Last Day

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Well how time flies! We all met up today for the last time to finish our work and get it printed and the bound! I think it looks quite nice bound, more professional. We all had extra bits to write for the proposal, mine as on events we’d put on with the exhibition and future ideas if the exhibition were to go ahead. The reflective report was quite hard to write as I could have easily gone way over the word count, I think I’ve managed to include the key area’s though.
I came up with the name of the exhibition, I think its quite good, I’m proud of it haha

Overall, even though my placement turned out completely different to how I expected it too, I did enjoy it and its actually developed more skills than I thought it to. In hindsight I am actually glad it wasn’t all plain sailing and its made me realise that you do get thrown in at the deep end with work and you just have to power through.

Its also not deterred me from wanting to pursue this as a career!!!!

 

P.S. Whoever has been reading this blog, thank you very much!

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Countdown begins

Well we had our meeting with John the other week and well he dropped the bombshell that there’s going to be no exhibtion. Why on earth did he think it was okay to make us plan for this as though we were actually going to produce something. We wasted so much time trying to get copyrights for our photos and now it doesn’t even matter because we’re only making an exhibition proposal! I’m so annoyed.

But

silver linings and all that, so let’s think of the positives. Well pressure is off a bit at least, not a mad rush to print everything etc. plus it means we can talk hypothetically about all our ideas and plans that we could do. So we arranged a meeting with Louise from Special Collections at MMU and she gave us some really good feedback and advice about what we have written so far. In fact I would go as far to say she was more help in that 45 minutes than John has been all year. The fact he had another meeting on at the same time as our meeting really annoyed me too, it’s just rude to both parties involved.

So now we’ve got like two and half weeks to put this exhibition proposal together!! (And I’ve got another essay and a source analysis due at the same time too, fantastic)

Finally pulled my socks up

Typing this post of my new iPad, woo! (Thankyou MMU for your lovely bursary)

Right so we did the presentations on Tuesday and it went really well! We were all nervous beforehand and once other groups had started presenting their power points we were just like “Crap, ours is nothing like theirs” but it was pointless worrying because it went well and our lecturer liked it! I think it’s just human nature to be nervous and compare yourself to others.

i really enjoyed listening to the other groups because we haven’t seen each other in so long, none of us knew what each other was doing on their placements. From listening to them speak, a few things have become clearer and it seems that some problems we face at Gaskell House appear to be universal:

1) everyone seems to have trouble contacting their mentor. I’m fact from listening to one group talk I think we’ve been quite lucky.

2) Content changes. Half the groups signed up thinking they were doing one thing and ended up doing something completely different. So everyone has been pushed back and suffered delays with their research.

Does all this make me feel better about my placement? Yes, but the whole thing has to be done in about 6 weeks so the pressure is on. I finally finished writing my piece this week, I’ll redraft next week. I’ve chosen my photo’s too, we said 10 but I’ve chosen 14 that I find most interesting and then I guess Gaskell House will have the final say in which ones would be most appropriate.

We arranged another meeting with our mentor, again it’s at his flat but we feel a lot safer this time plus it’ll be better to meet him in a quiet place and we’re planning to print off our written piece and the photo’s and lay them out on the table so he can tear our work to shreds. (Hopefully he won’t but you never know with this one). One thing we really need to clear up at this meeting how he wants the exhibition presented e.g. Fonts, colours, text styles, poster displays etc. We couldn’t see the room when we visited Gaskell House last time as it had no floor (!) so maybe we could do with going there again.

We’ll it’s reading week next week so there’s plenty of time to catch with sleep and work (in that order too)

Weekly Update

Well I overslept this morning and ended missing the first hour of our group meeting! But not to worry because they’d already started planning our presentation for next week. We managed to get it all sorted but I think we’ve ended up with more cons than pros when discussing our placement!! (Although we all love it, its just so different to what we imagined) We’re meeting up on Monday afternoon to rehearse it.

Once we’d done this we were able to start helping Lucy email her publishers and website owners about copyright issues, hopefully they’ll get back to her soon. I’m the only one left who still hasn’t finished writing my piece yet so I’ll have to get my act together and finish that this week.

