Eat, sleep, breathe PhD!

It has finally happened. It clicked into place last week, I realised I had to stop pushing paper and get writing my final thesis.

It’s been a funny few months. It’s hard to get your head out of teaching and into your own stuff sometimes, but as lock down took hold and teaching came to the end of term I started crafting a bit more again. Mainly for my sanity and also I was asked to produce some leather handles for someone. It made me remember what I’m ok (good) at and got me motivated. It also allowed me to switch off after a long day in the spare room office, which was a good thing!

I had asked advice of a colleague a couple of weeks ago and we scheduled a chat for last week. It actually ended up being the conversation where my supervisory team changed, 7 months from completing! Although I had thought about this for a while and was quite nervous about what added pressure a change in team could be at this point, the positives have totally outweighed the negatives! In fact now I think of it, there aren’t really any negatives!

I’ve gained a new second supervisor. Practice based which has helped me re engage with the practice and put this to the forefront of the research. I think I forget about what I’ve achieved to date (over the 5.5 years) and so taking it through fully and being questioned about it helped me to reconnect. I also have discovered over the past 2 years that recording tutorials allows me to re engage with the moment, much like the narratives I have worked with!

I realised I was treating the PhD as an extension of work, something that had to be done as part of my job and always took second place to my prep and teaching etc, however something clicked and I began to schedule time in first thing, before checking emails or getting engaged in other tasks. I started to take ownership and face issues such as ‘what the heck is a methodology’ head on. I’ve found that these two hours in the morning give me chance to do a little, bit not overwhelm myself, and it’s started to re engage me with what I have already done, so I can work out where best to place things, how to fill gaps.

Even this small amount of time (in some cases more or less) has made me feel excited and want to get it done. I actually spent every morning of the bank holiday weekend writing, sorting etc. I felt so good!!!!

I also had a fab meeting with my main supervisor who is great at helping me fill gaps, answer questions about already written material and make me feel like I can actually do it so I feel now my team has finally come together.

So I’ll keep going… hopefully I won’t drop off the radar. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a couple of days off on my annual leave next week, but actually I think just a little connection with some element of it each morning, even if it’s just a bit of reading is really helping.

Better late than never hey!

Dark days and time on our hands

It’s been a while since I wrote, I think because generally I have been working on my write up of the thesis, which doesn’t involve uploading any pictures so, writing like this is just a little bit self indulgent I find.

However, sometimes the need to get out what you need to then helps you move on from a stalemate!  Which is where I appear to be!

With life suitably changed for the time being, it’s taking me a while to adjust to, both working from home and living from home.  Also I had set aside the Easter break to concentrate on nothing but my PhD.  However, with the new digital transition of teaching, I’ve found it hard to not become engrossed in teaching, but also to settle into reearch.  I long for days where I could read a book and write notes sitting in the sun, but it just doesnt’ seem to happen.  I sit at my desk and wonder what bit to get on with!

I had a great supervisory meeting on monday so I know what I need to do, it’s just how to do it.

SO. I need to remember.  Firstly…this is time I can be getting on with my PhD.  Also to take breaks away from it and to break down into managable chunks.

Although I will be on Easter break tomorrow, this PhD is my baby and I want to try and work on it when I’m feeling like I can.  I need to managage my AIH and PBC fatigue and see when I feel like I can get on.

Right….off to do 500 words…That’s todays goal 🙂

Keep smiling!

 

 

A few thoughts on legacy

Sadly last week I found out that one of my participants had passed away.  ‘Emily’ the rolling pin lady, whose mother worked in a bake house was one of the first people I interviewed and because of this I got very involved in how the making process for all the pieces and participants would be shaped or work.

For this piece I experimented extensively and because of this, I had many interactions with the participant.  I was even able to bring senses of taste and smell into the make by baking her mothers gingerbread recipe.

