Over the last few weeks much of my time has been taken up by the minutiae of selling a house. That process having been concluded successfully,  my research student life is returning to a hectic normal.

My first task, to complete the spring edition of the MIRIAD newsletter. I took this on thinking that it was only a matter of laying out existing copy, only to find that most of that copy was raw and unedited, and pretty much unreadable.   So I had to edit, write and source illustrations, as well as dragging more copy from my fellow students. It seems strange to me, having spent much of my life communicating, and believing how important communication is in research (internal and external sharing of what I’m doing – that’s after all surely half the fun) how uninterested some (many?) researchers are in sharing their work and progress.  Perhaps they feel that other activities, such as conference papers, are sufficient. Perhaps they are afraid that someone will take advantage of their hard work and purloin their ideas. But I feel that informal media such as newsletters and social media reach different and often wider audiences and encourage the random but often beneficial phenomenon of serendipity. You never know who might stumble across your work, especially online, where every work is peered at by search bots. And coverage in any media is still worth a mention in a cv.  Anyway, the newsletter is almost finished. Another job jobbed…

I’ve begun using Scrivener as a medium in which to carry out my academic writing process. I’m still climbing its initial learning curve, but so far I’m impressed. It is going to be an invaluable tool for someone like me who has a butterfly brain and who flits from idea to idea and from resource to resource. My first output is the raw draft of a chapter on nineteenth century and present-day attitudes to bric-a-brac, due to be delivered to my supervisors in a day or two.  It feels good to have a few thousand words under my belt!

I’ve begun a collaboration with my fellow researcher Ela, who is working towards an MA by research, and just now I received an email confirming that we’ll be presenting a paper at the Creative Arts and Creative Industries: Collaboration in Practice conference at MMU in June. Ela is researching the Polish displaced families who spent a decade or so in an ex-US army camp in Staffordshire in the 1940s and 50s.  She’ll be using artefacts from their lives as inspiration for her artistic output. She’s discovered that some of the camp is still standing, so I’m going to work with her to research the remains from my archaeological point of view. It’s going to be fun and very useful for my research also. First of many tasks is to deal with the paperwork – the H&S  and ethics forms. Fortunately this is a low-hazard and ethically uncomplicated project, with the main danger probably being nettle stings and insect bites! And it would be nice to have to apply sun-block! The biggest challenge, time!

I’m also beginning a {Code Creatives} “residency” that’s also going to be both challenging and fun (I’ll continue to reside at my desk, but the residency provides support and a tiny budget). My goal is to create, by October, a digital “(anti-)museum.”  You will be able to read more (eventually) at the project blog: The (anti-)museum project. The results will be on show at the opening festivities of the new Art School building.  Busy times!