This blog will comprise a collection of ephemera, mess and miscellaneous artifacts reflecting on the writer's life.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Top tips for women academics who happen to live and work in different cities (in no particular order)

1. Always buy tickets on-line for example here.
2. Grants that pay travel are good.
3. Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate are very very cold stations. Therefore,
4. You need to purchase hat, gloves and scarf in triplicate for when you leave them on the train.
5. But the worse thing is once you have used to living this half life of station coffee, train announcements, ticket barriers and coach B is when it ALL SEEMS NORMAL.
So here are more warnings.


1. You tell outsiders that the number 14 bus from Meadowhall to Rotherham is your favourite bus.
2. Your Ipod has Cat Power's 'The Greatest' overplayed by 74 times each day.
3. You read every single woman's magazine EACH MONTH (even Woman and Home ha) because you like the pictures.
4. You can tell which Midland Mainline trains have electric points for your laptop from a 50 yard distance.
5. You head for coach B by reflex because THAT IS THE EMPTY ONE.
6. You are addicted to the M and S at Sheffield station and can find your way blindfold to your favourite sandwich.
7. You are on first name terms with the lost property lady at Sheffield station.
8. Midland mainline staff know you so well they are forgiving when your web booking is muddled and you are sitting on the Sheffield to London train rather than the London to Sheffield and your ticket goes the other way.
9. Your rucksack is packed and ready for the next trip within 10 minutes of getting home.
10. Your children are unclear as to what your function is, exactly.

However, there are compensations. These are:
1. Your ethnographic distancing is excellent and you can always withdraw from the field.
2. No one knows where you are, exactly, ever.
3. You are invisible to both home and work. You could be, frankly, anywhere...
4. You are very good at adjusting to local conditions. Meadowhall to you is 'local' not global.
5. When people ask you where you live you wave vaguely and quote Clifford Geertz.
6. Appadurai is your bedside reading because you are always SOMEWHERE ELSE.
This could be here:

or here:

These are actually pictures of the THREE CORNERED HOUSE
viewed between Market Harborough and Kettering and one of the best reasons to travel London- Sheffield on a regular basis.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


in Swinton Library, we were working on the relationship between narratives and identity.
Our exhibition uses artefacts to mediate the relationship between the two.
It is going to be opening on the 3rd March here and you are all invited.
We have several cases:
not forgetting
and wedding dresses.
The Women's Art group at Rotherham Central Surestart are finishing off a huge photomontage of the Ferham Area this Tuesday along with our textile self portraits.
Mine is terrible as I never learned to sew at school.
Watch this space.

Monday, December 04, 2006

which story to tell

is always a problem for a researcher.
Journalists tell stories, and I was interested to read a journalist's account of of the women of Afghanistan here,
and I found it very moving
but when we hear multiple perspectives on the same thing, that is children, teachers, artists, all telling their own stories, it is difficult to privilege one version.
So I am going to tell them all.
Where shall I start?

or below?

Friday, December 01, 2006

random presents

are all I can manage this year (sorry folks) or those heavily subsidised by the recipients.
Molly is going halves with me on this, as I have told her I can't afford it.
I have bought people random books from here, but they are mostly ones I want (hint hint).
I have also been here and bought candles in such abundance I think I need to start a ritual event in order to justify the expense.
I don't know what to do about Christmas.
Might be better to raid the local Museum Shop.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Objects and artefacts

in the home include computers, we are finding in our research project on artefacts in the homes of the Ferham families.
Here is Molly's image of a computer, which we found amongst our miscellaneous piles on the kitchen table.
You can see on the right hand side she has written

intanet Molly School Friends
down the side of her computer.
On the bottom left hand side she has put
On the top left hand side is a drawing of a dog.
I wonder why?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We are thinking about

space place and identity on this course
and so I have just bought this book
and this book
to help me think this though.

