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clarmagh

 

Newly diagnosed with Ehler’s Danlos Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, my life has changed a lot in the space of the last year! I’ve gone from being a nanny, dashing around on school runs and commuting around North London to being unable to carry a handbag. I moved to Nottingham and chose to keep myself busy and productive by studying art. I’m on a 1 year Foundation Diploma course that started in Sept 2016. I’m in my mid thirties and white.

 

I’ve always been very fond of charity shops. I struggled with self image a lot growing up. Second hand clothes came in a wider range of sizes than on the high street in the 90s – the days before internet shopping where most clothes for young people stopped at a 14 or 16! Thrift shopping had drawbacks, though – you have to be creative about how and what to wear when your options are limited. Pretty soon I learned that I loved standing out for the styles I chose, rather than for my tall, fat body. I loved making a first impression based on my style.

 

I was never too interested in history generally, though. I would hear stories of from the 30s-70s from my family, and didn’t feel compelled to explore much beyond my relative’s anecdotes.

 

That changed in 2001 when I read a biography of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I was captivated by her circle of friends’ bizarre dance between decadence and ruin, extravagance and the changing politics of the Regency era. That was my first taster, but soon I became hooked on the process of discovering information hidden away in books and piecing together evidence of a time I will never know to get a deeper understanding.

 

My interest has extended further and further back in time, but I don’t consider looking to the past as a negative. I think we have a lot to learn from those who came before. So much has been lost to us through the tendency towards Eurocentric viewpoints and biased reporting – everything from Roman descriptions of British tribes to Victorians burning their grandparent’s letters have been skewed by the tastes and conventions of the time. Add racism and suppression of queer history and there’s so much we are yet to understand.

 

My current interests lie in Bronze to Iron Age Europe with a focus on the British Isles. As I am from Norfolk in the East of England, my heritage is an almost non-stop parade of conquests and assimilation by immigrants. From Romans, through Normans, Anglo Saxons and Vikings, we’ve been conquered more times than you can shake a flint-tipped spear at. In the 1500s, Norwich invited immigrants to settle to stimulate the economy. I’m always surprised when we don’t recognise the immense contribution of migrants and the benefits to living in a multicultural society that made Norwich the second biggest city outside of London for hundreds of years.

 

I hope this blog will reflect a mix of my tastes and interests, as well as charting my progress through Art Foundation and beyond.

 

 

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