Quayside

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I was born in Poole and spent most of the noughties there. I haven’t been there for years now. I took my Dad on a day trip there a couple of years ago. But it has been six years since I spent actual quality time there.

Out of interest, I thought I’d see what is happening there. I was thinking of taking my Dad on another day trip because I had such a great time with him last time. I think the change of scenery, and a break for the ol’ routine, did us both good.

I saw that a place called Quayside Emporium opened a couple of years ago. It probably opened around the time I was visiting Poole with my Dad so I am surprised I did not see it, though it is possible I was in Poole late spring rather than summer. It sounds like a place my Dad and I would love to go snooping in together (my sister and brother-in-law might find it interesting too).


Quayside Emporium illustration from the Poole Tourism website (source).

When I saw the location of Quayside Emporium I was happy to see it is in Henning’s Wharf. Henning’s Wharf was my favourite building in Poole for a long time. I’m not sure why. I only remember it being a powder blue colour (which is probably why I liked it in the first place). There was a pub on the ground floor called Mint for a while, followed shortly by Aqua. During my time in Poole it was my dream to one day own a flat in Henning’s Wharf, though now I’d probably only be able to rent. I’m not sure how similar the flats are but I saw one with a mezzanine floor being sold for £130k-£150k in the very early noughties. Half a decade later I saw what looked like a similar one being sold for £180k. I decided to see if I can find the flat I loved again and I can see it listed in 2013 in again 2015.

The flat


I’d be interested to see the building again. Just to see if my feelings have changed. Or maybe just to compare the person I was back then to the person I am now. I hope it’s still the powder blue colour.

Blocked

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My assessment (a research poster) is due on Friday. However, the final date that reprographics can print it is Tuesday. So that probably is my final deadline. I’ve noticed I’m blogging more, it is probably down to a mixture of EdublogsClub and that in times of assignments I throw myself headfirst into distractions.

Originally I wanted to write about use of space, particularly transitional spaces. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to say about them but I thought they could be a great place to start building inclusive and accessible practice. The transitional space is a place of physical connection, so would it be a good place for artistic connection? Also, from a political viewpoint, I am interested in the occupation and/or reclamation of contested spaces (so I love things like place hacking and guerrilla gardening).

Transitional spaces and contested spaces may not seem similar initially but I’ve had some thoughts on how they might feel similar to some folk.

  • Accessibility – is the transitional space actually physically accessible for all people?
  • Where is it going to? Is the transitional space en route to a safe(r) space?
  • Inclusivity – do people feel welcome in the space? Safe?
  • Ownership – if it is in or en route to a public space, do people actually feel like they belong? And that they have a say in how it works/runs…
  • Participation – do folk feel like the space is theirs? And they are free to experiment in it?

As you can see, there’s loads to unpack and I don’t have the vocabulary for it yet!

But then I wondered what kind of space would be great for experimentation? And I thought about virtual spaces!!! Honestly, most of you are probably surprised I didn’t think of this sooner because it is my area of interest. I had forgotten about virtual spaces as I had spent a week inhabiting a physical space and I was trying to analyse how it was impacting my behaviour and thoughts.

I don’t want to say the art world has not embraced virtual reality as a medium because that’s not true. There are artists working in this field (like Tale of Tales who I love dearly and you can read about their latest project Cathedral in the Clouds here). But I’m struggling to find much VR in museums. I’m also struggling to get to museums because of financial issues. So there may be a big world out there will of virtual reality exhibits that I can’t access right now. There may also be a big world in here (online) that I can’t access because I don’t have a working PC or compatible mobile devices or I am just unable to find through all the hubbub of internet life.

I started looking at way museums are using digital technology, digital engagement and gamification. Most of what I found was very snazzy (great for publicity) and did a good job of helping people learn about exhibitions/history through play. But I hoped to find more feedback about the camaraderie side of this type of engagement. Mainly, does it exist? Or is it all isolated players? I’m still trying to find that out. I personally enjoy collaborating with strangers online and I do feel that the very act of making something together is a form of communication – but do other people see it that way? Does it matter if they do?

For various reasons I decided to primarily focus on one thing. Yep. Minecraft. Incidentally, if you’re interested in how Minecraft could be used in University of Brighton follow the Minecraft blog I share with the Elearning team – it’s blogs.brighton.ac.uk/minecraft – we are still at the very early focus group stage. So if you have ideas, get in touch!

The reason I’m looking at Minecraft is because the Tate, the British Museum and the Museum of London have all worked with Minecraft. Minecraft is also being increasingly used in schools (more so now Minecraft Education Edition is currently free) and researchers are looking at how it complements learning.

