Category: Personal Professional Development

This year has been an absolute roller coaster, but I couldn’t be prouder of you.

You may not be particularly fond of the people you live with, but you have made such a large array of friends that that means nothing. You were even able to arrange where you are living next year without any hassle what-so-ever.

I know there have been some rough patches. We need to work on that anxiety of yours. But, you are trying and getting the necessary help, so nobody can criticise you for that. Hopefully, by the end of university, it will be something we never have to worry about again. Until then, though, just try to stay calm and for the love of God, stop  freaking yourself out believing you aren’t doing well. Your grades at the end of each term should be more than enough proof that you are, in fact, a capable human being.

Next year will have its ups and downs. But while the work will probably be harder, you already have a strong social group, so that is a massive weight off of your shoulders. I know how much you were worried about making friends. And I know you wish you were closer with more people in your degree group, but that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that the people you are close to are fantastic, and you are living with two great people next year.

You and Nathan are still together, and he has been a massive support to you, as have your family. You get home for Skullduggery LARP, even the one day events. Just because you are at university in Coventry doesn’t mean your life back home falls aparts.

You have become so much more confident with speaking your mind, though your paranoia is still a little bit of a problem. You are also more comfortable in yourself, and have been visiting the gym! Which is a miracle in itself considering how lazy you can be.

You need to try and eat healthier next year. Your rent will be cheaper so you can afford more fruit and vegetables. And meat that actually has a meat percentage in it.

One thing we really need to work on, is your tendency to shut yourself off from the world. Just because you have a deadline doesn’t give you the right to become a hermit and avoid human contact. And just walking to the shop across the road doesn’t count, no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise.

I am proud of you though, and I know you family are to. You have done so well and are not just running head on into things without considering it first. Keep it up … and the next two years will fly by, I’m sure of it.


The underrepresented group I have chosen for this is people with invisible illnesses. An invisible illness can be physical or psychological, but you can’t see it, all you can maybe see are the symptoms of how it is affecting the person.

I chose to try and create an artefact representing this because there have been many movements on this situation, but it is still a problem. The governments scheme to review people on benefits and decide whether they are fit for work has seen many people unfit for it due to there illness forced back into a situation that could cause considerable damage to their health because ‘they look ok’.

I would like to point out, that my own, personal experiences with my anxiety disorder have rarely been negative. I was in counselling and when that wasn’t helping on its own I was put on medication by a very understanding and considerate doctor.

But, just because I haven’t had problems, doesn’t mean other people haven’t either. And the lack of understanding in society due to lack of media coverage or misrepresentation in tv shows still causes problems for many people every day.

I have tried to create images based on my personal experiences, and those of people I have spoken to this about. The writing below each image is from what I have heard people say/ experienced.


Though the medication can help, and even be a lifesaver, to often it is just thrown at people by some doctors without first offering other things such as counselling. Counselling takes time and money on the NHS, it’s much cheaper to give someone drugs to make it go away. But for some people they are just not the right option.

This is becoming rarer, but the medication can still cause problems even for those who need it. It can make you feel like there are two of you. And even if you are happy on the medication and hate the other version of you off it, it can still play on your mind the idea that this you on medication might not be the real you, and at any point you could regress back.


There is this popular theory in society that believes a lot of people claim to have a mental disorder for attention. Though this is in some cases true, like all things, it has caused serious damage and problems for those with actual invisible illnesses.

If you tell someone about it, they might believe you are nothing but a liar seeking attention. But if you don’t have anyone to confide in? You can feel trapped, without a voice, out of fear for being persecuted for having an invisible illness based purely around the premise that they believe you don’t. And it’s hardly easy to prove to people otherwise. If you explain to somebody and say for instance ‘the doctor has diagnosed me and prescribed me medication to help’, it reinforces in peoples mind the belief that doctors just throw drugs at anybody, and they won’t believe you are telling the truth.


Because people can’t see your problem, they don’t believe it is really there. They think you just need to ‘cheer up’, or ‘get over it’. Some people, even with evidence right there for them to see, seem to WANT to believe it is not there, and purposely blind themselves.


Sometimes, with and invisible illness, you just want people to be able to see it. You wish that it would cause physical damage just so people could see and understand that not only is it real, but the pain it causes as well.


You decide it’s better to be quiet. Even if those people believe you, they might treat you differently because of it. You don’t want to hurt your family by them knowing, you don’t want them to over worried or be ashamed. You decide you can handle it yourself. You struggle on through situations you should not be in or can’t handle because you don’t want to say it out loud and seem weak.

