Thursday, 31 December 2009

Canada Christmas and Alice in Wonderland

After travelling for nearly 24 hours, stopping off in Halifax in Nova Scotia on the way and consuming as many free airline beverages as I possibly could ... I arrived in Channel-Port aux Basques in Newfoundland, Canada with my partner where I have been spending the Christmas and New Year period. We are lucky enough to be staying with two amazing and hospitable people; Peter and Mary Ann Boote : )
It is absolutely beautiful here and so so peaceful. There has been unusually clear skies since we came ... when the sun is setting at the end of the day it glows in the sky and reflects and glistens off the water in the bay we can see out of the window. The weather changes so quickly, all of a sudden the fog from the behind the mountains is blown into the bay and everything is covered in a white mist ... and as quickly as it appears it seems to disappear! As we are staying on an island, there are beaches and rocky coastlines all around us, shadowed by mountains and snow capped peaks.

We are having an absolutely fantastic time here. I begin to feel replenished and my mind is finally clear from the art/PhD/teaching interconnected gooey blah that it seems to have been! As I have relaxed and reflected, I've started to gradually become more at peace with who I am and even started to knit and play the flute again! Its amazing how your creativity can be re-energised from being relaxed and changing your perspective and appreciating things.

A couple of days before Christmas we drove out to find a Christmas tree! We literally drove out for a bit past the small towns and were totally surrounded with pine trees and tuckamore, a type of terrain that covers the rocky land. The tuckamore is so so weird and strange; being cushiony to walk on and lie on
and start to sink into and also intertwined with pine trees that have been weathered so much by the strong winds here that they are the same height as the mossy covered rocks in other areas and if you walk in the wrong place, you find yourself knee deep in pine trees! You can sometimes find areas that you can crawl through and find there is a whole other world beneath the surface!! It made me feel as though I was Alice in Wonderland!

Christmas day was absolutely perfect and I was so so lucky to receive a beautiful scarf in the most fantastic shade of purple I have ever seen and an absolutely AMAZING pair of slippers that had been hand-knitted for me by Mary Ann! This lady rocks I tell you! It was such a peaceful day filled with discussions about art, life, theology and philosophy and we helped each other to make a really really fab Christmas Day meal ...
 ... an eclectic ethnic fusion of Jewish, Greek, Indian and other foods from around the world! My mouth is starting to water as I'm starting to recall it --> veggietastic baba ghanoush, greek salad, a butterbean and tomato and onion salad, falafel and hoummus made from scratch, pinto bean salsa, lentil patties with curry sauce ... I'm sure there's more!

I'm now really looking forward to the new year and my new perspective on things ...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Another place ...

My research is developing and now ready to be submitted to the research panel for registration ... scary! It feels like such a burden has been removed though and I can now concentrate on getting stuck in with my research and writing : )  I'm starting to develop the mapping strategies I used in the textstallation thematically and trying to allow them to evolve as more of an object in a large sketchbook, which will hopefully itself develop physically like my research diary and installations.

As I won't be in England for Christmas this year, I spent the weekend at my parents having a Taylor Christmas! I've had such an amazing time and am finally starting to relax and get on top of things ... We went to the Widnes Cemetry where we went to see my grandparent's grave. I've only been once after the actual funeral aso it was pretty emotional. It was a really nice day as the sun was shining strongly, despite the chilly air and there wasn't a cloud in sight. Someone had also recently put down fresh flowers and a christmas wreath.

I also found out a lot about my family - that my greatgrandparents George and Ellen Taylor were buried in the same cemmetry and my other greatgrandparents (the Ryans) on my dad's side were Irish immigrants who came to Ireland and settled in the Liverpool docks but were unfortunately killed in the war. It really made me appreciate what my family had been through 60 odd years ago so much and was quite emotional. We also visited Crosby Beach, home of Anthony Gormly's 'Another Place' at low tide when the sun was starting to set.

It was really nice to see the sculptures whilst the sun was setting and the sky so clear as the shadows that they cast were really beautiful and moved as the sun got lower. As the tide was at its lowest we could walk out to see the figures that would usually be submerged most of the time and they were covered with barnacles and other things that had used the figure as a home. Visiting them was also an opportunity for me to wear my pink sparkly wellies : )

After having my first christmas dinner and present opening, I also saw some of my parent's photos from their recent travels in Argentina, Uruguay and Chille ... I'm very jealous!! We settled down with mulled wine and homemade mince pies to watch my first Film Noir Double Indemnity as well which was fantastic.

My blog title seems to refer to a few things; obviously Gormley's work but also that I will physically be in another place over Christmas and New Year and the heritage of my family and I guess my head as well! It is last week of college this week and I'm really looking foward to a break, especially after endless ammending of UCAS statements and (70+) essay plans to look through!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Anonymous Santas and finally being productive ...

What a strange week or so it has been! It didn't start off too well when I was 'temporarily suspended' from the BIAD library for forgetting to return a Derrida book (for quite a while ...). Bad times! On my journey to attend the PhD reading group, I hadn't realised that my railcard had expired and was 'detained' as the two burly security staff explained to me and made to pay another fine : (  Needless to say I burst out crying and then headed straight to buy a chocolate muffin and a hot chocolate to calm me down!

I have been feeling particularly christmassy however, especially after this little chap anonymously appeared in my pigeon hole at College ...
It totally made my day by the kind festive gesture by the unknown person. Whoever you are ... thank you : )

I finally decided to stop procrastinating and complete my 9r in time for my tutorial on Tuesday and feel so much better now its nearly done! Its strange sometimes how a bit of pressure and urgency such as an upcoming tutorial can suddenly influence productivity! My supervisor and I have have decided to submit it to the university research panel, so fingers crossed that it will be okay and hopefully soon I'll be registered!

I had some really positive feedback as well about my textstallation and realised it has provided a sort of framework to work from and develop the research after the 9r will be submitted. I am hoping to writing up the first part for after Christmas, so fingers crossed ...

I visited the German Christmas Market in Birmingham as I have done for the past couple of years and although I realise that they are commercial and westernised and not being tempted to buy anything, I was compelled to take photographs as it looked so beautiful at night and the lights seemed to have a kind of peaceful and mesmerising quality about them.
My christmas shopping is nearly done and cards nearly made (I cheated and bought a lot of them though!)and the end of term is appearing fast so I'm now looking forward to going away over Christmas and New Year! 2010 feels like it will be a good year ...