Through the student ambassador role, I applied to work alongside a creative writing lecturer to deliver a two-day workshop based around the Imbolc festival to the year 5 children of Marsden Junior School. It was a fantastic experience which gave me an insight not only to working with this age group but also how to put a picture book together as a collaboration. It was interesting to hear about how the story would be planned and broken down across the twelve spreads. Obviously, this was simplified for the target audience and the children were asked to create a book which consisted of six pages, a front cover and a back cover.

Some participants of the biennial Imbolc festival arrived in full costume and performed a dance between the green man and jack frost. The children were asked about the story and from this they were asked to come up with their own. It did not have to directly relate to the story of Imbolc. We covered creating the protagonist, considering an antagonist, the problem, the drama, the twist, and the solution. I helped with the character building and talked through and problems the children were facing with their story. At the end of the first session they had a six page plan, their character card for their protagonist and were equipped with the knowledge of what they had to consider so they could go away and write their stories ready for the next session.

For the second session, I was asked to deliver a ten minute demonstration of what to consider when designing a book cover and Sara was asked to do the same regarding the blurb on the back. I broke my delivery down to some key elements; simple design, don’t overcrowd and don’t give too much away; use of colour, what it says and what it does; type, leave room for it within the design. I used other picture books to reinforce what I was saying and asked questions to keep the children engaged.

The children were very keen to be hands on in this session and their hard work and enthusiasm was notable. There were a couple of children that were dragging their heels and distracting others but once they had created something of their own they were proud. I noticed how one of the boys was extremely anxious about his drawings, I spent some time with him to help him and to try to break down the idea that things have to look exactly like whatever it is you are drawing. I went through the picture books available to show him how the characters did not look realistic and his drawings were fine as they were.

I came away from the sessions wanting to engage more with this age range and I will make contact with schools once I leave the MA. I do realise that schools are struggling with their budgets at the moment, but after various conversations with people about their children wanting to be involved in more art in their schools or hearing that some teachers don’t deliver art classes, I do think it’s important to make contacts to try to help with this.

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Review Day

Today we held fifteen minute presentations to our peer groups talking through our practice from Practice 1 through to Practice 3. After each presentation we talked our way through the Learning Outcomes to mark ourselves against a traffic light system; Green= working well and are on track; Amber= room for improvement across certain aspects of your practice; Red= there are aspects of concern and need to be addressed over the rest of the unit.

Across the learning outcomes I was marked between green and amber to acknowledge that I was aware that I need to push on with certain areas. I found the feedback interesting. I understand where my work sits and could sit, what it could be seen as and used for, and that I have different aspects to my practice. In relation to demonstrating a coherent body of work, it was suggested again to play with more materials and think about convenience. If I am creating an editorial piece I would not have time to work with clay, at least not to the point of considered ceramics, alternative material could be economical. Again, as one of the ceramic technicians mentioned, the question arose of why I have to follow the ceramic process while making my figures and sculptures if they are purely for display. Why do I have to take my sculptures to the kiln; can I not have materials protruding from the clay; do I have to use underglazes? The truth is, I don’t, I could take advantage of not being a ceramicist and work to the way that suit the needs of my work. Although I do enjoy making the sculptures and would like to invest in a kiln, this could be something that is put aside until after the MA. I wanted to take advantage of the equipment and the knowledge of the ceramic technicians throughout my course but I do see how this could limit the potential of my work if I keep concentrating on the process and rules.

I spoke of how I was worrying that I am spending a lot of time engaging with activities through the University such as the homework Club, workshop assistant roles, applying to exhibit, and establishing connections with peers and tutors who are working or interested in similar subject matter or processes. I believed that this was taking me away from pushing on with my visual language. My peers drew the conclusion that my work and involvement in these projects all connects to my interest and empathy with people and this is a fundamental part of my practice. I should consider this as a role I offer, be it a facilitator to art workshops for children and adults, working with the community to provide art therapy, working with people in regard to communicating their experience, or, providing a connection between people. I have always been dismissive of my role as a hairdresser, however, I can see how this connects with my role as an artist and illustrator due to my connection with people. My peer used the term Visual Anthropologist. This highlighted a contradiction in my personality, I have a desire and an artistic need to connect with people, but I have to be alone to create my work.