This is one of the worse things that can happen to people, as they become silenced by the society they want to be a part of. They regress, shy away from people, and become locked in their own minds.

Relevant pages:

Due to my Add Vantage volunteering placement, I couldn’t make the East Asian Film Society showings and couldn’t find all of them online. Therefore, I decided to review the first new movie I saw. This turned out to be the Hobbit.

The Hobbit is an adaptation of J.R.R Tolkiens novels, and the prequel to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. It has been released this year in 2013 and, being a massive fantasy fan in general, and the Tolkien adaptations possibly being the best and definitely most iconic, I settled into watching this film with much anticipation.

The films beginning brought us back to the first in the Lord Of The Rings Trilogy own beginning, right before the birthday party where the epic began. The protagonist, a Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, is writing a story of his life. We are then transported back to a explanation of what the main story of the Hobbit will be about, and then to him as a younger man, played by Martin Freeman (yay!).

The story then moves on from here. The introductions of each character is full of life, with nods to previous films. But you don’t have to be a LOTR fan to understand the story, it is well thought out with interesting twists and fun encounters. The dwarves have some wonderful character interaction, both humorous and serious, and Gandalf (played again by the iconic Ian McKellen) is still as fantastic as in the previous films.

My favourite part of the film is the escape from the Goblin city. It is fast paced and epic, with fantastic digital editing that gives the impression of a place truly massive and teeming with goblins. It did, however, have the slight hint that it had almost been created in the way it looked so it could be easily adapted for a possible video game. If that is the case, I don’t really care, because it was awesome.

There were some problems with the film, one being such a basic mistake that I’m kind of disappointed it was made by such experienced movie producers. I am referring to Thorin Oakenshields, shield. It is quite an important little plot point in his story and character development, and appears in the final encounter of the movie ( and is systematically dropped).

Now, when I say it appeared, I don’t mean he pulled it off his back where it has always been, I mean it magically appeared. Either this is some kind of power it possesses that they will explain in the next film, or they just forgot (or didn’t bother) to put it in every other shot in the whole film.

The encounter I am talking about is against one of the side antagonists, the White Ork. The encounter seemed a little to drawn out, and the character itself isn’t very interesting. But the way the dwarves act around him, and the encounter itself being pretty damn epic and integral to the relationship development between two characters still makes him a worth while addition.

This movie is a fantastic escape for families and Fantasy lovers alike. It is epic, fast paced, and brilliantly designed. It is wonderful to see the same love that went into the LOTR poured into a film that has the added benefit of improved CGI techniques.

I would also like to add, that the fact that the movie seems to be a little overrun with British actors makes me more than a bit happy. Can’t wait for Benedict Cumberbatch to appear!

Spoilers Warning

To put some things into context, I am awful with horror films, I avoid them because I am aware how bad I am at coping with them. Just seeing an advert for the grudge was enough to make me not sleep, and simply reminding myself of it in this instance has made me nervous. So when I say it took me a lot to get up the courage to watch My Ex, a Thai horror film, I would like you understand how serious I am about that statement. I resorted to inviting a friend over to watch it with me, and we settled in for an evening of hiding in each others shoulders.

The movie began with a calming soundtrack and high contrast, black and white scenes.

When it moves into colour, we are made aware quite quickly that the main protagonist is famous, and that he is a serial cheater. At the very beginning we meet one of his women, Meen, who storms out after he rejects her telling him she is pregnant.

It all seems like a rather simple story of an unfaithful movie star.

However, it slowly becomes more sinister, with the frantic calls of a women which he ignores, as he is with his girlfriend, Ploy, and he doesn’t want her to know he is still with his ‘ex’s’. The frantic woman, Bow, dies suddenly while trying to call him, and this is where the movie jumps into the horror aspect.

The movie implements a very simple soundtrack, with no music for a large portion of the film, apart from when something scary is happening. The lack of build up to the fright by the music, but with the knowledge that something must be coming, builds the tension in a way that I believe is incredibly affective. There could be minutes at a time with nothing happening but something obviously about to happen, and then a single moment where the ghost is there, and it was enough to give us mini heart attacks nearly every time.

The movie goes from being quite linear to becoming very confusing as to what is real and what is a dream. Moments where the person was attacked by the ghost would follow by the person waking up, but we would never see them go to sleep. It made it feel very surreal and confusing, but not in a negative way.

Now, for most of the film, myself and my friend felt it was quite a solid film, with moments that really made us jump, though the fear never stayed with us, until the next fright. We particularly enjoyed the how there was a guessing game as to who the ghost actually was, as we saw so many of his ex’s on screen.

