Before moving on to any good resolutions, the last day of 2018 seems like the perfect occasion to look back at what I’ve done and enjoyed over the past months at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Wolverhampton. Since it was the start of the residency, it was mainly about settling in: getting to know my surroundings, meeting people, starting to gather material. That's why I'd applied to this scheme in the first place, and I'm loving the flexibility of it: this residency actually gives you enough time to develop an ambitious project, as well as solid working relationships. Since I had a day job during those months, I made sure that every time I travelled to Wolverhampton for the day, I made the most of my time there. I emailed people well in advance, checked facilities opening times, reflected on what I needed to bring to be working on campus that day - Ah! What would I do without my dear to-do lists?...
First came the investigation phase. I had just been given my staff pass to walk freely accross campus, so with my camera and phone, I went everywhere I could in the Arts building (and a bit beyond) to capture any trace of multilingualism I could find. Seven floors later, I came back home with about 60 pictures – that is, after removing the ones which couldn’t be used after all - you know what it is. I’m now thinking about how best to use these images to give them a second life. I don’t want them to be mere illustrations. I want them to be part of the storytelling process. And that'll be my job for January.
In addition to exploring the many exciting corridors of the Faculty of Arts, I’ve also met very generous people who introduced me to the resources I could use. A special mention goes here to Tom Hicks, Faculty of Arts Librarian. His tour of the library, back in November, enabled me to consider the feasibility of future events – for instance how to book a room to meet students and work on campus. It was also thrilling to see everything the library had to offer about multilingualism, photography, and visual experiments, all of which play an important part in my project. In fact, I found it extremely hard not to take ten books each time Tom and I stopped by the shelves to discuss the impressive stock! But Tom is also a brilliant artist and photographer himself, and was thus able to give me great tips about where to get prints within the Faculty, or what to consider when preparing an exhibition of your photographs, for instance! If that isn't wonderful support, I don't know what is.
Then, just before the Christmas break, I met student representatives Tamsin Lunn and Matthew Garvin. I’m so grateful for their time, because that’s what this project is all about: discovering and developing what would most benefit students. During our (highly productive!) meeting, all three of us talked about what aspects of my practice would be most likely to generate student interest, and why. As a student, time very much is an investment, especially during term time, so you got to use any opportunity wisely. If I organise any event/roundtable, it's crucial that students feel they gained something from it. Now that Tamsin and Matthew helped me identify what to bring to the table, and when and how to bring it as I suggested various options, I’m investigating the logistics of it all. I'm curently checking if I can book rooms, schedule a presentation, organise a discussion... Trying to make all of these happen is a very exciting part of this residency. This will also no doubt keep me busy in January!
If you’re a student and would like to suggest something, feel free to email me! This very much is a work in progress, so I'd love to hear your thoughts!