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1st – 7th May 2017
Possibly the craziest week of my life. It’s taken me this long to write about it as I’ve genuinely had to have time to recover. For some silly reason I thought that install week would be easy, fun even. Oh how wrong I was. Somehow I managed it though, in between getting my wound packed every day and feeling like crap. Don’t ask me how because I still don’t know. All I know is that I had great help and advice from everyone around me, and that definitely pushed me through it. So here’s a run down on what happened every day during this crazy hectic week – enjoy!
On Monday there was a sense of sadness. I finally had to pack up and leave the studio that I’ve called home for the last 7 months. I was reluctant to leave it but I carefully packed up all of my development work and moved out into the corridor. I was still pretty knackered (remember I had only been in a couple of days the week before) so I didn’t stay long on Monday. Our degree show studio space (610) still had people moving their belongings out so there wasn’t much we were able to do. I also had a little mooch around DJCAD (still not really walking right) and thought about how much this establishment has given me. When I first arrived here I was quite a self-conscious 18 year old and so much has changed since then. I feel like I’ve found my voice, not only as an artist but as a person. I have learnt so much in terms of artistic techniques, research and abilities. * Cue reminiscent sighs. * Needless to say, this relaxing start to the week didn’t last long.
So the real work began on Tuesday. The partitions in our space hadn’t been moved yet, but I wanted to get cracking painting the solid wall where my vinyl lettering was being placed so it would dry in time. I was joined by third year Heather – check out her amazing resin paintings here. She offered to help me and I gladly took her up on the offer. I helped out a 4th year last year and I felt it was quite an insightful experience so I hope she felt the same, even if it was a bit manic. There was a minor panic first thing Tuesday morning as there were whispers of the matte emulsion paint not arriving, but they were soon dismissed as tubs of white began to spring up in various studios. Heather was great at painting the upper areas of the wall and I stuck to the lower areas as my post-surgery wound wouldn’t allow a lot of stretching. We made a trip to the shop after lunch to buy cleaning supplies including wire wool pads and tackled the floor. You wouldn’t believe how much mess art students can make on a single patch of vinyl floor. We cleaned off paint, resin, glue, ink and a number of unidentifiable substances from the floor, our knees and hands aching by the time it was finished. By the end of the day though the room looked almost unrecognisable and the floor was actually quite a nice shade of blue-grey, and not the sludge colour I had originally thought.
Wednesday was very much a ‘doing’ day. I arrived bright and early after getting my wound packed and let Ali in the Make Lab deal with putting the LEDs in my final frames. Before he could start on that though I used the large table to peel off the background of my vinyl letters and prepare them for putting on the wall. This took almost the whole morning and was surprisingly tricky. Out of all of my vinyl words, only one word ‘lovely’ was cut out wrong, which I felt was pretty good going. I spent the whole day in the wood workshop finishing off sanding my frames down, a bigger manual job than I had expected. The handheld sander is so heavy and in my weakened state I had to hold it with two hands and switch off the machine to take a rest every couple of minutes. I managed it though, and I had a pretty awesome sense of achievement as I guess it’s the first real physical job I had done relating to my work since the operation. In the afternoon I printed off my final vinyl word and then towards the end of the day I stained my last wooden inserts to go into my frames. Of course, had I not been in hospital all of these little jobs would have been done and I would have had much more time, but as it was I just had to get on with it.
Again I had my wound packed early on the Thursday so I could come in early to uni. Louise my tutor arrived in the morning, and we laid out my vinyl to be placed on the wall. She talked me through the basics of putting vinyl on the wall and we did the first section. I hadn’t realised there were so many steps, although I guess it is different when you are placing text on the wall verses an image. Everything had to be measured exactly. The words were placed on the wall with the backing on. Transfer paper was then placed on top and the whole thing peeled off the wall. At this point, the backing paper was peeled off and the final vinyl lettering was placed onto the wall. Luckily for me, Heather had popped in again and lent a hand because it was definitely a two-person job. This quite literally took us the whole day, but it was so worth it. The finished wall looked incredible.