This was until about ten minutes until the end of the film, which left us with faces contorted in mortified expressions of shock. I won’t go into detail, but it left us horrified. It was quite gory and a really disturbing premise that just seemed to make it go from being a horror film to a torture porn.

After this event, we had trouble sticking with the rest of the film, though the ending itself was interesting. However, I felt the ending should of ended about 10 seconds before it did, with the chilling ending that had a question mark, instead of such a permanent fate.

Overall, the movie was interesting, and I really liked the design of the ghost (rather simple but I like how it was in black and white while the rest was in colour), however, though it was frightening at the time, it doesn’t really stay with you, except that one part near the end, that stayed with us for all the wrong reasons.

Lots of Spoilers Ahead …

The King of the Pigs (Dwaejiui Wang) is a South Korean animated drama, that focuses on two characters, Hwang Kyung-min and Jung Jong-suk. They have reunited after not seeing each other for years, and begin to reminisce about their school days, and a particular friend, Kim Chul.

We are aware from the very beginning that the minds of at least one of these men is disturbed, as the movie begins with showing us Kyung-Mins murdered wife (the murder obviously committed by himself) and Kyung-Min himself hallucinating a boy with a pig head. We later realise that the hallucinated boy is supposed to be Kim Chul, the reasoning becoming disturbingly apparent as the movie progresses.

The movies whole atmosphere was incredibly jarring, intensified by the jilted movements of the characters due to the peculiar 3dish animated style. I found myself feeling incredibly disturbed by the portrayal of the bullying happening in the school, which ranged from perverse to outrightly nearly beating somebody to death. There was a strong emphasis on money being the source of power, and the difference between the ‘Dogs’ and ‘Pigs’. The pigs believe to live happy to grow fat and have money, but they are merely being fattened to eventually feed the dogs. It seemed to me that they were using this nightmarish school setting to make a comment on the whole state of the hierarchy in life.

The symbolism in the words used is reinforced by the hallucinations of the characters during the movie.

Throughout the whole movie, we are made to believe that Kim-Chul is a twisted sociopath, responding to the bullies and ‘leaders’ of the school hierarchy with violence. He convinces Kyung-min and Jong-Suk to be his friends, and then makes them kill a cat. He tells them that to fight the evil you must become a monster. You cannot befriend them.

When he is expelled, he hatches a plan to commit suicide in front of the whole school so the bullies ‘can never look back at these days and smile’

What we eventually discover however is that this boy, though disturbed, eventually makes a life-changing decision about his life, and chooses to try and work towards a better future with his mother. He decides not to throw himself off the building, and merely intends to pretend he will until people come up to get him down. Yet we still see him fall and die.

This is when we discover that Jong-Suk pushed him off the building in a fit of rage, believing he had to do it, he had to ‘become the monster’, otherwise nothing would change. The only person to see this is Kyung-min, who never says a word.

This is where I become confused about the intended message of this movie, and wonder whether something got lost in translation.

Jong-suk murdered somebody when he was a boy, and we see him beat up his other half before going to meet Kyung-min, who has murdered his wife. Neither of these two boys are nice people, and Kyung Min throws himself off the same building as Kim-Chul, in front of Jong-suk, because his business has failed.

What is the moral here? That money is all that is important? Kim-chul seemed the most human out of all three of them but he was murdered by Jong-suk, who we see at the end sobbing down the phone to his other half begging for forgiveness. Does it take one friends murder and another friends suicide for him to come to his senses?

Overall, I didn’t like the animation style, as I found it jumpy and unrealistic, and I struggled to find any moral to the story. The story itself is thought provoking, though disturbing and uncomfortable at times, it just seems that their is no real ending. Though, perhaps, that was the whole point all along, I just didn’t particularly like it.

I have been following the pregnancy of my friends Joanna and Harri from the beginning. Because I have been at university, I couldn’t see them as much, but Jo wanted to keep me updated. So, every Monday, she would send me a message telling me how the baby was developing, comparing its current size to fruit so it was easily comparable.

When it hit the Easter Holidays, she was in her last term, and in fact her last month, of pregnancy. We had discussed for a little while doing a pregnancy photo-shoot. Different places, painting the belly, really make a day of it. However, she had literally just developed stretch marks, and didn’t feel comfortable enough to go through with it. I was a little disappointed but completely understood, so merely said if she changed her mind I would be right there.

I got a text about a week after that conversation saying she had changed her mind, and I was thrilled.

We were a little low on time at this point, but luckily a baby-shower had been planned, so we decided to do it on the same day just before people started to arrive and we got kicked out of the house so her sister could set up.