When I found out she had passed away unexpectantly I felt a great sense of loss.  One because I felt that I had made a fantastic friend through the project and enjoyed working alongside her and experiencing the process together, but also because the artefact I created feels lost.  Like it no longer has an owner.  The artefacts have never felt like they were mine when I had created them and I was beginning to think of their legacy and where they should live.  I had decided that those participants who would like them, should have the artefacts.  They belong with their storytellers.  But now the rolling pin no longer has a storyteller.

Because of the nature of Emily’s story, utilising a recipe for gingerbread and the artefact being a rolling pin I decided to use it.  I wanted to bake the gingerbread recipe and when I went to roll out the dough, I had the overwhelming urge to reach for the rolling pin artefact, rather than my own in the drawer.  The funny thing was all the time I was baking, the same stories Emily had told me, came back to me as if I was making it again.  The actions mimicking her mothers, then hers.  Maybe this was due to the nature of the object being a tool rather than an ornament.

Having made the gingerbread, I can honestly say, each time I went to eat one, I didn’t think about the process, it was only through the making.

The strange thing is, this week has been an odd one in regards to legacy and the friendships I have made for this project.  I had a phone call on Tuesday from ‘Georgia’, the Airforce cross story and her husband (the football story) wanting to go out for dinner at the end of November.  Then the next night from one of the makers who helped me learn how to turn metal, who wanted my help clearing out his loft.  I also banged into one of my participants (brass shoes) one lunchtime and we have text to meet up in the next couple of weeks.  All these people I did not know before the start of the project and now I have seen or arranged to see them all.

Today I went to help the man clear out his loft.  I took some of the gingerbread I made yesterday for him and his wife.  We had them with a cup of tea when we had a break from lifting.  It somehow felt like a circle or cycle was complete…. A recipe from one of my participants, made and passed on to one of the makers, rather than the maker helping me to make something for the participant.

Emily was a fantastic person and a friend and someone who I will dearly miss.  She taught me so much, but I feel privileged to know her story and be able to keep it alive and know that it was saved from being lost forever.

The writing up process all round

I had a fantastic meeting yesterday with my two supervisors, which was really productive.  The best thing I’ve learned on my PhD is to make sure I record my tutorials.  I love how excited I get during a tutorial and try and write stuff down, but actually I find when it’s the next day and I’m siting down again to write up what we discussed it’s all gone out my head!  Very much in line with my research, by re-listening to the tutorial I relive the event and the enthusiasm and ideas come flooding back!

 

So today I will be re listening to the tutorial from yesterday and scribbling down lots of notes….  then I am going to move onto trying to work out how my main bulk of evidence will fit together.  Starting with a huge mind map!

Literature Review Write Up

Again I find myself sitting at my computer being unable to get anything onto paper (digital paper).  I re looked at my chapter plan after thinking I couldn’t do it and then realised “I’ve done all this reading before”!!!!

I revisited both of my progression points and yes…there it was, all the reading I’d started when beginning this journey.  So having copied and pasted this into the relevant areas it’s not looking so daunting any more.  I do need to revisit each of these like I did within the literature review and add some depth, but also within the literature review situate myself and how I am working and how it is different to what others have done before me.

So this afternoon and the next few days I will be doing this.  I must try and stay at it.  I find it so hard to sit still whilst reading and think of so many other jobs to do!  I think I’ll be ok….after lunch 🙂

Methodology write up

I know it’s only a draft, but I eventually got into it.  Basically I needed to get my head out of the scientific approach I was trying to take and make it much more personal, which I feel like i have.  It was about re ordering information I’d started to gather.  I’ve started to identify holes in my reading so will need to start to fill these as time goes on.

Gallery Excitement

Yesterday and today I’ve been in the gallery manning the show which has been both tiring and exciting, but overall freezing!

I’ve been able to sit and reconnect with the work I made and have begun to talk about it with people who come into the gallery and ask their thoughts and opinions.  I’ve been approached about a potential new show that would expand on particular stories and pieces which would help with the deep analysis for my PhD.  It’s been quite exciting to think about focussing on one piece of the collection.

The same piece was discussed in depth at the WI talk I did this week too (see WI post).

Better hold onto the plinths after all!