I determine myself as an Illustrator yet I am aware that my practice has allowed me to take different paths. This may be due to lack of a better term for myself and it is something to ponder over the duration of the year. I am an illustrator; an artist; a visual communicator; a facilitator; a provocateur. Am I usuing Illustrator as a conveniet umberella?

Going forward I will prioritise my experimentation and scale and set myself deadlines. I need to use my time more efficiently and this may lessen my anxiety if I see myself achieving small targets.


Velvet ungerglaze colour testing

Notes for my personal records of the Amaco Velvet Underglazes. The individual images are of the underglazes unfired. The underglaze was applied on one side with a sponge and wiped off and applied again to test textures and on the underside the underglaze was applied with a brush and multiple layers of glaze was applied to one half of the clay to test opacity. The collective images are colours after firing. All are unglazed which is supposed to intensify the colours even more.

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Images of wall charts are taken from the glaze and oxide induction and are of various clays with oxides and glazes applied and fired.

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Tittymama has Spectrum Underglaze applied and fired. I decided to paint over this with the Amaco Velvets and fire again. I prefer the look of the Amaco and the texture of the figure after firing twice has changed and looks more worn.

spectrum:velvets:fired 2






Professional Platforms – Week 8

December 18th my last Monday and was the week before the Christmas break and the first week of specialism. During the assessment period the students were asked what area they would like to specialise even though the college is very keen to allow students to branch out and either do different projects from different specialisms via their own specialism or for them to seek tutorials from tutors of other specialism. The tutors are wanting to give student creative freedom.

The Visual Communications specialism delivered a brief to create a quick zine telling everyone something about yourself that people wouldn’t necessarily know. Students spoke of different things like hobbies and clubs they were involved in, unusual collections they had in their home, and things they collected. At the end of the three sessions they were to have their zine printed and for it to go on display in the studio. The point of this quick brief was to give the student a deeper understanding of what constitutes as a zine; how they can be presented and what form they can take; what they can include or address; to allow them to consider presentation, layout, and print; for them to feel they have accomplished something by seeing their work transform and go to print; for them to be prepared by considering all the components to compose a zine and take this forward and engage with a three-week Zine project at the beginning of next term.

I feel like I shouldn’t have been available for this session. December is a very tiring month with my workload doubling and juggling this as well as university, placement and very few days off I had hit a wall and could not give 100%. I should have predicted this and felt disappointed with myself and my performance. I will hopefully make up for this throughout the year as I plan to engage with the students again mid-way through their specialism to see how they have developed and again when it comes to the writing their FMP proposal and again for their exhibition. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the tutors and students of the college and believe I have gained an insight to what is expected of you as a tutor, the pressures and problems that come along with the job role, and more importantly I have appreciated being able to work with students that are producing meaningful and engaging work.



Tittymama workshops

I had been sending emails to numerous organisations and groups and posting on social media trying to connect with women and encourage them to create their presence among the Tittymama Army. I received a message from an Art and Design Foundation Diploma student of MMU asking if we could meet after seeing my post on MMU Feminist Society and we arranged a workshop for the Tuesday the following week. Three students of the course met with me in the MA studio where we sat for an hour and a half building our figures. The students were all around 18 years old and freely spoke of their experience in society. One felt she had issues with the way her facial features looked and felt this along her being slender she created a bird-like sculpture. This was surprising as I really did not see the her like this. I am aware that I cam using the pronoun, her, and this may be incorrect. The student mentioned being LGBTQIA+ but I felt it was not appropriate for me to ask them to elaborate on this, I wanted the contributors to divulge only what they were comfortable with; therefore me using this pronoun is my own assumption. She also spoke of how she was challenging gender issues in her work for her course by filming and documenting men carrying out routines and actions that are typically expected of females. I would be interested to see her project once it is completed. She spoke of how difficult the males around her have found it when some are highly protective of their masculinity. The other students both spoke of their battles with eating disorders and other mental health issues such as anxiety. One mentioned some body positive role models she follows on social media and how these have had a positive impact on how she sees herself and how she feels that she is at the stage where she is willing to go and speak about the issues with her doctor to see if she can be referred for help. The other student mentioned as well as suffering with Bulimia she was LGBTQIA+ and was unable to tell her guardians this as they would not understand. Her anxiety and Bulimia is high at the moment, she didn’t feel ready to speak to someone about it. She did not eat any cake that was brought to the workshop. Simpler issues were spoken about (if that is the correct phrase to use), for example, questioning the removal of body hair, promiscuity, make up expectations, breasts being different sizes, etc. All agreed that they felt it was harder to dismantle stereotypes and expectations with older generations and the younger generations were a bit more accepting of people for who they are although there is still an issue of toxic masculinity and protecting this is the root of the issues that people are facing.

