Episode 35 – Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, and the Sunderland Museum

For this week’s episode the girls went along to Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens to check out the Da Vinci drawings, but we were blown away by other exhibitions that were available to see as well! Specifically we loved the body of work by Andrew Tift called ‘One Day You’ll Be Older Too’, which was commissioned by the museum and features remarkably realistic hand-drawn portraits of local care home residents and their stories.

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Exhibition runs until 6th May 2019, cost is £2.50 (or free for under 16s).

More information about the Da Vinci drawings and ‘One Day You’ll Be Older Too’.

Location: Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens

Opening times: Monday-Tuesday, 10:00 – 15:00, Wednesday-Thursday 10:00 – 19:00, Friday-Saturday 10:00 – 17:00, Sunday 12:00 – 16:00

Exhibition Further Thoughts: using a 100-year-old camera

Hey there, Alice here. As you all may or may not know I am an avid photographer, and my main medium is that of analogue photography. Now, a lot of the analogue cameras you may have seen look pretty recognisable, like compact cameras, disposable cameras and slrs, however they didn’t start out like this. After seeing the subject of this week’s episode ‘No Man’s War’ at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, and an old Kodak Vest Pocket Camera in a display cabinet, I was inspired to write a little bit about using the oldest camera I own.

So this camera is a Kodak Brownie No.2, and it’s literally a cardboard box with a spring shutter and a couple of bits of glass/plastic. This model in particular hails from all the way back in 1917 (ish), which coincides with the First World War and the subject of much of the exhibition. Back in the day this type of camera was the everyday camera for families, much like the disposable camera. When you shot a roll of film with this camera you’d just take the whole thing back to the shop, and they would take the film out, develop it, print it and load up a new roll of film, making it ready to use immediately.

Despite its age and ridiculously simple design (its very much the definition of a point-and-shoot camera, there’s nothing by way of settings or adjustments to make), the photos this camera makes can be pretty amazing. A quirk the images have is a really sharp centre, however the edges can be pretty blurred, which I imagine is because of the quality of the super old lens. The negatives you get from this camera are also pretty ridiculous in how big they are: a whopping 6x9cm. To see the comparison between this size and 35mm film, here’s this handy-dandy diagram.

One of the main reasons I fell in love with shooting film was the fun you can have trying out old cameras like this, the ones that you don’t really see anything like anymore. Also you can find them for real cheap on eBay so that’s always a plus!

I hope you liked this little look into my little world of photography, and if you’re thinking of taking up film photography I’d really recommend having a go of a box camera like this – it’s so much fun!

-Alice

Episode 34 – No Man’s Land

For this week’s episode the girls went on down to Bishop Auckland to check out the fantastic touring exhibition ‘No Man’s Land’ currently showing at the Town Hall. It’s a wonderful mix of historic photography taken by women on the front lines of WWI across Europe, and some more contemporary pieces by female artists. It was honestly an awesome visit and we’d wholly recommend it!

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

Exhibition runs until 6th April.

More information: here.

Location: Bishop Auckland Town Hall

Opening times: Monday 10:00-18:00, Tuesday 10:00-17:00, Wednesday 10:00-13:00, Thursday 10:00-18:00, Friday 10:00-17:00, Saturday 09:30-12:30.

Also here’s a link to the Auckland Project: https://www.aucklandproject.org. There’s a lot going on in Bishop Auckland in the next year or so so it’s perfect time to go and check it out!

Episode 33 – Digital Citizen: The Precarious Subject

For this week’s episode the girls went on down to the BALTIC to check out ‘Digital Citizen – The Precarious Subject’. It’s an expansive exhibition by several contemporary artists that takes a look at what it means to be a citizen of the world in this digital era.

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

// https://soundcloud.com/user-991312750/episode-33

Exhibition runs until 16th June 2019.

More information: here.

Location: BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Opening times: Monday – Sunday, 10:00 – 18:00

Field Trip No.1 – Living with Buildings at the Wellcome Collection

For this weeks episode the girls talk about that time they went to London in January, and when they went to go see ‘Living with Buildings’ at the Wellcome Collection. It’s an extensive exhibition that takes a look at the history of design and scientific input when it comes to the places we live and how they affect us physically and mentally – it was super interesting!

(Don’t forget we’re also on iTunes!)

Find out more information about the exhibition here.

Location: Wellcome Collection (it’s all the way down in London)

Exhibition on until 3rd March 2019.

Opening times: Tuesday-Wednesday 10:00 – 18:00, Thursday 10:00 – 22:00, Friday – Sunday 10:00 – 18:00.

