Inspiration

Building Reading Lists by ellie berry

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If I was to guess when it was that I fell in love with reading I’d probably guess it was around when I was eight. There’s no special event I remember, but I also can’t really remember reading books by myself before then. According to others I’ve been a book worm since bed time stories were a thing. As like most people, how much I actually read ebbs and flows - although I still buy books at the same rate, which has lead to some overburdened shelves holding some very clean books.

At the beginning of this year I decided to try and read 52 books. I simultaneously believed that I could definitely, and yet probably wouldn’t, read that many books - but either way, I really wanted to just track what I’d read and try and read something in the double digits. Currently I’m reading Tim Ingold’s Lines: A Brief History.

 

The Big 2018 Booklist

  1. Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine - Last Chance to See

  2. Dodie Clarke - Secrets for the mad

  3. Ursula K. Le Guin - A wizard of Earthsea

  4. Anna McNuff - The Pants of Perspective

  5. Terry Pratchett - Lords and Ladies

  6. Terry Pratchett - Maskarade

  7. Terry Pratchett - Carpe Jugulum

  8. Terry Pratchett - Jingo

  9. Andrzej Saphowski - The Last Wish

  10. Andrzej Saphowski - Sword of Destiny

  11. J. R. R. Tolkien - The Two Towers


Where I’ve read multiples from one author I’ve listed the books in the order I read them (just to make things a little more complicated).

The slightly long to-be-read list:

  1. Naomi Alderman - The Power

  2. John Boughton - Municipal Dreams

  3. Robyn Davidson - Tracks

  4. Anthony Doerr - All the light we cannot see

  5. Reni Eddo-Lodge - Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race

  6. Lauren Elkin - Flâneuse: Women Walk the City

  7. Ruth Fitzmaurice - I found my tribe

  8. Keith Fosket - High and Low

  9. John Green - Paper Towns

  10. Frédéric Gros - A Philosophy of Walking

  11. N. K. Jemisin - The Broken Earth Trilogy

  12. Scott Jurek - North

  13. Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time

  14. J. Anthony Lukas - Common Ground

  15. Helen Mort, (et al. editors) - WAYMAKING: an Anthology of Womens Adventure Writing, Poetry and Art

  16. Liz O’Neill - Asking for it

  17. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - Half of a Yellow Sun

  18. Garth Nix - Sabriel

  19. Shirley Read and Mike Simmons - Photographers and Research: the Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice

  20. Edward Said - Orientalism

  21. Nan Shepard - The Living Mountain

  22. Keri Smith - The Wander Society

  23. Rebecca Solnit - Wanderlust: A History of Walking

  24. Emily St. John Mandel - Station 11

  25. Cheryl Strayed - Wild

  26. Ranne Wynne - The Salt Path


As I’m heading back to college to start a research masters …

… I decided to do a very general google search for reading lists, and stumbled across the page of IMMA reading lists. The one it has for photography lines up very very closely with the reading list for most of the BA Photography course in IADT that I did (which means I might start trying to read them now!).

Reading while walking this summer was both enjoyable, but also tricky as most of the time when we stop I just want to sleep. If I did manage to dig my kindle out of my backpack I really did enjoy reading. I just didn’t often have the strength to go find it. I’d love to get a wider range of books, so please send me on a recommendation or two!
And lets how quickly I can grow my read list before the end of the year!

Also, I went to the botanic gardens with my sister recently, which is always a favourite place of mine. It’s magical getting to share favourite places with other people. So I’m dropping a couple of photos from there throughout the blog post (queue me adding more photos of plants than books).

In the upcoming weeks I plan to finish sharing my BA thesis: so far I’ve shared the Introduction and Chapter One, so lots to revisit still.

IMMA Reading list - Photography

Martin Lister (ed.), The Photographic Image in Digital Culture, London: Routledge, 1995. (✓)

J. J. Long, Andrea Noble and Edward Welch (eds.), Photography: Theoretical Shapshots, London and New York: Routledge, 2009.

Nathan Lyons (ed.), Photographers on Photography: A Critical Anthology, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1966.

Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.

W. J. T. Mitchell, Iconography: Image, Text, Ideology, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

Beaumont Newhall, The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present Day, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1982.

Fred Ritchin, After Photography, London and New York: W. W. Norton, 2009.

Naomi Rosenblum, A World History of Photography, New York: Abbeville Press, 1997.

Aaron Scharf, Art and Photography, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974.

Stephen Shore, The Nature of Photographs, London: Phaidon Press, 2007.

Susan Sontag, On Photography, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977.

John Szarkowski, The Photographer’s Eye, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007.

John Tagg, The Disciplinary Frame: Photographic Truths and the Capture of Meaning, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2009.

Alan Trachtenberg (ed.), Classical Essays on Photography, New Haven: Leete’s Island Books, 1980.

Liz Wells (ed.), The Photography Reader, London: Routledge, 2002. (✓)

The IMMA reading list page.

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard, New York: Hill and Wang, 1981.

Geoffrey Batchen, Burning with Desire: the Conception of Photography, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997.

Walter Benjamin, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ (1936), in Illuminations, London: Fontana, 1973, pp. 219-253. (✓)

Richard Bolton (ed.), The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1989.

Victor Burgin (ed.), Thinking Photography, London: Macmillan, 1982.

David Campany (ed.), Art and Photography, London and New York: Phaidon Press, 2003.

Charlotte Cotton, The Photograph as Contemporary Art, London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 2004.

T. J. Demos, Vitamin Ph: New Perspectives on Photography, London: Phaidon Press, 2006.

Emma Dexter and Thomas Weski (eds.), Cruel and Tender: The Real in Twentieth-Century Photography, London: Tate, 2003.

Steve Edwards, Photography: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. (✓)

Jessica Evans (ed.), The Camerawork Essays: Context and Meaning in Photography, London: Rivers Oram Press, 1997.

Vilem Flusser, Towards a Philosophy of Photography, London: Reaktion Books, 2000.

Michael Fried, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008.

Michel Frizot, A New History of Photography, Cologne: Konemann, 1998.


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Space, Place and Obligation by ellie berry

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Space

I’m standing at the spire, waiting for Walking in the Eire to finish her incredible 6 month trip walking the coastline of Ireland. It’s a part of Dublin I never visit - it’s reserved for tourists, no “Dubliner” would put themselves through this stressful street (not that I’m sure I can claim that title). Over to my left there’s a guy literally standing on his soap box, preaching to his un-co-operating congregation that Jesus Christ can forgive them, and they can find their immortal life. Even with his small speaker hanging from his elbow I don’t think many people can hear him. There are hundreds of buses, thousands of conversations, and one busker playing drums pretty well but also pretty loudly, and it echoes up and down this wide thoroughfare.

But it’s not as uncomfortable a place as I was expecting - since coming back to the city I’ve had the opposite experience of most outdoor people I know, and find the mass movement of strangers so energetic and energising. I’m still wrecked at the end of a day, it’s still over whelming, but I think the city gives me as much life as I find in the outdoors.

There’s no immediate sign of the inspiring walker I’m here to congratulate so I start jotting notes for a blog post I’ve been meaning to write for weeks. I know how loose time is when you spend all your days walking. I pick a pole wrapped in bamboo and lean against it. I watch old friends collide in screeching hugs, and first dates ask each other what food they like. There are just so many people. I look around me and wonder who is here for what.

There’s a lull in traffic, and my preacher friend across the road can be heard shouting for us all to trust in our Jewish saviour. Saviour seems to be his favourite word. Then the drummer strikes up a powerful tempo, and a swarm of teenage students pour across the road.

So far I can confirm that standing is harder than walking, but I’m enjoying getting the time to write. I’ve been meaning to write something for my own website since I got sick a month ago. When you’re sick and can’t do anything it’s easy to build to do lists of things that don’t involve going places, but still involve more mental energy than you actually possess. But I’m back on feet, so here we are. Time to do a big general update.

