So we’ll see how long this resolution lasts. Feeling most terrible that I haven’t written anything since September. Perhaps this is reflective of both how busy I have been, but also (and paradoxically) of how paralysed I have been in terms of writing research-related things…
Firstly, my attentions were on Mouseion: artists’ reflections on museums, an exhibition which I curated in the School of Museum Studies in Leicester, working closely with Cy Shih who designed the show, and which ran from late September 2012, until February 2013. Having the opportunity to curate this show, which involved 7 artists from across the UK, all of whose work says something about museum objects and collecting processes, was a wonderful experience, but was one that made me realise how much I am missing actually being in a museum or gallery environment. The grass is always greener and all that… I know that the School of Museum Studies are currently investigating the possibilities of running practice-based PhDs (or some sort of title to be decided), akin to those at Manchester. While I made a very conscious decision to do my own PhD full-time and to step out of the workplace for a while, I now wonder whether perhaps this option would have been a good one for me. Not that it existed at the time. I’m not sure, but I know that I am happy ‘doing’.
So, anyway, going back to things that have been occupying me: in addition to the exhibition, and my PhD Rep responsibilities (which were at their peak during the October first week of the academic year, and its preparation), I am also managing our PhD conference, Museum Metamorphosis – which will be held in November 2013, and for which we were successful in our AHRC funding bid framed as a ‘Collaborative Skills’ project working with Leicester Arts & Museums Service. I have been involved in several other things including teaching in the department (for Dr Viv Golding’s Museum Education Option, for Dr Sandra Dudley’s Material Culture series, and for various MA ThinkTanks, mainly relating to objects and the exhibition), as well as marking MA practice essays and oral presentations. I am also working freelance for the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries as a Project Officer on the Museums, Health and Wellbeing Project in the East Midlands. My role is focussed primarily on working with the Children’s Hospital Schools in Leicester to develop opportunities for access to museum collections through a website. I’ve also done some bibliographic research work for Dr Sandra Dudley, for her forthcoming publication on displacement of objects and people.
Away from Leicester, my freelance work doing interpretation consultancy continues with object-based workshops from Lincolnshire to Cumbria. I am still the GEM convenor for Yorkshire & Humberside: we held a very successful conference in Doncaster in November, Learning with ACE, about partnerships and new structures in place under the new governance of museums by the Arts Council, and after a series of monthly Study Visits during 2012, I am working closely with my co-convenor Sue Mackay, to plan for 2013. I am also mentoring Odile Masia at the Imperial War Museum North for the AMA. A busy life. So where does the research fit in? And why do I still see research as something of a luxury, something that shouldn’t possibly take precedence over all these over things – but that in reality – at least up until now – hasn’t done?
When I first set out on the PhD journey, I thought I would probably want to stay within academia, but I am now not so sure.