Tag Archives: CSYC

Emotions and sonnets to gravel #focussheffield

I have just been to an intriguing conference held at the University of Sheffield on Advanced Visual Research Methods.  I am not going to review the whole two day conference, but just pick on a small part of it.  On the second day we spent a lot of time on one session, we had the choice of which session it was and I chose one called Making Emotions: materiality in visual research.

We began by drawing designs and patterns on paper in charcoal.  We had been discussing emotions and I thought I would try and capture my social awkwardness and insecurity when I am at conferences and talking about my academic work.  This is what I drew-

Original design

Original design

We talked briefly about the designs as a group (it was a nice small group, only about seven of us) and voted on the 21 designs to pick two to make into sculptures.  Mine was one of those picked.  We split into groups to make the gravel sculptures and I was told that we shouldn’t work on our own designs.  I was handing over my design to people I didn’t know and people who didn’t know what it was all about.  What would they do to it?

During the next part I worked on someone else’s sculpture design. I wondered what the story behind it was as I made it, my hands were shaking at times to make sure I was pouring the coal dust accurately.  The gravel sculptures were made from limestone chippings and coal dust.   I kept glancing over to the other, “my”, sculpture to see what they were doing, but I was really aware that I couldn’t say anything. Between the artist and the other delegates they had taken out the lines and only left circles.  However, there was a discussion going on about the lines. To my relief they had put some lines in.

Gravel sculpture

Gravel sculpture

We discussed the production process of the gravel sculptures together, and the acts of co-producing work.  It occurred to me that just listening to someone describe emotion is not enough.  The extent of their feelings is incredibly difficult to capture and so easily misinterpreted or overlooked.  Using materials and creative process such as gravel sculptures provides an additional conduit for communication.  Then, it was taken a step further – we were asked to write sonnets to our sculptures.

Here is mine, to the sculpture above (apologies to poets as it is not quite right):

Your concept makes so much sense to me now
Circles and lines so clear and curved
I understand the why, where, when and how
The stark contrasts of black and white reserved

I worried you were in the others hands
Would they understand what you were about
Could they do you justice made out of sands
Or would they miss parts of you out

But the end result made me see as new
How my research and participants will
Allow me to get a different view
And make me aware that others will fill

My research with some unique perspectives
There is no need to follow directives

It is cheesy – I am aware of this – but in the process of this I realised that I had to think quite hard about the right words to describe things and maybe think around them a little to make them fit in.  I realise I might also be quite late to this party, but it has shown me that methods can be varied.  Being able to actually take part in the methods and not just be spoken at for an hour at a time was also invaluable.  I look forward to the next one!

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Research centres, children and sexuality and supervision, all in one day!

I managed to time my mini-supervision meeting with a Centre for the Study of Youth and Childhood (CSYC) seminar today. So I had a brief lie in, walked (via work as it is on the way) to the railway station and off to Sheffield for the day.

The seminar’s theme was children, sex and sexuality. The first talk was on children using mobile technology, what they get out of it, what they think about it and their experiences. Dr Emma Bond shared some of her findings from a project with 11-17 year olds and how they use their mobile phones. I found this enlightening, particularly the children’s management of their social and family worlds using the phones. The advancement in technology has really left adults behind and we are so off on the advice we are giving children on internet safety and online presence.
The second presentation focused on sexual identities and the media’s influence on children by Dr Jackie Marsh. It highlighted a couple of examples of playground games that were directly influence by music and tv. This talk really highlighted the worries we, as adults, impose on children. We think they are getting the same inferences from tv and music that we are. Their interpretation of media sources is quite different and at primary level they will censor themselves or create situations where they can experience something from an alternative point of view.
Both talks have given me a little more insight into working with young people which will be useful in the day to day job.
Following the seminars was a welcome event for the new researchers at CSYC, I met some new people, others in my position and who are on differing projects. They introduced a number of smaller research groups within the centre so now I have a list of people I want to email and yell “include me!” at.

Then I had my mini-supervision meeting. It seems to be that any length of chat is good with my supervisor (I am hoping this doesn’t change). I met another student working in my area, felt I helped her a little, she is also part time and working full time so we are in the same boat (and just about the same career too). I have a task now, which feels like I am back in familiar territory. The transition from taught programme to research programme is a little daunting, but having a task to do has put me back on familiar ground. Although the task is to write about me, my motivations and my research question. I can see how useful this will be. Already, following our discussion, I can see how my outlook on my project might change. I am also looking forward to writing something again. It will also help my supervisor get to know me better which is going to be invaluable in this working relationship. In addition to this I have a hefty reading list. So the next few weeks will be composing my thoughts, reading and building a new set of bookshelves!

The cat likes reading time, I sit still fr more than five minutes!

Fatty in bed

Fatty in bed

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