I haven’t written this blog for over a month. The teaching term started, and I’ve been sucked into a vortex of emails, admin, studio teaching, not to mention childcare problems, and other juggling acts.
We just got back from Barcelona which was a conference trip plus student field trip with my partner and Abie in tow. One of the things I’m learning about parenthood is that what sounds fine on paper is in reality a lot more challenging. Travelling with a 16 month old, a buggy, 2 suitcases and several bags (not to mention a partner too) requires a lot of patience and not to be in a rush. Arriving in a flat in an unfamiliar city, the first thing we do is try to find the nearest playground and a shop selling nappies, having thought it a good plan not to bring any.
The conference presentation about the project I’ve been doing in Ealing goes well, and its really fascinating to sit and listen to geographers talking about art and artists talking about geography.
Later that day we meet the students and take them to see some Barcelona buildings, and while at the Foundation Joan Miro me and Abie sneak off to the roof and enjoy playing with the sculptures. The next day though I think we drag him around one too many architectural masterpieces because he has definitely had enough and runs off trouserless onto the nicely sloped concrete patio of the Vila Casas Foundation Can Framis Museum. Travelling longer distances with a baby/toddler in tow makes me aware both of the limitations of motherhood but also the way it completely alters your experience of a place. Everywhere becomes a potential place of play.
The final day, we do a transect walk across Badalona with the students, getting them to record maintenance and lack of maintenance. This reminds me that I’ve kitted out the pushchair at home with a portable playground maintenance kit, including dustpan and brush, squeegee, bin bags, rubber gloves and duster. So far its mainly been used on slides (see picture) but I plan to open up further possibilities of acts of maintenance. Although I thought of this as an artistic intervention, ironically I got a survey from the Council asking us to recommend how they could save money on the parks of Brighton. Options included local park users carrying out the maintenance themselves.