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Place

A quick summary of my life this year would be - I walked 1,446km this summer, and then took a short break which resulted in my immune system crashing. In my anti biotic stupor of the past month I; moved back to Dublin, attended a conference, built IKEA furniture, took part in a feminist internet workshop, got lost learning my new corner of the city, more artist takes, and finally, I was accepted to do a Research Masters in IADT Dun Laoghaire!

So lets start from the beginning of this month.

I moved back to Dublin after my immune system crashed and I had to go through a whole series of antibiotics. There are lots of strange things that happen to you when you drastically change life style and living places, so I think I might just say I’m still acclimatising and leave it at that.

The conference I attended has actually inspired the name/grouping of this post. The title of the event was Space, Place, Obligation (An interdisciplinary inquiry into creative practice in contemporary Ireland). Organised by Niamh Campbell in Maynooth university, it was an intense day of artists sharing their artistic practice in relation to the title topics, while also discussing themes of home and sense of belonging. It was still probably too early in my antibiotic days to be attending such a full on event - I hadn’t yet bought a bed so I was camping in my room. My printer stopped working when I tried to print the conference notes off, my shoes cut my heels to pieces running for the bus, and at the event my hands took every opportunity to spill coffee on my notes, shoes, clothes, and hands.
But it was a really great event - thank you to Moran for inviting me to attend it with her. Ideas I had while walking all bubbled up, demanding attention after the event.

People always say that living in a tent with someone must be the ultimate test for a relationship. I disagree - building IKEA furniture for 7hrs together will always be the real exam. We now have a bed on stilts.

I am starting a Masters by Research! It’s two years looking at walking, photography, and the cultural landscape of Ireland. Induction is in two weeks, and I am both incredibly excited, nervous and relieved to have been accepted. To be perfectly honest, I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to afford the fees, so in the next few days I might have a print/book sale.

 

Obligation

It feels a little weird to admit this, but this seems like a good section of this post to write about it. For possibly the past 3 years I’ve kept myself purposefully ignorant of a photographers work. There wasn’t anything malicious in my avoidance, it was purely a naive selfish fear.

I started incorporating walking into my practice while on Erasmus in third year of college. Then during the summer I walked the camino. Arriving back in Dublin to finish my degree, I showed my friends what I’d been working on while I was away. And there was one thing everyone told me: while I was away a photographer had been in to talk about his new work on walking and photography. He’d also made work in Spain. So I looked him up, saw two of his images and immediately stopped. I thought that if I looked at his work before really looking at my own I wouldn’t be able to see mine without seeing his - and I was afraid that if I compared us, I would think his work was far better. Such a scared artist I was. And so I have avoided this other Irish photographer who also works with walking and the landscape for almost 3 years. Now, it’s not like I’d see his book in a shop and frantically jump behind the nearest postcard stand. But I never engaged with his work. Until this conference.

I was sitting on the floor, staring in frustrated disbelief at the pages my printer was spitting out at me. How can it print something without black ink? Why does it have to do this now?! It’s the night before a conference, and my whole body is still fighting me with flus and infections. I haven’t yet really read the conference pack, and because staring at a screen had been hurting my eyes I thought that printing off the sheets would help me. But instead blank pages were being gently washed up against my sock. I sigh as I cancel the print project on my laptop. However, before the new command gets through to the tiny printer brain, the images at the end of the document are being painted onto my the cheap tesco paper, and they look so psychedelic without black ink that I don’t know what’s happening. I smile at the mess, and go to my inflatable bed, falling asleep reading the notes on my phone.

And so at the conference the next day I had the very surreal experience of listening to someone introduce and discuss their walking work that I had selfishly avoided. They went right from that first project 3 years ago, to now. It was a really amazing experience, and I’m glad it was such a surprise to me. I got to see all the similarities and differences in how, what and why we create. I think 3 years ago I would have seen the differences in our work as pit falls in mine, but seeing the development of their practice, and how things changed or didn’t change through each project reminded me how fluid and ever-changing everyones work is, and how impossible it would be for our work to be the same. The fact that I am genuinely excited and like my own work and creative process right now probably helps.


And so here we are.