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After posting the images from the workshop on social media a friend asked if I would hold another short workshop a couple of days later. I made some quick and simple posters to present in the lift of the art school and shared the poster online. Three MA students come along to build their presence and others got involved during the session or came over to see what the workshop was about and talk about it. I am hoping this will be more of a successful way of connecting with people. I am sensing that it is a sensitive, and very big issue, that people may be wary of being involved, feel like it is too miserable a subject, or feel it is offensive that I am trying to reach out to people of colour and people with disabilities. Where I am trying to be inclusive, I fully understand that calling out to people could be offensive. It may be best that people become connected through seeing people engage with the workshops.

I found the second workshop a little slower to engage in conversation about the issues the army is addressing. When people did open up, reoccurring issues were spoken about such as body image and not having mirrors in the bedroom, dress sizes, family tensions, not believing in marriage and how it isn’t necessary, sexual harassment and cat-calling from a very young age, being reduced down to breasts, to trying to promote the acceptance of small breasts. Although the workshops were in themselves overall quite cheerful despite the content, the sorrowful situation was that all the experiences were not shocking, I could either relate to them myself or they were an experience I have known others to have experience or I have read about people documenting the same experiences. This is also part of the purpose of the workshops, it’s the community, it’s the conversation, it’s the power in numbers that can help you realise that it’s not just you who feels this way.

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Professional Platforms – Week 7

It was the second week of assessment this week. I spent most of the day observing how the tutors went about getting the most out of the students. A lot happens through the conversation as it seems they are still unsure what is expected of them. A lot of them say more than what they have written in their sketchbooks so they are advised to add this to their evaluations. I was surprised by the work of a student I felt was very reluctant to speak to me much during the Protest and Survive project. I believe this now has a lot to do with her confidence. Her work involved LGBTQIA issues and were very deliberate with her approach. The photographs were interesting and her point was obvious and effective. She had considered colour and composition, and shape well. Her slant on the body project was also very interesting and different to what I had come across. It seemed like she did not regard her work being of a high standard and was a little dismissive of her photography experiments, I felt she communicated very well.

Another of the students I sat in on for assessment was a student I had already talked with about her anxiety issues and a previous attempt at University. She was working at a high standard in her Textile practice; I would say high Merit/Distinction. She explored texture through her work and on one project was designing a skirt that represented the cells of breast cancer. She was working with this awful disease by trying to make something beautiful and raise awareness in that way. She was also experimenting trying to make a belt using cell and growth like forms that she had researched. She was anxious about moving away and wanted to apply to a University she could commute too. She seemed to touch on various feminist issues with her work and yet interestingly, she did not connect with feminism and was quite averse to it. I believe she stands a good chance of being called to interview for the Universities she applies to. She is meticulous in her annotation and evaluation and shows potential practically. She is also unsure as to apply for Fine Art or Textiles and I think it would be interesting if she had a foot in each park.

I gave my consent forms to the students whose work I had photographed and those I have been involved with throughout assessment.


Professional Platforms – Week 6

Assessment began today and it runs for the next two weeks up until Christmas. The bus strikes effected the attendance again today but you recognise the same faces who make it in regardless. Today was a brilliant opportunity for me to catch up with the students and see their body of work. I was hugely impressed with their level of commitment, their willingness to experiment and their genuine interest in their chosen issues, as well as the social environment around them. I could constantly hear discussions going on with the group engaging in talks about the news and the Scandinavian way of life and their attitude to equality. I also had to opportunity to be shown the work of students on other elective projects such as Textiles and Fine Art. I am overall impressed with the amount of work produced. As you can expect, there was the odd student who didn’t turn up with all of their work or students who talk about what they are going to do next, but obviously they can not be marked for this. I found it invaluable to experience how the tutors deal with different students. There are some who experience difficulties with communication and have different ways of processing information. The students were made aware of the support that was available to them such as help with dyslexia and mental health support. They were also notified that there are other ways of documenting if writing is proving difficult. If it is more effective for them to document by recording themselves speak either by recording or by filming, that is acceptable. It is better than having it all stored up in their heads but not having anything to produce for the tutors and eventually, the external examiner.

