Tagged: ethnographer

Memories from Home No.3: Creative Flow & Fools

Welcome to my third blog post in this series of ‘Memories from home’ (catch up here on one and two).

This weeks research has brought me to concepts of ‘Flow‘, either in leadership, creativity or in pursuit of happiness the term Flow explored more recently by Professor Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi.

Flow in creativity is a process of exploration between what is known i.e. a rock and an exciting place, where you find yourself creating, being totally absorbed in what you are doing.

Csikszentmihalyi suggests that there are key factors that are needed to support this way of thinking and being:

How Does It Feel to Be in Flow?

  1. Completely involved in what we are doing – focused, concentrated.
  2. A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
  3. Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
  4. Knowing that the activity is doable – that skills are adequate to the task.
  5. A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
  6. Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present.
  7. Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.

I came across similar ways of thinking through such writers as Piotr Stzompka and Sarah Pink.  They both write about the use of visuals in social research, Stzompka referring to it as a ‘Third Sociology’ what happens in society between structures and actions.  I liken these to Flow, being ‘in-the-zone’ having focus, time in finding new ways to approach creativity and explore feelings in a safe space, to find or process new meanings.

I can attribute to what I experienced through my photography after the deaths of three family members within a period of four years, as being in a state of flow as a way of navigating my grief.  I gave myself time to fall into a process of being, photographing and reflecting on the objects and memories I had from my family members.  I had my skills as a photographer, someone who was bereaved, focus and time to connect through flow.

The one object that I felt most at Flow with was my Dad’s watch.  I would spend hours photographing, filming, touching, wearing alongside my own smart watch, listening to the ticking, imagining, smelling the leather and old aftershave.  I contemplated the passage of time us both living alongside one another in digital and analogue, the symbolism of death and ending when the ticking stopped like a heart beat, I knew it would happen one day, instigating another loss of something of him.  

I chose not to replace the battery as it would not be ‘of him’, and think of it like Triggers Broom, if you’ve seen the Only Fools and Horses sketch of the well maintained Broom, he’s explaining he’s had the same broom for 20 years, but essentially is made up of a number of ‘new’ parts! 

Have you been in flow when creating something?

Nikki

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If you want to join me on my journey through my PhD research; my focus is expanding towards creativity and how artists and others use creative expression as a way of navigating and exploring grief. You can always contact me, if you wish to be involved as a participant in my research.

I look forward to seeing your shares and stories with me through my Facebook page.

Memories from Home No.2: Touch and Tin

Welcome to my second post of this little series of ‘Memories from Home’ blog.

In my Masters research it was important for participants to have items that they could physically hold such as photographs, and other objects in their homes, as well as using other senses (smell for example) when remembering a loved one.  These interactions through touch sometimes fleeting in the everyday, were important in maintaining ongoing memories and connections to their loved one.  The object or photograph either gifted to or bought by the participant, was often kept in prominent or useful places in the home maintaining a sense of their loved one in their everyday, a tangible presence in absence of the person.

I became fascinated through my visual recording of the interviews, how objects and photographs brought to the table for discussion (literally in some instances as we spoke over coffee and dining tables), were touched and presented, often with fondness and care.  The way items were presented to me supported participants anonymity, enabling me to take photo’s of the objects either directly on tables or held in someones hands.

The Pudding Tin

Fray Bento’s is a Scottish food brand whose pies were a staple of my Grandparents.  This tinned delight of Steak and Kidney or other meaty varieties (or now I’ve looked into being a vegetarian they now have Veggie Balti and Cheese and Onion Pies now -going to give them a try!) graced the lunch time plate, with a healthy dollop of mash and veg.  My Grandparents were a traditional couple having a ‘big dinner’ at lunchtime, so when my family and I used to visit, usually arriving around this time, we were greeted by these kind of smells of hearty filling dinners.  Food in big tins or plastic pudding containers is something I will always associate with my Grandparents.  When organising their home after they died, I was gifted their white and blue tin plates, and a tin bowl, something that would be desirable as vintage now!  My Grandparents would use this tin bowl for collecting the scraps ready for the compost bin, good home made mulch for the runner beans.  I now use this tin bowl everyday in my kitchen for the same purpose, it’s battered, the colour faded, and dented, but still fit for the same purpose.

The tin bowl is not in a prominent place in my home, or in a cabinet for display, it is a functional item, that is touched, emptied and washed everyday, but none the less is an important touch connection and ritual as a reminder of my Grandparents.

What items do you have in your home from a loved one, that you use everyday?

Nikki

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If you want to join me on my journey through my PhD research; my focus is expanding towards creativity and how artists and in the everyday use grief as a way of creative expression.  You can always contact me, if you wish to be involved as a participant in my research.

I look forward to seeing your shares and stories with me through my Facebook page.

Memories from Home No.1: Mirror

My Masters (and now expanding to PhD) focussed on everyday home objects and photographs that are kept after a bereavement in a family.  I’m interested in what memories and stories, objects and photographs evoke, and why people choose to keep certain items around them in their homes.

I’d encourage others to share home photographs and objects in a similar vein that we have in our home now, that may relate to a loved one, or kept as a memento of a holiday for example.  I’ll be sharing items from my home and archive and will include a little story about the associated meanings, memories and anecdotes I have, occasionally linking to readings that I’ve found useful, and you may too.

In the current global climate, many of us are working from and spending more time in our homes, and thinking this would be a good time for us to come together online as a community, sharing our memories, stories, objects and photographs from our homes. Connections to everyday objects and photographs that are important, valuable (not necessarily in a monetary way) as well as enriching our lives.

Mirror

Those of you who have been following my blog and Masters journey, will be familiar with this mirror:

It belonged to my Grandparents, gifted to them as a Wedding present back in 1958.  It has 12 sides, held by a short chain and circle, with clips attaching the mirror to the backing, something vintage now, definitely of the time, I’ve done some research into the manufacturer, most likely to be G-plan:

It was always a feature in my Grandparent’s home as long as I can remember, in the house they lived in from when I was young until I was 36.  As kids we would dance and sing in front of it, put on Nan’s scarves and put makeup on in front of it.

I’ve been reading Brian Dillons ‘In the Dark Room’, and in his ‘Things’ chapter he talks about the wider associations to a kept object, going beyond what it is at face value, similar to the writings of John Berger who wrote about memories being non-linear. Objects and photographs allow us to focus on recall of memory, however not always working in a linear way, i.e different associations to an object or photograph at different times.

Sometimes the evoked memories through the object or photograph go far beyond the initial memory;

The mirror for me is symbolic as reflecting our family life, sharing the laughs and the sorrows, birthdays, the room in which it was hung, the other objects and photographs that surrounded it like a shrine of my family history.  The smells that filled the room, the pie and mash dinners, fish and chips, tomato ketchup that sat opposite it on the table, the sweet smell of cake, hairspray and atrixo hand cream.  Beyond the room in which the mirror was hung, was an ordinary terraced house that sat in an estate, in the early days had a conifer in the front garden, a short walk to the river.  The mirror, now over 60 years old now sits in my home, reflecting my life, in my terraced home.  It shares and reflects the people in my life, those who visit, the couple who visited me during my Open House, who had lived in my house some 40 years earlier.  What memories the mirror could tell if it could speak.

I’ll be writing a blog soon on my Masters Research, and those wanting to join me on my journey through PhD; the focus is expanding towards creativity and how artists and in the everyday use grief as a way of creative expression.  You can always contact me, if you wish to be involved as a participant in my research.

I look forward to seeing your shares and stories with me through my Facebook page.

Until next time.

Nikki