Hopefully it will all go well next week!

Copyright Chaos

Nothing sets a dramatic tone like a bit of alliteration.

However this has been a very stressful week, particularly Tuesday. We all had training on how to write appropriate captions and other texts for exhibitions. I’m so glad I went to this because it really opened my eyes as to how much work goes into just a small part of the display. Plus its helped me in writing my own piece on post-mortem photography, as I was unsure if I was ‘dumbing down’ my piece too much. I learnt it has to appeal to complete novices as well as those who might already have prior knowledge or a previous interest.

Anyway, our group met in the library and we were all completely stressed as we realised we had to obtain copyrights for the photo’s we wanted to use in our display. Our mentor, from Elizabeth Gaskell House had previously told us not to worry about it and just use the image but when I spoke to our tutor we all realised this was terrible advice. Plus its raised two questions:

1. Why did he tell us to do something illegal?
2. Did he tell us to do it because he doesn’t really care about our exhibition? Therefore if there’s no copyright, then he won’t have to display it?

So we all spent a good hour and a half emailing publishers and authors and people who made websites etc  asking for copyright permission. At one point I got so desperate I nearly ended up tweeting a reporter from the Daily Mail who happened to write an article on photography.

Success!! I received two very nice emails from different website owners allowing me to use photographs from their collections. The first is the private collection of Paul Frecker who has very graciously allowed me to use some of his vast collection. The second is from a Brazilian website (I had to use Google translate for this email), the owner again was very kind in allowing me to use some of his photos and even attached in the email a private family post-mortem photo from the 1930s!! This is amazing! Plus is just shows the universal use of this type of photography around the world and well into the 20th Century!

If anyone who happens to read this and is maybe interested in finding out more about Post-Mortem photography then here are the links to the two website mentioned above:
http://www.paulfrecker.com/collections.cfm?pagetype=library&typeID=1
http://www.alemdaimaginacao.com/Fotos%20do%20Alem/fotos_post_mortem.html

I know that another member of our group has had some success too in obtaining copyright and another is on the way. Unfortunately one member wasn’t in on Tuesday so we’ll all have to pull together to help her catch up.

In our next meeting I think we’re going to make to start preparing our presentation, its due really soon!!

Update…

Well I’m sure you’ll all be glad to read that I wasn’t held captive in some strangers apartment for the past few weeks, I’ve just neglected this blog over the Christmas period!

Anyway, back to it all now. My part of our exhibition on 19th Century Studio photography is on post-mortem photography, a crazy but massively popular trend of photographing the recently deceased as a memento of their life. This was popular right from the outset of the invention of photography and there are still examples of it as late as the 1940s! Furthermore there are examples in pretty much most of Western Europe and loads for America.

Although they do seem quite disturbing to us today, I mean sometimes you have to really stare at them to work out which person is dead and there also only so much you can take. Especially as many of the photo’s are of children and babies – which is the reason why many photos were taken, due to very high mortality rates and the fact many people couldn’t afford to take regular photo’s. So if they didn’t already have a photograph of the person when they had died, there could be very little evidence of their existence, particularly of children.

But still I find it so interesting! The Victorians were so much more comfortable with death than we are today, is one of very few social topics that have actually gone taboo over the course of the 20th century! They seemed to be quite resigned to the fact that they were going to die, but were certain with their post-mortem photos etc, that they wouldn’t be forgotten!

In slightly more cheerful news, I got my essay back today that I wrote about museums and I did really well! Its really boosted my motivation too!

Setbacks…

Well last week we had planned our exhibition idea and what areas we would try and cover in this. So we thought we would email our mentor at Gaskell House, or that should be Elizabeth Gaskell’s House (He told me off for saying it wrong) and we told him our ideas.

Then he emailed back, saying that he thought we had taken on too much and too broad a subject, despite us only following their guidelines on the handout they gave us! He basically hinted in the email he wants it focused on Carte de Visites or Photograph’s of Plymouth Grove! We were going to cover both of these area’s anyway but there is not enough information available to produce an exhibition on just one of these area’s (for example carte de visites were only popular for about 15 years in the mid 19th century before the more popular cabinet card photo took over).

