We’ve had a hectic month. Given the crazy flight costs and that I am potentially unemployed come July, I decided to stay closer to home for out Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) holiday, and had thought we might do a short trip to Seoul to explore their hanji paper in the middle. Fortunately I didn’t book any flights, as we both came down with a shocking flu. One of the worst I can remember. We were bedridden for 4 days straight, which the locals celebrated by releasing tones of fireworks, from around 6am until 10 at night. When we finally recovered we were able to stagger into the city for a couple nights in fancy hotels, but our plans of heading to Korea faded.
Around the same time I’ve received disheartening responses from every university in Australia where I’d hoped to enrol in a research degree. Tasmania never replied, despite multiple attempts. CDU sent me a copy/paste of their website, telling me to identify a supervisor, which would be fine if they put any identifying information about staff online! Not even an email address…
University of Newcastle were the most promising, and I received a lot of advice and direction, AND they have an onsite paper mill. However the artistic lecturer I found was not qualified to be sole supervisor, and although half a dozen others expressed interest in the project, none of them felt qualified to take me on as a candidate. The art lecturer also indicated that I should gain more practical experience, and I feel this may have influenced the rejections. He is right, so I have decided I should focus on this for now, and come back to the research at a later date.
The problem is, I live in a backwater in China. I can’t find supplies here to create a home studio. I have the blender and frames, felt and etceteras, but cannot find the mesh. Intensely frustrating. So far the onlmy practical experience I’ve had were two goes at elephant poo paper parks in Thalamd. It was fantastic, and I’m so desperate to get started on making all my mistakes so I can be closer to being an expert craftsman, it kills me! I’m hoping the upcoming Easter break will provide an opportunity. I’m looking at washi paper in Japan, hanji in Korea, Thailamd again, or visiting the Miao or Dai ethnic groups in south China.
Initially the plan was to head straight to Germany where they let anyone study for free (fantastiche!), but I’m so excited about this research, I want to start yesterday! I don’t want to wait until September. Also, after hours – days – months of searching, it seems the courses offered in Germany are rather inflexible, and nothing aligns with what I have in mind.
Frustrated, I started searching Australian unis, and was surprised to find lots of options. Also, Aussie unis start NOW, and (who knew?) research degrees are currently government funded. If I did enrol in Australia, we could travel back to Oz when we finish in China at the end of June. Ms 10 would be ecstatic to spend a month or so with family, which means I could travel to my uni, meet my supervisor and (hopefully) get some practical experience and advice in their studios.
After months of sifting the interwebs and emailing prospective supervisors, I think I have 3 possibles:
Pros: one of their Fine Arts lecturers (a textile artist with experience working with paper) is keen, but has explained I will need a second supervisor in the social work or humanities areas. They have a paper mill on campus (!!!). Newcastle seems to have a vibrant arts/crafts scene, and it’s closest to home.
Cons: none, really. I guess it just doesn’t have an added bonus element like the other two locations.
Pros: Tassie is renowned for commercial papermills, which could form part of my research. There’s also a vibrant arts scene. And it’s the home of Creative Paper Tasmania – making paper from sheep poo AND wombat poo.Climate is a little similar to Scotland too, so could be some tips. Plus I just love Tassie..
Cons: it’s a long way from Queensland, but that’s actually a plus! I think only Con is that they won’t reply to me. I’ve emailed course coordinators, research units AND individual lecturers and had no reply.
Pros: I came across CDU through the work of Winsome Jobling who has links to Indigenous Australians and papermaking. This is intriguing, and could be an interesting sideline. I have friends in Darwin from my stint as a Teacher Librarian up there, and it would be great to catch up with them.
Cons: perhaps not as well-recognised as the other universities. Actually, for this reason I thought CDU would be the least competitive, yet they have been the hardest nut to crack so far. I STILL haven’t got any leads on an actual lecturer.
It’s hard to draw comparisons when I haven’t had any replies from lecturers at UTas or CDU, but perhaps that is a sign in itself? It is summer in Australia, so many staff are still on holidays. Not sure whether to hold out or pursue Newcastle…except for the random location, they do have the best course offering. And after looking through the work of Brett (the Fine Arts lecturer), he seems to be active in the arts / crafts industry. This is a little intimidating, as the art/craft element is not my strength, but at the same time he will hopefully be a lot of help!
*Update* had an email back from a 2nd supervisor at Newcastle this morning. He sounds keen, so it might be the way to go.
So, UTas is on my list for potential Masters by Research. And there are a few uncanny little ways in which this would be a very fitting location:
I’ve always been drawn to Tassie. It’s cold and it’s an island – just like the parts of Scotland I love.
A few years ago I discovered my maternal grandmother was born in Launceston, as was my great-grandmother, Eileen Littlejohn.
I carried Eileen’s leather-bound KJV around Europe, destroying the cover in the process. That drew me to bookbinding, and I found a leather artist in Tasmania that was a dream life goal of mine just before I became a librarian.
Again, before I was a librarian – I travelled to Tasmania for a library job interview in Burnie. We stayed in a grotty old hotel, and I managed to squeeze Matilda into a lovely childcare for a day while I went off to be grilled by a panel of 4 or 5 beige-dressed, dour looking council staff, for what I think was a 12-hour-a-week library assistant role in Strahan – a sort of town from where you can quite possibly see the end of the earth.
While researching sheep poo paper, I came across Creative Paper Tasmania, who hit the headlines by making paper out of wombat poo. They’ve also been mentioned by famous paper artist, Helen Heibert. Turns out, when we were in Burnie for that job interview, we stumbled upon the visitor centre. The exhibition was an amazing paper display – life sized paper mâché people and all sorts. I remember it gripped my soul – I was possessed with the idea that I would get the Strahan job, work part-time and become a paper artist, maybe even a book-binder.
