Using sketchbooks

Naples Travel Journal 1
Naples Travel Journal 1


One of the problems I have with my adventures in bookbinding is that the finished article is always too perfect to use.  It’s the equivalent of being given a beautiful notebook by a well-intentioned friend or relative.  To write in them is to desecrate them and so they remain on a shelf, pristine but essentially gathering dust.  So I have decided to use mine.  This is a couple of pages from the simplest notebook I made on my recent course.  Because it was quick to make and very light it seemed perfect for use as a travel journal which is what it became.  The paper also turned out to be splendid and to take watercolour and a fountain pen well.  The page is about the conference I was at.

I thought it might be interesting to use a visual metaphor for ‘a day full of…’ and to use a jar or vase to show impressions of the day.  On the first day we were there we did a bit of sightseeing before the conference started and this is shown in this spread:


Naples Travel Journal 2
Naples Travel Journal 2


I would definitely make one of these little journals again.  It was light and flexible and has good flaps which hold stray bits of paper to stick in later.  And it isn’t the end of the world if it gets lost.  The vase form was also quite interesting, and I liked making myself think of visual ways to record rather than just writing.

The conference, by the way, was pretty standard.  It was CMS – Critical Management Studies, which is my academic affiliation, I suppose.  In terms of this blog, the most interesting thing to me was giving my presentation and watching myself at some level giving a performance.  So I had a very standard presentation on powerpoint, but it came alive in the room when I had an audience.  I am a terrible ham, and the more they responded, the more stand-up comic-like I became.  In terms of inspiration, it is now interesting to me to trust that what I call the spirit of Ethel Merman will descend and I will give a performance.  It takes a lot of nerve, a bit like a stand-up comic or improvisational actor, but I have done it long enough to know that ‘Ethel’ will arrive as I walk to the front to start talking.  I think this is germane to ideas about creativity and inspiration, and the Muse, which is something I want to think about in terms of Anita Roddick and Laura Ashley – the two demanding muses to whom I have been responding now for nearly two years.  Their constant presence has been exhausting, but has summoned a lot of work from me.  This may be one area in which arts-based approaches can say something about research methodology and scholarship.  The visit of the Muse might be an interesting metaphor to pursue.  On which note, let’s end with a couple of shamelessly holiday snap pictures, as my Grate Friend Alf and his gorgeous new wife Sara Louise invited Pete and me to join them at their frankly gorgeous hotel and to have drinks on the Terrace of the Muses.  Surely a sign…

View from the Terrace of the Muses
View from the Terrace of the Muses


and, a real, what’s a working class kid from the Midlands doing here moment, from later in the evening, camera shake and champagne drinking in no way related:


Terrace of the Muses at dusk
Terrace of the Muses at dusk

One thought on “Using sketchbooks

  1. Ann my darling, we missed you in Istanbul. Anke and my self got this idea of working on a ‘travelling’ project, and I thought it would be nice to use a sort of joint sketchbook to share amongst the participants of our group (Anke, Luc, Martin Corbett, Ann Rippin … )
    I really need to talk to you personally soon hopefully and tell you everything about this idea…

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