TateWorlds
Tate Worlds was the first Minecraft in a museum project that I heard of. There are currently five maps:

The Toy Shop is my personal favourite. Mainly because it reminds me of the Wizard’s Attic in Hove Museum. When I first went to the Wizard’s Attic I thought about how it would be a great environment to explore using digital technology. I think The Toy Shop gives the player a different perspective of the art work – of course, it’s not as detailed but it’s interesting to see things from behind the scenes or from a different angle. The way the users interact with the map can encourage them to analyse what they like, what they dislike, what they would change, what they can change, why they think the work is engaging or not. Having a virtual world that they can build, rebuild, demolish and share does more than allow them just to respond – they also have agency in this world.

Museumcraft
Museumcraft is a community rebuilding the British Museum like-for-like in Minecraft. I am interested in this project as I think it could be a great tool when it’s completed for people who haven’t physically been in the museum before. It would be interesting to hear feedback from people who explored the museum in Minecraft before they went into the museum – did it help them navigate? Did it decrease anxiety of an unfamiliar environment? How did it feel being in an environment that they had only previously experienced in a virtual world? I also think the completed map would be a great tool to collect feedback – people could respond to the layout of the museum, they could build their own structures in the museum. (You see, this is kinda linked to my original transitional spaces idea).

Great Fire 1666
The Great Fire 1666 series of Minecraft maps are recent news to me (I only found out about them last week) but from my shallow research I can see them being used as a learning aid. In terms of the subject matter, I think Minecraft allows the users to see the movement of the fire and experience it in a more immersive way than a documentary/film/animation would do (because users can interact with the content). Due to the low detail on the blocks, I think the virtual world looks unreal enough that the viewer would not be overwhelmed by the fire. There are also some challenges within the world (the player can help try to put out the fire) so they can feel part of the narrative as well. The third map is yet to be released but I hope it will allow users to rebuild London however they would like it to be rebuilt.

The Future

Also – I apologise for jumping around from second to third person – I tried to stay in one place but I may have missed it at times.

Photos

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The EdublogsClub prompt this week is photos. This is an interesting subject because I love taking photos on social media, but they are low quality and I always feel like my blog should have better content. However, I do have access to a digital camera and I rarely use it. I was given a mid-range camera twelve years ago and I used it until it gave up the ghost a couple of years back. I was very attached to it and, at the time, it was the most expensive thing anyone ever gave me. That might have been the reason I was so attached to it – I was afraid of losing it because it would’ve taken my parents years to afford anything like that (not that it was a hugely expensive camera, it’s just that may parents didn’t earn much). So when my ex-partner gave it to me I was hugely protective of it and I never felt connected to any other camera since.

I loved taking photos. My only regret is that I did not save them all or upload them somewhere. I did manage to upload a few dozen on my flickr a few years back. Most of them are not taken on my favourite camera, but this set was:
dt
Especially now, as my life feels like it’s changing so fast. It has been a month since Xmas and I cannot believe all I have achieved in that time. I had a tutorial today and I went from feeling like I was misunderstanding the criteria, ranting and irrelevant to actually feeling like I have something valid to say. From mess, to calm.

I prefer blog posts to have an image, or other media in them if only as a visual break from the writing. But also because the image can draw people in. Particularly if you are sharing the blog post on social media! If you post a link to a specific entry on Twitter or Facebook you can see a preview, so having an image just makes the preview look a bit more interesting. Also, many blog themes (if you’re interested in customising) utilise the images in blog posts – so if you make sure you have an image in each entry you can make your blog look like a portfolio.

Image descriptions are hugely important and I am ashamed to admit I rarely describe images myself. This is unacceptable as someone who is regularly promoting accessibility. My lack of image descriptions is just laziness (plus not really thinking through my use of images). However, in my professional blogs I make sure there is no information in an image that cannot be found in the text or on linked websites. This blog isn’t really something I expect many people to read, so I have never really considered readership until this month.

BTW – if you want to see an example of good image descriptions (in my opinion) I recommend marandaelizabeth.com. Some blogs (including Edublogs) have boxes where you can write image descriptions in after you upload your image, so there really is no excuse for me not to do captions or image descriptions.

I meant to take a photo of me working on my research poster in St Peter’s House library today but I went over time when I was trying to print. I thought that would be a great representation of where I’m at. But instead, I am going to post a photo of a Sweet Dreams Kit I bought in a charity shop today for 99p. Normally I get a bit grossed out by secondhand toiletries unless they are clearly unopened. I don’t mean to sound so uppity but I visualise dead skin around lids/tops… However, I just liked the scratched and smudged plastic in contrast to the clear colourful liquid, the smooth font and silver parts.

