Monday, 7 May 2018

PhD-Ness Part 9 - Thinking, Doing, Housework Neglect, Concentration and Writing

this months post it note, some of the things I've been reading and listening to and my now signed by the author copy of Art Sex Music by the very marvellous Cosey Fanni Tutti and I love those little green penguin editions as they are a) just the right size to go in your bag without weighing it down, b)a good way to read stuff you wouldn't have read otherwise c) a pound each - bargain!!

Well it's a lovely sunny warm day and part of me wishes I was sat outside sipping a cold drink and contemplating which ice lolly I want to lick whilst reading a nice book but I've decided to do this instead as it'll hopefully get my head round what I've been doing since I last wrote and what it is I need to do next.

Plus as I'm struggling a bit with focus and concentration levels - this is an easier task to focus on for the time being. Plus the weather won't be quite so warm tomorrow - hopefully...when I fully intend to give my full focus and attention to writing more of my PhD upgrade document. I've got about another 1,500 words to go before I have to hand it in on June 18th - I'm a bit nervous about it (the usual nerves along the lines of is it jumping those academic hoops high enough, have I understood what it is I need to be doing and of course the ever present - is it good enough?) but as this date was my much loved and missed Grandad's birthday I'm taking that as a good omen.

So what have I been up to since I last wrote - in short loads but the highlights have been:
what feels like months ago at the beginning of April - the Remember Me Conference held at the Guild Hall in Hull - utterly gorgeous building, fantastic conference - real mix of papers and approaches and I gave a paper too. Met some lovely people and fingers crossed some interesting collaborations will come of it.

Plus having recently read Cosey Fanni Tutti's book it was interesting to see Hull as it is now compared to the way she describes it at the start of her book, had a mooch around and warmed the cockles of my republican heart having a drink in the White Hart Pub - complete with human skull behind the bar and was generally rather chuffed with my finding places I was meant to be at skills (though to be fair Hull isn't very big and well signposted too) as I do not have a smart phone and am well shonky when it comes to using maps. Also had a brief but good mooch round the very lovely Ferens Art Gallery and the Maritime Museum - am determined to go back and spend some more time in Hull. I love its mix of full on sixties concreteness next to Georgian splendour - to say nothing of the gorgeous Victorian and 1930's loveliness which also managed to survive the bombing. There was also a very heartfelt and angry shouting match between a christian evangelist and someone who took great exception to being evangelised which we listened to as we ate chips and tried to recover from our mercifully slight hangovers...

Been to see some great films - I Got Life (2017) was funny and really life affirming, as was Band Aid (2017) the documentary re Vivienne Westwood was good but rather a one sided hagiographic approach - I still have lots of questions though whether or not I'd dare to ask Ms Westwood in person those questions I'm not sure...A fantastic gig at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester(ford) by Brix and the Extricated - really energising and uplifting and so fantastic to see a female 'frontman' who really gives it some.

Talking of inspiring women I was also lucky to be part of the audience at Cosey Fanni Tutti's talk at Outlaws Yacht Club, she was beautifully interviewed and I asked her about her diary writing habits and also had a chat with her afterwards when she was signing my copy of her book. My 19 year old self would never have believed that one day I would be talking to 'wrecker of civilisation' Cosey about a)what my name means and b) how to check whether or not fuscias are dead*

Plus last Friday I had the privilege of seeing the inestimable Count Arthur Strong at City Varieties, I've seen the Count many times now and each time has been an utter delight but his Alive and Unplugged show with its unique take on the Last Supper was something else. Utter comic brilliance, plus he does remind me of my Grandad - the way he looks and his cantankerousness are very reminiscent of the old codger who I still miss and think of often.

But back to more academic/practiceness - along with the paper I gave amidst the splendour of the the Guild Hall in Hull, I've also spoken at Left Bank as part of their local history series on the history of St George's Fields, and at what will always be Leeds College of Art to me but is now officially Leeds University of the Arts about my PhD journey so far to their current crop of Masters students.

Academic wise I've mostly been concentrating upon my upgrade document the last few weeks and it's slowly but surely getting there. It just needs fleshing out a bit more - like the talks it is helping me narrow my focus and research, its narrowed location to St George's Field and my focus is now much more upon not just women in the Victorian era but specific women who have been overlooked or nothing is known about at all due to their ordinariness.

It's made me think about my research too - I don't think I do practice led research but research led practice. And I have been taking more photographs, made some lumen prints, and planned more for what it is I want to do next - in the short term it is make some anthotype prints with the cooperation of Leeds University who are very kindly giving me access to the Chapel to develop some anthotypes and in the longer term recreat/reenact/rewalk (I've yet to decide on what the correct terminology is for what I want to do) the route of Ann Carr's funeral.

So I've been doing lots of thinking, doing, reading - absolutely loved The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte, devoured Theft by Finding by David Sedaris (read as part of my concerted effort to read something that is not in any way connected to my studies)and have made a start on Adam Bede by George Eliot as it features a 'methody' in the form of Dinah Morris who I hope will give me some more insights into the life of real life methodist preacher Ann Carr (1783-1841).

I haven't been good at housework though - doing the bare minimum really (ie washing up every day and keeping up to date with the washing)and mostly making proper meals as opposed to relying on take aways but there has been some ready meal consumption and a lot of last minute corner shop buying as opposed to a planned big shop. But at least this weekend I am pleased to have properly dusted everywhere and climbed the ironing mountain....though of course it will need doing again soon, oh how I wish housework could just stay done as opposed to being a sisyphean drudge.

I find it hard though to give myself permission to be away from my desk - even if when I sit at my desk I spend a lot of time clicking refresh on social media sites. I approach my studies as if it is a 9-5 job though I don't really keep those hours, it's more like 10-6.30pm and days when I am at the university or in libraries are different. But I am hoping to make myself go for a walk each day - even if it's just a 20 minute stroll.

I am still struggling on and off with anxiety - sometimes it is in relation to something specific eg public speaking and sometimes it is just how I feel. But a mix of medication, breathing exercises and exercise is helping. I am loving being back at a gym - I am anxious re hurting myself or making already dodgy knees worse but my trainer is working with me round this and I am definitely building stamina and strength - I can now walk to Headingley without having to stop en route to get my breath back and I have run for the bus twice in the last week - without feeling like I need to lie down. RESULT - proper chuffed with this and long may it continue.

So all that remains for my to do list today - is to write a list and plan my week...and treat myself to a glassette of chablis.

*I've followed her advice but sadly my fuscias are victims of the winter weather and deader than dead things. The reason I asked her gardening advice was because of the recent programme on BBC6 in which she revealed her love of gardening. My 19 year old self would have been all about Hamburger Lady and COUM no doubt....

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