energy into your work, and this is all very evident here – well done indeed.”

The coursework leading up to assignment three was a turning point for me. It was during this section that I began to explore how I could use photography to explore and express my experience of life. The course material gave me the opportunity to try the exercises in the style of different photographers, and I was able to create a mini photobook called A Hermits Journey, and a sequence called Sick of Bulimia. I gave of myself in both of these pieces of work, and A Hermits Journey was featured in WordPress Discover and received over 1,000 hits.

There were many bullet points relating to Jaynes perspective of the of my assignment in which she draws out my methodology and how thorough I have been with my preparation and progress. But I would like to comment upon this

“The use of your own self-portraits in the work shows immense growth in your confidence, both personally and as an artist, and this is heartening to see.”

For me to use self-portraits is a scary experience. I have been working up to this over the past two years, gradually taking more steps from using my shadow, the use of face masks, and now revealing my face. My reticence to present and exhibit this piece of work, but I do aim to exhibit my work, I have a gallery in mind, and I am going to need Jaynes advice on how to approach them. I believe in the quality of the expression and technique, and this work deserves exhibition. I am worth it, despite my fears of showing my face.

“You had some reservations about how to make the embroidered snake have the same visual impact as the other works – hopefully the Google image search we did has helped you see how a stronger silhouette might be all that’s needed to make this work. The important thing is to keep looking until you find an image you feel enthusiastic about working with. The snake image seems to have special significance, being linked to medicine and alluding to the transition from sickness into health – so take your time and enjoy it! (Might a gold thread work here, as a kind of alchemical effect, maybe?)”

In Native American Shamanism, the rattlesnake, called Utsonati, symbolises medicine, which I interoperate as turning poison into medicine. It would have made an excellent finale to the series. However, all of the embroidered animals so far have been flying animals, and I think it’s important to provide visual consistency, and the snake would offset this. So, I am considering embroidering a stalk onto the final portrait, with the stalk symbolising new life, and recovery from an eating disorder is in many ways developing a new life.

“Good documentation of your process all the way through.  Nothing to add, except to say that the process is as important as the end result, especially while studying, so this is an excellent practice to maintain.”

The process is the most important part for me, and I love how an idea can change, alter and develop given time and space. During this assignment I have rarely embroidered for more than two hours per day, and I have had a break after the first hour, often a few hours before returning to the embroidery. When I begin to sew in the morning, I spend time looking at the developing artwork before stitching, and looking at the guide photo. I thoroughly look and see what I am producing. Without the seeing the quality of what I am producing would be diminished. Working more than a couple of hours per day would be unwise for the same reasons, because the level of focus upon the embroidery becomes too narrow and fixed.

The research was also important to me, and I have tried this exercise using three different styles, two of which have been a permitted collaboration which makes use of Laura Letinsky’s series Ill Form and Void Full. Although I have decided not to use them for this assignment, I will show them here at some point in the future. My research was thorough for this assignment and included exploring other photographers who work with hand stitching on photography, shamanism and the use of masks.

My ideas and research can be viewed here as well as here.

Throughout this assignment I have recorded how my ideas have been refined as well as reporting on my progress and the processes. When I view fellow students work, I love to see the process of how they make photography, from the initial idea to the end result, which is often reworked. I have also had the opportunity to receive feedback on my progress from fellow students at the OCA London Regional group.

I have to be honest and say that I am proud of how much effort I have put into this assignment, and amazed at what I am producing. I did not expect this when I began this assignment. My sole aim was to see if I could develop a new technique to carry forward into the undergraduate degree in photography, and I was willing for this assignment to be a failure. It has been entirely the opposite.