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  • Writer's pictureAnna Curston

13th March 2023

Hello again! It has once again been far too long, but I’m here now so we shall focus on that. It’s been extremely hectic and stressful these past weeks, so nothing new there! Since I last checked in, I’ve completed two written deadlines and been getting stuck into the painting I’m making for the upcoming group exhibition I’m taking part in at Nottingham Contemporary (I’ll give more details closer to the time for those interested and in the area).


I’m feeling more optimistic in regards to time management, last week, for the first time since October, I actually got some work done before breakfast on a number of different days. I have long said that the time before lunch is the period I am most productive and focused in, but with my struggles with timetabling that doesn’t suit my schedule (even before you take my commute into consideration) I have been losing my most valuable work time. This results in less work and of worse quality, and very little motivation at all. The last thing you need when you are lacking in time is the absence of motivation to work in the time you do have. To make matters worse, my headspace is very important to my painting process; if I am stressed and confused ect. it will show up in my work, so that slows down my painting work too. But I am hoping that this really is, finally, the light I’ve been searching for at the end of what has seemed like an awfully long tunnel.


If you’ve checked my gallery page (or Instagram) recently, you may have noticed that I have finally completed my second painting of the year. Solar Dynamo is inspired by the sun’s complex magnetic field – I am intending my next blog post to be a more in-depth exploration of the painting and what inspired it, so look out for that if you’re interested to know more.


I have also (as mentioned above) got properly started on my painting for the Catalyst program I’m involved in at Nottingham Contemporary. Our exhibition will be open for a weekend at the end of March and is being made by a team of students here at Nottingham Trent University – those on the first year of the MFA are providing the artworks. My painting is inspired by the Giant Impact Hypothesis, and will be titled thusly. For those who don't know, The Giant Impact Hypothesis is currently the leading theory for the formation of the moon and involves a Mars-sized planet, called Theia, colliding with the early Earth. The biggest I’ve worked yet, I’m hoping it will make a real statement. It’s still very much in progress however, and I am a little anxious at the time I’ve got left to complete it in. I’ve been building up layers over the past two weeks, and I think it is moving in the right direction, so hopefully I won’t have a problem. I have no back up, so it’s getting displayed whether I’m happy with it or not… Wish me luck!


The writing I’ve been getting done involved a short research essay into my field of interest, and a detailed 1 year action plan (and a limited 5 year plan as well). The two deadlines were actually very close together which was stressful, but I don’t think I did too badly with either. The 1-year plan was actually a lot less stressful and a lot more useful than I expected. It’s probably not something I would have done if I hadn’t been told to, but I think I came up with a good number of reasonable, but useful aims/tasks.


I have also achieve a few things that have been on my to-do list for a while that are outside of the curriculum. I went to visit the Jadé Fadojutimi exhibition at the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery. Fadojutimi has been a particular favourite painter of mine for a while. I’m just fascinated by the way she applies paint and colour. It was great to see her work in person finally; the paintings were as satisfyingly textured as I’d imagined. The colours were really spectacular in person as well, and I could just see so many more interesting details about the way the paintings were made, given away by the texture on the canvas. One thing I love about her work is the light she manages to capture within it, it was exciting to be able to analyse in person exactly how the paint had been applied in those areas that seemed to burst with light from within. It was very inspiring.


The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed my website has a new look! It has been on my mind for a while now to give my website a revamp, but I just never felt like I had the time. (Even the smallest change takes a surprisingly long time.) I wanted a dark theme for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I felt that a dark background simply fitted the space theme. Space is dark after all!


Secondly, all my paintings are painted on a black background, and the dark areas are of upmost importance to the overall aesthetic of my work as a whole. White on black is the foundation of my work, so a dark background with white writing on my website just seemed to make sense.


Lastly, the theme change comes from my personal preference to have all my apps on the dark theme. I don’t necessarily enjoy a white screen, its brightness means I often turn the brightness settings down, but then I lose the intensity of any picture on said screen. With a dark background, you can turn the brightness up on your device to enjoy the intensity of the images, without blinding yourself with the background. Essentially, I hope the dark theme will help you enjoy the photos of my work more.


On Saturday 11th March, I volunteered at my first STEAM event. I helped out with NTU’s physics departments stall at the Science in the Park event: The community Solar System. The event encouraged people to think about planetary environments (to whatever silliness or seriousness they desired) and design their own planet. Once they made their planet, they could put their fingerprint on the big community solar system and add their planet to it, thinking about how close or far from the sun it should be given its temperature and environment! It was a really fun activity, and a good age range of children came to have a go. If I have one criticism, it is of the enthusiasm level of the children’s parents. The kids seemed to enjoy it, but some of the parents could definitely have been more involved and invested in what their children were doing. I think it would have added positively to the children’s experience and memories of the day.


There was one child near the end of the day that made me especially happy: She was so excited to tell me about her planet (and it was maybe the most creative and thought through I’d seen all day) and was enthusiastically telling how excited she was to learn about space in school and how much she loved the subject. I hope she has good memories of the day and is encouraged to keep up her enthusiasm.


As a member of The Society for Popular Astronomy, I receive the magazine Popular Astronomy bimonthly. In this months issue, I was especially struck by the article about the loss of our night sky. Growing up in the countryside and currently living in a city, I am only too aware of the effects of light pollution. I dearly miss the dark skies I grew up with, constantly finding myself disappointed on clear nights at the lack of stars I can see. We are losing our skies, worldwide, at an alarming rate. I for one think people should be far more upset about this than they currently seem to be. It is completely tragic that so many of us cannot look up at the sky and see what our ancestors had been seeing for thousands of years. The night sky is part of our shared heritage as inhabitants of this planet, and we are losing it. Worse still, so many people don’t even know what they are losing because they have never had the opportunity to see what it should really look like. But if this can’t persuade you that we should care about the loss of our dark skies, then maybe the detrimental impact to your health might. People and wildlife alike have evolved to experience light during the day and darkness at night. 'Light pollution disrupts the day-to-night transition from sunlight to starlight that many biological systems need to function.' (Amber Hornsby, Popular Astronomy) We are simply not designed for this light-flooded world.


If you are as upset about all this as I am, you can do your own little bit to help. You can take part in the Globe at Night project. Every month a constellation is chosen for you to find and observe during a specific period (moonless nights). You can then submit your findings to globeatnight.org to help monitor the situation. This month the constellation is Orion. So if you have a clear night between 13th (today) and 22nd of March, why not pop outside and take part! Go to globeatnight.org to find out more!


Stay curious and creative, my friends, and maybe remember to turn off any unnecessary lights this week! Every little helps! I’ll hopefully be back again soon!


Anna.

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