Week Eleven – Farrah

The Spring Show Reflection

I really enjoyed both taking part in, and watching the Spring Show. I felt part of a community, all centred around the theme of Animal, yet doing our own separate things. As the event was longer than the Winter Show was, it felt more reflective and we were able to discuss and get feedback at both the beginning and end of each episode. This was so lovely as it was an opportunity to further discuss our work and I felt people were really interested in my project, as I was in others. There were three episodes in total. I loved the way in which we all joined in with each others workshops; I felt so proud when people wanted to join in with mine and I loved taking part in others too.

The show felt like an exploration of the Animal. It was immersive, fun, emotional and thought-provoking. It had great energy at times, and other times were more meditative and calm. The way in which it was curated meant I never felt bored, as I was taken through different disciplines, subjects and environments. I always enjoy seeing other people’s work, and particularly the first years as they are starting out on their creative journeys, whereas mine in University is coming to an end.

Unusually, I particularly enjoyed the show when things went slightly wrong, such as lagging, a lost connection or confusion. It made it seem real. This year has been so difficult for all of us, but it felt during this show that we are now celebrating these difficulties, and not letting them defeat us. The show must go on!

Pre-Recorded Video

This is my pre-recorded video which formed part of my contribution to the Spring Show. The film took on an Activist Documentary style, as I wanted to inform and educate people as to the problems disposable masks are creating in the environment.

Inspired by the ‘Apology to the Great Auk’, I created my own speech to read out during the video. I kept it simple and short, as I think that is more effective than long complex sentences. I intertwined my verbal apology with written facts and statistics about the effects of disposable masks, and plastic in general, on turtles. My apology was from myself, as I do not feel I can speak for the general population. Sadly I do not think they are sorry, I do not think they will change their ways. I hope there is a change. I also promised several things during the speech, such as ‘I promise to campaign for you’. This is what I am doing in my project, I am trying to be a voice for the turtles as they have no voice.

I received very good feedback for the video, I know that it made a few people cry. It is indeed an emotional film to watch, as it is subtle and constantly reinforces the message that every single plastic item will damage both the environment and wildlife. There is no escape for them, they are at the mercy of our choices.

The film was shown as a precursor to my following live workshop.

Workshop

This video is a composite of the live workshops I led during the Spring Show. I did three during the show, one in each episode. During the first workshop, I instructed people how to draw the turtle and cut it out of the mask. I also gave the task for preparing for the next workshop. I wanted to discuss several things in the first workshop, to give a context to my work, such as what I have been doing in my project, and why it is important.

In the second workshop, I instructed the viewers on how to begin stitching the mask into a turtle. As this was more complex than the task in the first workshop I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation with images and further information for people to follow. This made me feel more secure in what I was doing, as I was able to follow the presentation smoothly.

In the third workshop, I instructed on how to stuff the turtle to give it shape and structure. By the end of the workshop, I was able to talk to some of the people who had been following, and it was a really fun atmosphere.

Reflecting on my workshops, it is clear there were positives and negatives. I felt I gained hugely in confidence from the first to the last, which is good. I enjoyed being able to discuss my project with people in a live context, and teach how I have been making my turtles. A positive aspect to the workshops would be that they had a good atmosphere, and it was something which could be done from episode to episode whilst people watched the rest of the show. A non-intensive activity one can do whilst watching something is always enjoyable. However, this could also be seen as a negative – nobody who only made the turtle during the workshops would have produced a turtle by the end – it had to be finished off in their own time. This is due to the length of the workshop – I could not dominate the whole Spring Show – it takes me about 3 hours to make each turtle. I know that a few people did manage to complete a turtle in their own time, which is really lovely and makes me feel very proud that I am spreading this beautiful idea of making something positive from the negative. Another aspect of my workshop I feel could have been stronger would have been to include a PowerPoint presentation for my first workshop. This would have allowed people to see what I was doing more clearly. However, I knew that the cutting section of the workshop would be quite straightforward, and people seemed to be able to follow it. An aspect I thought was strong from my workshops was my background. I used a different Joel Sartore photograph of endangered turtles in each episode. When I was showing people what I was doing, for example stitching the turtle, my physical mask turtle kept fading into the real endangered turtle. This was both an amusing and powerful effect.