Most of my writing this year has been for a personal journal or for the tough soles blog. It’s a little odd to remember what and how I usually write on my own site - going back and reading my old posts would be too easy. I’m hoping to use this space as a online visual research journal going forward.

In this post I’ve only talked about a handful of things I want to talk about, so just so future me doesn’t forget:

  • I went to the Sugar Club and heard artists talk about their practice/how they’ve come to be successful. The one that really stuck with me was by Craig Oldham. I think he managed to give a talk about himself and his practice without it just being a slideshow of his life. He was the most eloquent in sharing how and what he learnt from mistakes, and how different choices affected him.

  • The Feminist Internet and Mariam Kauser of Wrk Wrk Wrk collective hosted a workshop in Rua Red as part of the Glitch digital arts festival. I’d like to learn how to think of questions during an event as opposed to just absorbing and then processing at home. The workshop group itself was very small, and so lead to interesting discussions as opposed to working on the exact tasks, which I think I benefitted from more.

  • The Arts Management Ireland site is a wonderful resource and I wish I’d known about it sooner.

  • The botanic gardens are always a good place to go to.

The red girls by ellie berry

 
 
 

This land felt cold, and never ending. It was worked for a purpose, and this was built just for passing. It was fen and fey and wild. It was wet. 

I heard the story of the red girls the second evening of the walk; they lived out here in the bog. We would pass their stretch of land soon, and we'd know we were there when the canal rose up above the wetlands,  showing the dismal greys and rich deep browns of the ground swallowing the horizons.
They had all lived together, these red girls, out in this empty place. They were called so for their burning bright hair. I was told they used to do their washing in the waterway, or just walk here, waiting for passers. The made others' journeys pass quicker, with wit and charm and chat as they wandered the banks. 

As we walked these long, open sections in a constant rain I thought of them, in such a monotonous and lonely place. My clothes were slowly being soaked through, drops rolling down the sides of my hood, falling off the ends of my sleeves. Yet after a while my lips dried out. The air tasted of damp acid. I thought of the red girls, and I daydreamed of leaving this banal place, of colour, of dance, of dried lips, and then of lipstick. I imagined colouring in this unchanged landscape, mixing it's textures and masking them with others. 

 
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Holes by ellie berry

Farm Security Administration photo archive:
Untitled photo, possibly related to nearby photo captioned: Tobacco lands after the Connecticut River had subsided near Hatfield, Massachusetts. Photographed in 1936.

"Holes Punched Through History"

The Atlantic Article
"In 1935, Roy Stryker became the head of the Information Division of the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA), documenting work done by the government to help poor farmers and their families during the Great Depression... In the early years, Stryker himself reviewed and edited photographs mailed in by FSA photographers, and would often “kill” a photo he disapproved of (remove it from consideration for publishing) by punching a hole right through the negative. The photographers were unhappy with this destructive hole-punch method, and frequently let Stryker know, but he didn’t stop until about 1939."

This evening I was flicking past Twitter when The Atlantic's short article appeared. With barely any more text than what I've quoted above, the altered negatives were left to speak for themselves. It's clear these holes are not made at random, but attack supposedly specific parts of each image - sometimes the face; sometimes central; sometimes without logic, but aesthetically placed. 

Below are some of the images featured in The Atlantic Article, followed by more that I then found myself through the Library of Congress. 

Most of the punched negatives are "untitled", but reference other negatives within their description - such as the two below:

In my reading of the images, the hole goes from offering some comedic moments, to taking on a whole persona. 
I've a lot more I want to say on these images, but that will take time of me searching for the right way to say it. So for now I'm going to share these images with you, because they are too intriguing not to. 

Let me know what you think. 

On a side note,

When I was younger I used to read a lot - possibly too much. For one excuse or the other, the amount of reading I was doing pretty much dried up to nothing. To throw myself back in the deep end, I'm going to read a book a week. Last week's book was Pyramids by Terry Pratchett. This weeks book is Wanderlust: A history of walking by Rebecca Solnit. If you have any recommendations, pass them on! 

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.