Looking to build a website? Portfolio box has what you need.

Just a little nod of appreciation to the guys at Portfolio Box. I needed to put together a professional website for my illustration portfolio and I needed one that was easy, no hassle, easy to navigate and reasonably priced. A friend recommended Portfolio Box and I must admit that they have been great. The support is quick and reliable even for times where I have stupidly mixed up the email I use to log in… Not my finest hour! But even if the support staff did feel like giving me a virtual shake, they never let that be known with their swift and understanding service.

At the time of renewing my subscription I had not checked my emails and missed the deadline. When I later contacted Portfolio Box they recovered my whole site and I was able to re-new without having to start from scratch. Cheers!

Th email provider that comes with the service is also very reliable. I’ve never had a problem accessing my emails like I have with other providers. I would highly recommend checking them out.




Contested Territories and Grayson Perry, and how they help me to approach my practice.

The thing with Contested Territories is it is almost too interesting. I think I have mentioned this before, at least I have in conversation, it is so big. It is a huge option with so many avenues you can walk down, however, so is my practice. I have read some of the required reading; if I am honest, for where I wanted to initially take this project, I found the reading was too distracting as my area of interest was being documented by the press regularly. I felt engaging with editorial pieces was more important and relevant than academic reading. Some of the talks have been fascinating and today’s has made an impact. I have found throughout the option, my ideas and thoughts have flown freely but for my practice research. I’m not sure whether I have been stimulated enough but not fully engaged with some of the lectures and this has triggered me to take what is being said and take bring it into the context of my option.

I have been watching a lot of Grayson Perry documentaries and questioning how he is able to approach people and get them to engage with him. Is it because he is male? Surely this makes it easier to approach other men and question their identity and ideas of what masculinity means than if I asked them? Is it because he is open about how his inner research on his own identity has enabled him to unpack this in relation to masculinity? Having already done the work on himself, so to speak, does this break down barriers and enable his subjects to feel less judged. Is it because he is an established and celebrated artist who is successful and has acquired a certain status? If you look him up on google, he will appear first, not hundreds of other people with the same name. Is it because he has money behind him and camera crews that makes it easier to source the exact people he is looking for? It would be reasonable to believe it could be a combination of these things and I commend him for using all of them to work to help people. Because that is the desire behind his work.

Perry made a comment during the first episode of Grayson Perry, Who Are You?, ‘there is always an element of myself in there’. He said there are issues that are talked about that remind him of things he has dealt with or questioned. I wondered if that helps to make his work work? Because there is always a personal element in there or because he is able to empathise with the subject/ topic. When I released the videos of my reportage illustration, I might have got a few ‘likes’, but no one really engaged with it. I gave an interview for GRRRLIZM digital art collective magazine and released that across my social media. I spoke about what I was trying to do with my work, what I had found so far and a couple of my own personal childhood experiences. People liked it, shared the post and messaged me about it to say it made them think. I wonder if this is a good place to start? Maybe I can address my experiences first and use them as prompts? Would people open up if I could show this when asking for their stories?

Today’s Contested Territories lecture was on memory and trauma. Something was said; trauma is never in the past, it is always in the present. I believe this is true. Is trauma on the body worse than trauma on the mind? And how is trauma measured? If something small affects you for years, is it huge? Can it shape you even if you can’t see it? This lecture gave me lots to think about and also artists to look at. We spoke of how trauma can be embedded in objects and materials; as with gender. Memories can be triggered by objects, songs, certain smells and maybe this is where I need to be looking? I will research in to the artists over the weekend and go rummaging through my parent’s loft for old objects. I have the email of the lecturer to talk with her about my project.

I am going to email Sian Bonnell too as her artist talk was inspiring and I am thinking about placing objects in certain places to evoke certain feelings… this is a separate blog post, I think.

At the end of the day I wanted to hear a talk given by Gary Spicer as part of his PhD journey but my train was booked for 7pm… I did manage to quiz him on his approach to his work. He said he sees no separation between his reading, writing and practical work. There is no order, he may read until he feels he has to make or document; they are equal in value to the Phd as a whole. He is allowing his research to guide him and has no end goal. He wrote a letter to himself asking what it was that he wanted to find out knowing that he knows himself best and would subconsciously be able to answer. He has his interest in memory, and again, his personal aspect of being of half Jewish and looking at the Holocaust. He found his area of interest during his MA and even though he took a long break after his MA, his interest remained. What resonated with me is that I feel like I know my area of interest, I have a personal aspect invested, and I also have no firm idea after this. I do not know what I want to make and I can not imagine getting to the point where I feel I have read enough and I fully need to make practical work now. I’m not sure whether I need to be completely experimental until I touch on something, investigating one thing, then maybe another area? What if I don’t make anything that particularly works? Does this matter? Because I am still investigating and unpicking? Do I have to be set in where I want to go on MA or can I deliberately leave it open? With this topic of gender and identity, I can’t imagine my work will be done by the end of MA.


Photographs of Gary Spicer’s PhD practice, Necessitating My Alliance.

Creative Provocation proposal.

What If Pets Were Sexist?

What can I do about it? Society is sexist, and innocently sexist at times. How can I help children feel that it is OK for them to be a girl who likes dinosaurs or to be a boy who likes to dress hair? How can I do that if their family is trying to push them towards dolls or football? What can I do to lessen the terror felt by a father when his son wants to dress as a Disney princess in class for half an hour? What can I do to make a mum think twice about mentioning that her daughter is assertive and how she knows it can be overbearing for other children? What can I do when I don’t have children of my own? What can I do when this discredits the childhood experience I had just because I don’t have a child on my own?  What would I do if my mum called my dog a ‘tart’ again for wearing his fancy baby blue striped harness complete with huge bow?…

I’m asking for help. I want to address gender stereotypes in a way that connects with adults. I would like to show how they effect children’s moral, self image, job prospects, family life, and so on. It is so intertwined in all aspects of society; how do I find just one area to focus on? How do I as an illustrator, visually engage with my target audience? Especially when I constantly feel I need to be able to academically justify myself at the risk of missing my audience.


