Monday, 5 May 2014

life after a PhD

Today I chucked my amended thesis in the DropBox and e-mailed a link to my supervisor at Curtin. It has taken me more than 3 weeks of solid work to climb the last bit of the PhD mountain. I thought after 8 years of gruelling study I would be too exhausted to even think about art. Instead, I am chaffing at the bit.

I had a few things left to do in relation to the PhD in the last few months - one of them was an artist's talk just over a week ago for my friends and interested folk who live on the south coast. There were 28 people there and I knew the majority of them quite well. It was a joy to share a condensed version of my journey with them and I was very moved by the support. From the feedback I got most people really enjoyed it and some even found it inspiring. The other task of course was to dive back into the thesis and make the 'minor' amendments recommended by both examiners, who said they really liked it. I'm very relieved they were only minor adjustments, because dealing with them was hard enough. I struggled to get my head back into it because I felt it was done - I'd had enough when I packed it off 6 months ago - but the changes have meant the whole document is very readable now, rather than just some parts of it. I had wanted to unify it as a piece of writing, but ran out of time and energy last September and just had to get it in so I could exhibit in December. Robin has read the amended thesis and agrees it is now very palatable.

So what's next? I have registered a business name Void Art & Design, in honour of the profound insights the PhD has given me on a few levels. I intend on doing some study next semester to learn more about Illustrator, InDesign and PhotoShop. These are all programs I should be able to use professionally if I am serious about doing some graphic design work. I am in the middle of doing a digital drawing for a promotional banner at work and I have finished another small job as well.

But best of all, I am excited about being able to move around in my art practice - between different media as well as subject matter, because I am no longer shackled to one massive idea. I am feeling so much lighter, as though some huge weight has been lifted from me. I am pretty pleased with myself for persevering, in fact I am even a little surprised because there was a time in my life when I didn't get to the finish line on anything. It's nice to know people can change. 

This morning after sending off the thesis for the last time I went for a surf. There were some good sized waves coming through and I had a great time, partly because although I am not ready to leave the planet just yet, I didn't have to worry that I might drown or be eaten by a shark before I had completed my PhD.

image: Girl with Balloons is an unfinished digital version of a small goauche painting of mine.


  1. Michelle, it was so good to see your peers, mentors and mentees at your artist's talk. I felt very proud to attend, as I think all of us were.
    Well done you x

  2. Thanks Sarah. Definitely a friendly crowd, which made it so much fun. Your Mum is pretty cool too. And when will you be handing in your thesis?

  3. Aghh!

    I visited Mum's kitchen today where she had one of your prints above her desk. We talked about how to mount them on the wall.
    "I was going to get some of those sticky velcro things," she said.
    "So was I! But I thought you'd kill me if I stuck them to my wall."
    (I live in her granny flat and she hates me using blutak.)

    So we are both converts and will buy some of those sticky velcro things for your prints.

    (Also, this week I've been working on my exegesis and it's going well.)