First, I sincerely hope you are well and somehow coping in these uncertain times.
Second, a very warm welcome to the start of what will hopefully become the We Have Great Stuff – Volume 3 colour book. Wherever you are thank you for tuning in here and taking the time to acquaint yourself with this new project in the colour book series.
This project started way back in February during the industrial action (which now seems ages away.) At the initial meeting, we discussed ideas for the direction we wanted this volume to take. Should it have a theme? Should it only have illustrations from one of the collections in the Centre for Research Collections, for example old medical journals or the Anatomical Museum collection? Should it have a message? Should there be text in it? Do we want the original pictures in it as well? Should we link it to wider initiatives like Black History Month? While exposing the imperial, colonial and/or racist links of UoE’s collections have become even more pertinent and relevant since we first discussed it, this was not the direction we chose.
Instead, we chose the idea of a treasure map because we wanted to promote the art and collections the university owns. The illustrations should be of items you can see around the campuses and buildings of UoE and then on the last page, we want a map of the university with little dots or X’s marking the treasure or in this case the art and objects that served as inspiration for the drawings. With this format, we hope that this volume will spark curiosity and interest in the collections as well as reminding students and staff (and other users) that the university spans the whole city of Edinburgh and there are many places to explore outside of our own campus, some of which might have hidden treasures.
In addition, we of course also hope that any users will experience the same benefits we derive from colouring and drawing, namely pleasure and a sense of accomplishment, destressing and relaxation, mindfulness and wellbeing. This might be even more important under the current circumstances, where many of us need wellbeing but also something to do besides Zoom-meetings. We hope this colour book will offer a meaningful break from screen time. In addition, we hope to support the wellbeing of the action of colouring with words; with some kind of text either inspirational quotes or short stories. But how this is going to work has not been finalised yet. Should we find quotes from the extensive literary collections? Or ask students to write small texts (poems, stories, reactions to the items) in some form of workshop? Should it be stories about the items, possibly their imperial links?
For me this idea of treasure went further than just items and literary collections of the university and the potential of the UoE population. For me it went on to include the architecture of UoE. After our initial talk, I suddenly noticed little details around me, as for instance the round windows of McEwan Hall that has a flower pattern in the iron or the iron fence at Minto House where there is a band of flowers at the top. Because of my own newfound appreciation of little details, I will end this entry with a suggestion: on your next walk slow down, look up and look around you. Maybe you will notice something new in your neighbourhood, maybe you will start notice beauty in little things, and let’s be honest right now we could all use a little more beauty in our lives.
Take care and stay safe out there in the wild and crazy world.