Soul Scripting Workshop and the first week back.

16003327_10154832751273886_3506358859038274580_nLast week I attended a workshop outside of the university called Soul Scripting. It was described as a workshop to learn techniques for written meditation. I felt this may help me sort through my thoughts on my research and help me gain focus. I am hoping that after reading, watching and engaging so much, using these techniques to get everything out may generate ideas and lessen my anxiety over the issue and also about the work itself. If I go back and reread what I have wrote I might find ideas to pursue.

I was tempted not to go into uni on Thursday as I felt I hadn’t caught up to exactly where I wanted to before starting again, but I went in anyway. I am glad I made the decision to as I was automatically more focused. It is very like to me to want to bury my head in the sand when I feel overwhelmed or not in control. It was scary getting given the deadline dates and the breakdown of the weeks because it is all too apparent that the time is going to pass so quick and I feel like I have nothing done even though before the Christmas break it took over my every thought. This could be the momentum I need to start making decisions, admitting I will not be able to read every book and paper and I need to test pieces of work and following this, narrow down my area of interest and tease out what I want to propose.I have put a call out on social media asking for old toys. I’m not sure what I am going to do with them yet in some way, I would like to the gender association away from the object or to open it up. I will test this once I have the zine made for my Contested Territories exhibition.

I received an email today to say that my application to be a Make a Difference Ambassador has been successful. I have been given some training dates and I am looking forward to the experience, although I am aware that my time is already spread pretty thinly. I’m looking forward to engaging with people and this opportunity could possibly allow me to find a place for my work or steer me in a direction I have not already considered. The training will start next month.

Also, as I am typing this there is a small section of BBC news being dedicated to fathers and what they are terming, The Fatherhood Gap. Men are speaking up and addressing that they would like the chance to have a less stressful job to free their time to help raise their children. It made me happy to hear this. The men said they dropped their high positions and took pay cuts to feel more fulfilled at home as they felt they were missing out and felt guilt that they were not giving their pars the support they needed. They are wanting more men to speak up and are wanting the support to do this in the work place. One man commented that he did not want to be the father he had; a man he did not see apart from at weekends. It makes me feel hopeful when I see people putting these issue in the public eye that society could be changing for the people that want it.





Ditch the Label charity.

After contacting the charity, Ditch the Label, just before the holidays, they replied to my message saying they were not involved in any projects as of yet but would keep me in mind for the future. They sent me a link to last years cyber bullying statistic report taken from across the UK and the US. The report covers insults and discussion around racism, transphobia, homophobia, misogyny and masculine constructs.

Click to access Cyberbullying-and-hate-speech.pdf

Finding the flow again…

December became a no-go for my studying as I was really busy with work. I had to be realistic as it had got to the point where I was double booking appointments, turning up at personal appointments at the wrong time, booking train tickets at the wrong time, loosing stuff… something had to give. Then after being all worked out I needed a little time off to find my sanity and enjoy some holidays.

It is hard getting back into it. Being an anxious person anyway and then being anxious about initially starting again and logging on to my emails, then being anxious as I feel I’m now behind… and being too anxious to start illustrating… it doesn’t really help. It sounds like a cop-out but I think the way forward for me is to start slow and try to incorporate a bit of time to myself into each day. Looking at how overwhelmed I was before the Christmas break, I can’t really keep going at that pace, 6 days a week and work at my optimum level. I need to accept that I can’t know and do it all. I can know and do what I can and l will be better for it. Once I have caught up with my reading and referencing I want to see if my old routine works for me again. During my third year I would get up early, do house tasks, exercise, catch up with emails and blogging, speak to friends then sleep. Once I would get up and have dinner the day would become quiet and I would be more creative carrying on through the early hours. It was a routine that worked for me.

Over the next couple of days I plan to get myself caught up with what I can. Next week, or earlier if possible, I want to get making images. I have deadlines coming and the longer I put this off the harder it will become. I still have no real idea what area I want to focus on although the idea I have for an app for children is still in the forefront of my mind.

Digital Innovations workshop.

In December I attended a workshop held by Digital Innovations at The Shed, Manchester. The workshop was designed to help you generate ideas and to open you up to working collaboratively. An example they based the workshop around was how to get more women into tech. We broke down the problem into different sections but tackling gender stereotyping early kept cropping up. There were so many comments on why there are not so many women in tech; not enough role models, not being known as a job for women, not knowing the different types of roles within tech etc. The guy helping facilitate the workshop commented that this actually wasn’t a straight forward example to use as the more we spoke about it, the more it became obvious that it was a ‘wicked problem’. The issues and complications were completely intertwined with gender stereotypes and roles within society covering all stages of life from childhood through to adulthood. Funnily enough, the women outnumbered the men in the workshop and I felt that helped add weight to the issues that hold women back from tech as we were all saying similar things.

At the end of the workshop we were asked to storyboard an app. I found this really helpful and from the workshop have come up with an idea to help open up ambitions for young children. I have tried contacting the Digital Innovations team as it was suggested to contact them and collaborate on ideas (as I have no app making experience). Not heard back as yet, will try again now the holidays are over.