Moving onward

I’ve realised that it has been almost a year since I have been out with any camera other than the one on my phone.

It has also been a while, almost six months, since I seriously worked on any of my projects.

There have been personal reasons for this but I feel that I’m now on the other side of the worst of these problems and I’m now able to invest time back into my art/photography and other projects.

I’ve started having ideas for new projects whilst having thoughts of improving/advancing existing projects.

With this in mind I’m going to work through my image archive with a far more critical eye than previously, if an image doesn’t fit an idea either aesthetically of lyrically it will be archived on another storage device for future though/use (unless it is a complete bag of then it’s binned).

Projects I’m working on at the moment are:

Prayers of Steel

A collection of found photographs of The Angel of the North, with the words of the original posts on various social media sites included.

These are then transformed into various objects to showcase the position that the statue has gained in the psychogeography of the North of England.

In 2018 it is the 20th anniversary of the sculptures completion and I will be producing a book of these images to coincide with that anniversary.

‘Barriers’

This is a working title at the moment, the images are images of hot house plants in various botanical gardens in the temperate North struggling to escape their confinement with no consequence to their ultimate demise if they left that protected area.

Desire

Again another working title, looking at desire lines/paths in urban and rural areas, made by humans and animals.

Drowning not waving

    Amazing how many working titles I have at the moment, this series of images are of found gloves related to the fishing industry.

    Busy few weeks

    These last few weeks have all been a bit of a rush.

    First thing I did was to get myself a job in 6 days from application to accepting, not only does this help fund things, but is a traditional job for a struggling artist, a barista.

    This is a good job in that it leaves my mind free to worry about my art rather than the job, but it is physically demanding in a way I have forgotten. So I am often too tired to work on anything though this is improving as my level of physical fitness improves.

    Also my story with The Bowes Museum continues. I was upset that due to taking on the new job I wouldn’t have the time to continue with my voluntary work there. Then about two weeks ago I saw an invitation for applicants to work with Bowes and the University of Leeds for a doctoral research project.

    Therefore these last two weeks have been spent working away at the document required to apply for the position and I’m now in the stages of polishing it up and getting ready to send it in. This process was made the more difficult to my continuously questioning my ability or right to be doing this.

    I have also decided to add a gallery of all my images to this blog, but still not sure in which format to do this in, so you may see changes every now and then to the way I present the gallery, but I want to get all my work up eventually.

    Prayers of Steel

    Though I’ve been taking photographs since the early 80s I had never really considered myself as an artist as I’m completely self-taught with no formal art background.

    I have had some of my work exhibited in a group exhibition in Palace Arts, Redcar in 2015. This was due to the encouragement from Mark and Nel who run the gallery and are very friendly and supportive.

    I’ve got to admit that this was me playing safe and submitting aesthetically attractive images of an area local to the gallery as I am very unsure of my skills, but more so unsure of my right to be an artist.

    I had also just finished my Art History degree with the Open University and started feeling more and more confident about my place within an artistic context, understanding where I was coming from artistically.

    This moment of exhibiting as I completed my degree I saw as a punctum, a turning point and I became more confident, both in my ability to produce/make/realise art and in my right to do so.

    Most of my art is still photographically based; whether working with my own images using various processes from cyanotype to digital projection, or working with found images from various sources.

    I had been mumbling on with various projects and practices over the years without anything coming to fruition and with my confidence boosted I proposed entering ‘Prayers of Steel’ into a group exhibition on the theme of Steel at Palace Arts, Redcar.

    A collection of found images from social media, printed out as 6″x4″ ‘snaps’ with the comment from the original poster written on the back in pencil. Arranged in a 110cmx110cm plastic ‘curtain’.

    This is an ongoing project which will be realised in book form (which can be found on Tumblr) for the 20th anniversary of the erection of The Angel of the North in 2018.

    This all happened during a life-changing event where I had to re-assess my priorities. So I am now a struggling artist who is supporting himself with barista work 😉 how clichéd.

    My site can be found at www.stephenbaird.co.uk a journal/blog/notebook being developed which will show developing projects and my thoughts and ideas.

    Tumblr for Prayers of Steel: prayersofsteel.tumblr.com

    Edinburgh Castle

    Another note from my iPhone.

    I am in Edinburgh for the weekend working, this will be the first time I’ve been alone in Edinburgh for coming on 30 years.

    I did the tourist walk; along the West End, up Lothian Road, through the Meadows down South Bridges, the Royal Mile up to the Castle and then back to the hotel.

    Strange emotions, strange seeing the place again after so many years of popping up for family visits without really visiting the city.

    The walk gave me ideas for another series of photographs, but these are Edinburgh centric and will take a while to compose and collect.

    ‘Sins of the Father’ first two notes are places I saw my dad coming out of:

       
     
    the Western Bar has been there forever and doesn’t seem to have changed much, but the Bingo Hall used to be Edinburgh’s ‘adult’ cinema.

    This is a start and how much of this I go into is still to be decided.

    Starting out

    Just starting out this journal for my work and other artistic ventures.

    Whilst thinking about this journal as a notebook and place to collect materials I realised I’ve been making most of my work with my iPhone. This is written, photographs and research; all has been done on the mobile device.

    I think it’s the convenience of the mobile device which makes all those tasks immediate and linked, it has almost become an electronic extension of my thought process.

    Ideas can be noted down, sketched, photographed, networked and then all brought together in one place such as this journal. This process can be interrupted, disjointed and chaotic as the outcome can always be edited: and then edited until content and the original is always there to go back to if mistakes are made.

    So his journal will see my notes, thoughts, sketches, experiments and collections of others thoughts, ideas and inspirations and there may be a gem occasionally that could help and inspire others.

    Essence of the North

    Curlew
    Curlew

    What is the “Essence of the North?”

    That is what is being asked by The Northerner Blog in the Guardian today. They are asking for contributors to post an image that captures the essence of the North.

    Whose North? There is always the chocolate box image of Dales and Moors, unbroken wilderness, apart from James Herriot careening across them in his old car. Hills and lakes, unspoilt beaches and little stone villages shimmering in the sunset.

    Townies
    Townies

    There is the Christian North, the North of Cathedrals, Saints and Holy Islands. Pilgrimages across the land, fleeing from Viking pillagers, writing works of illuminated art and deciding the way forward for the catholic church.

    Or there is the smashed North, the North of Thatcher’s cruelty and industrial decline. A once proud heritage of steel and chemical works, pit villages, ship building and union activity. The Jarrow marchers and Quaker sensibilities. The first locomotives and the crucible of Britain’s industrial revolution.

    Book of Kells
    Book of Kells

    The North I know is an area where people live in great diversity and try to get on with their lives, but has time to commission some of the best public art in the country and has made a feature of regeneration through art projects such as The Sage, The Baltic, Temenos, Hepworth Gallery and The Angel of the North. This large scale development mixes well with the industrial heritage of the area and sits well, all of the above is the North I know and to try and distill an essence is not really needed, just celebrate it all, in images, words and imagination.