There was no body painting, no different locations. Just her, in her home, with he pets, not even the husband there. And the thing is, it was so uncomplicated, that I think it helped her relax, and me as well (I have never done a pregnancy photo-shoot before). Because it was so relaxed, I think that’s why it was a success, and why she was happy enough with the photos to give me permission to post them online. I am incredibly proud of these photos, because she was happy with them.

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I think the first image is definitely my favourite. The lighting worked well and her pale skin against the dark background is quite eye-catching.

It’s difficult to pick a least favourite. If I had to, I would say the fourth image, the close up of her hands making the love heart shape. I feel it became a little to grainy during the editing process so doesn’t really stand up with the rest of the photographs.

Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind, is an exhibition held by the british museum, looking at some of the oldest works of art created by man.
It takes a look at how and why they were created, ranging from cave paintings to tools and sculptures. It is a fascinating experience, giving you the opportunity to get up close to the work of our oldest ancestors.

I was incredibly excited by the prospect of this exhibition, and certainly wasn’t disappointed by the number of artefacts there was to look at. A fantastic range of beautiful creations that seem to defy reality with their ability to be sitting intact in a museum after such an extraordinary amount of time.

I particularly enjoyed the sculptures of the female form. Even before this exhibition I was intrigued about these sculptures, and it really was a treat to see them in person. We are still unsure as to what exactly they were created for. Were they goddesses? Charms for good luck for fertility and/ or healthy children? Tools to teach children about female anatomy? Or, perhaps, sculptures to signify important/ life changing events?

The problem is that we will never be able to know. Our Ice age ancestors had their own language, culture and means of communication  All the information we need to understand what these pieces of art mean is their in front of us. We are just incapable of understanding it. We can theorise and make, probably pretty accurate, guesses. However, in the end, its true purpose will remain a mystery, until maybe we invent time travel.

One thing I found frustrating about the exhibition, was how damn little we know about the purposes of so many of the works. Their were quite a large number of sculptures that had been created and then ‘intentionally destroyed’. Despite there being so many of these creations that had been smashed for some purpose, it is completely unknown to us what that purpose was! Some theories suggest that they are smashed after the person the sculpture was based on has died, but then how does that explain the smashed animal sculptures? This was a pattern that became frustratingly apparent throughout the exhibition.

I found myself rereading the same information over, and over, and over again, on different plaques. And so often the wall of text would end with a very similar, ‘we don’t know’, or some variation of. I kept reading the plaques out of fear of missing some new information, but their really wasn’t much else that could be said. They just kept rehashing the same information.

I feel that they could of saved a lot of time and made what was being said seem significantly less mind numbing by having one block of text at the beginning of each section, and then smaller amounts of information in front of each piece. Maybe a paragraph or two specifically about a set of pieces in one place. In my opinion, I think this could of improved the experience.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition. It was fascinating and very informative, despite there lacklustre choice of how to translate that information to the viewer. The pieces on their own more than made up for any issues I had, and I would definitely recommend  it to people.

Michael Collins is a landscape photographer that uses plate (large format) cameras.

Michael Collins’ talk involved a talk from him about his work, and then a question and answer section.

During the talk itself, we were told we were not aloud to have our laptops open, as this was not a note taking lecture. This meant we were completely focused of Collins during his talk. I found this a great way to absorb the information he was saying in a more meaningful manner than just noting down everything he said with no real consideration for what he meant.

Collins’ photographs are amazingly detailed, thanks to the format of camera he uses. I can understand because of this why he decides to stay with such a cumbersome and frustrating (not to mention incredibly expensive) photography method. I particularly love the colours, and was very happy to listen to how precise he is with his conditions for a photograph (no wind, otherwise the trees blur, overcast preferably).

I enjoyed Collins’ take on photography, how he believes that you should take a photograph to please yourself, and as soon as you begin worrying what other people think, you are off course. The way he discussed the locations he photographed was also incredibly interesting. He spoke about gaining access and how frustrating it can be to have someone dictating how you can and cannot photograph an area. I also thought the question and answer section at the end was very productive, especially as they let us have a break to think about questions beforehand.

For the primary part of his talk, I found myself drifting off between slides, which took a long time to set up as they were old fashion slides instead of a powerpoint. It also didn’t help that the room was incredibly dark.

One thing from his talk that I won’t forget, doesn’t just apply to large format cameras, but to manual cameras in general, in my opinion. ‘You get a terrific sense of engagement using a plate camera.’ I think this is a great example of why people still use manual photographic means. It makes each photograph that is successful feel a little more precious, because so much of your heart has gone into producing it, and you were there at every stage during the process, from film, to camera, to darkroom.

