1st September 2022
I had a cosy first night in my tiny caravan. I was up early and took a walk down to the sea, something I have been wanting to do since I decided to move here. It is a beautiful beach, rocky, no sand and I bet if I looked hard enough I would find fossils but I picked up some litter and headed into the city.
I was early, of course, 9 instead of 10 but that gave me a chance to get coffee etc. A young man with a purply/blue mohawk introduced himself as Chris Evans doing Global design, which sounds very interesting. He chatted about his BA experience through Covid and about his work which involves designing 3D objects on his computer, printing them and then reheating and manipulating those objects. Sounds great!
Then the main introductions began. We won’t be giving our presentations yet (indeed Fine Art may not do them at all as Prof. Stitt denies any knowledge of them). Amelia Huw Morgan is lovely, she is an illustrator and runs the context and Methodology module with ceramicist Dr. Natasha Mayo who is also lovely. Lots of nurturing language and encouragement to step out of your comfort zone and be brave, exploring yourself and your practice, experimenting and developing research which is innovative and challenging. It was great and I felt reassured that I was in the right place. We are expected to be self-motivated and our studies should be self-directed. No one is going to tell us what to do. But they will advise and support, challenge and assist.
We had a coffee break and Jean introduced herself as Mary Bunny’s friend who is doing ceramics. It was so nice to see a friendly face of a similar age to myself and we were joined by another woman of a certain age who is also doing ceramics.
There is an illustration trip to Barry island tomorrow, everyone is invited, I think about the encouragement to get involved and sign up.
Next came the Library induction. The librarian was fun and there was a quiz but my phone wouldn’t connect to the internet so I couldn’t join in. Lots of exciting resources in the library and I availed myself of the IT support at lunch time and got connected to the wifi.
After buying a sandwich I tried to reach the river Taff only to be kept from it by a massive fence. There was a green space though with benches and lots of trees too so I sat and ate my lunch there.
I still hadn’t met any fine Art students.
Two o’clock was the time to meet Andre Stitt, sorry Professor Andre Stitt in the foyer. When I walk down from the Heart there are two young men already sat there. Daniel introduced himself and I think the other was Jaden? A very slim black woman joined us and four young white women, all in their twenties. The white women were all recent graduates and the black woman is Kenyan. There is another young woman going to join us but she has just had a baby, 4 months ago.
Professor Stitt showed us the BIG lift, our studio space and the Cardiff Met App. He stressed how they expected us to be in the studio working at all times and insisted that we had to attend the Monday lectures (I have checked with Amelia and I don’t. None of the other fine art students are going to Barry so I pull out).
Our dissertation is 6-8,000 words, I don’t have to worry about that till next year. All other essays are 1,000. There is an exhibition in November, YES!!! We can move into the studio now and with that he leaves us to it.
I ask him about a trolley and he points at the girls and says they know their way around, ask them. We are to become a group that supports each other. Previous years are still working together. One group runs its own space in Cardiff and that is where the exhibition is going to be.
We have been told to arrange the space as we want to, so I ask the group, no one responds. Daniel is asking Stitt about swapping to part time and the girls all know each other and are chatting amongst themselves. The baby is mentioned I ask what sex it is, “a girl”, “Nice.
I have one of each but they are both older than you lot.” I say “Well my daughter is the same age as she has just finished her degree”. The girl who took a year out asks what she did. I feel like I said the wrong thing, talking about age, doh!
I mention the central table again and someone saysit will take up too much space. No one seems interested in arranging the space now, so I go find a large trolly and collect my stuff from the car.
By the time I get back to the studio it is empty. I claim the far corner and set myself up, put pictures up, my spade and shovel lean up against the wall to one side, I told Andre I had brought a spade. I get the light working and I drill some CDs then stitch them to a piece of the grey fabric Sara gave me, experimenting with different ways of doing it.
I wonder what time the building closes? How long into the evening will I be able to work?
Prof said they have 60 first years. If that’s average there will be nearly 200 people working in this space next week. I can’t begin to imagine what that is going to be like.
I’ve got a parking ticket! No fine but it turns out I need a special permit to park on campus.
I ring Kelly and go meet her for a catch up. I decide I’m not going to worry about the other students. They will work out that I’m a legend in their own time. The beginning of the day was so exciting. Two wonderfully enthusiastic, nurturing and encouraging women but Professor Stitt, as I was warned, is more, you’re grown ups get on with it. But that’s ok because I am and I will.