Monday, November 20, 2006


the epistemological unconscious is one of my favourite things to do.
The phrase comes from Bourdieu, Invitation to Reflexive Sociology and it means that you have to interrogate what is within your own epistemological unconscious in order to encounter others' works.
Therefore, I need to look at my own arty ways in order to situate myself in research projects.
Tracing social practices in texts is something Jennifer and I like to do and we are writing about it at the moment together
(this requires obviously an urgent trip to New York).
Tracing is also what we are doing in our wonderful new Women's Art project
for our website and we are tracing photos of ourselves and then
sewing them onto material for the backdrop to the exhibition here.
it is all very material.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I have just ordered my cards

from here as ofcourse I have to be like Dr Joolz who has some and also other senior members of our department which is v. fab.
I was going to give them out when I went to Chicago but alas our symposium was rejected which is strange as it was on Bourdieu and Literacy Education and had lots of wonderful people in it and our discussant was Allan Luke.
AERA do not know what they have missed.
Nover mind, I can read Clarice Bean with Molly in Dorset
Clarice Bean is utterly my favourite ever person right now.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


data is about creating patterns, looking across multiple interviews to find ways of understanding the links between objects and narratives.
This post also honours Clifford Geertz who died on October 30th and was the anthropologist who wrote about thick description and that 'man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.' (Geertz 1993;5)
Every Tuesday I am doing the fieldwork for this project, as well as coding and analyzing and it is Geertz who cheers me up.
He tells me that,
'Culture is public because meaning is.' (Geertz 1993:12) and that,
'Doing ethnography is like trying to read.... a manuscript - foreign, faded, full of elipses, incoherences, suspicious emendations, and tendentious commentaries, but written not in conventionalised graphs of sound but in transient examples of shaped behaviour. (Geertz 1993:10)
At the moment, I am reading transcripts and trying to turn them into other kinds of texts, ones that link across different texts and have different kind of headings and organisation.
My focus is on the objects and the creative patterns they make over time, and how their traces can be followed across diasporas and time frames.
So here are some of my patterned objects:


sewing machines



Sunday, November 05, 2006

The domestic space

is one that continually fascinates me.
When we went to this exhibition the images of the interior of people's houses, their mess, cats and unmade beds were as powerful as the barricades of Paris and the images of streets.
I also like seeing people's mess in images.
We spent the whole of yesterday tidying up and there are still miscellaneous piles in place.
Dr Joolz is writing about Flickr as a site of images of domesticity, like here.
This is Molly's image of our house.
Lots of stairs.
Here is a book about the home.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween!!
Originally uploaded by catmadogma.
I love the way Flickr and blogging are so NOW.
This was uploaded about 3 hours ago and now it is on my blog.
And I haven't even taken too long away from my scarily hard article writing
I love this image.
Andy has my camera so luckily you can't see Molly's new witch outfit.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Whole year of blog writing

is always something to celebrate and although I am not nearly as good as Dr Joolz and Guy for keeping up with my blog I am pleased I have got to this milestone.
When I started, I wrote much more and more frequently.
Now I lazily HURL things at the blog in a spirit of WHO CARES beset as I am by the RAE, HEFCE, the AHRC, SVUK and other NAMELESS THINGS in academia coming to haunt a neighbourhood near you ....
(yes it is Halloween tomorrow and there will be THINGS ABOUT).
Last week I went to Bath Spa which was BLISS and here which was even more bliss.
If you click on that last link you meet a new and exciting blogger.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Moving Manchester

is another diasporas migration and identities project
and I found out about it yesterday.
You can read about it here.
Meanwhile, we have gone live as case study 1
on the diasporas identities migration website.
So exciting.
Also our paper is here.
I am off on another train ride now.

Monday, October 16, 2006

the pile of books

always reassures me when I am feeling slow, or uncreative or generally Monday morning-ish.
This week I go here to give a talk
and then here to give another talk not to mention thinking about this project and this project.
So what do I do?
I have a pile of books.
First off is Sensible Objects which Dr Joolz lent me.
This is very useful as I have been thinking about ways of describing clothing items that are not found in England, such as a certain type of blanket worn by men in the Pashtun speaking area of Pakistan.
In this book, we learn that
there are cultural models of naming practices
naming that occurred when a complex weaving of emotion sensations, and dispostion activated the practice
(Guerts and Adikha 2006)
There there is this old favourite where we learn how,
the experience of the next generation "sediments", falls out, into expectations and dispostion
(Holland et al 1998:18)

I have decided this book will make me feel clever.
I have not yet read it.
Julian recommended it.
He also recomended this, which I AM reading.
It says that,
meaning making...operates within material conditions and given or inherited formations of sedimented or textual beginnings.
(Willis 2000:4)
Have I heard this before?

Monday, October 09, 2006


has been seen as negative as Wikipedia helpfully points out here.
But in my research I have found out that it has many good qualities.

First it is sparkly and shiny.
That cannot be bad.

Second, you can do it cheaply with Gold Spray.
Think about it.
Thirdly, it would be WONDERFUL in a glass cabinet and that is exactly why we like museums ...

as they are full of bling, especially the crown jewels.