In conclusion, I found Michael Collins’ talk to be a very interesting take on photography, in both a ‘how to perceive photography as artform’ standpoint, and a ‘photographic method’ sense. It was great to be able to have such a productive question and answer session with a photographer who was so willing to answer everybody’s questions.

I feel the urge to see one of his pieces in person now, so I can really appreciate how large a highly detailed they really are.


(I could of stayed in there forever. The history of the books was phenomenal. They were such beautiful artefacts from so many different cultures and religions! I am a sucker for things like that, they hold so much historical value and so often they are as beautiful and awe inspiring as any painting or photograph, sometimes even more so for me. It’s a shame that you were not allowed to take photographs, but I understand why due to the fragile nature of the materials. I was however able to get some photographs of some japanese bottles and some information about them)

I would of gladly stayed in that beautiful building during my whole time in Ireland. I went there on the final day, on my own, in the rain. From what I had been told I expected a small room with some old books inside. I couldn’t of imagined that I was stepping into Irelands equivalent of the British Library!

They held some of the most outstanding historical artefacts. Religious texts from religions that have survived till today and even texts from those that did not. Books from every corner of the globe, with detailed descriptions of how they were made, bound and what materials were used.

I was amazed by some of these books, that in there own right have become beautiful artefacts. The lotus Sutra was particularly eye-catching. It is thought to contain the final sermon given by buddha. Their copy was from the first century AD!

They also had a Jade Book. It is ‘The song of the Jade Bowel’, written by the Imperial Brush (Yu Biyu Weng Ye) – Qianlong Emperor. It was created by tracing poem onto thin paper then engraving into the surface of the jade.

A text I was especially impressed to see was from one of the oldest Gospel texts in the world. It was a tiny fragment that contained chapter 19, verses 25-28 (Crucifixion Account) and was from the Gospel of Saint John. This fragment dated to the second half of the second century AD.

I learnt so much while I was there. I discovered that there was a religion called Jainism, which was one of the three major religions of early India. I also found out what the first rule of Japanese painting is/ was, ‘grasp the living spirit of a subject rather than to deceive the eye with the reproduction of it’s presence.’. I also learnt about different kinds of book binding, including ‘Pressure – Moulded Binding’.

One of my favourite things to see was the European books. They had some of the most beautiful book bindings. Imprinted patterns, leather of different colours, mouldings and thickness. Tiny books to absolutely massive atlas’. It is amazing to consider that our ancestors put so much effort into making these books that have survived to the present day, yet this was common practice in their time, while today it has become so rare.

I was disappointed that I couldn’t take photographs, however I do understand the reasoning behind it. I found the layout confusing at times, and would find myself reading about texts from islam when I thought I was still in the Christianity section, only to discover I had gone a way not intended and missed the introduction to the section.

However, I absolutely adored it, and would definitely like to return. My mother and sister would adore it as well.

Belfast Exposed Gallery

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Belfast City

(The weather was horrible so didn’t get many photographs!)

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Coach Ride to Dublin

(Mainly photographed some of the impressive cloud-lines, by the time we got into Dublin it was very dark so not many of my photos worked what with us moving at the same time.)

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Dublin Gallery of Photography

(The old Camera was actually in the museum just across the road from the gallery, I just thought it was such an exquisite example of true craftsmanship!)

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Dublin City

(Found some of it, with the old high buildings and the river running through reminiscent of Amsterdam when I went there last year, though they have water-ways running through all over the place in Amsterdam, not just one river running through the middle. Both are beautiful places)

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Dublin National Gallery of Ireland

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Merrion SQ 

(It felt like I was in a miniature Kew Gardens. So beautiful and the sun was beginning to set so I had a lot of fun experimenting with light)

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(You had to pay to get into the main area so I couldn’t go through there, but I enjoyed photographing the outside and the sort of ‘hallway’ area)

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Chester Beatty Library Gardens 

(Small circular Garden with a large grassy area in the centre where it appeared they were setting up for an event. Didn’t get as many nice photos as it was raining quite heavily and I was trying to take photographs while protecting myself and the camera at the same time.)

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Beatty Library 

(I could of stayed in there forever. The history of the books was phenomenal. They were such beautiful artefacts from so many different cultures and religions! I am a sucker for things like that, they hold so much historical value and so often they are as beautiful and awe inspiring as any painting or photograph, sometimes even more so for me. It’s a shame that you were not allowed to take photographs, but I understand why due to the fragile nature of the materials. I was however able to get some photographs of some japanese bottles and some information about them) 

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