Am starting to get a bit of that art-overload, mind-blur that starts creeping up when you’ve seen about three hundred artworks every day for the last four days. The visual information is starting to go in one eye and out the other — a very strange and confusing feeling. Places are starting to blur together and I’m having to reference my photos to remember what happened the morning before. It’s a fantastic though slightly disorienting feeling.
The overall message yesterday: Hastings is Happening! From the quite interesting show on John Carter at the Jerwood Gallery to the opulence of Fairlight Hall to the exquisitely art-deco-ey lines of the De La Warr Pavilion, Hastings has it all! I would absolutely come back — with the kids too! There are super cute parks and amusement centers all along this fish-y community.
Highlights included everything about Fairlight — including the rooftop view, kitchen gardens, incredible lunch with piano recital to follow, and the ART! Cai Guo-Chiang, John Everett Millais, and more!
I very much enjoyed this day of the trip, though after Charleston, which is so close to my heart, almost anything afterwards will have a slight tinge of not-Charleston-ness. The highlights of the day included a stained glass window by Marc Chagall, an incredibly beautiful and newly installed Edouard Vuillard painting, a scaled mock-up of a contemporary gallery with miniature paintings done by artist, and an excessively beautiful country home (Goodwood house – no photos allowed).
So just when I think that our visit to the Towner and Seven Sisters was the high point, we board the bus and head to Charleston House — now one of my favorite artists’ house in the world (second to Frida Kahlo’s blue house). Home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant (among others of the Bloomsbury Group), this experience very much made me even more enamored with Bell (sister of Virginia Woolf). She is such a freakin’ rock star and totally underappreciated. The bit of research I did for the YCBA Audio Guide about Bell’s Design for Overmantel would have been totally changed after my visit to Charleston House. She and Duncan Grant covered almost every surface of the home in beautiful painted decorations and filled their home with art. It exudes from every pore in the house — and despite being quite old, it still feels alive. The gardens are spectacular and make me want to learn how to grow flowers and plants (though right now I pretty much kill everything including hearty succulents, so I have a long way to go). We had an incredibly fresh and well-prepared meal at Charleston before heading off to Berwick, which is the church whose interiors Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell painted (of course).
After Berwick, we headed off for the Ditchling Museum of Art & Craft and had a very nice tour by one of the board members, Jenny. She came from a long line of weavers and grew up in the craft guild started by Eric Gill (of Gill Sans fame) nearby. The guild had a metal working shop, wood shop, weaving studio, and stone carving workshop. The whole place went out of fashion and closed in 1989 and all the work and history would have been unknown if not for the work of two local sisters (Joanna and Hilary Bourne) who had a vision to create the museum. Thank goodness for septuagenarians! They’re a small but mighty museums, and newly redesigned in 2013. It’s amazing how things can feel so old and modern at the same time — I’m really digging that about England.
The reluctant Anglophile heads off soon for more adventures today. Stay tuned.
I’ve been in Brighton, England since Wednesday for the Association for Art History annual conference, and I have had the BEST time. What a great city! First of all, I found a small but cute hotel on the ocean — that was priority Number One. There’s no way that a California girl like myself could be this close to the ocean and not want to wake up to it every morning.
Brighton also has incredible shopping, especially in the form of cute boutiques like Covet where I discovered the Danish brand, Masai, and my favorite UK-based tea shop, Bird and Blend Tea. There’s even a LEGO store here, making souvenir shopping a breeze. I highly recommend Brighton, even if just as a day-trip from London.
The conference as a whole was a very rewarding experience. There’s nothing quite like flying across the Atlantic to deliver a paper on plaster casts of pre-Columbian art with a wonderful colleague. The panel “From Casting to Coding” was very much aligned with things I have been thinking about in my own work, and while I didn’t get (m)any questions, it was still totally worth it. The other panels were also really interesting, and the keynote speakers (Claire Bishop and Michael Rakowitz) were some of the best keynotes I’ve seen at a conference before.
