Books | The History of Bees

The best laid plans of mice and men… The end of dissertation time has turned into the beginning of September, but there is no time like the present to take on the challenge I set myself at the beginning of the year. Read 12 books in 12 months. I haven’t made a tally of the number of books I have read so far, but have a feeling I have physically read about 6 books and listened to 3 audio books – I’m slowly making my way through the Narnia series again.

This book was recommended to me by my housemate after she learned that my father keeps bees – in fact she thought it was so good that she gave me her copy of the book to ensure I read it… And what a read it was!! I cannot recommend it enough, a confidently blended narrative filled with stories that bring facts about bees to life in a thrilling and culturally sensitive way. It reads like a loveletter to bees, while also showing how we as people are intertwined with these magnificent creatures. Okay, I might be slightly biased here – being the daughter of a beekeeper and all…

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So that happened…

Life with dyslexia while studying for a masters and moving around at the same time sure isn’t easy. At the beginning of the year I had all these plans for this blog, but I’ve had to come to terms with that a lot of them probably won’t be happening – at least not until I hand in my dissertation at the end of June. Living with dyslexia while trying to complete a masters program is proving very taxing on my mental health at the moment. I have to do a lot of reading for my literature review, and even though I know that my difficulties in getting it done right are down to my dyslexia it is causing me a lot of frustration. Don’t get me wrong, I love how dyslexia has given me tools to see and do a lot of other things really well, but at times the pressures of needing to conform to norms outside of my abilities just gets to me. I wish I could be graded on how well I hang an artwork or some other practical thing where I don’t have to fight with my brain to get it done, but where I could instead collaborate with the knowledge it holds. Anyway, all this to say that with all this happening I’ve felt zero energy to do any blogging, or rather zero energy to complete the blog posts I’ve been working on. I have 3 lined up that need varying degrees of editing, two about books I’ve read and one about a talk I went to. I’ve also finished reading another book that I need to write a blog post about. I’ve also travelled a bit over the last few weeks, so I’d love to share some pictures from the places I’ve visited. Let’s see what happens.

Featured image by Cameron Casey on Pexels.com

Recommendation | McQueen Unlocking Stories

On the 28th of January the Alexander McQueen brand opened an exciting experimental space in their new flagship store at 27, Old Bond Street in London. On the top floor they have created an open atelier like space that will host a programme of exhibitions, talks and events aimed at inspiring visitors, students in particular. The first installation is called Unlocking Stories, exploring the stories behind works from the Spring/Summer 2019 collection. On display are the processes, stories, teamwork and materials that has gone into the collection, along with some original pieces designed by Lee Alexander McQueen.

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Books | Feminism

A few weeks ago I went to the local Waterstone’s to pick up a new book to read for my 12 book challenge. Inspired by this post by actress and director Olivia Wilde and the comments on it, I had set off to buy Tara Westover’s Educated. Being there anyway I decided I to look for another book I have been meaning to read, Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist, as well. After some searching, I found it in a section dedicated to feminist scholarship. A collection of all sorts women writing about the female experience. Looking at the books there I was struck by how little I had actually read or even heard of before. I have grown up with a mother who lives and breathes feminism, but we never really talked about the scholarship that is at its core. Picking up Gay’s book I decided then and there to to focus my next couple of readings on feminism.

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Books | Becoming

Pink, orange and pale yellow coloured smoke swirl into one another in front of a black background.

So, this blogpost is long overdue. I actually finished reading this book in mid January, but with uni work ramping up as we are nearing the end of our taught modules and the beginning of research there hasn’t been much time to write.

What a great read, I must admit the start was a little slow and a little wavering, but once it got going it was so good. I mean don’t get me wrong, even the wobbly bits are better than most biographies. What Michelle Obama manages to pull off in this book is nothing short of amazing; she delivers her story while schooling us all on gender, socio-economics, respect and race. With great difficulty I have picked out a few quotes that speak to a small selection of the themes that Michelle Obama speaks to… If you have the chance to grab a copy I highly recommend it.

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Thoughts | Walking around London

Photograph of the redevelopment of the Coal Drops Yard in London. In view are two old victorian buildings formerly used for storage of produce that came into London on trains. Architect Thomas Heatherwick has created a roof structure that combine the two structures while creating a space between the two buildings by bringing the roofline up between the two buildings in an organic fashion rather than a conventional triangular roof. The shape sort of resemble the shape pages in a book take when its opened in the middle and the pages are held softly at either side.

