July's inspiration


Hello! Wow, June and July have been a whirlwind of activity. This weekend is the first one I’ve had free in six weeks! I’ve been travelling a lot and seeing family and friends from all over. I’ve visited Brighton, Geneva, Serbia, and Glasgow, and even explored London like a tourist.

Boat tour of the Thames

My Mom and her friend were visiting London at the end of June to see Wimbledon tennis tournament. They’re both big tennis fans and play regularly, so this was an opportunity not to be missed.

Before the start of Wimbledon, we spent the weekend site-seeing in Central London. I really like showing friends and family around my adopted city, because it’s often the only time I actually see the big sites like the Tower of London. This time around, it was set to be the hottest day of the year so far, so we took a boat tour along the Thames from Westminster Pier to Greenwich and back. We took a hop-on hop-off boat service with a live commentary, and we managed to get a good deal of £12 per ticket. The boat staff doing the commentary were pretty bloke-y and their jokes were super-cheesy, but it was still fun and I learned some new things about London.

Walking tour of Spitalfields

The following day was a bit less hot, so we all went on a walking tour of Spitalfields, East London, guided by a free app my Mom found called Trail Tale. I don’t hang out much in East London (too uncool / easily annoyed by hipsters), although it’s actually pretty easy to get to by Overground from where I live.

The tour, which started out a Liverpool Street Station, is themed around three waves of immigration to the area - the Huguenots in the 17th century, the Jewish immigrants up to the middle of the 20th century, and finally the Bangladeshi immigrants that came to Spitalfields in the second half of the 20th century.

Kindertransport memorial statue at Liverpool Street Station

I highly recommend this quick and fun walking tour, it was easy to follow and worked with the GPS on my Mom’s phone. We visited a synagogue, mosque, Christopher Wren-designed church, a South Asian supermarket, the site a famous women’s labour protest, and of course, got to walk around the famous Spitalfields Market. You can even stop by one of London’s best bagel shops if you get peckish!

Dennis’ Severs House

One of the stops along the way was the fascinating Dennis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street. I had heard about it while studying on my illustration course, but of course, sometimes it takes the prompting of visiting family and friends to actually explore these hidden gems!

The whole house has been converted into a kind of living museum or installation artwork. Starting in the basement with the Huguenots of the 17th century, you see rooms from different historical periods, presented as if the family in them has just left the room. There are fresh strawberries and pomegranates on the tables, wigs left on chairs, shattered tea cups, holes in the ceiling, and even a live cat! You can see the rise and fall of the family’s fortunes through the stories told in the rooms. I’ve heard from friends that the candlelit Christmas tours are especially worth a visit.

If you’re interested in visiting, or just having a look at the house, visit their website, or follow Dennis Severs' House on Instagram.

‘Inspiration’ research

My trip to Glasgow was for the ARLIS Art Libraries Society conference, where I gave a 10-minute lightning talk about my MA dissertation research. I completed my MSc in Library Science at City University London in 2013, and the talk was exactly five years to the day after my graduation ceremony! I’ve been working in higher education libraries for seven years now, but it hasn’t been until my current role at University of the Arts London that I’ve been able to start using my research in practice.

My dissertation research was on the concept of ‘inspiration’, and how the library can play a role in the creative process. I was looking at what ‘inspiration’ even is, and how it can be found. My research looks at cultural, historical, and psychological theories of inspiration and creativity, as well as some of the information behaviours that can help with finding inspiration. My research is mainly pitched at those who work in higher education art and design libraries. However, that’s not to say that anyone else who is creative and interested in helping their creativity along won’t find something interesting in this work.

The slides are available on Humanities Commons now, and the full text of the talk will be up soon.

If you would like to see more about the ARLIS conference, the conference website is here. The hashtag is #arlisuki2019, and my Twitter handle for library matters is @CaitLibrarian.

Owl & Penguin Prints - upcoming autumn fairs

Finally, once I’ve finished all my travelling this summer, I’ll be hunkering down to prepare for selling at some fairs this autumn. Visit Owl & Penguin Prints’ table at the following fairs!

Clapham Old Town Fair - 31 August

SoLo Craft Fair: Dulwich Autumn Market - 28 September

Bees pattern - now available on a recycled A5 notebook

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