Looking back over this past academic year as a part-time student has been challenging but I have survived and am looking forward to the next one. It is useful now to reassess everything and hopefully move forward more efficiently and effectively!
I went along to everything that was initially on offer for new PhD students, which was really useful especially as it enabled me to meet other students and to try to establish a peer network. However, before too long everyone seemed to bury themselves away to work, but I guess that is the nature of the PhD. I thought it would be useful to say, meet up once a month if they could escape to exchange ideas, moans etc. and if nothing else to provide mutual support. So it has ended up just catching up at any meetings so far.
I also signed up for more than the recommended five RDP (research Development Programme) sessions as I felt that there were sessions covering subjects I knew little about. However, in hindsight perhaps this was not such a good idea as apart from it taking up time when I could have been working on other things, some of the sessions were more valuable than others . Next year at least I can repeat any that may be particularly useful and just attend any others I missed this year.
One thing that has shone through everything, is the fact that I feel so fortunate to have got so far and not been written off as seems to be the case in some other universities. To have my supervisor Karen, has been a light shining through initial teething problems and enabled me to keep on track. To also be able to discuss anything even if I felt it was at a basic level has been a great help. A couple of days ago there was a TV report about a lady of 86 who had just received her doctorate at the University of Bristol, so it is good to hear that I will not be the oldest by the time I finish!
This meeting was held to update the group as to the current position as regards exhibits for the 2018 exhibition , those that have now been agreed and those that are under discussion etc. The image by Man Ray ‘Dust Breeding’ has been agreed by the Pompidou Centre in Paris, so it will be exciting to see it ‘in the flesh’.
I had suggested a link via David Bowie and also to use Zineb Sedira’s film ‘Guiding Light’ which I felt to link with ‘The Wasteland’, but these were not taken up by the group.
My other suggestion for a Henry Moore is still under discussion.
Nick talked to the group about the design of the exhibition and some interesting thoughts, suggestions and views were expressed. Two members of the curatorial staff of the gallery also came in to talk about the practicalities of the actual hang, bearing in mind that some of the exhibits such as the one by Cy Twombly which is very large.
This day’s event was in conjunction with the Claude Cahun exhibition which was currently being held in the gallery.
Although I was not documenting this event it was a most informative and interesting day. It also coincided with a project produced by Sam Vale, ‘Latent: A Hidden History.’ (2017)
The project has repurposed pictures from the S.E. Archive of Seaside Photography, to “act as a tribute, remembering relationships that could not be recorded or lived in the open …” The images provided by Sam Vale were interesting and very thought provoking.
During the day Leah Thorn, a local poet from Folkestone held a fashion show, entitled ‘Older Women Rock’. I took the following images and were impressed at how brave and positive these women were!
All the clothes had extracts from Leah’s poetry sewn into the fabric in some format.
On route to the Espacio Gallery for Elspeth’s walk later in the day, I stopped at the church as there was an exhibition of photographic alternative processes being held. It was an interesting building although in great need of repair.
Whilst I was there a memorial service was being conducted for those who had lost their lives in 1943. Further investigation has found that on 3 March, 178 people were suffocated in the tube during an enemy raid. The following images were found online.
I took the following images of some local residents at the end of the ceremony.
During the day in the crypt of the church, various activities were taking place including a stone carving group. They were very enthusiastic about what they were doing and happy for me to take pictures of them at work.
Elspeth invited me to join this walk which was not part of the ‘TSE Walking Group’. It began at the Espacio Gallery, Bethnal Green and finished at Leadenhall Market. Everyone was given a rope to record their journey.
Readings from Cecilia Vicuna’s poem ‘Thread & Word’ were made by members of the group in various locations.
As Elspeth pointed out, we were collaborating to celebrate the threads that bring us together.
