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  • Rachelle Blondel

and so it begins


" study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in " - Leonardo da Vinci

A mysterious haze has hung over my first days on campus from navigating the library system, meeting fellow students, finding the best place for coffee and feeling somewhat out of place in the warren of rooms and corridors that are the ceramics department at UCLan. There is a hum of excitement as I turn the handle to the door of the unknown.

As we begin, the cycle completes with the final year students racing towards their MA show, a tension shrouds the department. Its swirl of excitement and sadness, impatiently waiting and yet delaying the launch into whatever lies next. I can't help feeling that this will come for me albeit too soon and I will be the one frantic about the misaligned text on my poster, have I enough work and is it indeed a good enough representation of my time spent at the university.

I've attended my first lecture in a room full of students nearer the age of my sons, in fact as I look around as words such as research, quantitive, questions and mindset fly around the room and I wonder how this all fits with my desire to get my hands dirty and ponder how to capture the tiny surface details of a pebble I picked up from my morning walk.

But I've thrown myself into this pool of academia with an apparent growth mindset eager to cast off my very fixed mindset approach, I can but try. (Mindset by Carol Dweck, quite an interesting read)

Having a somewhat floral writing style, possibly airy fairy tongue in cheek I chewed over how I would be able to indeed fulfil my assignments in an acceptable format and how on earth would I deal with my own take on grammar when I hadn't someone else to check my ramblings and make the right adjustments to my commas and full stops. Oh the joy of grammar nazis...usually dismissed but this time they may have the upper hand as they dish out the marks.

My anxiety levels were rising and I was pulling onto that super neural highway telling myself that I couldn't do this and I would be rubbish, best to sabotage it all now, fail, leave rather than stick it out....this led to the bad timekeeping and the accidental non attendance at my afternoon lecture. Or was it that wonderful lunch the soon to disappear MA students had kindly put on for us as a welcome. Yes that was it....lunch was a wonderful insight to the camaraderie that would follow and I'm sad that my time in their company was short.

So onto the question, the huge neon sign flashing MA Research question, if I didn't get the question right it would all come tumbling down, crap question, crap project, crap work....crap everything, self doubt taking those damn reigns again. I think I'm stressing a little too much over the research question. Dave our course lead was calmly laid back and pretty sensible about it all, inwardly I was panicking, outward talking too much about rubbish. I'm pretty sure that before long I will have him rolling his eyes at me, if I really push it I may get head in hand but I'm hoping that his wisdom and years at the Uni he will of endured far worse than my dithering over my insecurities. So I'm keeping the faith Dave for you to get me on track.

So a weekend of reading, scribbling in my sketchbook, generally ignoring and neglecting my family, getting the washing done, not showering, dog walking and all the other necessary tasks attached to family life I made some pretty big decisions regarding my work. Now these aren't set in stone and knowing me they could spin off in some random direction at any given moment but for now I feel motivated and excited. I feel a great desire to move in a very 2d direction, with a 3d ceramic aspect, break free of the making of pots and such like and to really focus on the surface rather than the form. I want to draw on my printmaking experiences, those with thread & cloth, paper, tools, wood and stone and to create the pages from my sketchbook onto a ceramic surface. Still hugely inspired by the landscape that surrounds me, the tides that call my name, the coastline that gives me comfort, those tiny surface details that I find so infinitely beautiful... ultimately I came up with these words.

" not landscapes, not places in time, just suggestive marks, abstraction through lines, textures, marks placed in a certain way to suggest a surface. A hillside, a breaking wave, stones grouped together, markings on a rock, gouged by the passing moments "

#MAceramics

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