Further Thoughts: The Naked Portrait and Life Drawing

This week, myself and Alice discussed our experiences at ‘The Naked Portrait’ currently at the Laing. We would really recommend giving it a visit using the discount on their Facebook page!) and if you haven’t heard our thoughts you can give it a listen here.

In its exploration of the difference between ‘naked’ and ‘nude’ the exhibition included some examples of life drawing that I found to be truly mesmerising. During all of my education I was never given the opportunity to try life drawing (absolutely shocking for an art student) and so this is something I chose to pursue after I had graduated. I love the act of studying the human form and feel it has improved my observation skills and my decisive mark making, i.e the ability to make a bold mark on a page with confidence.

Even more importantly, my weekly life drawing classes are like therapy. For 3 hours a week I sit in a room and think only about the model and the paper in front of me. I liken the experience to meditation.

I feel this is something that anyone who enjoys drawing should try! whether you identify as an artist or not, life drawing can help you build an arsenal of skills that you will use beyond drawing the human form. Its also fun to spend some time in the presence of nudity without sexual connotations that are now common place in society today – something which can be a little strange at first but that I now find quite liberating.

As always, I would like to take this opportunity to reinforce the idea that there are no rights or wrongs in art – and life drawing is no exception! Even if you are in a room full of other people drawing the same subject, a prospect that can be quite intimidating, what you see will be different to everyone else. Your artistic eye and style will shine through in whatever you do, but more literally your viewpoint of the sitter will be slightly different and therefore so will your artwork. If you find yourself in a class will many other artists it can be very inspiring to see what everyone else produces and see how they have managed to capture the model from their vantage point.

I enjoy using colour to abstract my work. I also find something highly satisfying about ‘half finished’ pieces in which some sections of the body are highly detailed and others are left as an outline:

Soft Pastel

How to find the life drawing class that works for you:

There are a few options out there so all you need to do is consider the price, frequency, time, style and travel/distance evolved. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can sign up to courses that last multiple weeks or sessions that run on a week-by-week basis. to save you some googling I have compiled a few examples that may be appealing to you. But remember, there are plenty more out there (for example if you are part of a university the arts society may run life drawing classes).

Cobalt Studios:
If you’re after a low-key life drawing experience, Cobalt Studios might be the one for you! Each evening promises to offer a slightly different experience but good music and art is a garment. This is a self lead experience with no teacher, but feel free to reach out to your classmates for advice and feedback! You will need to bring your own materials and sketchbook but boards and paper is provided.
http://www.cobaltstudios.co.uk/event/lifedrawing-tickets-247259

Local Council Adult Learning:
Local councils have an obligation to make sure that all of their citizens have access to learning opportunities and usually have a selection of courses available. Legally they must provide at least Maths and English level 2, but many also offer leisure courses (depending on the local council in question). Since graduating university I have completed courses in ceramics, creative writing and life drawing all of which were offered by my local council’s adult learning programme. I feel it is vitally important to use these services while they are here as, with government cuts to both education and the arts, they may not be around for much longer! By enrolling on these courses we are proving that they are valued and important and give the council a reason to keep them running! There are often discounts available too which are worth checking out!
Below I have included the websites to some local council websites so that you can have a look at the prospectuses and spy any arts courses that you may be interested in.
North Tyneside: https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/225/finding-right-course
Newcastle: http://www.newcastlecitylearning.ac.uk/
Sunderland: https://www.sunderland.gov.uk/article/12113/Libraries-museums-events
Middlesbrough: http://www.mcls.ac.uk/art.html

Newcastle Arts Centre:
Newcastle Arts Centre host a variety of different art classes. Their life drawing workshop spans over 4 days and all of the materials are provided. All abilities are welcome and the classes appear to be very structured, so if this is the work environment you could benefit from go check it out!
https://www.newcastle-arts-centre.co.uk/product/life-drawing-2019/

The Lit & Phil:
The Lit & Phil is an independent library in Newcastle, housing over 170,000 books, making it the largest independent outside of London. However this institution is so much more than a library; it is also a historic building, a meeting place, office, theatre, lecture hall, jazz venue, performance space and, a classroom! Classes, including life drawing are offered here so check out their website to see how you can get involved. As the Lit & Phil is independent this could be an amazing way to support one of Newcastle’s coolest venues and learning institutions.
http://www.litandphil.org.uk/whats-on/2018/apr/life-drawing/

…………

When signing up for life drawing, try not to worry too much about finding a course that is specifically for ‘beginners’ (or the level that you feel you are at), as life drawing is something that even the most experienced art master would need to practice throughout their art career. I would however suggest that if you have never done life drawing before that you choose a course that has a tutor as they will be able to provide you with some art theory and techniques to get you started.

