It has been quite a week. Lots of reflecting and prioritising as I sort through what is important now and how that relates to my longer-term goals.
Progress on my thesis is slow. I’m still working out how to best present my intended direction in the introduction and I’ve been working on some philological material. The good thing is that I’ve come across some really useful material in the last couple of days. My other writing … has been even slower. Despite that, I’ve come out of the week inspired and, I hope, refreshed.
February and March in Perth are – if you’re me – pretty much perfect. First there’s Fringe World and then there’s PIAF – the Perth International Arts Festival. There’s so much to love.
For the past couple of weeks I’ve been filling that well again, nourishing my the ‘arts’ part of me. And the best way to do that is, like it or not, to dive in.It isn’t without its challenges – questions about life paths and choices, anyone? – but it is fabulous. I’m blessed.
Despite there being all sorts of temptations, I’ve been restrained. The Fringe acts I’ve caught (over a two week period) are The Epic (Finn O’Branagain and Scott Sandwich), This Boy’s In Love (Adriano Cappelletta) and The Kransky Sisters. As far as PIAF goes, it’s early days. Tonight I enjoyed a mellow evening featuring William Fitzsimmons. I haven’t decided what is next. It will come down to how much progress I’ve made and how efficient I’ve been in making that progress. At the end of the day … now that I’ve had a modest helping the rest needs to be become a treat.
Except for the writers festival which is next weekend. I’m going to have to put that down to a necessity and work out how to be productive in and around the program. I have no idea which sessions I’m going to make it to. Previous experience would suggest that I should pace myself and not gorge on fully packed timetable. Should. Then again, I don’t want to be a wreck when Sunday afternoon comes around.
Another ‘diversion’ that I think will be helpful was a symposium I attended at the Western Australian Museum. The WAM’s current exhibition is A History of the World in 100 Objects. There are quite a few events scheduled in connection with the exhibition. Yesterday’s theme was ‘Unwritten Stories: Objects, Power and Shared Histories’. There was a half-hour walk through before the presentations that focused on the structure of the exhibition and highlighted some connections. I’ll be needing to go back a few more times. There’s plenty to think about. I’d like to do some of that thinking while looking at particular pieces.*
The symposium reminded me to stop and think about the problems I’m dealing with regarding textual evidence for my own work. The ‘dress’ element of my thesis is, in part, to anchor the topic to something concrete, so I can play with the idea of the material as well as abstractions. The usefulness of material/object history is something I’ve included already but there needs to be more of it in the work.
The bonus of the symposium, in addition to sharing a fascinating day with a good friend, is that it triggered some ideas for creative work. It is too soon for details – and it might turn into a nothing – but I love it when ‘study’ and ‘creativity’ come together. The symbiosis is part of the magic of my world.
On a (not so) slightly political note
In a packed with much to think about – I’ve barely touched the surface – there was something else …
I took time out to attend a protest against children being sent to offshore detention. When I first wrote the About Me page for this blog I indicated I planned to cover topics from the Middle Ages to modern Australia. As it turns out, I’ve shied away from making comments on current events in general, and political matters in particular. A while ago I edited the About Me page so modern Australia no longer ‘features.
I spend a lot of my time, reflecting on those who are silenced in history, questioning the nature and experience of agency in relation to medieval women. I also spend time writing poems about trees and the objects that frame my life. That said, I know there are more important things. There are people who need other people to raise their voices. So, in among my gadding about ‘getting culture’ and digging through research about people long since gone and all the other things that have filled my days in recent weeks, I’ve been engaging in some (I have to admit, pretty low key) activism and I feel I should own that here.
To be clear: I do not think children should be kept in detention. I do not support the detention of asylum seekers. I am opposed to offshore processing. I am dismayed that Australia’s human rights standing at the moment is so parlous. I hold both sides of politics in Australia responsible for the current state of affairs. I believe Australia is better than this.
My longer-term goals – whether pursuing further study and research, building (and perhaps shifting) my career, rolling my sleeves up to play around with creative projects – are hollow, they matter little, if I do not hold true to what I value.
*Brace yourselves for musings about emptied coffins, childhood memories of Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth and thoughts about ephemera.