January 2019

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January 1: A shiny entry to mark a shiny new year, fresh out of its packaging. This one was deliberately art deco to suggest some lingering decadence of holiday. Not that I do glamour and decadence, but it was an unusually serene winter break…

January 2: A starting bell to commence the year’s activity – some reading, some drawing, some head-scratching, some running and some swimming. And, obviously, some stitching. I sent out quite a few work-related emails and was most confused to discover that lots of people weren’t returning to work until the 6th. The slackers!

January 3: These were words from the holiday. ‘Thoughtful’ (and its opposite) came up quite a bit, and ‘mindful’ is after a very inspiring book on drawing and mindfulness by Wendy Ann Greenhalgh. I can get behind the idea of applied mindfulness much more than plain and simple meditation.

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January 4: Another 1750m in the pool. I’m doing a sponsored swim of 32 miles between January and March in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance, which costs £12000 per day to run and is entirely funded by charitable donations.

January 5: For today’s entry, it turns out that hand stitched buttonholes are a bit of a sod to get right first time. This is stitched with some lovely Gutermann silk buttonhole twist.

January 6: This one was about how, when doing any sort of daily record involving a single image, or phrase, the tricky bit is deciding what to focus on and what to leave out – an edit of the day. This journal broadly reflects my PhD experience, so those posts are straightforward, but on days like today, with their mix of drudgery and leisure, tears and laughter, frustration and progress, how to choose?

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January 7: Full beam for a gloomy day.

January 8: Rose-tinted spectacles for my ongoing lack of criticality, observed once again today. Only seeing the good/useful is all very noble but not very academically rigorous.

January 9: Hatching plans and gathering threads for a new sewing project.

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January 10: I often find friendship less than straightforward, and have been known to swerve social situations – not very helpful, especially as PhD life can be quite isolating. Today, I popped into university (a 50 mile round trip) for a cup of tea and a setting-the-world-to-rights with my friend Emma, and it was a glorious thing.

January 11: Whilst swimming along and wishing I had a harpoon, I got to thinking about how it might be better to be a slow person in the fast lane than a fast person in the medium lane. As with swimming, so with PhD…

January 12: A grey day by Derwentwater.

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January 13: This was going to be a nice landscape from a very rainy shamble round Gisburn forest, but instead, here is a picture of a sciatic nerve.

January 14: A rubber kidney and a prodding stick whose name I don’t yet know, from my ceramics class fieldwork.

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January 15: Exciting news from Denmark – as part of my scholarship I must undertake a REP – a Researcher Employability Project – of one month, in an area related to but not directly part of my PhD research. As I’m slightly ancient I already have quite a bit of work experience, so I was scratching my head about this. Open access community making spaces are far more prevalent in Denmark than in the UK, and Godsbanen, a large multi-use arts space in Aarhus, is looking likely as a venue for my REP. Roll on August!

January 16: If in doubt, mind map.

January 17: I spent a few hours in London, heading to Tate Modern to see the Anni Albers show, buying drypoint etching equipment at the amazing Intaglio Printmaker, and inspecting enormous dead animals at the Natural History Museum. It only occurred to me on the train home that it had been a rather magnificent day off.

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January 18: A freezing day with a dusting of snow. What better way to spend the day than by trudging back and forth across from my village to the other side of the town for my car’s MOT?

January 19: Unexpected blossom in the garden at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, whilst visiting to see the fantastic and thought-provoking Alice Kettle show, Thread Bearing Witness.

January 20: What started out as a routine bit of Daněk self-doubt escalated into a full-blown yawning chasm of doom, in which the point and purpose of this whole PhD business was called into question.

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January 21: ‘Wedging up’ clay in my ceramics class, to remove the bubbles that might otherwise lie dormant until they emerge as an explosion at firing time.

January 22: This one’s about the perils of speaking up in some reading groups. I feel perfectly able to speak in some academic situations but in others, I spend ages mustering up the courage to share a point, only to have it shot down in a moment, and then spend the rest of the time berating myself for my folly.

January 23: A gloriously cold and crisp and sunny day, of the sort that disrupts the bleak mood of winter.

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January 24: A pleasant – and surprising – sense of equilibrium.

January 25: This one’s about committing to taking the first step – in yoga it’s about showing up to the mat, in running it’s about getting out of the door, and tonight, for me, it was about forcing myself to drive to the swimming pool in siling rain. It’s also about the step I need to take with trying out some creative stuff too… I bought these beads in Abakhan’s in Liverpool nineteen years ago. They cost 15p. 24 year old me had no idea that 42 year old me would have a use for them.

January 26: Cutting out a new top with my trusty Fiskars. I know a lot of sewists are big fans of Ernest Wright scissors, but my mum’s always had Fiskars and consequently so do I.

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January 27: This one’s a bit shonky but it’s the first time I’ve tried a face… I went to life drawing up in Pateley Bridge, and spent most of the day drawing feet. As I was pulling out of the car park I saw Biddy Noakes, my amazing art teacher from school, arriving – she’s a co-founder of the studios where the drawing session took place. Got me thinking about the lasting influence of extraordinary teachers. This isn’t the best likeness of her!

January 28: I went to my ceramics class/fieldwork, where I’m now busy recreating an old Bartholomew map of the Torridon area on the side of my cylindrical pot. This is the first bit of slip, applied with a sponge – blue for Loch Torridon.

January 29: Sleet.

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January 30: With this one I was thinking about academic networks, shyness, and how that impacts on what comes next. I’d gone to attend a research seminar that looked interesting, on ‘lifeworks’, and as people gathered to go in, all chattering away together, I felt more and more uncomfortable, so I told myself my time would be better spent getting on with my work, and that’s what I did, but I don’t think it helps in the long run.

January 31: A day lost to a 24 hour bug.