carolynblackart blog

Studio notes 30/07/19 selfie-reflection

Today something exciting happened. I was doing some exercises, lying on my back, both arms raised  above me. The morning light, the white ceiling behind, a light suntan, revealed how wrinkly my skin has become. I hadn’t noticed. Because my arms were held straight up, there was a noticeable skin sag happening around my hands too, revealing landscapes, like dried river beds, or cracks in the river silt of the Severn. I became mesmerised.

I took several shots of my hands and while I did I reflected on the video work I did for my MA. That was a series of films in an installation,  close-up images of body parts, morphing and squeezing, all viewed through a mirror tunnel, which created a virtual ball of slow moving ambiguous flesh-bodies. Other video clips of my face against a mirror were shown inside a mirror-topped plinth with a peepholes in the centre of the mirror. As the viewer leant over and looked in, they also saw their own face reflected on the surface while they viewed the video inside.

I reflected on the gaze – Martin Jay’s book has always hung in my mind and informed my understanding of how we view, and are viewed. My mind slipped into the traditions of self-portraits, the glum looks, the depth of the stare needed to portray oneself. I went on to consider selfies, the contemporary form of self-portraiture that is the opposite of the artist self-portrait. The selfie is not about self examination, but one of self-display, of performing to camera.

As someone who enjoys using lens-based media – camera, 360 or video, I am very self-aware of my aversion to being photographed myself. As I lay there on my back, wondering at what I could see, and what I could frame, with my mobile phone, I switched it to selfie mode and explored. I brought the lens in close to my face, to remove the portraiture and reveal the surface, the landscape, of my skin. I held it steady and closed my eyes before shooting. I made several, mostly of my face. I was intrigued how foetal they looked. Lying on my back, eyes closed, there was no tension, I was relaxed and playing. As I thought about it I smiled, and caught the smile growing on my face.

I think I have found my new muse. Not a riverscape, but one of my body, of shifts and change, of how we perceive ourselves through self-portraiture and lenses. 


studio notes: Monday 22 July 2019 8.30am

Monday 22 July 2019 8.30am

The room is beginning to feel like a studio

Spent quite a bit of time in here over the weekend, exploring the x-rays and the landscape outside, using the Kodak Box Camera negative as a viewfinder. Tidying up, I found a huge book I bought in Dusseldorf many years ago of work by Katharina Sieverding. I remember being knocked out by her HUGE self portraits. I found some images that helped me to consider the structure of mine. Images that have veils of shade (as per the icy blue grey borders of the xrays), vertical panels (I have started drawing vertical panoramic’s) and inverted areas too. I decided the camera as a framing device is key, so experimented with that first. 

Photo 21-07-2019, 08 38 27Kodak box white A4 21-07-2019, 14 57 30

I continually gaze at the elegant waving of the branches of the enormous Cedar tree outside. The old studio imac was booted up after months of rest, to use photoshop. Layers, tonal changes, shifts and blends, resulting in some images I find satisfying. That capture my thinking. I’m not yet sure whether they are the beginning, or the end, of something. 

I need to consider this black and white habit of mine. I think it is a leftover from printmaking days. When I painted, or made videos, I used to love colour. It has gone. 

Why? Where? 

Not sure what will happen next. Got lots of other paid work to do for a few days, so less time to enjoy my studio. But it feels good. A new desk is wending its way to me (cheapy from 2nd hand place). Bit by bit bedroom furniture will go and studio things arrive. Must get my easel up too. Now THAT is a challenge, as I bought it, and oils, and canvasses about 3 years ago – and not used them. 

Time for some colour?

New Studio Blog 001

20th July 2019

The fantasy studio:

I will go there every morning with my first cup of tea 

And sit

And think

And imagine

Gaze out the window

Dig into my inner thoughts

Be calm




I will send my attention to my hand

Quietly lift my pencil

Relish it’s wooden feel with my fingertips

Open my dedicated notebook

And begin to write

Or draw

Or simply mark the paper

With my philosophical thoughts

What will today bring?

How shall I pursue my practice

With daily dedication?


Analogue procedures

Banish technology

Return to the haptic

Be authentic

A real artist


The reality:

I gaze through the window

I grab my ipad and carefully film a one minute section of the activity in my garden

While I hold it steady, I enjoy watching the way the different trees move in the wind

The blackbird that settles below me on the rail

Out of video frame


Always seem to miss the action!

I self-discipline

Remind myself of analogue activity

I grab a notebook from the shelf

On its cover, it explains what it is


Yes, this is what I must do

I find a pencil

I open this paper NOTEBOOK

And find in the central pages a photo of an empty desk

This seems very poignant to me

I too have an empty desk

And an empty head if truth be told

I carefully release it from the staples

And attach it to the wall

Just behind my empty desk

And take a photo

From my sitting position


I also take a photo of my NOTEBOOK

As evidence

I intend to write in it

On my empty desk


I print both photos out

And lay them on the desk

Very satisfying

I take a photo of them


I am already distracted from analogue

Too late to pretend

I take one more photo and add it to the others

It portrays my NOTEBOOK

Resting on my MacBook


I discard the NOTEBOOK

And enjoy the way I think

No rules

No boundaries

I write this piece and smile

This is me

My reality

My world

Let’s see where it takes me

This is my line:

I shall take it for a walk


ps the video DID capture the blackbird, albeit appearing to walk along the bottom edge of the video footage. perfect accident. my idea of creativity. 🙂




URGENT: vote for us, help us to Save The George and re-open the gallery & cafe!

I seem to be working on many things at the monent, but this is the one needing urgent attention. It has a deadline – 17th June!

I need you to vote for us to gain £5000 towards refurbishing the kitchen of The George. The George is a local building that closed down a year ago. A group of us got together and formed the Newnham on Severn Community Benefit Society and are trying to buy it back, for the community. Find out the detail here.

We’re selling community shares and hosting various fundraising event. We’re doing REALLY well – but Calor needs more votes to keep us in the top ten. PLEASE give all TEN of your votes to us. It’s a but of a faff to login to – you have to register first. If it doesnt work, clear your browser cache and restart the browser. If it still doesn’t work, email me

Click here to go to our page.

Download flyer with live link here:


calor last shout fler image



Sunday’s Child – a poem to celebrate being European

Sunday’s Child

  1. The church clock chimes
  2. A red brick wall in view
  3. With sunshine on my face
  4. I close my eyes, see blood
  5. Not of anger, but of family
  6. From my Dutch parents
  7. A Courtyard in Delft
  8. Part of me forever
  9. Belonging, in blood red bricks
  10. Birds sing, cars pass
  11. The chiming ceases

The child that is born on the Sabbath day, is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

Written 11am Sunday 5th May by Carolyn Black, who was born European on Sunday 9th December in England


A Thorn (the rooster of Notre Dame

A Thorn

A thorn from a plaited instrument of passion

A barb from Ziziphus spina-christi

Secreted in a weather vane in 1801

Now fallen from a burning spire

Inside a shell tougher

Than any egg


Survived the raging fire that

Roasted the rooster

It’s black twisted body

Wrought but not destroyed

Drenched by hoses and fire

A miracle


Two days later ash and tang of charred timber

Hang in the air

The fund to rebuild Notre Dame

Reached a billion euros

The thorn shall come home to roost on high

Again, a spiritual lightning rod