Tag: University of Wolverhampton

Repetition is not boring, not really

I often have weird thoughts while driving in the morning to the Wolverhampton School of Art. Perhaps I should rename this blog ‘Weird Thoughts I Have on the M54’. Today’s weird thought happened on the M54 and it was about how repetitious and dull life can seem, yet in fact it isn’t.

The M54

Driving to Wolverhampton earlier today I pondered my daily routine: wake up at 7am, eat a piece of orange chocolate, drink coffee while looking at my very nice kitchen. In addition, in case your interested about making your kitchen nice, Check out www.kitchenspraypainting.uk to help you. Then I pick up my phone, scroll through facebook for 10 minutes, read for 10 minutes, go to the toilet, get dressed, wake children up, make breakfast, listen to my favourite music of the month, make a packed lunch, sit and scroll through Facebook a bit more, put makeup on, brush teeth, read in my pink chair for 10 minutes, gather children, scroll through Facebook while they get ready, take them to school, scoot home, drive to Wolverhampton, park, get coffee, go to studio… I could go on, and this routine can be repeated, with small variations, for almost every week day. It feels as if it won’t change. It feels as if it will never end. It feels as if it is here to stay. I know I will do the same next week. I will also do the same next month, and even next year. However, if I transport myself 13 years ago, my routine was vastly different. It’s difficult even to see a gradual change from then to now. My routine then was as follows: Wake up at 5am with cranky baby, feed cranky baby, put cranky baby to bed, go back to sleep, wake up when cranky baby wakes up, feed cranky baby, take cranky baby to toddler group, feed cranky baby, return home, put cranky baby to bed, eat lunch, go out when cranky baby wakes up, feed cranky baby… As you can see, this routine is very different to my current one (and notice, no mention of Facebook).  The routine above, somehow, morphed into my current routine. Of course the obvious thing to point out are that the cranky baby grew. What’s more, he was joined by two more, who also grew. Then as they all gradually grew, I found a new purpose in life: art in Wolverhampton, and work. I moved house. I changed. I became different. I became the current me. I can’t quite imagine how my current routine will change into something new in 14 years from now, even though I know it will. It has to. Life does change, gradually. And I have to keep positive, for all the mundanity of my routine now, I do actually quite enjoy certain aspects of it and I know that I will look back in 14 years from now and miss the eight-year-old world view my eight year old has now, the jolly ride up and down the M54, the ladies in the Starbucks on campus who know my name and most of all my little studio space in room MK711 which is my ‘man cave’.

My man cave

So I should stop resenting routine, and embrace it, and capture it in my mind, if that is possible, before it has morphed and changed into something else, even if that something else is better.

Is Carpe Diem always the right choice?

This is a thought I had after a conversation I had yesterday with a friend about my paying a lot of money to finish a BA in Fine Art. I was moaning about having to pay the rather substantial course fees. Her response was: well you don’t have to pay them. She argued that as I was choosing to do the course and as it was not exactly career enhancing anyway, I shouldn’t moan about it. My life wouldn’t change by doing this course. It wasn’t essential to life, so I had no ground for complaint. I think her point was twofold: firstly, that having a BA in Fine Art will have no impact on my earning potential, and secondly, as I was earning money I could afford it anyway.

I was taken back by her response. Until that point, I’d seen only the positives of my part-time art degree.I hadn’t seen it as a luxury or an indulgence. To me, it is necessary even if not economically.

It had all started after watching (predictably, perhaps) Dead Poets Society. I’ve seen that film a few times and each time it has moved me deeply. It happens that the last time I saw that film I was brewing for a change: work had reached an agreeable level, my youngest was soon to start nursery, and I was feeling the need for a new outlet for my energies. Watching that film gave me the courage  I needed to visit Shrewsbury College on their forthcoming open day and find out about part-time art courses.

What would J. R. Pritchard think of this?

What would J. Evans Pritchard think of this?

As it happened, on that day, I spoke to a tutor who told me, I quote: ‘We have the exact course for you.’ He was talking about the Foundation Degree in Contemporary Art which is run by Staffordshire University but is located (or was, not anymore) at Shrewsbury College. In my naivete, I thought this course would be a nice distraction. It was part-time. It seemed perfect. It was three-years long. After much discussion at home, I decided to enroll. It was very expensive (£3,600 per year) but I was earning that money on one particular regular work project which runs from January to May alone so I felt I could afford it.

It turned out to be, personally if not professionally, the best decision I could have made. It wasn’t just a nice distraction. It was like a drug. I loved it. It was very challenging but extremely rewarding. I’ve been the happiest doing that course than I’ve been for a long time. I carpe diemed and it proved to be a good, very good.

Dithering is for wimps

Dithering is for wimps

So as the course was coming to a conclusion it seemed the natural choice to finish it to full BA level. I didn’t really question the wisdom of this. I’ve just started the ‘final year’ which will run over two years and it is going to be very hard and challenging (mostly due to the location – Wolverhampton). And of course it is costing me more money (actually not quite so much per year but still an awful lot). I didn’t question this decision until yesterday when I saw it from the eyes of another. Logically, objectively, practically, it makes no sense.

