It’s been a really interesting first year at CSAD, especially given that I had absolutely no real idea on what I was leaving home to do, back in September when I first moved out to Cardiff to start the course. My first impression of the university was that I was just happy and privileged to be there, and as the induction weeks continued, that feeling remained. I remember being worried about the Puppet show that we were going to have to perform in Tommy’s Bar in the university, in front of the rest of the illustration course, plus anyone else who turned up, and absolutely hating it. It was one of the first things we did as a collective, since we were put into groups during the first two weeks to work on it together, based off what each of us had done over the summer holidays. That was odd, I couldn’t work out how we could all have worked so individually, if the purpose was to bring it together, but looking back on it, I suppose it was just a team building exercise, like some kind of ice breaker in order to get all of us first years to talk.
Being home over Easter allowed me to re-engage with my city and figure out specifically what it was that I wanted to show. I’ve been trying multiple things with this project, and somewhere along the way, the actual purpose behind what I was doing got away from me. I realised that I needed to strip back, and bring it back to the place itself, not symbolism or anything like that, but something produced at home about home.
So I kept a, well, I suppose you could call it a “visual diary” of sorts, of my month over the break, and when it was done, I was pretty happy with the outcome. It’s 40 pages of sketches from life, of life, in Belfast, and this, I believe, is the Hidden City aspect of Belfast in a nutshell; the normal activities of people on a day to day basis, and all the places you can see that are hidden away from view due to being overshadowed by other things. If Belfast is anything, it’s hopeful, and I think simply capturing the things that are perceived as so normal, and wouldn’t be “Hidden” at all anywhere else, is the one thing that Belfast needs.
I wanted to make a comic about someone going through a magic door and discovering themselves in front of Belfast City Hall. I wanted it to be quite a subdued comic, and I wanted it to be ambiguous. This isn’t the usual format I would use for my comics, and so I’m quite happy with the outcome, particularly because it is experimental, as far as I’m concerned. The story is open to interpretation, and it’s supposed to be. I want this comic to reflect the “hidden” side of Belfast by letting other people ponder over what they think it means.
After my big conversation with Chris, I went and did some experimentation in my sketchbook and on loose A1 pages once I had the group project sorted out. I’ve been very slow with this project, therefore, most of what I have up to now is just experimental pieces designed to rekindle my motivation and interest. I enjoyed doing these quite a bit because I refused to let myself try to do anything in particular, and just focused on playing with my materials.
We gave our final presentation for group work there last Tuesday, and got to watch everyone else’s presentations while we were at it. It was nice to see what every else had been up to over the last few weeks, some people had produced really amazing work, and it was good to hear about how each group had different trials and tribulations in regards to getting their work done and how well they melded together. It’s always going to be difficult, as far as I can see anyway, to take a bunch of individuals and have them work together. It’s manageable, obviously, but difficult.
In the case of my own group, there was five of us, which is always going to be a bit of an awkward number, and we’re all quite strong minded with our own thoughts about how things should be done. We managed to reconcile our ideas eventually, even when I felt that we were overcomplicating things – still, it was a good idea, albeit an ambitious one for the timescale we had. Time constraints were probably the hardest thing to work within, especially given that we had other work due for individual field and constellation. For me, that particular snag had me lose all motivation and find all my work nauseatingly stagnant, but I’ve talked about that before. I’m used to having several projects run along side one another, it was similar in my BTEC. We’d have our fine art projects, print projects, ceramic projects and etc all at the same time, and it was fine, provided you organised your time accordingly. However, due to losing all motivation in my own work, I was forced over the last few weeks to adapt a sort of… one track mindset in order to produce the required work for group, since that was the deadline that came first. I had the work ready each time the others needed to see it, which was useful, I think, especially when it came to Brogan and Andy doing the filming.
The presentation itself went off fairly well, we had a few moments where the wrong person spoke over the wrong slide, and a technological problem when the internet played up when we were trying to play one of our films from youtube. Other than that, we all spoke well and I’m glad that we were able to put across our ideas fairly succinctly.
As for how we worked as a group, well, we all had our moments of being unhappy with one person or the other, but most of these issues were resolved with dialogue and compromise. Compromise was a big thing in our group, and there were a few moments where I felt like I ought to just suck it up and work on. So I did, and I didn’t spend too long ruminating on the problems, and we all got our work done. It’ll be interesting if we do manage to get an exhibition space, because I do think that the final piece will look well in a gallery environment.
For me, as someone who prefers to work on my own things rather than with groups, that was something to get used to. Having to reply on other people to get their own work done was something of a new experience, and it was rewarding in the way that, yes, everyone did get their own piece done and to a good quality, but I found that we needed perhaps more communication than we ended up having in order to tie things together properly. This is just as much my fault as it was anyone else’s, as we all had to make sure we were communicative.
Overall, I think we worked pretty well together, and though we all had our moments, we were able to resolve them through discussion and compromise.
Final images for the group field project. As you can see, we changed the last image to include the girl as it was important to show the three of our characters together in this tragic moment. On a personal level, I’m a little disappointed as I don’t feel they are as strong or as poignant as they could be, but for all intents and purposes, they do the job. I’ve also found that they don’t look as well in photo form as they do in real life. I think this is because some details have been lost in the photographs.
Colour keys and initial compositions for group. While I like the last one, I think it should also show the girl as she is the instigator of the tale.