August 31: Another very warm day. I had a wander and found myself down on the harbour, having an ice cream by the Iceberg, reflecting on how on the one hand it’s great to have the opportunity to please just oneself, but on the other hand it’s nice to be able to share these moments with someone else. My husband was busy doing a triathlon in North Wales so I couldn’t even ring him to whinge at him about the difficulty <ahem> of my situation.
September 1: After saying I was feeling quite relaxed, I came to with a start this morning when I realised that I had a mountain of things to do and only two weeks left of the placement. What better place to start than with a lengthy to-do list?
September 2: I went for a run to the Infinite Bridge.
September 3: A day spent wading through field notes and spotting gaps.
September 4: I made a pot in the ceramics workshop the week before so this one’s about glazing it – these are some of the huge range of glazes available to workshop users.
September 5: Once a month Godsbanen runs a ‘Craft+Beer’ session, where participants learn a new craft while drinking beer. A winning combination! This session involved miniature weaving, and reminded me that I have a tiny weaving loom at home that I’ve yet to try out.
September 6: A glass of wine with Lis from the textiles workshop and her husband Søren. Lis has been so welcoming, inviting me round for dinner and showing me bits of the city and surrounding area that I would have missed had I been entirely alone.
September 7: Flags outside the Musikhuset. I was surprised to see Danish flags everywhere, even in small packets available in the supermarkets; Lis told me that they even feature on birthday cakes here. It feels like flying union flags in the same way would not go down so well in the UK, particularly in the current political atmosphere. The more I see of Denmark, the more I like it, most notably that people don’t seem loud or brash, but are instead slightly introverted, which I find much easier to navigate.
September 8: Thinking about the notion of ‘creative affordances’ and what that might mean.
September 9: Another small detail I’d been half-overlooking while here is a short article I’d promised to a journal focusing on amateur performance. As ever with my writing, everything felt incredibly difficult until the last minute, when words gushed forth in a sort of horrific constipated release. Today, I spent time at Dokk1, the amazing new library/community centre on the waterfront, tapping away at my laptop and occasionally looking up and into the dense fog that engulfed the harbour.
September 10: I had coffee with a woman who’d recently started a PhD at the University of Aarhus, who’d come to it armed with a pretty spectacular arts career. I found myself feeling quite tongue-tied and, as ever, selling myself short. As I walked home, feeling a bit shell-shocked, I thought it might be good to change the narrative, or perhaps, as I said back in July, to change the stories I tell myself.
September 11: A day full of sewing as I assemble the embroidered organogram.
September 12: More sewing. Feeling like a race against time if I’m to have it finished by the end of the week.
September 13: These stickers were stuck all over the place at Godsbanen and I thought the message was worth recording. Being here has opened up my head quite a bit – the most significant thing has been being accepted as a creative, a maker, rather than always feeling like (to use an unfortunate term, given my research) an amateur, a dilettante.
September 14: My husband came to visit – finally, someone to go for beer with! I discovered that in Denmark you can order beer in 25cl servings, which come in a vessel akin to a wine glass. It’s such a civilised way to drink, especially for someone like me who has a very delicate relationship with alcohol.
September 15: We visited Den Gamle By museum, which was a fantastic way of travelling through a couple of centuries of Danish social history. This image features an airship from the toy museum section.
September 16: Time to head home. Some of the pedestrian crossing images have been replaced by stationary and marching vikings, as a nod to the city’s viking heritage, and I thought that a ‘viking go!’ was a fitting note on which to depart.
September 17: Washing clothes before the next trip.
September 18: A day full of trains, as I headed for the Making Futures conference. It turns out Plymouth is a very long way from Skipton.
September 19: Fiona Hackney talked about Kathleen Stewart’s ‘bloom spaces’ in a session on sustainable making, which struck a chord for my own research. I presented early findings from my work in front of a small but engaged audience, and came away resolving to think more about the use of error in amateur making.
September 20: Helen Pailing gave a brilliant presentation of her practice-based doctoral research on recrafting waste; her use of a ‘stitch-based’ methodology, complete with knots and backstitches, caught my attention and got me thinking about similar strategies to approach my own methodological struggles.
September 21: A day back at home and largely spent dozing, after a very busy week.
September 22: A pile of tasks tumbling down from above.
September 23: I signed up for a life drawing course as a way of having something non-PhD to look forward to. The first session felt unnecessarily daunting, but I tried to focus on making pencil marks on paper, and how there is no ‘wrong’.
September 24: The pendulum swinging from side to side relates to thoughts that seemed to be bubbling back up after my month away, about my suitability for PhD, my suitability for the department and for Leeds. Too much rumination is not good for a Daněk.
September 25: A session on teaching methods, specifically tailored for my department and its performance focus. This image comes from an observation by Jonathan Pitches, one of my supervisors, about how the seminar is the lungs of the lecture, breathing life into the content. I liked the analogy and loved the session. I don’t think I’ll have much chance to put many thoughts to work in teaching, though; the department is very small, there are a lot of postgraduate researchers jostling for experience, and I’m one of the least obvious fits for the subject area.
September 26: Now, instead of two cats shouting at me, there are three cats shouting at me. The newest and smallest is definitely the most relentless.
September 27: Making drypoint etchings for the print exchange I agreed to participate in back in August. The process uses oil paint, and I managed to stain my hands a decisive phthalo blue. I’d given myself three hours to get through twenty five prints, but even that wasn’t really long enough, as I kept making silly mistakes like not getting the paper lined up with the plate, or smudging oil paint where it wasn’t supposed to be.
September 28: It seems that just as the scholarship stipend arrives in my bank account, so it departs. I’m very fortunate in that my stipend isn’t the only money in our household, and on this particular day I was planning ahead and bulk buying pet food and glamorous items like flea treatments, but seeing my bank account emptying as soon as it’s filled is always disconcerting.
September 29: The UCI World Cycling Championships came through Skipton, accompanied by much grumbling from the anti-cycling lobby. The weather was dreadful so there weren’t so many people out as had turned out for the Tour de France Grand Depart a few years ago; those who had ventured to the route were clad in goretex or sheltering behind huge umbrellas, only ducking out at the last minute as the riders came past looking thoroughly miserable. I think any of the pros who were participating in anticipation of Dales beauty as seen in images from the TdF would be ripping up their contract and demanding a sunshine holiday from their team manager after the day’s horrors.
September 30: A day of emailing back and forth, and not much else.