Life after college: the big decisions? by ellie berry

Above is a photo I made during my final year of college. I borrowed a camera from the stores so I could try my hand at some medium sized navel-gazing. It had been a long time since I had shot in that format, and wound on that kind of film - which as you can see, I didn't get quite right. So I ended up with a couple of oddly (and one that turned out to be unusable) exposed rolls. 

Looking at those rolls, and 35mm that I've shot since then, it's clear to me that I've been wandering without a purpose for quite a while. 

But I didn't start writing this entry with the aim of discussing the possible listlessness of recent work. That's only happened because I decided to use this image as the header or introduction to this piece.

I've come to ... I've forgotten. 

I've developed an interesting problem. Since finishing college I have lost my attention span. I spend hours flicking from one social media to the other, reloading and rescrolling through the same feeds. Ask me to read a real body of text, that isn't some horrible clickbait infested mess and I cannot concentrate. Two sentences in and my mind has stopped focusing on the text - instead I have music lyrics, book plots, random celebrity gossip, and trash shouting over my inner monologue reading voice. 

I currently have four different journal drafts simply because I get half way through writing something and my mind moves on, not willing to work through that awkward sentence I need to phrase. 

Having now admitted and assessed my problem, it is time to start working. Over the last few weeks of December, I am going to start re-writing my thesis "The Poetics and Politics of Imagery: National Geographic's misrepresentation of non-Western countries through Instagram." And! Actually, I would love to finish reading Edward Said's Orientalism. But the two of these go hand in hand. 

And now for an image to break up my words. I've typed more than planned. Apologies if I have shown this image before - it is from the same roll as the photograph above. 

I think it is time to finally get around to the title of this piece, "Life after college: the big decisions?". I graduated with a first class honours 24 days ago. This was as far as I had planned in my life. Up until now, it's been easy. I've followed the general path I've been planning since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. No one warned me how scary it would be reaching the end of it. Lots of parts of me want to run away to somewhere beautiful (New Zealand has been the fixation for about a year, but really anywhere far away qualifies) and kind of postpone or completely cancel this idea of making "big decisions". 

"Are you going to do a Masters?"
"Where are you working now?"
"What's the life plan?"
"How's the boyfriend? You've been going out a long time now."

I have been asked these questions a lot. My unfocused mind mentioned above has also been using these questions to distract me from actually living, and so I feel like I've been bombarded with this since the summer. Change feels like it is definitely needed, but committing to something has become difficult. 

Do these "big decisions" even exist, or is it just me asking myself these questions while I figure out what is actually supposed to happen? Eh. Life, aye? 

Recent Inspiration by ellie berry

"One Christmas Luke asked for a drill. I think that’s where this starts.
He got it too and a decade later he was making an ad up North and he saw a forest and he thought there should be something hidden in that forest. A library, maybe. A bothy, this turned into, like the Scots have, shelters you’d be glad of if you were caught out in the wild. A bothy but for artists not the groundsmen ....
George Mallory might have been the first man to climb Everest. We don’t know but he might have before he died on the mountain. “Because it’s there” is what makes us different from chimps. Now our bothies are done and tenner bets you won’t get to all of them. Going to find one of them is more important than all the reading and looking you can do here.
Get out of the gallery. Art’s not just soft hands."

4 Bothies is a project I came across a little while ago. It is the exact combination of the outdoors and the arts that has me extremely excited, motivated, and inspired each time I read it. 

It is the kind of inspiration that really clicks at the moment. I think I may have been a little apprehensive finishing college this summer - afraid that it would all come to nothing. So I kept my part time job - but decided to also take part in two exhibitions, volunteer for the PhotoIreland Photofestival, and do a CELT course.  

Now that the summer is over and I have sufficiently worn myself out to the point of wanting daily naps, I think I might take some time to decide what happens next. 

"The Library" - Four Bothies

Slightly linked to this idea of the outdoors and space is a blog I read about the most remote place in Ireland. 

I found out about the 4 bothies project from the Irish Times Article from 2013 about the "60 most creative people in Ireland right now". While it's definitely no longer 2013, and I've barely waded through the list, I keep popping back to find another new name to look up. It's nice to read about artists that are where you're from.  

