Well, July began in a flurry of activity in preparation for my MA work in progress show (the MA doesn't finish until December and there will be a final show then, which I hope will be one I can invite you all to). Given the current COVID situation, this show took a hybrid online/IRL approach, but the IRL bit of the show was only open for a day, and only to other UAL students. Kind of a shame, and though you'd have hoped that the silver lining to that would be a reduced sense of pressure... I still felt A LOT OF PRESSURE. Here's a rough sketch from when we were planning out our space.
Before my Friday evening Samaritans shifts I treat myself to a Wagamama for sustenance, and the Wagamama near the centre have launched a whole load of new vegan dishes (which I don't think are out more widely yet). I want to try them all but somehow every time I just end up ordering the 'No duck donburi' because it is perfection. I really hope they roll it out more widely!
Hard not to feel like I should have done more for the exhibition, but realistically I couldn't have done, given the other workload I've had alongside it. (This visual diary is me imagining all the formats I haven't actually explored, but as it notes, at least I have... some rocks?!)
Went through a phase earlier in the month where I was READING HARD in every moment of my free time, which was useful I guess. Since I was about 16 I've always said that Catch-22 is my favourite book ever, and nothing else subsequently had been good enough for me to make that claim, but then by pure fluke I read '253' by Geoff Ryman and 'Invisible Cities' by Italo Calvino in one week, both of which would be contenders for that title! So that was nice.
In advance of our exhibition we had to do a big presentation (you can see mine here if you're interested) and I was very stressed about it, but... it went well?!!?
I love that dog. She doesn't have to worry about any of this nonsense.
The title of the show was 'What is out of doors', and you can read about my exhibit here. The team who put the show on had a lot of fun with this weird handheld printer that they have at the college, printing long strings on text onto old receipt paper and draping them all over the place. I stole a little bit and stuck it here...
And then immediately after that flurry of activity was another, of sorts. My last day at Kings, after 10 and a half years. What a strange ending.
(Though for what it's worth within two weeks my old boss had written to me asking me to freelance, so you know, not really an ending, more like 'a continuation, where Emma gets paid better' :)
My MA fieldwork walks continue apace, as George and I walked from Horley to Three Bridges, via Gatwick airport. I know I shouldn't have favourites but... This one might have been my fav. So weird. So fun. You can read about it here, if you want.
Last Stars Wars! Nothing liking finishing on a low, eh!
In preparation for a freelance project I can't talk about yet, I spent a lot of money on digital watercolour brush sets for the ipad (they're very good and well worth it). They've bought me WAY more joy than watercolouring in real life ever has, very happy to be continuing my fun journey of digital drawing.
WENT TO IKEA!!!! This was a big deal for me, because it was my first day out/off in MONTHS. (not including my research walks, which I guess do count as days out/off, but are also very much work) Also I've never been to ikea before! (Well apparently I went as a child but I have no recollection). I've been trying to get hold of a particular cabinet for ages, but it kept selling out and would never let me order it online for delivery, so I persueded my partner to sign up for Zipcar so that we could go get it as soon as I got the restock ping. So the moment I got the email we dropped everything (luckily it was on a day when we both could!) and drove down to Croydon. But when they found out I'd never had the Ikea experience before they said we should absolutely do the whole tour and have (vegan) meatballs, so we did, and it was GREAT, but by the time we got down to the warehouse (less than 4 hours since I had the email), Kolbjörn was GONE!! Livid tbh.
But I did manage to get
half of it, and maybe because I got in right after it sold out, I WAS
able to order it online. All in all a lot of hassle I guess, but I did
have a really nice time and kind of wanna go back again...
Next walk with Jade from Three Bridges to Balcombe was glorious, probably the most scenic/rural so far.
Had a course picnic in Hyde Park which was my first time seeing all my coursemates in one place. Kinda nice, kinda weird! I've forgotten how to be a person!
Finally got my fuckin' KOLBJÖRN!!!
My housemate Tabitha had a beautician booked to come over and give her a facial as a special treat, but then she got the self-isolation ping and had to reschedule, so to cheer her up (kinda) we all did facemasks and watched TV together. Facemasks are silly.
Wrestling with the twin emotions of 'This weather is really scarily hot and the world is irrevocably damaged and changing' and 'I like it'
My partner however, does not like it. Sucks to have a July birthday I guess!
My birthday gift to them was a trip to RHS Wisley, a beautiful garden just outside the M25 (we used the Zipcar again before cancelling the subscription!) and I bought them a few plants of their choosing. Wisley was REALLY good, even better than Kew IMO, and I wish we'd had more time to spend there (couldn't leave the dog at home too long, and I had work to get back to). Here's the gorgeous big hot house there.
