I admit to being very nervous as I made my way into the university for the first time. I was meeting a fellow PhD student who had kindly offered to provide me with a tour of DJCAD. Several hours later, having visited many different studios including ceramics, print-making and jewellery, I was none the wiser as to how to navigate my way around the building which seemed to morph, via an interconnecting bridge, into the Cooper gallery. It dawned on me, that not having done either my first degree or Masters in a College of Art and Design, I am not familiar with the immersive experience of experimenting with fine art practice and being based in a studio. This became clear as I met some of my fellow PhD students that I had hitherto met only via Zoom and Teams. It was great to put real faces to names and hear more about their current challenges and practice. After an intensive induction I walked into Dundee to get my bearings and breathe fresh air, after wearing a mask most of the day. I had a busy day to come on Wednesday so I prepared myself for meetings with my supervisors and tutors as well as another PhD student.
The following morning I retraced my steps into the university and walked along to Dundee Contemporary Arts for coffee and a chance to see two exhibitions: Places we Think we Know (Mary McIntyre) and Chinbin Western (Chikako Yamashiro).
Another opportunity to see the thriving arts scene in Dundee.
After lunch I returned to the university to meet a philosophy lecturer to talk about developing my ideas and research post upgrade. It was great to meet in person, discuss how my thinking is developing in relation to speculative realism and my practice and opportunities for me to join a philosophy reading group and a Hauntology Symposium in December, that I will be able to attend on-line. After which I finally got to meet my supervisors in person and have a face to face discussion not mediated by MS Teams. We had a very interesting and informative discussion about the structure of my thesis (more to come on this with my usual summary in my journal). And finally, I met a social sciences PhD student who I have ‘known’ via Teams for a year but never met. It was lovely to spend time enjoying some excellent Italian food.
My final day in Dundee started early as I was able to finally meet the Professor of Interdisciplinary Art Practice, and the person who had accepted me as a PhD student almost eighteen months ago. Overnight, the main entrance to DJCAD had been closed for maintenance work and in a late e-mail we were informed that signage would help guide students to other entrances. Unfortunately this was not the case, but I am pleased to say that after negotiating the unlit corridors of the Crawford Building I finally found who I was looking for! Then it was on to meet another fellow DJCAD PhD student. We spent time visiting studios I had not been to earlier in the week, along with the DJCAD and Main University Library and the centre of the campus that was not entirely evident from the Perth Road. After being introduced to the best cafe in Dundee I left the university behind in order to meet my brother. While waiting for him, I was able to get a glimpse of the V & A and HMS Discovery on the waterfront in daylight.
We spent the afternoon in Fife, threading our way along the coastal villages of Crail, Pittenweem, Elie Ness Lighthouse and Anstruther.
I enjoyed my intense and busy few days in Dundee before travelling back to Skye – from the sunshine in Dundee to the wild weather of Skye that is building up to gales over the weekend. . .
Thank you to everyone who made my first visit to Dundee a happy one. I look forward to another visit in the spring.