However, after some thoughts (weird ones) I realise that taking the carpe diem route at that time, in April 2012, was the right thing for me to do. A BA in Fine Art may or may not enhance my career (that is an unknown, I can’t say what I will do in the  future – I may want to keep studying). But that could be said of any college course. Another art school graduate let loose on the world may or may not enhance the cultural output of our society. Perhaps I will have an impact somewhere doing something. I hope so. But perhaps I won’t. I can’t say yet. But as I see it, the positives are not monetary but they are more valuable to me than money:

  • My children have a happier parent in me
  • My children (I hope) are inspired to create themselves
  • My children get to visit more art galleries (which they mostly enjoy)
  • My husband has a happier wife (or so he tells me)
  • I’m encouraging my children that they should ‘seize the day’ and follow their own dreams
  • My children have an insight into the world of higher education and what it can offer
  • The world is much more colourful to me now and the people in it much more interesting
  • I’m pursuing more art activities with my children and the children at their school which I wouldn’t have had the courage to do otherwise
  • I’m now a blogger (if it wasn’t for one of the tutors at Shrewsbury College, I wouldn’t have discovered Word Press so I wouldn’t be writing this now)
  • And who knows, perhaps a future of art fame awaits me (doubtful but there is always that teeny, tiny possibility)
They don't mind getting dragged around art galleries, at least I don't think they do

They don’t mind getting dragged around art galleries, at least I don’t think they do

So I say, everyone should once in their lives seize that damn day even if it seems a bit bonkers, and makes no economic sense, and especially if it is scary. You only have one life and if that opportunity leaps out at you, take it before it fizzles out or that ever-threatening big red bus runs you over.

If I get run over by a bus tomorrow, at least I wrote this blog entry first

If I get run over by a bus tomorrow, at least I wrote this blog entry first


My 18-year-old self’s comfort objects

I seem to be in the nostalgia and reminiscing zone at the moment. Perhaps it is age. Yesterday I was reminiscing about secondary school and today, it is the turn of university.

Hope Hall, Exeter University

Hope Hall, Exeter University (where I watched two episodes of Brookside)

It occurred to me earlier today that it is, give or take the odd day, 25 years since I arrived at the University of Exeter (probably the best university in the world, as the car sticker says) as an excited and nervous fresher. My 18-year-old niece has just started her Freshers’ Week at Loughborough University (incidentally, Freshers’ Week in 2015 is a very different beast to what it was in 1990 but that is another blog entry). I am also about to experience Freshers’ Week as I am on the cusp of starting Year 3 of a BA (Hons) degree at the University of Wolverhampton (not sure I will be out drinking and dancing until 2am this time, I might just have half a pint somewhere). So all these things combined: my niece, my own impending studies, and a major anniversary since my first attempt at studies (I scraped a 2:1) have got me thinking back.

Me at university, at the end

Me at university, at the end

My weird thought relates to ‘things’. I am a big fan of ‘things’. Most of my art practice of recent months has centered on objects or things. Many of my weird thoughts and other blog entries are about ‘things’. I read a lot of books about ‘things’ and our relationship with such things. In fact, books are one of my own ‘things’. We need things in our lives. Things bring us comfort. We surround ourselves with the things we love and those things might not necessarily be the sort of ‘things’ normally regarded as comforting things. Without our things, anxiety and depression ensues. We may kid ourselves that we could live without things so long as we had health and family. Nope, not true. We’d fall into a well of loneliness without our things.

One of my favourite things

One of my favourite things

My current must-have things are: a black furry blanket purchased half price in Tescos, my current book, my sketch pad, real coffee, a black pen, a cushion (any cushion but preferably a velvet one), my children and husband (yes, people can be things), my cat and my hula hoop. These things are very different to the things my 18-year-old fresher self needed to have close by.

My 18-year-old things were: Brookside, my best friend Jane (sorry, Jane, for describing you as a thing), a duvet, tea, my favourite Top Shop trousers, my cat Crackers and my mixed tapes.

Can Brookside be a thing?

Can Brookside be a thing?

When I arrived at Exeter (a long way from home), I couldn’t take all my things with me. I certainly couldn’t take my cat Crackers and my best friend Jane. The others, I could just about manage. I sneaked a small black-and-white TV into halls but not having a license I only ever watched it under my bed when my two roommates were out. I think I only manged about two episodes of Brookside during the first term. So with just a duvet, my Top Shop trousers and my mixed tapes, I was a bit lost. I didn’t have my things with me, or at least not all of them. However, as time passed I adapted and found new things to love: my new friends, the library and books.

Yes, there was even an Exeter University BT phonecard

Yes, there was even an Exeter University BT phonecard

I wonder what my niece’s Freshers’ Week and beyond ‘things’ are? Perhaps the only correlation with my list of essential objects would be the duvet and feline company. I shall ask her. I suspect ‘phone’ or ‘laptop’ would feature in the 2015 student’s list.

A 'can't live without' thing

A ‘can’t live without’ thing