Gray’s School of Art

Short course exhibition

So, after taking an evening and a morning to hang the B&W analogue prints for the photography part of the Gray’s School of Art short course exhibition, the show opened on a Sunday only to close on the following Tuesday. Not because it was cr@p, but due to new restrictions brought in to ‘manage’ the spread of Covid-19.

The analogue prints were photographed (digitally!) as they were taken down, and have been mastered into a slideshow. It illustrates our efforts, but is second best to seeing the real things.

There has been some loose talk about hiring an art space later in the year to reprise the exhibition, but until then, take a look below

(If you want to know which were mine, then look out for puffins, canal and narrowboat life, a pair of size tens and a sweet chestnut on a fence post. You should find seven in all, eight if you count the one included twice in error!) 


Never play leapfrog…

...with a unicorn

Did you know that, today, the 9th of April, is National Unicorn Day? No? Neither did I until last week.

I struggled to believe that such a ‘day’ existed, so I Googled it and, yup, there it is – April 9, National Unicorn Day. How bizarre! I have but just the one question. Why? (Apparently, it’s to give children a fun day to celebrate and nothing at all to do with a cynical marketing ploy by toy manufacturers.)

My Google search also highlighted an old petition that sought to move the ‘celebratory’ day from 9 April to 6 June. Who does this kind of thing? Or is it me that’s the idiot and not the petitioners (don’t answer that!)?

Anyway, just to show that coincidences happen all the time, I had, purely by chance, just written a unicorn limerick for my ice-cream buddy.

She’d asked for a copy of one of my B&W film photography exhibition prints, a print of some street art in Aberdeen that shows a girl holding a unicorn, so I wrote a dedication in limerick fashion and pasted it to the back of the picture frame.

NuArt, Correction Wynd, Aberdeen.

So here, on the one and only occasion that I will recognise National Unicorn Day, is a unicorn limerick:

An idea that some can’t resist,
Is that unicorns really exist. 
But they’re hard to espy
And that explains why
You don’t see them unless you’re half-pissed!

A limerick a week #128

Too late to panic…

It’s that time of year again when students of the RGU Gray’s School of Art short-course on B&W film photography finalise their exhibition prints.

It’s always helpful to get an exhibition print ‘in the bag’ early on during the course as it takes some of the pressure off. I managed to do that this year, which was just as well as I then struggled for weeks to make progress on any others. Finally, I got a couple more finished just in time to be considered for the exhibition. Phew, panic over!

The short-course exhibition encompasses more than just B&W film photography, it includes exhibits from around 500 students covering: Drawing, Printmaking, Painting, Jewellery, Ceramics, Fashion, Printed Textiles, Kilt Making, Bag Making and 3D Design. All-in-all it’s an impressive show and, for anyone local to Aberdeen, this year the exhibition runs from Monday 11 March to Friday 22 March with the following opening hours:

Monday to Friday:       09.00 – 22.00
Saturday:                       09.00 – 18.00
Sunday:                          09.00 – 15.00

(Parking restrictions operate from 08.00 – 16.00, Monday to Friday).

The private viewing, at which light refreshments are provided, is on Sunday 10 March for exhibitors and their families and friends (in other words, anyone can go because, for a limited period only, I am friends with the world!) and that takes place from 10.30 – 14.30.

To date, I cannot recall any risqué photographs being shown (or taken!), we leave that sort of thing to the life-drawing classes, but I suspect we’re all just ‘too British’ to indulge in taking pics of models in the ‘altogether’, which made me think…

A man with a camera once said
Shooting nudes just filled him with dread!
He’d lose his composure
On over-exposure
So focused on landscapes instead!

A limerick a week #125

“In my darkroom…

…when I see that print coming in the developer, it’s as if I win the lottery” (Don McCullin)

It’s approaching the time of year when students on the Gray’s School of Art ‘short course’ on black and white film photography begin to panic and wonder if they’ll ever get a print worthy of the end-of-course exhibition. I’ve got one, thank goodness, as it takes the pressure off, but I’d like a couple more.