Finally found a quiet moment to sit down and write another post. In between assignments at the moment, so here goes…

There is nothing like London to fight away those January blues, even if it shows itself primarily from its grey, cloudy and rainy side – there is simply too many great things to do and see to worry about that. After my time on Hampstead Heath I spend the rest of the day walking around London with an old friend, we managed to walk some 25 km before it was time to part ways. It might seem like a long walk, but to be honest it is rather business-as-usual for a day in London for me. I love walking around London with no real goal in sight, just exploring.

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Thoughts | A misty morning on Hampstead Heath

I’m in London for a few days visiting family and meeting with friends. The January Blues came knocking this past week, so decided to spend the morning in nature to try and clear my head a bit. It’s been misty and wet all morning, but as I write this sitting on bench practically alone in this part of Hampstead Heath the sun is fighting to shine through the clouds. The birds are chirping away and it’s hard to believe that this is London, a city with millions of residents and yet only a few dozens of people have walked past where I’m sitting.

January blues are the worst, one moment you’re fine – hell I felt finally on top of the world in the first two weeks of the year – the next everything is annoying and unimportant. In my quest for self discovery I wonder though if this years blues might be tied to my worries and annoyance at not being able to identify what area of museum studies I want to explore for my dissertation, the knowledge that in a few short weeks teaching is over and it’s time to start preparing for what will come next, having to find out where to move to when teaching ends, hoping to find placement that I’ll find fulfilling… oh yeah and an essay due in next week..

I’m sure there’s a whole lot more on my list, but for now I’ll take a deep breath, listen to the wind and birds in the trees around me and try to recharge my batteries. After all, when life hands you lemons – make lemonade..

Featured photograph by Sasha Andersen of a view of Hampstead Heath.

Recommendation | Sharing the Love: Community Engagement in the 21st Century

Photograph of the World Gallery at the Horniman Museum and Garden in London. It holds over 3000 objects from around the world exploring the question of what it means to be human.

“21st century museums must look back to the best of the founding impulses of Victorian liberalism, acknowledge and be honest about their problematic colonial history, and re-avow the vital importance of appealing to all and engaging their communities. At a time of increasing intolerance, “fake news” and a coming generation which will be worse off than the current one in many ways, museums provide rare spaces where people from all backgrounds can come together to share what it means to be human and to try to work out how to shape a better future for the planet we all share.”

I recently came across an interesting article by the Chief Executive and Director of Horniman Museum and Garden Nick Merriman that I thought I would share. In recent years museums have become increasingly more aware of their engagement of their surrounding communities, and rightly so. The argument behind this interest is in part an acknowledgement of their responsibility towards the public that supply funding, but also an awareness that museums are a space for coming together and gaining perspective on life and issues we might be dealing with both privately and societally.

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Books | Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The entrance hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City.

So I read my first book, and it is not even the end of January yet. If you read my last post you will know that I am on a quest to reconnect with reading. I happened upon the book quite by accident as I was perusing our university library for resources to use for an assignment I was working on, so I grabbed it and ended up reading it cover-to-cover.

“Keith is a tall, athletic-looking man, with the firmest handshake you would ever want to avoid”

p. 46 – Writing about Keith Christiansen, Jayne Wrightsman Curator, European Paintings
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Books | Dyslexia

I am dyslexic. Not in the ‘letters jump around on the page’-kind of way, but in the ‘my reading speed is extremely slow and I have great trouble forming a coherent argument as my thoughts get jumbled very easily’-kind of way. I did not get diagnosed until I was in my first year of university, despite being tested in my final year of college – turns out it takes a more holistic approach to be diagnosed when you have developed coping mechanisms for undiagnosed dyslexia. But why am I telling you all this? Well, I am finally ready – seven years after being diagnosed – to figure out what my life can look like living with dyslexia. For too long I have treated it as a crutch. This blog is part of that process for me. I want to create a place where I can hold my self accountable to exploring my identity – dyslexia and all. A place where I can document my growths, struggles, frustrations and great experiences alike.

In the past 10 years I have read maybe only a handful of books – I have had very little drive to read and great frustration when a book took longer than a week to complete – often resulting it being put away unread. Granted part of the reason was that I was in university where the reading burden was large and looming, especially with my type of dyslexia… but also I was unaware of the consequences of allowing years of frustration with my reading speed dictate my relationship with books. In recent years I have taken a great interest in the principles of Cognitive Behavioural Theory (CBT), in particular the emphasis it puts on the importance of thought processes. Thanks to this method I have come to lots of realisations about my life, and managed to reassess a wealth of situations that previously stomped me, but more importantly it is currently helping me change my relation to reading. I am on a quest to change my relationship with books. So far for 2019 I have read a whole book and am well underway with the second. Might this be the year where I read at least twelve books before December 31st?

Featured photograph by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com