Time Lapse Video

Before I reflect on this video I must explain that it being flagged by Youtube as age-restricted content, because it contains a link to an external site. The site is my fund-raising page for the Marine Conservation Society. The video can still be watched, but you must be logged into Youtube to watch it.

My purpose with this video was to experiment with a different discipline, and also direct people to my fundraising page which I discuss below. I decided that I would do an installation on the beach, and create a time lapse video from this.

I did not foresee many problems with this, but in all honesty it was really difficult! The tide of the sea meant that I had to move the installation several times as my Gimbel tripod was at risk of getting wet. I myself kept getting submerged. I originally had planned for the turtles to move in formation into the sea, whilst the Gimbel followed the movements but I had to change this plan. The Gimbel was picking up on my own body as I entered the frame to move the turtles, and then moving positions as I moved away. The only way I was able to do any time lapse video was to lie from behind the turtles, and keep taking photographs every time I moved them slightly. I wanted to film the turtles using the Gimbel, but my phone battery became very drained from the wind on the beach and made it keep glitching.

This being said, I am actually very happy with the final result of the film. I edited it together using wave noises, which give a calming atmosphere to the film. My intention with the concept is to resemble the way in which both adult turtles and baby turtles struggle to reach the sea due to both climate change and plastic debris on beaches. The turtles in my film keep getting pushed back from the tide – it is like a never-ending journey with no final destination.

I hope people enjoy watching my film – I will be showing it to different groups with the hope they will donate to my JustGiving page, and will post it on my various social media accounts.

Afterlife

I have created my whole project with the view of raising awareness of the effects of plastic pollution on the environment. However, my aim was to actively make a change as well as educating people on what is happening. I decided that I would set up a fundraising webpage, where people could donate what they can and I would give them a turtle as a thankyou gift.

I have created labels for my turtles as I will be taking them with me to various places in my area, and asking people if they would like to purchase one. All profits will be going to the Marine Conservation Society:

“The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the UK’s leading charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife. Our seas are under immense pressure: too many fish are being taken out, too much rubbish is being thrown in and too little is being done to protect marine wildlife and fish stocks.  

Our UK seas and coasts are amongst the most diverse and beautiful on the planet, playing host to dolphins, sharks, whales and turtles.  Over half of the UK’s wildlife resides within our seas and many other species such as seabirds rely on them for their survival.”

I chose this charity as they do incredible work to preserve the health and beauty of our oceans. They are UK based, which I feel is important as I think too many people bury their heads in the sand and think that the problem does not affect us as they cannot see it, unlike some tropical islands where the rubbish in the oceans visibly sits. I have included my link to my webpage here, and also some photographs which I will be submitting as part of my assessment.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/farrah-nicholson1

I am happy with what I have done regarding the afterlife and documentation of my project. It makes me feel that my project has had a purpose and a meaning, which goes beyond the assessment objective. I do not want to profit off my project, I want all of the proceeds to go directly towards making the planet cleaner, safer and sustainable.


Project Reflection

Overall I feel this project has been very successful. I feel immense pride in what I have achieved as it feels both purposeful and selfless. Although I am marked for what I have done, I feel I would have wanted to do it regardless. I knew I had to do something when it comes to plastic pollution, I felt a sense of urgency this year. Perhaps it was due in part to the pandemic – it made me too aware of my own mortality. I did not want the same for any future children I may have; I want them to grow up in a world that will exist safely forever.

I feel I have really pushed the boundaries of Interdisciplinary this year – if it ever had boundaries! By limiting my physical medium to just disposable masks, I felt it was imperative to be as creative as possible with the documentation and ideas to share my work. I explored two different types of film, photography, installation, live workshops and fundraising. It is interesting to see the range of possibilities with a material that is free and readily available, as I collected the disposable masks I used to make the turtles off the streets.

I would not do anything differently with my project. I felt focused and organised; I compared different outcomes of work until I was happy with my finished design. I love repetition in art, and making the same design of turtle again and again has resulted in a strong installation piece and film, and the ability to sell the product to raise money for the Marine Conservation Society. I feel deeply sad that my time at University has come to an end, but I also feel I could not have ended on a better note.