I had high hopes for at least one other (my ‘ice-cream buddy’ has seen an early version of it and has asked for a copy when it’s finished!), but I have just spent a frustrating hour and a half in my own darkroom and can’t seem to get it right. Nevertheless, I’m already in awe at a couple of pictures that my friends on the course will be showing so I think that bodes well for the exhibition.

This has all coincided with a documentary on the veteran photographer Don McCullin entitled ‘Looking for England’ that has just been shown on BBC 4. He’s an interesting character, albeit of his era, who is renowned for his compelling, if at times horrific, photographs of various global catastrophes and warring outbreaks.

The Nikon F camera that McCullin was carrying when it famously stopped a Khmer Rouge sniper’s bullet when he was accompanying government soldiers across a Cambodian paddy-field in the late 1960s. He recounts the experience here:

The documentary is on the BBC iPlayer and worth catching if only to view the developing landscape of ‘Englishness’ throughout McCullin’s life from his street photography of the 50s and 60s to the modern day.

It also shows some clips of him in his darkroom, as he prefers film photography to digital:

I have a dark room, and I still process film, but digital photography can be a totally lying kind of experience; you can move anything you want… the whole thing can’t be trusted, really.

I don’t know if it’s intentional, but the programme also coincides with a retrospective of McCullin’s work at Tate Britain that runs until May (memo to self: organise that weekend away NOW!).

Here’s the limerick:

A photographer was heard to remark
That shooting with film was a lark.
‘Tis a thing that envelops,
Consumes and develops
And one that keeps you in the dark!

It’s just another pic on the wall…

Well, the RGU Gray’s School of Art short-course exhibition is over for another year. I’ve added my exhibits to ‘the wall’ chez moi. Here it is (the location is not well-suited to being photographed)…

A limerick a week #26

Making an exhibition of myself …

Coming to you earlier in the week than normal, but as this week’s limerick is about the current Gray’s School of Art short-course student exhibition then it seems about right …

I’ve got some B&W film photographs in the exhibition, including one of Firstborn and me, hence:

A reminder that no-one’s prohibited!
So turn up and don’t feel inhibited
From viewing the show
‘Cos now you all know
That ‘Firstborn and me’ are exhibited!

‘Firstborn and me’, centre stage on one of the walls!

The exhibition runs from Monday 13 March to Tuesday 21 March with the following opening hours:

Monday to Friday:       9am – 10pm
Saturday:                       9am – 6pm
Sunday:                          9am – 3pm

and encompasses Portfolio, Drawing, Printmaking, Painting, Photography, Jewellery, Ceramics, Fashion, Printed Textiles, Kilt Making and 3d Design Make.

It’s really not bad at all for a bunch of enthusiasts!


Exhibition Time!

The red lights in the darkrooms at Gray’s School of Art have been burning brightly these last few weeks as students on the RGU ‘short course’ black and white film photography classes have been desperately trying to produce some prints worthy of inclusion in the forthcoming short course exhibition. It’s not just a photographic exhibition; the various courses that are run include everything from drawing to kilt-making. All levels of incompetence are catered for, even mine, and they all somehow manage to come together in a quite impressive show.

So, if you are close by Aberdeen from Monday 14 March to Sunday 20 March inclusive, take a look in Gray’s School of Art: Mon-Fri 9am-10pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 9am-3pm. (Parking restrictions apply between 8am and 4pm on weekdays) .

This is an early test print of the dilapidated library at Inverkeithny in Aberdeenshire. I rather liked it and thought it was worth working on a bigger and better version with an eye to inclusion in the exhibition, but even at this stage it didn’t pass muster with the course tutor due to the distracting foreground foliage. Shows how much I know!

Inverkeithny Library
Inverkeithny Library