The emphasis of this walk led by Elspeth, was to look at the important contribution made by Vivienne Eliot to the work of T.S. Eliot and her influence on ‘The Wasteland’
Elspeth gave the group ropes which she had made, so that they could ‘knot’ things that had made an impact on them during the walk.
Contributions were made on different aspects of her life by Richard and members of the group during the day.
A very welcome break for a cream tea was taken at The Walpole Bay Hotel & Museum.
The final stop was at The Old Market where Judy read a piece she had written from the top of the converted bus inside the venue. The event had been advertised to the public and Sally Waterman’s video ‘In the Cage’ (2007) was projected onto the ceiling.
All these events have also been an opportunity for me to take images of interesting things I have also witnessed. In this case I took a picture of the baker inside the market who was busy in his work area. Although it was possible to see inside, there was a red film on the inside of the glass hence to colour of the image.
Sally was invited to speak to the group as being a possible contributor to the 2018 exhibition. Her work on ‘The Wasteland’ is the culmination of a five-year PhD project and has resulted in 12 photographic and video installations which have resulted from TS Eliot’s 1922 poem.
This was the first time that the group had met at the studio in Northdown Road, Cliftonville, Margate. It was chance for us to discuss the progress so far together with some members of the curating team from Turner Contemporary.
The lighting was extremely challenging and ideally the venue was not equipped to deal with so many people. So I was not able to move around freely to take images. However it was good to have a change of scene and to see some members of the group who are only able to come occasionally.
Now that I am sitting down to write and update my blog again, I cannot see any good reason not to have done it sooner! The year started off with a meeting with my supervisor Karen, having reminded my that as I am part-time, I don’t need to be in a rush and it is better to take things slowly, dig deep and conceptualize what I am looking at.
So since then I have cut down on the number of Research Development Programme meetings I have signed up for. Although they have been extremely useful and have been an opportunity to find out about something I know nothing about but for some I realised they would not help me, so have taken up time I could have used better elsewhere. Besides as they are repeated, as time goes on I will know better which will be of the most use to me. Two recent meetings were about ‘Grounded Theory’ and I immediately realised that this was applicable and could be helpful in working with my subject matter. These have since led to my reading as much as I can about it to see best how to use it in my work.
I have also been up to London for related events such as two Doctoral Open Days at the British Library. The second of these (which looked at the 20th century) repeated several of the sessions held at the first one (newspapers and media) so was not felt to be so valuable. However the sessions were extremely useful in providing links to online resources and providing information about the vast amount of information that is held within the library.
My most recent visit to London was to view some photographic prints and documents relating to focus of my research held at the Imperial War Museum. It was exciting to see the actual objects ‘in the flesh’ and it particularly enabled me to decide which images I could possibly include as illustrations in my thesis; especially as some were over exposed and of poor quality. The only drawback was that if I had wanted to take any images on the day I would have had to purchase a £10 day permit. So it may be that it is more cost-effective to pay for downloadable copies to be sent to me, when I have narrowed down the selection.
Apart from that I have been reading as much as possible and also started writing! Initially it was painful starting, but I soon realised that my previous practice of writing notes on paper rather than putting them on the computer was a very cumbersome way of working, and that it was much easier writing straight onto the computer. My supervisor had suggested that I sent some writing to her prior to the April meeting, so this was a big motivation to begin. However I realised that much was dependent on what was submitted. If it was good then I could progress without undue worry, if it needed attention then this could be addressed, but if it was not up to scratch then I would seriously have to rethink my future steps. So I ended up submitting around 8,000 words and spent an anxious few days waiting to hear from her. Her reply was so helpful and encouraging and generally came out as good and at that I was writing at the required post-grad level. She also provided feedback on areas that could be improved upon. So this is the best motivation for the future I could have received right now 🙂
A time goes on I have also become more engrossed in the subject matter when possibly one could have maybe lost some interest, but I seem to keep uprooting things that I know nothing about and which provide areas to be investigated further. So I feel a bit like a female ‘Poirot’ right now. Long may it continue.