Next up - the best, easy to follow Web Design in 4 Minutes that I've ever seen - and it even looks like it would only take 4 minutes! Beautiful websites for everyone! 

And finally, work by one of my friends from college, Cale Perrin. Technically this is a slightly adapted variation of her work that we used for the poster of a group show we did. It was printed as a blue risograph print and turned out so beautiful. I also really love the combination of photography and sculpture.  Her work, along with many others, has me thinking more about what happens with the image after it is printed. 

Dalkey Kayaking by ellie berry

Last weekend it was my birthday (yay!) and wanted to try something new. 

Kayaking has been on the list for a while, so took a three hour guided tour from Bullock harbour. 

Not being someone who normally does water sports, or just cool enough, I don't own a waterproof camera. I was scared of destroying any of my nice cameras, so I just brought a small 35mm disposable one. I sometimes forget how nice they can turn out (Although as you will see below, there was a bit of camera shake ... and not all my horizons are straight). 

The costs around Exhibitions by ellie berry

Collecting the final frames take two

When people come and look at my graduate exhibition I - not quite worry - but wonder if they know how much work and time and thinking went into these small prints sitting quietly on the wall. My piece certainly isn't a large one, and while I try to ignore the thoughts that "size doesn't matter", I know to people who don't normally look at images it often does. 

With this post, I want to share more of what when into making a piece for exhibition, and the costs that are incurred by the artist. We are told, as students, that throwing money at a project is not what will get you the grade. There is some truth in that. There definitely needs to be a concept. But once you have that concept, it is indirectly expected that some money throwing should probably be part of it. 

My graduation exhibition piece cost:
Printing ----- €250 ----- Printed myself using college facilities. 
Framing ----- €405 ---- Framed in Hang Tough. Not without complication, but otherwise fine. 
Hanging ----- €30 ---- Screws, mounting board, etc. 

In my search for information on funding and affording gallery space, I've come across these PDFs - "The Costs and Funding of Exhibitions" and "Business to Arts: Private Investment in Arts and Culture Survey Report".

Nothing in Stone
Nothing in Stone is an exhibition I'm organising with 13 of my fellow photography graduates. 

Gallery Space in Dublin
In my opinion, Dublin is lacking in low cost/affordable art spaces/spaces interested in showing student work. The largest space I have been able to find is Steambox on School St. in Dublin 8. Recently I found a new site called Fill it (currently still in it's 'beta' stage) which allows people to rent out currently empty space in the same style as Air BnB (in fact the website feels exactly the same). While I am really excited to see where this goes, at the moment the spaces on it are a little too expensive for not enough space. 

What am I paying:
For 13days I am paying €500 for gallery space, with an additional €140 deposit. 

Sponsorship is hard to come by. Not impossible. Just hard.
For a show I'm currently organising I spent an evening sending out emails to companies I thought  most likely to sponsor a small art event. I didn't hear back from a single one. However, every exhibition that I have been involved in has been sponsored in some way by local shops or places that one of the artists works. 

Current sponsorship: 
€200 from Tiger. Huge thanks to Tiger and Hue Hale for organising this.

Now that there is only one month left before opening, promoting the event will start. Posters, pice lists, websites, there are some many things we would love to do. 

Graduate Show by ellie berry

Recently, I put work on a wall and had people come look at it. 
It felt a lot more stressful than that sentence makes it out to be. 

The largest and final project of my course is to create a body of work for exhibition. For my piece, I walked from my home in Dublin to my mother's home in Tipperary over the Easter period. The whole walk took about six days, and roughly two hundred and forty kilometres. When you're walking it's hard to keep track. 

Stylistically, I would like to say the images I made while one this walk stand half way between a documentary piece and a contemporary fine art photographic work. 

While walking I was certainly thinking about my connection to and impression of Ireland. I've been away quite a bit recently and wanted to spend some time just outside in the place I'm supposed to be from. Did I get that connection - I don't know. But I certainly want to spend more time outdoors again.