Following the deferment of the March meeting, we decided to make the most of the opportunity to carry out a proposed visit to the Northern Quarter’s relatively new addition that is Ziferblat. This venue (also on Edge Street, just opposite our usual ‘home’ that is MadLab) is a community space which can be used for a variety of purposes. WiFi, desk space, board games, tea, coffee, snacks and treats are all supplied on a self-service basis and paid for in the time you spend, rather than by what you use. At five pence per minute, I managed to spend £2.50 (we had a short meeting this month!) and for this price enjoyed a juicy pear, a rather fine cup of earl grey tea with almond milk and some fruit shortbread (a fine vegan selection was a pleasant discovery)! Of course I also used the WiFi but the highlight was taking the time to have a relaxed conversation with fellow CRITters Renate and Christine.
Christine hasn’t been able to attend for a while as she’s been exploring the opportunities provided by the Castlefield Associates, who also meet on Wednesdays. We were lucky however, that this week her diary was free so we particularly enjoyed hearing about her recent activities, including a trip to the IXIA conference in Birmingham this week, an alternative platform for networking and creative dialogues. She continues to work on community projects and is currently producing a sculptural outcome for a local council.
Aside from the very professional side to her practice however, she has been especially enjoying attending drawing and sketching classes at her local 6th form college night school, where she has been exploring new techniques and approaches to both materials and subject matter that is outside of her comfort zone. She is looking forward to using this as a catalyst to get back to drawing and painting for herself instead of being entirely consumed with commissioned work.
I shared my latest canvas, Hangzhou Magnolia, explaining that I have been feeling more 'justified' in producing and relaxed with the outcomes of this work that has clearly now become a substantial part of my practice as opposed to what I'd previously described as a 'tangent'. That I have been back to various shrines and temples in Japan to gather new source photos, as well as studying a short course on Buddhism has helped me understand my motives for producing the work more clearly. This has also given me some further ideas for other series, as well as a new perspective on the subject matter that has certainly enabled me to feel like there is more integrity in the outcomes and that they are not purely self-indulgent.
Though I was sorry that it was necessary to postpone last month’s meeting, I was really pleased that we had the chance to pay a visit to Ziferblat, which is a really successful and unique space. Though we will be back at MadLab as usual next month, I anticipate further visits to a welcoming and well-resourced space that feels particularly conducive to creative conversations despite having a very relaxed ambience!