It’s the end of the bleakest lead-up to Christmas that I can remember. Boris Johnson is touting his just-agreed EU trade deal as if it’s the best Christmas present ever, when in reality it’s the hardest Brexit short of no deal and will set Britain back for years. Thousands of lorry drivers are stuck in queues at Dover after borders were closed because of covid, when they were already racking up because of increased delivery traffic ahead of the end of transition. A new strain of the disease is spreading across the UK, with Scotland just over 24 hours from a new lockdown and UK covid cases approaching the peak of the first one. The prospect of widespread vaccination still seems a long way off.
After a hard-fought three-course meal with the president of the European Commission yesterday, Boris Johnson has this evening tweeted that “now is the time for the public and businesses to get ready for the Australian option on January 1st”, using that mealy-mouthed euphemism for No Deal guaranteed to make resident Australians laugh with bitter irony. “The Australian option.” Hope you enjoy your Dinki-Di Meat and Vegies.
A few weeks ago our students on An Introduction to Digital Environments for Learning were looking at Tom Flint‘s excellent project replicating Jupiter Artland in Minecraft, which prompted me to share with some of them the two galleries I made in 2014 of my first visits to the real-life Jupiter Artland.
Looking at them again made me realise that I’ve taken a lot of photos there since, and have posted hardly any of them here. So I’ve made a new gallery, covering the art and the nature of the first two. Many of the artworks featured aren’t in the first gallery, because they weren’t there yet, but there’s some overlap.
On Saturday we made another trip out to Jupiter Artland before it shuts for the winter. As with everywhere in these pandemic times, we had to book a time-slot for our visit rather than just turn up, and it was a time we wouldn’t normally have gone: arriving at 3 p.m., 46 minutes before sunset. But it turned out to offer a whole new perspective on the place we know; as well as the obligatory sunset-over-Jupiter photos, I took several of the rising full moon behind Cells of Life, Love Bomb, and other Artland fixtures. We also got to see Joana Vasconcelos’s Gateway pool, which had been closed for most of the pandemic. A dozen of these photos of Artland at dusk round out Artland Seasons.
The kids were on their term break last week, which usually would mean some sort of trip away for a few days… but in covidtimes, not so much. Instead we did a few day trips, including one to a place I’d long been curious about: the Scottish Owl Centre at Polkemmet Country Park near Bathgate, halfway between Edinburgh and Glasgow. It’s operating at reduced hours but still open, so we went along for a couple of hours of owl observation.
It was great. There’s something about a place devoted to one specific kind of animal (or bird) that’s even more satisfying than a full-blown zoo: you get to see dozens of variations on a theme, and realise how diverse they are. It’s a terrific place to take photos and turn them into a gallery:
I haven’t written much here about Pandemic Life for a while. Things have been busy since the start of August, when I started a new management role in my institute, alongside getting ready for the start of an unusual semester of teaching. As usual, until September we had no idea how many students would turn up, but with none of the predictability of normal times that would let us get close in our forecasting. At the back of everyone’s minds was the thought that all of our preparation for hybrid teaching, with online-only fall-back options for formerly face-to-face courses, might be for the benefit of half as many MSc students as usual. But as it turns out, our school has matched the record numbers of last year. Our Digital Education programme’s intake is up by half, and student numbers on my option course are up 60% on the previous peak. It seems everyone wants to improve their knowledge of digital education, and of its wider global context.
More photos of my 1992 travels, as I near the finishing line of this particular Detail project. After a year of study I was joined by my parents and travelled with them around Britain and Ireland, starting in Norfolk, driving across to Wales and the ferry to Ireland, around Ireland’s south and west, over to the Isle of Man, up through the Lakes to Glasgow and Scotland’s west, across to Inverness and Aberdeen, down to St Andrews, and then south through Durham, Chesterfield, Coventry, Warwick, Stratford, Oxford and London. I’ve already gathered up the English photos; here are the rest.
Continuing my archival project at Detail, here are two more galleries from 1991–92, when I was studying in England. These ones cover London and the rest of England (and a bit of Wales), and include some photos from a trip around the British Isles with my parents at the end of my studies. There are at least four more galleries in this series to come, when I get the chance to work on them.