Burnie is fascinating because hand papermaking began there as a “work for the dole” project, in part to combat the closure of commercial papermills…which links to my research!
I didn’t get the job in Strahan. Seems funny now. I wonder who did? Nobody I’ve ever met in Library land. They took months to get back to me as well – months and months to the point of ridiculousness.
I’m torn by indecision about whether to commence a new blog for my studies in paper, or mesh it with my original. This indecision (perfectionist much?), has been a great tool for procrastinating! So I shall begin, and to hell with it.
I am a librarian who has been dreaming of running away to a remote island for over a decade. Part of the dream involves becoming a wildly (or even moderately) successful writer or artist, so I am able to spend my days pottering around my garden, or in my studio, or down the Co-op chatting to the old folks.
This is the hitch. If I’m a writer, I don’t know it yet. And an artist? Hilarious!
But the idea of it keeps nipping away. And every day I get a little bit older…
A few months ago, amid planning for Christmas holidays in Thailand, I stumbled across Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park.
So now, I am a librarian who is writing a research proposal and learning how to make paper by hand. And it is thrilling.
This blog is going to check in on my progress from time to time. And in the tough times, when it seems impossible, it is going to nip at my heels to keep moving.
P.S. I totally started a whole other blog and posted this over there, then changed my mind and dragged it bag here…hopeless!
Not joking. After a week of burrowing down the papermaking rabbit hole, this is where I have surfaced. Some sort of study was always on the cards for August next year, due to the move to Germany (English language jobs few and far between, free tuition, etc etc), but now I have fallen down the papermaking rabbit hole, the search for a possible postgrad course has become quite frantic.
The course structure in Germany appears to be quite inflexible in comparison to Australia. I want to gain skills in the craft of papermaking, study the science behind it, learn sustainable techniques, as well as general themes in sustainability, and I also want to throw in a little element of people and place/rural development/social enterprise…
The lack of coursework options means I need to start looking at research degrees. Eek.
Eins, zwei, drei… One of the options – actually it’s looking more and more liked the best option – for ‘after China’, is Germany. They seem much more open to migrants. Australians don’t need a visa and can actually turn up at the border and tell the immigration officials they are in Germany to ‘look for work’. I try to imagine the outcome of doing that at Heathrow…for one squad at dawn? Deportation and barred for life? They are also part of the Euro Blue Card network in the EU (a scheme which the UK are conspicuously not joining). The Blue Card is being described as Europe’s answer to the U.S. green Card, and allows highly skilled non-EU nationals to work in most of the EU.
The cool thing about Germany is that they also have a fast track to EU residency program, where proficiency in German after 2 years will give you the opportunity to apply for EU residency. There’s more riles and fine print to this, but I think it’s the gist. The exciting part is, I learned German for about 5 years when I was a kid. Admittedly it was in the Australian education system, who don’t seem to fully grasp the concept of language teaching, but I still have the basics and surely in country I would have the motivation and opportunities to relearn?
Cannot recommend this blog enough – each new post I think “argh, I won’t read I don’t have time and I’m not sure I’m interested” but I make myself and each time I come away fascinated and inspired! So many library roles, so little time! (Also I secretly hope to be on the list one day – if Scotland ever lets me come back…)
Frances Breslin Davda is a doctoral researcher at the University of Strathclyde. That’s her on the left with her poster, which won the prize at Strathclyde’s Research Day. Frances also won best student paper at ISIC 2014 (The Information Behaviour Conference).
Books and libraries were central to my childhood: as a child I was regularly taken to my local library and one of my earliest memories is being in fancy dress enjoying stories on a mobile library. As a voracious teen reader, I was amazed that Glasgow Libraries allowed me to borrow (via my aunt’s ticket) more than the four books my local library allowed, opening up a new world of books.
When I finished school, I undertook a degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Stirling as I wanted to work in public relations. During my degree I worked part-time in East Dunbartonshire’s public libraries; it…
Emerging from the swamp of uni assignments…still feel like i’m up to my neck in quicksand as I am in the midst of another al(most)nighter…final assignment for this semester though, hooray!
One of the positive things to come out of this week of all-nighters is that I have discovered Van Morrison.
Our current transient home is Mum’s, where the internet reception sucks – it only works well in certain places and at certain angles. One of these is (unhelpfully) in front of the TV. Trying to be good, I scanned and found the radio channels. A brilliant invention, by the way! ABC Dig Radio is my favourite, and I’ve heard the most random shiz!
For the past 4 minutes I’ve been captivated by this awesome song…thinking it was David Gray, only to finally google the station and discover it’s actually Van Morrison. Even MORE fascinating (yep, it’s late and I am procrastinating) is that Van Morrison is not the dude I thought he was. Now, given the low traffic on this blog I feel I can reveal the following idiocy: all my life, I’ve thought this guy was Van Morrison:
Yes, what an eejit, but it gets worse. When I googled Van Morrison and got this guy:
and realised my error, I thought, OMG all these years I’ve been thinking Jimi Hendrix is Van Morrison!! So I googled Jimi Hendrix, and imagine my confusion when this guy appeared:
Garr!!! STILL wrong!!! So then I’m thinking, who the hell is that half naked guy leaning on the door….
House tenanted, hooray! Would prefer to have sold but ach well, hopefully that will happen soon. We’re moving out this week. Have still got 2 assignments to finish in the midst of that ARGH. Fortunately the tenant purchased most of my furniture so that solves one problem…now to clear out all the rest of our junk and fit our lives into backpacks! Or, one large backpack, and one midget sized…then off we go!