As some of you may or may not know I finally finished my MA in August of this year…or the FMA that it came to be known! ( I’ll leave you to imagine what the ‘F’ might stand for but to give you a clue it rhymes with plucking!) For various reasons and a series of events that happened in life, I really struggled to finish it, but somehow I managed it and once it was over I was suddenly left with a feeling of ‘and then what’? I realised I had been in education for the last 7 years, working my way through an Art foundation, then a Degree and finally a Masters, while at the same time trying my best to keep some sort of equilibrium in a household of people coming and going. Having originally left formal education at the earliest possible moment when I was 16, wanting to go off instead into the big wide world and experience life rather than learning about it from text books, I always wondered whether I actually had it in me to finish anything that was ‘clever’ and ‘academic’. So, no one was more surprised than me to find I actually managed to get to the end of this particular long journey in the world of academia! The only problem now, was wondering what I might do with all this stuff I had been learning about and thinking about in the confines of an educational institution and how I might somehow be able to put it into practice in the ‘real world’. Serendipity struck in my final tutorial, with my lovely MA tutor Tom who had just come back from a trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma) 1 month before I was due to hand in my final project. My project was all about working with artisans in remote and developing communities, trying to identify certain materials that at present were being discarded as ‘rubbish’, that may be able to be used as a valuable resources in their processes or that with some small design intervention regarding colour choices, finishing off, packaging and presentation, the products that these artisans were at present producing may be able to be more appealing to a more international market and therefore bringing the producer more income.
On Toms last day in Yangon, Myanmar he went to this shop:
And met Ulla Kroeber, a wonderful German lady and the founder of this wonderful social enterprise. He got talking and when he discovered what Hla Day (pronounced La Day) were doing he asked Ulla (with me in mind!) if they might consider taking on an intern…she said they would 'love it’ and the rest is history…suddenly there was an opportunity that had presented itself that would enable me to put all the work I had been thinking about over the last 7 years into practice and at the same time... reignite my adventurer spirit! SO…here I am in Yangon…on a 4 week intern working with these wonderful people in a city bursting with life!
Part of the conclusion I came to in my very conceptual, theoretical Masters project was that it was very difficult to actually really truly try to help, or make a lasting impact on the lives of the local artisan producers that one was trying to work with, unless at a ground roots level you really knew these people, their situations, struggles and aspirations etc. and so with that in mind, before I started working with Hla Day, I decided to go on a 2 week tour of the country, visiting really remote areas and getting to know people and various craft workers living and working in really remote and sometimes very challenging situations.
This is my first attempt at a blog, but over the next few weeks I will attempt to keep you updated with whats going on over here and what I'm up to!