Serendipity #blogjune 9

Our rescheduled flights to Seoul are not til Friday morning, so we have a day to kill in Qingdao. Ever since my paper obsession started, I’ve been quizzing our Chinese staff about local art shops or workshops. They’ve all looked at me like I’m insane, and giggles at the idea of art being a career path. 

Which is probably why the year 3/4 class managed to go on an excursion to a hand papermaking & traditional printmaking shop without me hearing. Sighhhhhhh

But the flight debacle meant today was an opportunity to check it out. We found it in what was probably a neat little art hub around the time of the Beijing olympics, but which, like so many other neat little things in China has been allowed to fall into disrepair. The staff do community workshops (they have read my business plan), so there was only a guy with a little English in the store, but nevertheless he showed us everything, lit a raging fire in me for printmaking, and sold us one of everything in stock.

searching for Chinese characters
everything a young Chinese scholar needs to know about life
they also make paper
background to the letterpress. we think he said xiangxi?
found 马美兰

Non-immigration related post #blogjune 5

Dali
Dabaiyi wedding in Yunnan Province (China Daily)

My last day as a Teacher Librarian will be Friday 24th June, so this *sort of* counts as a “library related” post (if that’s even a #blogjune rule?). Decision on shipping/removalists is still pending, so I’m not entirely sure which day we will actually leave, but we do have a bit of a plan about where we will spend our first few days, weeks, months… of Freedom.

Itinerary

24th June: last bottle of Tsingtao in Qingdao.

July: 2 – 3 weeks travelling China, mostly by train and mostly in Yunnan province, home of majority of China’s minorities and apparently the “trendiest destination for China’s exploding domestic tourist industry”. Well, I guess after 2 years here we’re starting to think like locals. We’ve been to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong a few times, we’ve seen the warriors in Xi’an, and we’ve even had a weekend on the lake in Hangzhou and one on the beach in Shenzhen. These all tended to be “city trips” and I do not want to leave without seeing the scenic sites. Just irritating it has to be in July when it will be super hot!

Yulong-Xueshan
I think Yunnan can be considered a scenic site.

Current itinerary depends on a lot, including the possibility of meeting up with another school librarian who has been working in Tianjin and has a daughter the same age (that would be brilliant!):

  • Qingdao
  • Nanjing : ancient capital, location of many (rather violent) historical events
  • Wuhan : port town for Yangtze cruise (which was initially part 1 of our itinerary but, alas)
  • Chengdu : pandas!
  • Lijiang : deep in Yunnan country. Tiger leaping gorge, in my mind home to China’s “colour”. This is where the miniorities are, and much of the costume and landscape and ‘idea’ of China. I really want my daughter to leave China with a lasting impression of the place as interesting and diverse. Even if that is getting less and less so.
  • Kunming : well, at first I wasn’t convinced but after a closer look it sounds like an interesting city.
  • Guiyang : Guizhou province – hoping to find some hand papermakers in this region.
  • Guilin : beautiful. Has to be done.
  • Guangzhou : airport, although I have heard there is an ancient village that is also a hub for printmakers – Guanlan printmaking base – and if there’s time I want to explore.

Thailand for a week (sigh. Hard life). Hoping to find printmaking workshops!

July to September: the magical Land of Oz. My family don’t know we’re coming as this was not on our original itinerary, but as it happens it would be better if we put off arriving in Spain until after the tourist season (July/August). I was looking at Croatia and Romania, but a few things have gone down lately with my family and us ‘dropping in’ will hopefully distract from the not so cool stuff going on.

September: Hola Espàna!

PhD in Paper – downgraded

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:

  1. University of Newcastle (NSW) – MPhil in Fine Art
    • 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.
  2. UTas (Tasmania) – Master of Fine Arts
    • 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.
  3. CDU (Darwin) – Master by Research (Visual Arts and Crafts)
    • 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.

Chapter 1

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.

baibheil

P.S. I totally started a whole other blog and posted this over there, then changed my mind and dragged it bag here…hopeless!

PhD in Paper

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.

Aaaaaaaand….nothing.

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.