Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fiction Writing and Public History Practice

After writing a lot in October about history related topics I'm changing things up this month.  I love writing about history but I've also had an itch to spent more time on my fiction writing.  Along with a few members of the local writers group I'm part of, I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November. 

Joining the NaNoWriMo bandwagon has helped me dedicate time to a fiction story that has been permeating for awhile.  The experience so far -- it's only day 12 of 30-- has reinforced the importance of consistency and building in time for writing.  I struggled when participating in #AcWriMo last year, failing to make as much progress as I had hoped. 

This year I made the decision to write every day and try to write the suggested 1,667 words a day.  Some days I make that goal, other days I don't.  But I've been trying, which is important.  I like structure and the tangible goals and milestones of NaNoWriMo work for me.  I also like the NaNoWriMo philosophy: words on a page, even if they end up being edited out later, are better than no words on a page. 

The writing I've been doing as part of NaNoWriMo has also encouraged me to take a look at the writing I do every day.  Exhibit text, website content, archival description, etc. all require attention to detail and use a specific styles of writing.  A lot of the written content I produce is consumed by researchers and the general public.  Clarity and simplicity is important. 

Writing and editorial skills are transferable and useful in most public history jobs. Setting goals, meeting deadlines and time management are all part of NaNoWriMo and are all skills public historians use regularly.  So, even though NaNoWriMo has resulted in me  taking a break from writing about history the act of writing on a daily basis has reinforced a lot of things which I use regularly as a Researcher/Curator. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Journey Women: An Art Exhibit of Aboriginal Women's Healing Experiences

The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre is currently hosting an exhibit of artwork created by women from  Minwaashin Lodge-Aboriginal Women's Support Centre. The exhibit features ‘body-map’ images created by seven women in a three day arts based workshop on the healing experiences of Aboriginal Women.

This workshop was part of a collaborative research initiative between Minwaashin Lodge and Concordia University. The workshop was facilitated by art therapist Lucy Lu and  Felice Yuen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Applied Human Sciences of Concordia University.  The goal of the project was to gain an understanding of the conditions that contribute or challenge Aboriginal women in their process of healing from violence or the impacts of violence. 

The exhibit is open from now until the end of November and additional details about the exhibit and related events can be seen here.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Architecture and Preservation at Open House Dublin

Tyrone House
My last day in Ireland was spent in Dublin. By happenstance Open House Dublin (OHD) was occurring that day and I was able to check out some local built heritage sites.  Open House Dublin is very similar to Doors Open days which allow people to tour buildings which are often closed to the general public and learn about the history of these sites. 

Open House Dublin is free and is sponsored by the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF).  The 2013  OHD event featured 100 buildings and many of the sites featured tours by an architect or someone very familiar with the building's architecture.  The IAF is a non-profit organization aimed at promoting the value of architecture to the general public.  Open House tours which explain the significance of local built heritage is a great way
to interest people in architecture and local heritage.

One of the sites I visited as part of OHD was the Tyrone House which is currently home to the
In Tyrone House Courtyard
Department of Education and Skills.  The building was the first stand alone stone house in Dublin.  A number of the original stonework, plaster ceilings, marble fireplaces, and mahogany woodwork is still in the structure.  The tour guide did an excellent job of contextualizing the building and speaking to the numerous modifications that had occurred in the building since it's construction in the mid 1700s.

The Tyrone House site also a number of interesting modern art features and additional buildings that were not included in the tour.  The Department of Education and Skills built a replica of the Tyrone building on the site -- possibly to create a symmetrical appearance of the grounds -- this newer building was not included in the tour but the guide to speak to the aims of the Department to maintain the heritage of the site.

Charlemont House
I also visited the former Charlemont House.  This building dates from 1775 and is currently home to the Dublin City Gallery which is a museum for modern art.  The Charlemont House is limestone faced building  set back from the street.  The main floor of the House has been renovated extensively to accommodate a gallery space.  The upstairs portions of the building apparently retain some of the original fireplaces and detailing however because of a storage issue that area wasn't accessible during my visit.  The tour at this site was fairly brief and not nearly as detailed as the one at Tyrone House.

Overall my experience during the Open House Dublin event was a positive one.  The guides were friendly and knowledgeable about their respective sites and it was an interesting opportunity to explore parts of Dublin that aren't tourist destinations and that aren't always open to the public.