Also, it can go with you when you travel and can instantiate your identity in amazingly positive ways.
I rest my case.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Is a fairly meaningless term in my view, and I prefer to talk about Instances of Practice or art practices, which I am beginning to theorise for this seminar series .
But it is a great word to get people together.
yesterday I went here (only a bus ride away tra la) and met Pat from here who knows everyone in Sheffield.
I learned that this organisation is wonderfully open and vague and muddly (Yes!)
The blog also says good-bye to the wonderful Amy who SINGLE HANDEDLY has been running Creative Partnerships in BDR for MORE TIME THAN I CAN REMEMBER (this is getting tearful but it is Friday).
I also met with someone who is also interested in socially engaged artists (my current research obsession) and has worked with these two which is amazing.
And this week I managed to get the JeS form in for this scheme with Steve
and he wants to DISRUPT our practice if he gets it.

Now I have to start writing up my findings for this project and thinking about sustainability and what it actually means when teachers and artists work together.
Now I just have to work out which way to go.
I think I will have to ask Pat.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Everyday life

Inspired by Dr Joolz's post on the eternally improving television we have and bored by endless media views of Other People's Perfect Lives and in an eternal quest for ephemera I went in search of the mundane.
I found it here, lovely Flickr.
I also found it here ( I have ordered one yippee) and you can find all about this magazine here.
All this activity is to avoid doing my tax.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A score for a hole in the ground

Today the blog celebrates this project.
It is interesting that it should have been done down a mine.
Due to logistical problems this didn't happen.
It has been created in a wood in Kent.

THis is what the artist says about it:
The original idea was to use a found hole; a mineshaft, a well, a natural fissure, an old bunker . . .
The idea was to use the hole to make a noise, like a Tibetan bowl.
You can see more about the actual hole here.
My mother is going to see the REAL THING tomorrow.
I am so jealous.
Also, I am celebrating the role of art in shaping thinking which is what Steve and I have been working on all week as well as wrestling with this dreadful system.
I think there should be a Support Group for all those who have had to do JES this week.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Transforming objects

has always been an interest of mine.
So I was excited when Zahir showed me how this Church had been tranformed into a mosque in the middle of Rotherham.
Can you see the Crescent moon on the Church spire?
I was there for the launch of ROAR - ROtherham Arts Renaissance which is a brilliant project and involves the Open Minds Theatre Company which is also amazing.
here is the Church again.

Did I say Church?
I meant Mosque.
I was also doing fieldwork for this project.
Watch this space.
PS Dr Joolz and Vic would love this.
Go there now.

Monday, September 11, 2006

From a different eye

Originally uploaded by herongirlz.
I loved Elsa's pictures of Greece.
Mostly they showed things on the ground like
or parents seen from below, squinting tiredly at the sun.
They remind me of the children whose images I am studying, who look at pavements, slides, trees from below and small domestic objects.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Autumn listening

I have been at the BERA conference with Dr Joolz which was notable by the extreme strength of my hangover.
Everyone was very Kind.
Musing on the train back, I decided Cat Power had got me through the experience.
Also, the kind advice of the person I sat next to at the conference dinner, that Modern Times is actually quite good.
So here is my Autumn list of favourite music to get you through till Christmas:
Lou Rhodes Beloved one. Cheesy but brilliant
Lucinda Williams Essence I love her
Ali Farka Toure Savane The Estonia must listen experience
Jose Gonzalez Veneer
not forgetting the lovely Laura Cantrall.
I feel better already.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

new courses!

When I was at a meeting here yesterday, Adrian from this marvellous organisation was saying how hard it is to find arts professionals who understand working in communities but also have an intuitive concept of what they do.
Obviously I immediately thought we should run an MA in being an intuitive arts professional alongside the new exciting course we are offering this year called Working with Communities I am running with Anita, Michele and Jennifer.
This got me thinking about other new MA courses we could run which could supplement our existing ones and bring in new and diverse students
(always a good idea).

Here are my suggestions:

1. An MA in understanding and using the Midland mainline website, together with additional modules on: Trainspotting, Industrial Landscapes and Arts-based related work in railway carriages: an ethnography.

2. An MA in how to navigate complex department stores while not spending too much money. Includes optional modules on Make Up buying without pain and orange foundation, Fashion without feeling guilty, and, Contemporary ethnographies of craft and needlework.