Friday was a bit of a wait. I had my frames hinged and placed in the space and then literally just waited on the university technicians. In the meantime I did some painting and cleaning of the window in my space. When they arrived, the electricians managed to wire up both of my frames and the speakers for my soundtrack to one mains switch. Not as simple as it sounds. I think my heart stopped several times through various ‘oops’ moments, like when they forgot to put a fuse in the plug and were insisting my frames weren’t working (still can’t figure out whether that one was a joke or not.) There was also a major, major setback that afternoon. The power sources that I had bought turn out didn’t have enough power to light up all three frames as had originally been thought. Of course if I hadn’t been off for three weeks the solution to the problem would have been figured out week ago, but here I was just left to come up with some answer. The only answer I could find that I knew would work would be to supply each frame with their own transformer, that way maximum power would be going to each set of LEDs. This presented a new problem – the wires weren’t long enough to allow the frames to sit in the middle of the floor. Even if they were long enough, they had now become a trip hazard and were extremely unsightly, drawing the attention away from the frames. I went home that night with my head pounding, emotional and had a very restless sleep.
Saturday the 6th I had to come up with some kind of solution and fast. With help, I figured out that I could buy longer figure 8- 15amp plug cables which would allow the frames to be situated in the middle of the room. Luckily my parents (who have been a life-savers throughout this whole process) rushed up to the local light store and were able to pick them up before they closed. Thank goodness when I tried these they worked, and the frames lit up well. I was now faced with the task of trying to cover up this wiring as much as possible. In the afternoon I managed to put my soundtrack on the Ipod Shuffle that the AV workshop had leant me (they’re difficult to work after being used to an Ipod touch.) There was talk of me hiding the speakers behind the door so I spent ages trying to find wiring and cables to manage that, but as it happened the AV workshop didn’t have the cables and I was far too tired to mind. I actually quite like the idea of being able to see where the sound comes from, so it didn’t bother me. Right at the end of the day the electricians came in again and announced I would have to find some kind of boxes to cover up the power sources with as I wasn’t allowed to have them exposed. This prompted a panic trip to B&Q to buy wood and other necessities such as duct tape and cable ties. I spent that evening measuring out the boxes and drawing this onto the wood, ready to be made the next day.
I knew the wood workshop was going to be busy as everyone needed last-minute things. My Dad kindly offered to make the boxes for me at home while I went in to uni. I spent the day basically cleaning. The floor had become grimy again since the electricians had been in drilling and walking about, so mopping it was the first order of the day. This was easier said than done however, as all of the sinks had been boarded off, meaning the only source of water was the women’s bathroom which was downstairs. I think I made genuinely about 20 trips up and down just to wash my patch of floor as I had to change the water every time it got dirty. If I had no muscles at the beginning of the week, I certainly had them at the end. The rest of the day was spent putting finishing touches to the room – tidying up cables with clips and ties, masking cables on the floor and washing windows. I also spent a good while polishing and cleaning my acrylic which hadn’t really been looked at since the wood workshop and was in desperate need of some TLC. Once the sawdust and marks had been polished off they ended up looking really great, I was super pleased with them. On arriving home my Dad had made the perfect boxes to cover the transformers, and I have to take my hat off to him. Apparently I had also done the measurements all wrong but he (somehow) managed to fix it. He’s a miracle worker.
Internal marking commenced on Monday morning (8th) and I was able to put the boxes over the transformers in time. External marking begins next week, we receive our final grades on Wednesday then opening night is on Friday. There has also been a couple of setbacks this week such as my speakers packing in yesterday and having to be replaced. When I was in hospital I thought my hand in might not happen, but here I am. I’m really knackered and can’t wait to have some time off, but I’ve never been so proud of an achievement in my life.