Saturday, 4 July 2015

{10 years on...a reflection}

{MA graduation at the Courtauld, Somerset House}
10 years ago today I walked down an aisle in a church on the Strand and received a new status. No, I didn't get married, I received an MA in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. It was the best year of my life--the most challenging but also one of the happiest. It also put me in the biggest debt, something I'm still paying off. 

10 years on, I'm happy to say that pursuing an MA in an amazing institution was the best decision I have ever made. At the Courtauld I made some lasting friendships--including meeting my best friend and other life-long friends. It hasn't been easy since. I certainly can say I've achieved some accomplishments as well encountered some obstacles--four years after receiving my MA, I had a PhD in hand and was facing the brave new world of doctorhood during an economic crisis that meant hiring freezes in most universities. Those institutions that were hiring also saw 100s of applicants just like me, going for the same jobs. I worked in 3 academic posts in three different institutions in three different cities, in two different countries, before landing a permanent post in another country (which so happened to be the location of my dreams).
Words of advice to my former self: none. Well done for setting the bar high when I was still dreaming so that my later self would seek to meet those high expectations. It certainly wasn't easy, but boy am I happy with where I ended up. The struggles were worth it.
{Courtauld MA graduation 2005. Note nude statue in background. How appropriate!}

{ my sister Christina was doing her PhD at Oxford at the time & was able to attend my MA graduation}
{friendships to last a lifetime}
{a charity dinner at the House of Lords, just one of the great memories from the year}

{my best friend Katie & me, in Cefalu, Sicily after submitting our MA thesis}

{celebrating outside in the gorgeous courtyard of Somerset House. 4 July 2005}

Congrats to all my fellow Courtauld graduates who have sought & found their various paths--I wish we were having an actual reunion, but sending love across the internet!

Thursday, 2 July 2015

{quotable thursdays}

I've been missing my sisters recently... It's hard living apart from the people that you love. But this quote reminds me about something important: 
It's true: the lovely women in my life--my friends, my sisters, my mum, my aunts, my cousins, my nieces--make my world, even if they're not in the same country or on the same continent. 
{best friends}
{friends since high school}

{crazy friends}

{sisterly love}


Thursday, 25 June 2015

{quotable thursdays}

How in the world is it Thursday already? Where does time go? Work has been insanely busy, so this will be short but sweet.
{lukewarm is no good}
I say, there's no point in living if you can't live to the fullest. This quality tends to encourage eccentricities. But then I think eccentric people are so much more exciting than dull, boring people. 
{a little bit of love, a little bit of crazy}

 Be an enthusiast and live your life!
{go on, wear that pink sparkly hat!}


Saturday, 20 June 2015


Last Saturday I spent the morning wandering the streets of Old Warsaw, stopping at a little cafe in a gorgeous square to enjoy a drink in the 30C weather. Today I went antiquing at Hatfield House and got caught in a torrential typically summer-in-England downpour!
I was in Warsaw to give a paper at a conference-the conference turned out to be exceptional-fantastic papers given by fantastic scholars. We ate well and were treated royally.
{conference--note funky retro furniture discussants sat on, on the stage of the lecture theatre}
On Wednesday night we rushed from the airport to the hotel and then were whisked off again to the University of Warsaw to hear the inaugural keynote lecture.
{university of Warsaw, lecture was in this fantastic building}

{university buildings}
We finished the day eating amazing pirogies at a place called Babooshka. The next morning we reconvened at the National Museum (after a glorious buffet breakfast at the Mercure Centrum--I've seen many a breakfast in my lifetime, but this spread was pretty spectacular for a mid-range hotel).
After a day of glorious papers we were given a tour of the newly installed medieval galleries by the curators. I took far too many photos, but here's a selection of some:

{us art historians listening to a tour of the galleries}

That evening we headed out for some good Polish wheat beer and dinner:
{a mega skyscraper, now home to the Palace of Culture and Science, but of Stalin origin}
The next day I gave my paper and we were once again treated to an amazing lunch in the gallery's cafe: 

The day ended with an amazing tour of the medieval collection in storage. I always find it so fascinating being able to see historical objects up close--with their grime and wear of the ages.
{conservationist brushes}

{gorgeous old paintings & glass}

{limbs from some cherub or baby Jesus}

{close looking}

{me, amongst the statues}

 We then moved on to an amazing spot where there were a ridiculous amount of beers--in the 100s to choose from, with a beautiful view of an old building, ravaged by time & wars.
{enough beer on tap?}

 The final conference dinner was held in a lovely old Polish restaurant:

 On Saturday morning a friend & I walked into the Old Town of Warsaw--it was largely destroyed during the war, but they have attempted to reconstruct it to its former glory. Because of that, it looks a bit more pristine than one would expect. But the colours are lovely and the squares delightful.

{we had a drink in this lovely little cafe, where ladies went around watering all the lovely pots of flowers}
& was time to come home.
In the end, a fantastic, lovely, stimulating few days!