Day 2 22nd September 2022
Lit my burner last night, after talking to my neighbour, because it was equinox, also it had been a bit chilly in the morning. I ended up roasting with the windows and door open. The neighbours had a small celebration but I had another early night.
Up early again and I stripped my bed and packed the car for my return journey home.
Got to Uni to find the studio locked and the only way to get in was a box on the wall I assume I need my student pass for. Cautiously left my drill by the door and went to get my pass.
No photo in the system so I upload a photo, (or at least I thought I did).
Went back up to the studio and managed to get the attention of someone in the office who let me in.
I go down to the ceramics studio and ask for a former to melt my CD’s around, they give me two. They ask me not to heat the CD’s on the plaster formers in case the dry out too much n crack. After a little experimentation I get it working well. They start to blister just after they go soft and they look beautiful. There are 5 different colours my favourite being the blue/purple/pink, obviously but there is a turquoise too and the silver has reds and blues in them. In amongst all this excitement I nip back down to the “Hub” to see if my photo has appeared, no, so I got a coffee and a muffin and read my book for a bit while I wait.
I am reading Katy Hessels book “The Story of Art without Men” and its good. I can here her voice as I read because I listened to her read the first chapter on her podcast on the way down. I read about the artist Artemisia Gentileschi who painted a really famous painting “Judith Slaying Holofernes”, the daughter of a painter she was raped when she was young then tortured in court but eventually proved that she was telling the truth and went on to paint extraordinary paintings of strong women and becoming a powerful business woman and artist in her own right.
Still no photo so I go back to my CD’s and see Prof. Stitt and a crowd of young student marching across campus, must be first years.
Back at the studio I sew some of the CD’s to some fabric using the milk bottle tops in the centre to fix then. I cut and melt them a little to open them up a bit. The double green and purple looks best but I want to try tonic tops which are yellow.
Lunchtime and I check for my pass again, still nothing so I take another photo and try again. There was an extra stage I didn’t do the first time. Back at CSAD I call into the textile print room and introduce myself to the technician enquiring about print digital images. She gives me her email so we can organise an induction and then I will be able to do what I like. This is ACE!
I have my lunch in the Heart space and email Kath. I get an email thanking me for my photo, doh! I now know Ive done it right. After lunch I go back and my pass is there. Yes! I go to the library, So many books, on the third floor. Studio on the third floor books on the third floor, I’m going to get fit. I get a book on Beuys and one on Barlow, there’s nothing on Mendieta, loads on Bourgeios?? I head for the textile section. Embellishment and textile art, then I remember what the librarian said about not buying books and I look at my Amazon wish list. They have the magic patterns books by Tomoko Nakamichi, so I get all three. That will do for now. Back to the studio.
I want to make a wire ball frame before the end of the day so I start on that. The first years come back and I listen to the lecturer talking about have they eaten and had a drink. It like baby sitting but I suppose they’re only 18. I make my ball frame and work out how big the fabric has to be and cut out the pieces after checking it by pinning it to the frame. One of the students pops in and asks what is it, “A ball” I say.
They have been given a task and watch a film about making art with found materials. One lad gets some kind of oil based paint all over him and can’t get it off. Stitt thinks I’m going to be a pain in the asre? I think theres another there. Prof pops his head in, almost looks surprised “In the studio working? Good!” he says. I simple say “Yep” then “How was your day?” it doesn’t go anywhere. I’ve got my ball done and cut my fabric. Next step is to melt all the CD’s and decide which centres I’m going to use to fix them to the fabric so I’m done for the day. I look at my books.
The Beuys book starts with an interview. He is asked if he thinks of himself as a sculptor, he say’s yes. The actions come from the sculpture but first he is a sculptor. I like it. I think about developing performance around my sculpture like the making of the mother in Aberystwyth.
I asked about opening times at the front desk and it’s 9-5 but I can work later if I get special permission. There’s a pool table in the ceramics department, I can here the clink of the balls. I love a game of pool. The first years drift away. The lad has got the paint off. As I leave I spot a young man by the sinks, he’s placing jigsaw pieces there. I ask what he’s doing. I recognise his voice as the one who got covered in paint and I can see the evidence of it on his hands.
They have been asked to make work with found materials and the jigsaw pieces made him think of water. I like what he’s doing and I say so. As I walk away he ask who I am so I introduce myself. He is called Ivy.