Sweet Dreams Kit oils

Balance

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Last week in the Tate I saw 160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People El Gallo Arte Contemporáneo. Salamanca, Spain. December 2000 and I really stirred up some emotions. The last time I saw that piece was on 20 June 2013, the only reason I remember the date so well was because it was the Thursday on UNISON National Delegate Conference and I decided to return to education on that day.

I was visiting Liverpool for the first time with a couple of officers from UNISON Brighton and Hove Unitary. I was going through a pretty rubbish time and I am embarrassed to admit that I broke down in front of some of the other delegates. Someone asked me what I was planning to do with my life and it all came out.

After half an hour, I calmed down and decided to go for a walk to the nearby Tate and I saw this piece. I was going through a break-up of a long-term relationship; it impacted my confidence so much that I had handed in my resignation two months before in a fit of rage. I had cut all ties to most of my friends and activist networks. I was staying with a friend and struggling to find a job because I had no paperwork with my name on at the current address. Everything previously had been in a joint name with my ex-partner and to make a clear break for me I removed myself from all accounts.

But earlier that year I had started getting visibly tattooed. I had a handful of previous tattoos but they were on body parts most people didn’t see. I’m not a confrontational person so I put of getting visible tattoos because I cannot deal with people making comments on my body. Being visibly tattooed makes that happen more frequently. It angers me the BS people come out with like did you think about your tattoos or were they impulsive? Actually, I considered my first tattoo for six years before I got it done. Why? Um, my body so my choice. They’ll look ugly when you get older. We’ll all look uglier because the media has an obsession with youth being the only attractiveness there is. You’ll regret it. I regret more that I let the opinions of others sway my body decisions for half my life.

So, as you can see, being tattooed came hand-in-hand with body confidence for me. I really felt like I was reclaiming my physical space.

When I saw 160 cm Line Tattooed on 4 People El Gallo Arte Contemporáneo. Salamanca, Spain. December 2000 a multitude of rapid-fire questions went through my mind. Each question sparking two more questions. To the point of where I had scribbled a small essay in the back of my notebook. Questions about consent, whether it was informed consent, whether it was enthusiastic consent, whether the permanence of the tattoo impacted my feelings, whether actions with temporary or permanent physical outcomes should be treated differently, did I feel that the making of art mitigated the actions? And so on.

I decided that maybe an art history degree would be the way to go – interdisciplinary, encompasses my interests, transferable skills and all that jazz.

A few months later I made a last minute application to City College Brighton to do an Access course. I was interviewed over the phone a fortnight before the start date. I had just secured a job so I had to hand in my notice. For that reason I missed the first couple of weeks of the course.

Things went well for a while. But then the financial troubles started. I was entitled to JSA but my advisor thought that I was not fully available for work because I was studying. It’s a hard place to be in as I was actually looking for work but I couldn’t find anywhere that would be flexible enough. I didn’t want to miss seminars. I had dozens of job interviews with places looking part-time staff but when I said I had other commitments I became less favourable. I even remember having an interview in my old workplace and my old manager interviewed me! The job had negotiable hours but when I was being interviewed it became clear that negotiable hours were every morning. When I explained that I had a different definition of negotiable they said it would be negotiable for the right person. I have to admit that hearing that from someone who knew I would be able to do the role made me lose all hope.

So that’s when I discovered Brighton Loft and the poem below fills you in on what happened from there.

The reason why I am reflecting on this time is being it feels like it has returned. I am unable to balance everything at the moment. I am exhausted. Right now, the only thing I care about is getting a job. But that takes time – time that I should be devoting to studying. I don’t even know why I am continuing with studying, I have got to the point in my life that a dream job would happily be exchanged for security. I know in a few months or years my mind will change and I’ll wish I was working in a museum, and I’ll be sad that I’m not being mentally challenged. I feel bad that I’m sounding like a broken record, trust me.

I just need to get through this. And remind myself why I’m here in the first place.

Real

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I don’t really use this blog to talk about theory. Or anything useful really. It’s just a brain-splurge place. That’s good though, it gives me somewhere to unpack and leave things.

My week at the Tate has been really insightful. I finally feel secure around everyone on my course (it takes me a good six months to trust people) and I feel like a student. Meaning, I feel inspired and full of ideas – I feel like I’m growing and that makes me feel like I’m doing something right. I am finally in the mindspace I expected to be in.

