Monday, 4 November 2019

Non PhD-Ness 3months on from cessation aka what am I doing now?

Notes for todays blog post and what I hope to cover....
Phone image of the Goth cabinet currently at Leeds Museum in the Broderick Room and there til February 2020, installed as part of the Festival of Gothika held on October 12th 2019. I gave a talk as part of the festival entitled 'Hidden Relics: Uncovering Hidden Histories in St George's Field'.
3 of the hoops I have made containing photographs I have taken and transferred onto material - including coffin lining material are hung around the neck of the Newky Brown Bottle promo item. Said item used to live in the legendary and much missed Phono nightclub... and a place in which I spent a lot of my time in the late 80's when I first moved to Leeds. 
Road sign image taken on toy digital camera - this is cemetery Road off Clarendon Road Leeds 6. It leads to one of my very favourite places namely St George's Field, the former burial ground that is part of Leeds University campus.
So pleased to have recieved this unexpected treat in the post from the never not funny Hacker T Dog aka Phil Fletcher. His brand of dog based meat paste fuelled slapstick, wordplay, cheekiness and proud northern-ness has helped me get through some really tough times recently. I am extremely grateful to him for making me laugh. I am also extremly grateful to my ever supportive husband Mr Pops, Mapp, my lovely friends and Paul at Crunch Gym in Meanwood for helping me get through it too. I can now deadlift (just by its name it is the goth-est of all exercises *grin*) 85kg and have a goal of being able to deadlift 100kg by the end of the year...lack of further illness and injury permitting that is.


Oh my poor neglected blog, which I haven't really looked at or updated recently. On checking I updated it last in June 2019 when I put up some images of work I've made, and prior to that it was November 2018. Annoyingly (for myself anyway - it might have been a blessing for readers *grin*) I let someone who I should not have paid any attention to niggle away at my self confidence, especially in connection with writing this blog.

Sadly though I let their rude, unsubstantiated and contemptuous opinion of blogs and blog writing overtake both the compliments I have been paid with regard to it but more distressingly and stupidly I let it get in the way of how useful I find writing it as a way of collating my thoughts.

So I am hoping to get back into the habit of regularly updating it, maybe not as regularly as when I did my MA (which was at least once a week) but maybe once a month. Like when I first started my PhD at Huddersfield Uni in September 2017 and which after a lot of thinking and discussion with the head of department I decided to withdraw from before the start of the new academic year in September 2019.

I withdrew for various reasons both personal and institutional but the bottom line was it was making me increasingly stressed and unhappy and had been since the start of my second year. Difficult circumstances external to the PhD were also having a negative impact on my mental health and so my ability to study and I was unable to secure the help and support I needed to deal with those issues at the time. Circumstances that thankfully are now resolved and long may they stay that way. I'm hoping that physio is going to help with ongoing plantar fasciitis problems though. Not being able to get out and about as much as I would like to has been and continues to be really limiting and horrible.

I had started a PhD for my own satisfaction as opposed to 'I've got to do this because I want a job in academia' and I am still deciding what steps to take next - if any in a formal academic context. Steps being the possibility of transferring to a more traditional history based PhD as opposed to a practice based one as one of the areas I was finding most difficult was writing about my work in a way necessary to highlight the practice based elements of the research and what was original about it but I am still undecided about this and still thinking longer term what is the best thing for me and my work.

I am still unhappy about leaving things unfinished as it were, especially as it plays into negative feelings I have about my own abilities and makes imposter syndrome feel far too real for me but I have no regrets about not returning to Huddersfield Uni, that was definitely the right decision for me.

However I also realised I needed a break from all things academic/research related and so for a lovely few weeks over the summer I was lucky to be able to do things like pursue other purely photographic interests namely seasides, watch and listen to Count Arthur Strong who like Hacker T Dog never fails to make me smile, I went to see the wonderful and awe inspiring Carter Tutti, listened to bands like Snapped Ankles, The Psychological Strategy Board,Brix and the Extricated, and went to the cinema A LOT (might have to do a separate blog post about the films I've seen and enjoyed so far this year)in other words I gave myself very much needed rest and thinking space.

Outside of a specific academic context I am still continuing my research into the history of some of the women buried in St George's Field and Victorian Mourning Culture and still making photographic based work inspired by or connected to it. You can see some of my hoops featuring images I've taken of St George's Field in the Goth Cabinet in the Broderick Room of Leeds City Museum until February next year.

I am still at my happiest when wandering round a Victorian era cemetery, researching its context and specific history and making work inspired by it and that process. I am very glad that I have not lost that love or my enthusiasm for my subject matter. I still want to learn more.

Nor have I lost my love for Victorian era sensation fiction and over the summer I read (for that read could barely put down) East Lynne by Ellen Wood. Oh my goodness, what a page turner of improbable occurrences, coincidences, vividly written events and characters and I enjoyed every single sentence of its gripping improbability.

When trying to describe it to the Darling Roses WI group I said it was like Jackie Collins but without the explicit sex scenes though there is elopement which is almost the same given the time in which it was written (1861) and every bit as enjoyable though you do have to make sure your 'suspension of disbelief muscles' are in good form before you start reading it.

So that's where I'm at and a bit of what I've been up to, I'm still in the midst of planning and researching my next steps but I hope to blog about it on the way.

Thank you for reading :-)


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