I found it challenging to engage with a couple of the students, possibly down to my inexperience. One never really wants to show me anything and doesn’t really speak much. I can tell by the sketchbook evaluations that this student is very intelligent but I find it difficult to read the student. I am unsure whether they know they are intelligent and know what is expected of them so they give enough to demonstrate this but there is a lack of enthusiasm, or even interest. This also could be down to the fact they are shy and introverted and I am misinterpreting them. Another was finding it extremely difficult to cope with being told they had not done enough. They struggled to break down what has just been asked of them to compose an action plan of what was needed from them over the next two weeks. All the student could focus on was that they had not done enough and they had missed so much out. I’m not sure why they did not engage with the process that we had walked them through during the Monday sessions but now they were finding it difficult to go back and fill in the gaps. They had not done any artist research or evaluations and when I suggested going and sourcing some artists to look at or artists that work with the same materials they had used, they were reluctant to. They said it didn’t feel genuine. They wanted to use the time to collate a list of things they needed to do and that was all they could focus on at the moment.

I spoke with a couple of the students who were very open and honest about their life experience and their dealing with anxiety and the support they needed, and also how some were dealing with mental health issues within their work and how they were finding it therapeutic while they hoped to help people deal with their own issues through their work. I found their openness very positive and hopefully as each generation comes through, the stigma will lessen and it will be as accepted to talk about these issues as it is physical health issues and health care will be just easy to access.


I spoke with Jason and Jennie about being involved with the course throughout the year and beyond my expected time-frame. I will either come in throughout the middle of the course and again at the end or possibly a week every month, we will work it round the timetable of the next few projects and their FMP. It is mutually beneficial to me and the students and I would like to experience the change in the students as they settle into specialism and their confidence grows. I would also like to be involved in the proposal for their FMP and the end of year show.


Tutorial with Clinton

I signed up for a tutorial with Clinton as I have not spoken to him about my work in a while. I was wanting to speak to him about my concerns with my negotiated professional platform and make sure I am hitting the points I need to as well as asking him if it is OK to use some of my MA time to deviate away from the context of gender and test whether I can illustrate with clay and deliver to an editorial or publishing context.

We began by talking about the Tittymama army and how he felt that I was having an interesting discussion around my Pecha Kucha. After going through the issues mentioned on the day, it became apparent that the experience was not as negative as I came away feeling. I can use the suggestions to defend and determine my work and own it. We spoke about how I felt I was not delivering the Tittymamas to an audience but giving the women they represented a space deliberately not considering the audience. If the piece is responding to how we are seen, it is contradictory to design the piece around the people who are looking at it. The event of coming together, of collaborating, of giving people a voice and the space they are entitled to is what it is about. I am being put in touch with Sarah Lawton whose practice is based around collaboration ans Helen Felcey who is helping preserve ceramic workshop spaces and working to bring people to the institutions that still have workshops in use. I mentioned how I felt like I had hit a wall with the project as I was reaching out to people and asking for people to come together or share experience and was not really getting anyone latch on to the idea apart from white women. I said I felt that this was not the way I wanted to go with the project. He suggested that the project has to start somewhere even if I can not get anyone to physically turn up and join in. He also mentioned maybe not focussing on the project as an art or craft project as people may feel that there had to be a certain level of skill involved. Or maybe I could test homemade playdough recipes that people could make their models out of and photograph them and send them to me so I have an archive, a record of dialogue. I had not originally thought that this could be a barrier to interaction, if people do not feel they are artists, why would they feel they were able to contribute? It was also mentioned how I could test different patterns and uses of colour of different ethnicities and religions to represent a part of the community to put onto the figures. When discussing the possibility of offending people by asking to speak to people, Clinton thought that it might be beneficial to speak with different communities but acknowledge that it could provoke difficult reactions and discussions but progress can’t be made by having no dialogue at all. I will contact some of the societies and communities within the university and try. It seems that there is some possibility with the project yet and all options haven’t been exhausted.