The weather was still sweltering (good), so I took Chase to see if she'd like a swim in the pond at the park and she ABSOLUTELY did and had one of the best times I've ever seen her have with all the other dogs there.
Too hot, but I like it :)
Some days I really am not very good at this job.
I was supposed to be doing the next of my London to Brighton walks this weekend (Balcombe to Haywards Heath) but one of my guests' partners got COVID so we've had to reschedule. I took advantage of the unexpected free day to go see an exhibition I'd wanted to check out at the Barbican, and as luck would have it, their conservatory was open as well, which was amazing, as I'd never got to go in before. And on my way home I went to a drop in and got my second COVID jab, dosed up baby, yeah!!
The next day I felt AWFUL though, banging headache throughout the day, and aches and pains all over. I'd planned to stop numbering these visual diaries after my second vaccine, as I'd assumed that would be as valid a moment as any to declare COVID 'over'... But given the limited (though still very worthwhile) efficiancy of the vaccines, the growing spread of the delta variant, and the potential of further large scale outbreaks... I dunno. It's not over yet, is it. 483 days in.
A few months before Charlie died, we met an adorable puppy border collie in the park called Ozzy. His owner was a lovely lady who was obviously doing her best but also a little overwhelmed (who wouldn't be!) She loved Charlie and expressed her hope that one day Ozzy would grow up to be such a good boy. We saw each other a few more times before Charlie died, every time Ozzy getting bigger and more boisterous. And then after that, I never saw her again. I wasn't in the park as much, even after getting Chase, so I fell out of touch with all the regular dog walkers I'd nod at.
But before I got Chase I signed up for Borrow My Doggy, because I was so desperately missing having dogs in my life, and I saw her and Ozzy on there. I sent her a message telling her what had happened and letting her know that if she ever wanted help with Ozzy I'd love to help out. She got back in touch and we agreed to meet but then kept putting it off because of various COVID situations.
Until finally! Today! We went and met, and Ozzy has grown into such a big and beautiful (and incredibly well behaved) 18 month old. He's a quintessential border collie (more so than Charlie ever was!) herding his humans and with eyes for absoutely no one apart from them. It was so lovely to see him again, and to talk to his owners, who were so kind about my Charlie grief, and expressed how much it had meant to them, as I was the first person they met when they were out with Ozzy as a puppy, and I was so kind and supportive. Awww. Hopefully we'll stay in touch and have more dog hangouts — Chase and Ozzy seemed to like each other, in a chill kind of way!
Just like... the song... [passes out]
Having a real flurry with freelance work at the moment, which is good, because obviously I've jsut made the leap to full time freelance, so it's quite heartening to have comfortably made ends meet in this my first month. However freelancing ebbs and flows, and especially as I get myself more estbalished it feels very hard to say no to anything, so I have had to let MA work slide since the exhibition to keep up with paid work. It's a tough juggling act that I hope I can get right until the end of the year, to both do my MA justice, and continue to make rent each month and build up a comfortable freelance client base!
I like the weird fizzy pop.
After missing walk 9, jumped on to walk 10 — Haywards Heath to Burgess Hill. This was a lovely one for the most part, accompanied by Jonathan, who I had invited along for his audio expertise, so we made lots of field recordings along the route, and had an incredible picnic to which Jonathan bought some absolutely wild vegan smoked 'salmon' carrots. However, I also fell over and quite badly sprained my ankle quite early on in the walk, but because I'm an idiot, insisted on continuing. I dunno, it didn't FEEL that bad for another couple of hours, but by the time I was on the train home it was pretty awful, and I was very upset because I had big plans the next day...
Big plans in the shape of my Kings leaving do! However I dug out my old Yorkshire walking stick and mostly managed to hobble around the bits of Brighton I needed to hobble around. It was a strange sort of feeling really, because it didn't feel like goodbye. It felt more like I was attending one of the many christmas dos, summer parties, or other Kings events I've gone to over the last 10 years. It was very easy to forget that it was the end. (Though as aforementioned, if they keep giving me freelance work, it kind of isn't?! So that's nice because I really like all these people.)
Ozzy and his owner Antonina came over for coffee, and I realised that Charlie had very nearly pulled off the most cunning trick of all and convinced me that border collies were easy dogs. Border collies are not easy dogs. Charlie was one of a kind. Ozzy really brings that 'big border collie energy' of crashing around and twitching and yelling and sniffing and eating and yelling some more and being over there, and then up there, and then where's he gone now, and you know what, I love him. (But am glad I have such a chill girl of my own, who put up with his bullshit with surprisingly good grace)
So July is done, and into August, with a slight limp and a bit too much to do, but here's hoping for some more sunshine soon to get me through.