141: more meetings than you can shake a stick at

Well, that was a week of highs and lows, it really was. One of those weeks (another one of those weeks) when you’re in so many meetings that you haven’t got time to do your job, but this week it got on top of me and sparked a meltdown panic attack on Wednesday which was definitely the low point.

The problem with not having a museum to do museum learning in is that every time you want to deliver a session – piloting new content – you need to take all the kit that in business-as-usual times would be in a handy cupboard, pack it in boxes and suitcases, seriously consider taking two 84 litre Really Useful Boxes and a massive wheelie suitcase on public transport to the school (in Ilford, in this case, on a train strike day) and then get real and book a cab. We had two sessions booked at a school where the DT department are up for almost anything, so we took the kit over on Monday – thanks to the aforementioned train strike and the seemingly interminable November weather, the journey took the best part of two hours to go 15 miles. Then, having delivered the kit to the school, I had another several hours in traffic to get home. Oh joy. What is described as ‘managed decline’ on the Central Line meant three out of four trains were terminating at Loughton, and there was an 18 minute wait for the first Epping train….which then waited five minutes at Loughton for the next terminating train as the changeover driver was on that one. I have decided every time I have to wait fifteen minutes for a train to Epping I am going to claim a refund. A faff, but the service is appalling at the moment: 42 minutes to do a 12 minute journey (four stops!) is unacceptable.

Tuesday – the day of the sessions – was amazing. I have been working with a designer called Lea Jagendorf to develop sessions which support two of the case studies in the new Design Gallery: ‘Design Can…’ is the starting point and these two sessions supported ‘Design makes things last longer’ and ‘Design responds to people’s needs’. It turned out Lea had been set as homework for the two classes, so she was confronted with 45 A3 posters all about herself…

We have built a learning collection of objects which will be in the new gallery, from the anti-hostile design DEFIANT by Hamzah Al Asadulloh to adaptive clothing by Tommy Hilfiger and Vans, alongside pieces by Petit Pli and Expandals. The sessions offer opportunities to brainstorm ideas, to try rapid prototyping with a variety of materials, and to collaborate on responding to briefs. Both classes had some amazing ideas and we’ll be seeing them again to do some co-curation for the same gallery in a couple of weeks. This week I am testing the final design session – ‘If the Shoe Fits’ – which explores user-centred design through our collection of historic and modern children’s shoes, with lots of practical making with a very varied set of materials. Support from my fabulous creative learning facilitator – who feels about materials the way I feel about shoes and books – has been invaluable.

The less said about Wednesday morning the better, but luckily the team around me are amazing and they got me through the rest of the day – which finished in Bethnal Green with a ‘sneak peek’ for local teachers. I overcatered, but the staffroom at the school benefited the next morning! It’s so good to be able to share what we’re doing behind the scenes and to ask teachers what they want from us. Miriam retrieved me from the station, fed me dinner and we played D&D which is always a high point of the week. Three of us brought lebkuchen as game snacks – it’s that time of year again!

Thursday was a day of actually achieving stuff (emails! work! planning!) which made me feel a lot better, and Friday was an adventure to Clerkenwell to meet the designer Sam Hecht of Industrial Facility who along with his partner Kim Colin made a collection of under-a-fiver objects from all over the world. They are loaning it to the new Design Gallery, and this is what we’ll be co-curating with the Ilford school the week after next. The collection is full of little oddities like magic potato peeling gloves and a terracotta foot scrubber: things designed for a specific purpose, some of which meet the need and others – like a combined craft knife and scissors – don’t. I’ve had fun tracking the objects down to create a handling collection, so my Amazon algorithms are a bit skewed at the moment. Clerkenwell is one of my favourite bits of London, all little courts and alleyways with a mix of new and ancient buildings. I also got to use the Elizabeth Line – the easiest change at Stratford and only three stops! It’s making my inner tube nerd very happy, that line, and I am looking forward to being able to hop onto it at Stratford and go all the way to Ealing to see London sister.

Other things making me happy this week…

  • Speaking of London sister – it was her birthday on Friday and despite postal strikes her present and card arrived, and she likes them.
  • The Christmas cake is baked and ready to be fed with rum for the next few weeks
  • Lots of crochet done in preparation for the Christmas Market next week
  • Dog walk with Miriam, Jill (who’s got up two days running!) and the house elves, followed by a mooch round the market, coffee, pastries and a good therapeutic giggle.
  • Tom Waits on Spotify
  • A glorious swim at 9 degrees with Jill this morning, with much swearing as we got in.

Now I must go and do the ironing, before spending some time with a glue gun and various other bits and bobs.

See you next week!

Kirsty x

What I’ve been reading:

Quite – Claudia Winkleman

Murder Before Evensong – Revd. Richard Coles

Don’t Need The Sunshine – John Osborne

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