Slow motion video (taken with iPhone). Played with the sound on, it's interesting to hear how the environmental soundscape is more evocative of a tropical jungle (Listen between 2:00mins and the end of the clip) rather than a narrow and leafy pathway in Worcestershire.
I recently led my fellow PhD research students on a walk in Birmingham...
TOGETHER AND BEING SOMEWHERE ELSE
Studio walk across the University of Birmingham Campus, Selly Oak.
I had initially thought my plans for a walk across
the University of Birmingham campus, taking in two museums, a historical house
and its gardens along the way, had possibly been overly ambitious. I couldn't
have been more wrong. The people who accompanied me on the day were so keen and
possessed seemingly insatiable appetites for new experiences.I had the immense privilege of sharing the
day’s discoveries with some amazing PhD research students from the UK, China,
Nigeria and Hungary.The curiosity
provoking pathways, across this small part of Selly Oak, took in the Lapworth
Museum, The Barber Institute and Winterbourne House and appeared to provide moments
of genuine reverie for all involved.
The walk was intended to bring individual PhD
students together in a way that would introduce them to like-minded/situationed
people and give them a space in which they could do something else, something
seemingly unrelated to their academic studies.My own research activities have revealed that a shared journey
(particularly one with a clear and distinct direction) can be a vehicle for
relaxation and facilitate feelings of connectedness with people and place.It was therefore my intention to physically
remove them from BCU, temporarily cut the cord with their supervisors and go on
an expedition in a new and unfamiliar setting.The University of Birmingham campus provided the setting for our sojourn,
its hugely contrasting architectural styles and exotically named school
departments would, in my opinion, provide a place to explore and expand our
collective experience of Birmingham.
In applying for the BCU RDF (Research Development
Fund) and designing the walk in the way that I did, it had been my intention to
facilitate a small and adventurous mobile space, to cordon off an amount of
time within which people, from various cultural backgrounds, could freely walk
and feel liberated from any overbearing feelings of academic fatigue.I occupied and performed the role of leader,
which in my experience, permits those in-tow,
to disengage with a certain degree of decision making and relinquish the
responsibility to someone who they perceive to be in control.My manner, although initially
self-deprecatory and nervous at first, developed into a slightly more
authoritative style as the day un-folded.Assuming the lead, instilled me with a sense of responsibility for my
fellow walkers; it became imperative for me to regularly articulate my intentions
to everyone and nurture a peripatetic structure of trust within which people
could feel the freedom to explore without judgement.
Early in the day, I had explained to the group that
sometimes, I enjoy the feeling of being an outsider, a trespasser or an
interloper. I explained that, by walking around the UoB campus we were, to some
degree, all interlopers, all united by the fact that none of us were enrolled
in the UoB and the shared experience of being outsiders was something we all
had in common. We freely wandered through the campus, through archways, doors,
foyers and balconies.We were invisible,
ignored and camouflaged by our boldness.We moved amongst other students, we were no concern of theirs, we didn’t
register on their radars as we slipped into busy student study spaces. We were
unchallenged, ignored, disregarded and overlooked – the feeling was, for me
personally, surprisingly liberating.
As the walk progressed, I attempted to not curtail
the flow of the group’s curiosity. I had previously prepared a pre-defined
path, a well-rehearsed trail, along which we would move from one stage of
discovery to another, so I needed to keep everyone moving. I was apparently the
only one aware of the time; it seemed to have become immaterial to the occasion
and my efforts to cut conversations off with a reminder of time’s trivial
limits were poorly received.In
hindsight, I believe that this was an indication of the walk’s success; bonds
were being formed, dialogue was developing, and deeper relationships were
emerging through a sense of shared situation.
Our ultimate destination was Winterbourne House, a
house built in the Arts and Crafts style, owned by the University and free to
UoB students.As with all the locations,
I chose not to research the place too much; I wanted to take the group to the
door, pass through the house and let them spill out into the walled Victorian gardens
beyond.They were then free to discover
the place for themselves and once again, play within the walls of permission
and have fun exploring within the limits of trust.The cross-cultural exchange that occurred
within the carefully curated space of the walk was facilitated by the commonality
of the journey - the shared and galvanising experience of being together and being
Greg recently completed an AHRC-funded PhD
with BCU and joined the PGR Studio team, as Research Assistant, at the
beginning of April.His research
interests are currently eco-haptic perception and sociable mobilities of
walking. He is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Champion andhas joined the team to formally provide
1:1 pastoral support and resource signposting for all doctoral students.
My 'Handscape' (marked by the red arrow in the image below) is currently being displayed in Mino, Japan. The paper was made in the local area so it's nice to see it back where it belongs. I feel priviliged to have my work in such a show.
Exhibition description (Taken from the Mino Art Info Facebook page)
【-WASHI ETEGAMI PICTURE LETTER -】 A new exhibition, “Washi Etegami Picture Letter” will be coming up soon from 21st March to 25th March 2018. The exhibition will
showcase Handmade Paper Etegami works of art by artists, painters and
others connected with Mino City including participants to “Mino Paper
Art Village Project.” (1997 – 2016) More than 50 Etegami art works by
the creators touch people’ hearts. Etegami (e means picture and
tegami, letter/message.) are simple drawing accompanied by a few words.
Usually done on postcards to be mailed to one’s friends. A free
“Etegami workshop” is also part of the exhibition this time. A great
opportunity to use elegant handmade paper! We’re looking forward to your
participation. Anyone will be welcomed. You’re not good at it? No
worries. An instructor will be there to help you.
everyone’s help, this new exhibition has made us, “Mino Art Info” feel
some achievement of our mission to help people, artists connect each
other with the aim, “Connect.” Please come enjoy this beautiful works of art at the Studio Yoshida, Mino. You can also enjoy the Hina Doll display at the same site.
Dates: Wed. 21 March – Sun. 25 March Time: 10:00 – 16:00 Place: Studio Yoshida (next to former Imai Residence) Admission: Free Workshop: Free (Handmade Paper Etegami Picture Letter) For Information: Mino Cultural Hall 0575-35-0522