Interestingly, I’m not actually a student anymore. Technically anyway. I had been getting no communications from my course since I started in October. I had been getting notifications in StudentCentral but no emails. I figured it was because I’m on an art course and we are more practical than theoretical. I raised the issue with my course leader and he sent me a test email, which I received so I thought it was all OK. I spoke to a classmate and she mentioned an email so a discussion with ServiceDesk began to take place. It went nowhere because they asked me what I was expecting to see and I was too tired to explain that I don’t know what I am expecting to see because I’m not seeing it and I’m the only person in the university doing my specific qualification. Blah blah blah. It turned out that I had been put on my modules, but not my course. It came to light that I had intermitted from my whole course, rather than the module I fell behind on. So next week is figuring out what to do next…

I’m not writing about this because I’m upset or critical – I just think it’s interesting that I finally feel like a student (rather than a lost mouse) at a time when I’m not a student. I may not be able to be a student for the rest of this academic year because it appears I cannot intermit on individual modules.

I was also informed that my private counsellor has had a change of policy at her workplace. Now, appointments need to be weekly rather than fortnightly. That means I’ll be spending over half my income on counselling. I can’t afford that. But I’m so afraid of cancelling. Mainly because I don’t want to inconvenience her – which in itself is a sign of how badly I need my counselling. I won’t be able to get counselling at university anyway because I’m no longer a student! Gah! What a mess.

Otherness
Anyway, one of the things that has been playing on my mind a lot is the idea what is real. The real has been an influencing issue for me for a long time. I was adopted as a small child and my classmates in playschool and infant school knew this. It was a small town and I think their parents just liked to gossip. There’s nothing wrong with gossip – I love gossip myself. Though I do think gossip can be bad if people don’t realise their listeners do not have a full understanding of what they are saying.

My classmates often commented on my being adopted (and my teacher didn’t do anything to address that – she was a cowbag anyway for a number of reasons). My classmates were not cruel per se, but they did make me constantly question the validity of my feelings. I remember things such as my Grandad dying and being very confused and upset – I remember two classmates telling me that I had nothing to be sad about because he wasn’t my real Grandad. My Mum decided I should go to school because I was too young to understand what was happening – but I was left disorientated and I kept staring at the calendar because I didn’t understand why we had changed the weather forecast and why time was moving. Then I got told off for not working and my teacher made me sit at the front of my class and eat my lunch even though I didn’t want to. I told my parents that I hated my teacher many times but they kept telling me to go back to school and behave or whatever.

Things like this made me feel torn. Also things like my classmates not thinking my birthday was significant because I was given away (there’s a lot to unpack here – especially around the idea of a mother’s unconditional love…). I’d go to school and things that had upset me at home did not matter because I was made to feel that they weren’t real. As a small child, most things you do out of school revolve around family so my whole life outside the classroom wasn’t real. Naturally, this had an impact on my home life. I wanted to be somewhere real so I distanced myself from others and resented people coming into my space. This hurt my family who were trying to bond with me (and bonding was hard enough for them already because they had their own issues to deal with). I started having recurring nightmares about having to pick my real mother out of a line-up. I never could. Then one day my Dad played a funny trick on me by challenging me to a race home – he took a sneaky shortcut home and when I arrived and saw him I was full of fear about this man who had managed to replace my Dad without anyone but me noticing. Of course, my being upset was just me playing up.

I am not going to bash my parents. They had a very Victorian-style upbringing and they probably did not know how to handle my emotions. I still see it when they interact with other children – they seem to treat crying as random outbursts rather than something that has a trigger. It probably didn’t help that my teacher kept talking about my lack of participation – they were from a generation that would not dare question the methods of a professional! They saw my lack of participation as my bad behaviour, rather than a response to the behaviour of my classmates.

A few months ago a colleague told me that she knew someone who was adopted and it’s not uncommon. She then went on to say that it’s no big deal and nobody treats adopted people differently. At the time I packed the anger. She’s right in a way. But she says that with adult experience. I cannot spot an adopted person as I walk down the street, they don’t get singled out because of their appearance. The otherness arises in institutions. When I go to the GP and he asked about my family history with certain conditions and I say I don’t know so he marks no on the screen instead of unknown. The otherness happens when people know. Then the always predictable questions… “Have you met your real mother?”“Do you want to?” and the one I hate the most is “Aren’t you interested where you came from?” From that moment onwards, you are different.

Since starting this course I understand my feelings are always real. Even if they stem from an impossible place. I have no reason to feel uncomfortable around people, but I do. I often use to try to push anxiety, anger and/or depression aside because I believed they weren’t real. How could they be? They aren’t physical things. They aren’t always connected to my experiences. They happen out of nowhere sometimes. But they are real.