I addressed the worries I am having about employability after I leave and how I don’t want to be making work just to tick boxes for my MA. I told him I was worried after my pecha kucha and after the AOI talk that my work, and myself, could be interpreted as negative and therefore I will put off many commissioners. He said he finds the work humourous and it illustrated people and the absurdity of gender expectations and if I concentrate on my visual language, including my image making before branching out to clay, clients will source me out. People who want my work purely for aesthetic reasons and can see the work in a different context, and those who are looking for that deeper, more investigative work rather than work purely for decoration. I could also find funding to work with communities and within the cultural sector. If I have something to say, I should not really sacrifice that to work for anyone; I should keep my integrity and people will value that. I asked whether it would be OK for me to take time away and experiment with clay to see if I can use it for other areas of illustration that I am interested in working with and he said definitely. I should see it as a drawing tool. My work will have to be seen in 2D form. Illustration is largely about being able to reproduce an image and disseminate. My work will only be viewed by a handful of people if it is always in a gallery setting. Where that is an option, it would be good to play with how the images look after photographing them, drawing over them, making prints of them, drawing from them; pushing them as far as they can go.


For professional platforms, I need to fill out the negotiated option form and send it over to him. I need to document everything I can and keep up with the blog. Use what I have got to show I could produce a lesson plan on my own due to the experience I have gained and the professional insight and reality of working in an educational institution. It would be beneficial if I could have visual evidence but there will be some ethical issues. I will have to receive parental consent to take photos of workshops or ask for the tutor to take the images for me and cover this my getting his consent. I could also take photographs of the students work with their permission and credit them. It seems there will be enough for me to go on.


Professional Platforms- Week 5.

This week saw the launch of the final brief of Protest and Survive where the students had to choose an issue that was local to them and define what they saw as local. We decided to give them a structure to work to throughout the day as this week they have three days to deliver their final outcome and last week they took linger to arrive at being fully prepared to make their work. They were directed to choose their issue, which some already had over the weekend, to then spend half an hour researching, and then they were asked to again consider their feelings, the mode, the audience, type and text, colour, and imagery.

Some similar issues such as homelessness, and animal cruelty, arose again where some issues relating to the issues addressed in previous work were being investigated; such as fracking on Hilbre, recycling, loss of green space, and the farming industry and animal husbandry. The same students seem to be the ones who are willing to battle with their work, talk to me about it, and consider different approaches to their pieces based on what they have done before. You can see the ideas being frantically written down and the debates going on with themselves and the evaluating of their previous protests. Some deliberately wanted to try something different, like a more subtle campaign or an awareness campaign rather than an angry piece. One student wanted to celebrate the green space that was about to be lost due to a road being proposed to access the new football stadium on King’s Dock, however, the more she thought about how she felt and when she evaluated her word and image associations, she noticed that her tone of voice was angry. What I have found inspirational is just how many of the students genuinely care about the current issues in society and how well connected they are. They don’t all live in a bubble which I think is sometimes expected of them. I am also delighted with how most are really considering what visual language and media will be best suited to the message, not sticking to what they know and what has previously worked for them.

We had time today to ask them to go and find two pieces of protest work that they believed were successful and evaluate them and determine what made them communicate well. They were encouraged to look through books I had brought it (on the Guerilla Girls work and their experience, Guerilla Art considering placement and context, and Poster Masters, demonstrating strong compositions, colour choice and a variety of purposes), and other books regarding protest, social commentary, and brief responses. I feel they found this useful to open up their ideas even further and to be able to validate their ideas as possibilities.

The next two weeks are for assessment. I will be allowed to sit in on some of the assessments with the tutors, see how the different tutors deliver their assessments and to also help prepare they students, making sure they have everything they need in their portfolio to date and give them a nudge on what they need to complete or include in time. After the assessment will be the start of the specialism. The students who select the Visual Communication specialism will be given three weeks to compose a zine to submit to Nexus cafe in Manchester. The skills they will acquire will be thinking about type, the layout and accessibility of a zine, the editing and composing process of putting a zine together including making mock-ups and digitally putting their zine together and simple bookbinding.