It was also nice catching up with colleagues and feeling like part of the conversation. One of the best parts of working at the Center is that there are so many opportunities to travel to the UK, and I’m definitely spending more time here than I had ever imagined. Although I’m still far from calling myself an anglophile, I’m definitely starting to appreciate England and its history in ways I had never predicted. Am very grateful to be here, and excited for the next (very short) leg of the journey to Birmingham tomorrow.
The work week is so scheduled — drop-offs, pick-ups,7 meetings a day – that on the weekends, it’s all about taking the time to loosen up, take it slow, and lose track of time. It means taking the time to make a pot of organic lavender earl grey, cook up some waffles with T, and actual read the paper. During the academic year, when every hour is accounted for, each email needs a response, it makes it even more critical to take time to unplug from Outlook and make time for myself and the family.
This was a tough week that required a lot of emotional connecting, empathy, perspective taking, and breathing. Where you spend most of your time, who you spend your time with, and what you spend time doing — these all weave into the daily fabric of a life. When people are struggling, when the mission goes awry, what is the most human way to respond? How do you align your moral and ethical beliefs with your work 100% of the time? Is it OK if it only aligns 80% of the time?
The saving grace of the week is an amazing class I’m auditing on Native North American Art. It’s a fantastic seminar with great reading assignments, fantastic guest speakers, and thought-provoking material. Most importantly, it’s a moment to heal and connect with and through indigenous art. It’s an anti-colonial space that reminds me of the other anti-colonial spaces that I sought out in graduate school. Demian Flores’s community art space in Oaxaca, La Curtiduria. The offices of Kaya Press and the people who publish cutting-edge literature from the Asian diaspora. Classes in American Studies and Ethnicity. The amazing female interlocutors I met at UCSD.
I’m longing for that type of unapologetic, brave, intersectional, soulful, healing, dynamic, un-self-conscious partnerships. Was inspired yesterday by the incredible work of Jami Powell, who I had the privilege of hearing in the seminar. Felt moved by the incredible work of Luciana McClure and Nasty Women Connecticut, who opened the show Complicit: Erasure of the Body last night to a huge attendance. Am inspired by these women and doing what I can within my own museum to breathe this kind of liberatory spirit into the work.
I’m in the middle of a 4-week conference & research trip series that takes me through LA, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oaxaca. I’m a pretty seasoned traveler, but even I get burnt out during this marathon session. Here are a few lessons that I’ve learned:
Pick the shortest flights possible. Even if it’s a bit more expensive, a direct flight is always better. No time spent waiting in airports, eating their expensive food and paying for wifi.
If you do have a layover, pick a good airport to have it in. From now on, I’m all about SFO. The new terminals are gorgeous with wine bars, spas, and a full-blown candy store!
If you have the option, book early and fly Virgin America. There’s nothing better than landing in an airport listening to Billy Holiday.
If you get lost (and you will), enjoy the ride. Today I took the wrong bus and arrived half an hour late, but at least I got to see more of San Francisco.
Always carry $2.00 in exact change if you’re planning on using the Muni. Ok — that’s a bit specific, but definitely check ahead of time with how public transportation works.
Invest in a light, fast laptop with a long battery and lots of memory.
I never really believed in the whole bring your own toiletries in mini disposable bottles thing, but having tried it, I’m convinced. It’s like a little slice of home. Or, be really luxurious and invest in a L’Occitane travel set.
Definitely get enough sleep and drink enough water.
If you have to choose between a banana and a cookie, pick the cookie. Traveling is tough and sometimes you just need a little piece of decadence to remind yourself the joys of traveling. Or follow my lead and find the nearest spa (preferably a Bliss at a W Hotel) for an evening pedicure.
There is perhaps no greater joy in grad student life than studying in coffee shops. Cafe Ipe Lounge recently opened in Leucadia and along with fantastic coffee, they have live music on Saturdays and Sundays. Another reason to love living in North County San Diego (as if I needed another one).