These are just a few examples of the numorous classes that are out there!

I hope this helps you in your search for art classes or perhaps even inspires you to consider taking one if you hadn’t considered it before.

-Rosie Stronach

Episode 31 – The Naked Portrait at the Laing

This week the girls went on down to the Laing Art Gallery to catch the amazing ‘The Naked Portrait’ before it closes in March. It explores what it means to be ‘naked’ and how that can be represented across a huge range of mediums and styles.

You can get 20% off of the entry ticket on Wednesdays and Thursdays during February by following this link. Alternatively just check out the Laing’s Facebook page and find the offer.

(Don’t forget, we’re also in iTunes)

Find out more information about the exhibition: here.

Exhibition runs until 3rd March.

Location: Laing Art Gallery

Opening Times: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 – 17:00, Sunday 14:00 – 17:00.

(Poetry shout out: You Have to Glow to Grow; Spilling the ink from my heart https://growingandglowing104424909.wordpress.com/ )

Meet the Medium: Film Photography

Hey hey, Alice here! Inspired by this week’s episode where we went along to Side Gallery in Newcastle to check out J A Mortram’s poignant and emotional photography exhibition, ‘Small Town Inertia’, I thought I’d introduce some of you to the world of film photography.

This is my main medium; a large part of my degree was photography, however it took me until my final year to delve into using film. This is probably for the best because given the nature of film: you’re not able to check your shot immediately, you’re restricted to a certain number of shots per roll of film, and you don’t necessarily have a lot of range when it comes to editing, so I’m glad I actually learned how to take and compose images first.

Here’s some stuff:

This is an example of a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera, and is one I’m currently trying out. IT’s a Zenit 11 which is one of the many Soviet-made cameras from the 60s which I managed to get on eBay in surprisingly good nick. This works pretty much the same as a DSLR today, but instead of having a screen to view your settings and images you need to load it with film, for which there is a tonne to choose from, and take generally no more than 36 with a single roll.

This is a roll of 35mm film which you could use in the above camera. In particular it’s a roll of Lomography 100 which is a colour negative film and currently my fave – it’s pretty cheap and the colours you get from it are just fab. Colour negative film means that when it’s developed (which you can still do at Max Spielmann’s for cheap-ish) the colours are inverted. If you were to to print them in a darkroom or scan them using dedicated software the colours will invert, giving you a positive image.

Here’s some pictures I’ve taken using this film:

This is an example of a medium format film, so named because it’s in between ‘small format’ (35mm cameras) and large format (4×5 and upwards – this is v expensive so I haven’t tried any of these one). For pretty much all medium format films you you 120 film, which is rolled onto a spool with a paper backing rather than into a light-tight canister. As such the frames can be a range of different sizes (not the uniform size of 35mm). The camera in this photo is an Agfa Isolette which I managed to get on eBay for a fiver, and it’s from all the way back in 1953  – it works amazingly despite its age! When using 120 film you get square photos (6×6), and take 12 shots per roll of film.

Sometimes these older cameras and more simple ones have no way of interpreting what the light is like, and therefore what the setting should be to get a correctly exposed image (this is obvi pretty simple to do on DSLRs and things like mobile phone cameras do it automatically). As such light meters exist, and far more modern, accurate and digital ones exist but this is my trusty Weston light meter (also from the 1950s I think?) You simply tell the light meter what the speed of your film is (like the ISO of digital cameras), point it at the thing you’re taking a photo of, and the meter will give you an indication of the apertures and shutter speeds you could use to make the photo.

Here’s a few photos I’ve taken with this camera:

There’s so much to say about photography and film general that this could turn into a small book real fast, so I might do another one of these sometime in the future. Thanks for having a read, and I’ll shamelessly plug my instagram (@alicethetriplet) so you can have a look and some of the things I’ve managed to make with film.

-Alice

Episode 30 – Small Town Inertia by J A Mortram

This week the girls have a chat about J A Mortram’s very poignant photography exhibition, Small Town Inertia, currently showing at Side Gallery in Newcastle. The photos explore the everyday lives of Mortram’s friends and neighbours, showing how their lives are severely impacted in this era of austerity cuts and governmental neglect.

Check out J A Mortram’s website here.

Find out some more information about the exhibition here.

Location: Side Gallery

Opening times: Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00 – 17:00