3. An MA in surviving the school holidays while appearing to work. This could include modules on Ways in Which to Multitask effectively, Delegation skills and a module on the Ethnography of time, space and motion in domestic homes, an internal economy of small domestic objects (pictured here).

Any more suggestions?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Invisible buildings

Inspired by Dr Joolz' post on East Berlin, I have begun to muse on invisible buildings.
That is, huge buildings which nevertheless, the local inhabitants simply do not see.

They are unmarked on maps, have no signs attached and remain invisible to those who live amongst them.
The collective farms in Estonia were invisible yet every five miles or so we would spot one and the cry would go up 'Collective farm' and we would photograph it.
When we asked our Estonian friends about them, they said they were invisible because they were not part of Estonian History and therefore meant nothing.
But they then revealed they had spent time working on them as students, under Soviet occupation (illegal).
Now they littered the landscape, rusting and broken.

Ofcourse, I wanted to immediately apply for a European grant and get massive funding to do a cultural geography of collective farms, with narratives of identity, and make a cutting edge new museumology exhibition of narratives of identity, or resistence (in Estonian terms) and the buildings of the collective farms.
Now I just need to find a partner.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Today I want to

Lie under trees and look up at this view.

Instead I have to do a million and one things including:
1. Do washing
2. Tidy up
3. Write (finish writing) paper for BERA
4. Send final version of article (not yet revised) for Encyclopaedia thingy deadline end August.
5. Send final version of chapter (not quite done) for book deadline end August.
6. Send 2 reviews of articles for Language and Education off (not done) deadline end August.
7. Read at least 7 MA student dissertations and comment in intricate and profound ways by end of today.
8. Notice that children exist and wonder what to do with them.
9. Feed children.
10. Get ready for meeting tomorrow and panic (do not feel at all ready).
11.Wonder what will wear for meeting (readers please help is it Autumn yet?)
This is called Going back to work after the holidays and luckily I think we all feel the same.
Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

free Estonia

is the theme for the blog today and with that I remind you that the blog will celebrate Estonian independence day on 20th August.
However, being interested, as I am in cultural geography I became obsessed with the Estonian collective farm.
More about them here.
From 1944, when the Soviets illegally took over Estonia, until glorious independence in 1991, much of Estonia was covered with collective farms which looked like this:

Note the 1980's brick and state of total neglect.
Being a dissident kind of blogger, I would have been sent to one, and so I became fascinated by them and our journey (Tallin, Tartu, Parnu, Muhu island, Saremma, then Tallin) became a spot-the-collective farm experience.
All of them were nameless and fallen into total disrepair in stark contrast to the loved restored Estonian farm buildings.
Our friends in Tallin told us they were invisible parts of the landscape.
I thought, ofcourse, of South Yorkshire, of the mines and the foundries, now closed down.
I thought also, that I have moved from objects to landscapes.
I have become a cultural geographer.
This explains why Andy and Zahir and I decided to move our focus for this project from objects to houses, buildings and landscapes.
They reflect changing identities and shifting cultural and social ideologies.

PS Dr Joolz is right.
The whole world lives on Flickr.
See more on Estonian life here.

Monday, July 31, 2006


I am sorry I didn't blog last week it was mainly because I was sulking that I couldn't download the amazing pictures of Molly in the Sheffield fountains in the heat last week
from my mobile phone to my lap top (advice please)
so instead we have Molly in our new teepee in Dorset.
Yes, here we have our own hippy festival.
Happy holidays!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Check this out

here. It is hot in London and sweaty on the tube.
Molly and I are going to Sheffield and then to Rotherham today, which will be fun.
We will take the tram to Meadowhall.
My favourite place.

Friday, July 21, 2006

affordances and constraints

Originally uploaded by larisaflicksitall.
Guy's post today made me think about affordances and constraints.
I recently argued in an article here that affordances can be culturally as well as materially shaped.
I see affordances as what can be done with a particular sign, its possibilities, but I think that the way we consider the sign is so culturally shaped it is impossible to actually just see it as material.
That is why artefacts in homes are so linked to narratives, they are shaped by the stories we tell of them.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


I like the idea that we will all be issued with a swipe card where we can record our carbon imprint.
I read it here.
I will be wonderfully smug being a train user who practically lives on Midland Mainline.
Whoops I forgot San Francisco.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Lift Off

Lift Off
Originally uploaded by Green Destiny.
We have lift off!
Thanks to Green Destiny for this photo and Zahir for his hard work on this site!
We have gone live!
The photo also reminds me of this exhibition which we went to on Saturday.
One of my favourite short films was of an event in upstate New York with strange animals and balloons.
Very celebratory.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Miscellaneous piles

are the bane of my life.
They are everywhere in my house.
There is a great division between those who think it is important to tidy up piles
and those who just look at them.
I am afraid I look at piles and wonder what it is in them.
Here are a few in my house.
We start outside Molly's room and wonder what these are.