We decided that you can’t have a exhibition without at least some context and background otherwise you’ll be alienating more and more possible visitors by making it a specialised subjects. Personally I think you have to throw in abit about the history of the camera and another about photographers in Manchester just to make it more interesting.

So, we emailed him back asking for a meeting just to tie up all these loose ends, unfortunately he could only do 11am on Tuesday coming up, which is right in the middle of when we all have individual meetings with our lecturer, so we’ve had to swap all them around now too!! Furthermore he suggested we meet him at his flat which is really, really strange! I think its because its just off Oxford Road (next door to the Ritz) so its a convenient location for us all but still!! At least there’s four of us going!!

So on the off-chance that I end up locked up in some flat next week and I’m forced to read Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels for the next 20 years of my life, this could be my last blog post! Tell my family I love them!

Getting down to business

On Tuesday we all met up for the first time properly at the library and decided what topic we wanted to do our exhibition on. In the end we decided to do it on photography, not only because we all found it the most interesting but because we thought the public would find it interesting, especially as it would combine pictures and text, so should appeal to a wider audience.

However we didn’t realise that massive ( in our eyes) amount of work in it:
– 700 word introduction
– 6 x 700 word pieces of text
– 700 word press release
– 20 images or artefacts

Although this is really daunting we’re all still determined to give it our very best. We want to get some old camera’s and things into the exhibition too, to show how much its all changed but God knows where we’ll find them!

First day!

Today was my first day of placement at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, we weren’t there that long, just about an hour whilst we had a tour of the house. Well actually it was more a tour of a building site because the house is currently being restored back to how it would have looked in the 1850s when Elizabeth and William Gaskell first moved into the house.

Its was actually so exciting so get into the house because I really love old buildings and looking around them. The house is absolutely huge (although rather a normal size for a middle class family as the Gaskell’s were at the time) and richly decorated with cornices and panelled doors and shutters and all other original features. The ground floor consists of: Hallway, morning room, study, drawing room, dining room and then a warren of rooms used by servants which we couldn’t get too. The first floor had 5 bedrooms, bathroom and dressing room and then the attic space for servants and a cellar too. Actually we didn’t see half the rooms mainly because they had no floor, or were full of builders. Although its reassuring that they are using original methods to restore it, i.e. lime plaster.

Because the house is still a building site it means that we won’t be going there each week to do our work, which is really disappointing but it can’t be helped. So instead we’ve planned to meet at the library each Tuesday to do our research. We’re thinking about the different ideas for exhibitions over next week (its reading week) and then we’re going to discuss ideas when we start again.

I’m really looking forward to getting started and seeing what will happen with this placement. I’m also looking forward to when the house is finished, because the plan is not for it to be a museum but a hands-on space for the public. They’re recreating each room as it would have looked in the 19th century, with original furniture used by the Gaskells and the public are invited to sit on chairs and read books and play the piano which creates much more of an atmosphere than displays and roped off room settings.

Yay!…Oh no….Yay again!

Elizabeth Gaskell (1851) Elizabeth Gaskell (1851) by George Richmond. Source: National Portrait Gallery, London. So the title of the piece pretty much sums up my Tuesday this week. We didn’t have a normal lecture this week, we had oral history training instead which was really interesting and has given me some ideas for my dissertation next year. Before our lecturer left she told us that we’d all got one of our top three for placements (hence the first yay) After the talk we went to check where our placements where and DUN DUN DUN…… I wasn’t at Gaskell House. Gutted. BUT our lecturer was lovely and managed to swap me and my friend round, she went to Stockport (her first choice) and I took her place at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House! Yay! I’m literally so happy I’ve been put there and I’ve already spoken to the two other girls in my group who seem really nice, so hopefully I think we’ll get on well. Besides that nothing else exciting has happened in my life this week. Apart from getting my weekly shop from Aldi for £9.11 – beltin’ PS. “Beltin'” is a Northern saying meaning brilliant or something really good, for any persons who may be reading this and aren’t from the North and think I’m making up words. Trust me there’s loads of stupid sayings here.