Notes from the Field (i)


It’s been two months since I began my postdoc at UQ and I have loved getting up each morning to go into work. My office is on the eighth floor, but I have many visitors, particularly those of the non-human kind. A gecko made an appearance not long after I moved all my books in, but hasn’t been seen since. I hope he hasn’t perished, or been squashed by a door (his tail is a little bent; he may have already had a door encounter). Cockatoos and crows also perch outside my windows. My zanzibar, ever slow-growing, has graced me with a new shoot.

When I found out that my DECRA application was successful last year, I contacted Miles Noel, a graphic artist in Western Australia. The year before, when searching the internet for images for a presentation on Georgiana Molloy, I came across his portrait of her, which he created in 2013 for his SCI-POP portraits exhibition of Western Australian scientists. I’d long wanted to buy a copy, and now I finally had some cash. Conversations were had, art was made, and soon after I started work, the print was installed in my office. I like looking at it when I walk in, or drift away from my screen, musing.

I’ve been reading up on the history of south-west WA (and wished I was a robot with automatic uploads), and almost completed an essay on ecobiography, analysing Kim Scott’s Kayang and Me and Annamaria Weldon’s The Lake’s Apprentice. Following a conference at which I presented in early Feb, I found some new information on Georgiana’s husband (which I wrote about in this post), which has made me think much about extinction and massacres – topics on which ethnographer Deborah Bird Rose writes with clarity and urgency (such as in this one). I’m also helping to organise a work-in-progress conference for postgrads, which is enjoyable because I’m meeting new people and generating new ideas.

While it is mostly roses working at UQ, the coffee on campus is a great disappointment to me. There is only one decent outlet at which to forage, and that necessitates a long walk, which isn’t convenient on busy days, or hot ones, of which there have been many (climate change is afoot, the Reef has bleached and the pollies fiddle as we burn).

I have also struggled enormously with the lack of time to do my creative writing, and have been writing on evenings and weekends, which is wearing me down. I often worked six days a week before I began this job, but the pace wasn’t quite as intense. I’m hoping that I will adjust soon, and get into a rhythm.

For the next few months I'll be researching affect, and how stories and reading can shape our thinking – which is important when it comes to capturing people's attention and educating them about environmental degradation. I also have a trip planned to WA to do some research and to meet people involved in my project. So much to look forward to!