We proceed to the Bratz cache,

before going to our living room where the piano is unrecognisable because of all the piles,

(truly appalling)
finally we get to my study where there is a long stretchy pile reflecting the struggle I am having doing this project

and a nice flippy pile reflecting the fact that tomorrow morning I start work writing about this project.

But I think I am still a messy thinker.
Here is one solution.

Monday, July 10, 2006


I love the word Wiki.
It sounds so subversive, somewhere between a witch and a wizard but definitely not too institionalized.
So I was interested to read this survey here, brought to us courtesy of Sheila.
I have been thinking about Vic's talk at this seminar on civic participation and I liked her take on it that you can insert your identity, as people do on Wikipedia, in these multifarious ways.
Civic participation is a word which normally makes me want to go to sleep, but Vic made it exciting.
I think it was because she made it more accessible, something that teenagers and women could do, not just men in suits.
It involves taking photos with your phone and being active in a kind of street, portable, web-engaged kind of way.
Some of the men in the audience (not all) didn't like her definition of civic participation but I think it was because her definition was a bit subversive.
Just like Wikis.

THis image is from Dr Joolz who is the ultimate Wiki person.

Friday, July 07, 2006

on-line and off-line

does it matter what it is?
Like home and school the lines between the two used to be important, now they increasingly blur.
Jackie Marsh (who is speaking today here but alas I cannot go as I am busy finishing this project) talks about seepage between the two domains.
This a bit watery but nice I think.
Guy and I talked about this on Wednesday, at this seminar and he showed in this post here, how the two are intertwined, as the blog and the reality dip in and out of each other.
Here is a watery image.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Postcards from the edge

The discussions yesterday at this seminar series were so exciting.
Some wierd and wacky thoughts from our discussions include one discussion about postcards.
Dr Joolz never sends postcards (nor do I) but we thought maybe blogging was the new postcard?
When Dr Joolz was in New York we could catch up with her through her extensive posts,
and likewise Digigran's trip to the Galapagos was fully covered here.
I meanwhile have such an exciting holiday destination.
I am going to this house on this island here.

How romantic is that?
So remote and UNUSUAL.
PS The house actually looks like this.

That was the postcard.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Is an interesting idea.
I have always worked with the idea of texts as traces of social practice, and then considered the 'inventory of traces' that lies behind the text.
So I have worked with the idea of inventory.
The original quote is from Gramsci, and then quoted by Said, in Orientalism, that we can talk about the way in which an ensemble of texts is made up of what he calls 'The personal dimension', which is the idea of knowing theyself, 'as a prodocut of the historical process to date, which has disposited in you an infinity of traces, without leaving an inventory'
Said then insists that Gramsci said in the original Italian, that it is therefore imperative to compile such an inventory (Said 1978:25).
I wrote about this here.
Provenance comes from the work of Kress, and is connected to the history of a multimodal object.
I am interested in work that unsettles the concept of provenance, and disrupts it as here.
I am also interested in tracing provenance in visual and linguistic artefacts, and trying to find out their origin.
Where was this picture taken?

Writing a blog is ofcourse an activity where provenance is disrupted.
This picture came from my friend Alison, on a conference trip to the Tyrol, and she knew I liked fashion and sent it.
But how could you know unless you ethnographically knew me and my friends?
PS The link to the Tate comes from her too.
Another trace within this text.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Shhh....the Guerrilla girls

are a group of women artists who are protesting about the under-representation of women in art.
Go here to find out more about them.
Dr Joolz will love their web site it is very girly.
The article I read about them here says they are on at the Tate Modern this Saturday.
Their next target is Hollywood.
Watch out boys.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


'sh' words are the theme for the blog this week, and yesterday's Guardian had a great shell chart which Molly put up on her wall.
Molly always makes gardens in the sand with shells on beaches.
Here is one of them.

Molly also surrounded her garden with found objects, and I found this interesting, a sort of ephemeral sculpture.

I have always been interested in found object art as here.
Part of my interest is the transformation of one thing into another, but it is the narrative behind the transformation that I am interested in.

Here is another potential art object.
What could it become?