“Part of the ethos of the project, is to generate working partnerships with the University of Dundee, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Dundee Contemporary Arts, which will be progressively ongoing.”
Nicoll Russell Studios
‘On The Edge’ is a platform for building sustainable creative partnerships. The drainpipes act as a physical frame to a virtual gallery space that can be experienced through augmented reality. Users can walk through the gallery and through the actual pieces to experience a unique perspective differing as time passes. With the potential to create a bridge for newly graduated artists and designers linking them with a focused audience interested in co-working to help kickstart their career. Through partnering with these graduates an audience from the wider areas of Dundee and further will be drawn to the water’s edge – a Further partnership with DCA has the potential to use as a travelling digital media exhibition.
There’s an app for that, in fact, there’s quite a few, although sometimes it’s best not to rely on technology and you don’t have to either. Studies find that only 7% of communication is made verbally, for me this was certainly true over summer.
2. New people are friends, not foes
It’s crazy to think we’re sometimes afraid of meeting new people. There are 7,000,000,000 people on this planet why not meet as many of them as you can, they’ll all be completely different and can teach you a lesson or two.
3. Friends are the most valuable things you can earn
Friends are, no joke, lifesavers! Spending time with people and getting to know them is such a pleasure for me, in times of need they’ll be there for you and are uplifting to be around. You can be friends with anyone when you try.
4. It’s a small world
In a restaurant, someone started talking to us about Dundee and Scotland because of our T-shirts (Thanks Dundee) and then while in Dandong we found a fellow Scot. You never know who you’re going to meet but you’ll never be too far from home!
5. Experiences are better than objects
I don’t buy souvenirs, I like to think that means I’ll be back one day. The experience I had were so much more than money could buy and worth more than anything I could fit in my suitcase and bring home with me.
6. New things don’t try themselves
While you don’t need to try everything you see, you should get outside of your comfort zone as much as possible. From Kung-Fu to calligraphy this summer was a series of many firsts.
7. Failing isn’t the opposite of success
Getting it wrong doesn’t mean you haven’t succeeded, it means you’re one step closer to getting it right. Failing isn’t the opposite of success it’s the most important part OF success. With trying many new things this becomes clearer and clearer.
8. Time passes quickly. period.
In some moments, sure it can seem like something is taking FOREVER. But when reflecting you realise just how quickly things pass by – the thought that I lived in China for two months is almost unfathomable in my memory.
9. Confidence comes and goes but attitude is a choice
Whatever you need to do the chances are you’ll get nervous about. And that’s okay. Sometimes we can’t control our nerves and that can show. But no matter what, if you have a positive and determined attitude people will recognise and appreciate that.
10. You might enjoy the things you least expect
As someone who comes from an arts background, I was surprised that I genuinely enjoyed learning about science and engineering topics and taking part in the group work related to them.
11. Patience, patience, patience!
We get so annoyed when we have to wait longer than we expected when in fact sometimes a little bit more time is exactly what we need. When there’s nothing you can do to change the situation the best thing you can do is make the most of it.
12. A little empathy goes a long way
The world doesn’t revolve around you, there are always other people involved and it’s valuable to take time to have empathy. People will always appreciate you appreciating them.
13. Be Curious
Curiosity may have killed the cat but it’s also the reason we have so much of what we hold dear today. If you’re being genuine in your actions then being curious shouldn’t cause any harm.
14. Cultural intelligence is key
Learning about new cultures is great but experiencing them is even better. Cultural intelligence (CQ) is like a muscle, the more you work it the bigger it gets. There are so many broad and beautiful cultures out there to experience.
15. Simplicity is undervalued
From being a light traveller to appreciating the little thing, the simple life is undervalued in today’s world while it has so many benefits. We could all do with simplifying certain aspects of our lives and gain the world of good from it.
Back in March an email made its rounds about this little opportunity to spend your summer in China, most people ignore their emails and just read the essentials, but myself and a few other students read this email and decided to apply for the summer school program, after all, what’s the worst that can happen? Fast forward over the weekend to another email essentially saying “You’re going to China!”, and you can see why it’s a good idea to check your mailbox thoroughly!
From this point on it was full steam ahead organising flights, getting my visa approved, preparing for the culture shock all the while preparing my portfolio for assessment and submission. That whole period seems to be a bit of a blur now but I made it through it to my 20-hour flight with multiple stopovers only worth it because I knew I was going to have the best 8 weeks of my life! And that I did!
As one of the first to arrive on a campus that’s eight times the size of Dundee’s, it was really sink or swim for a while. Thankfully, it wasn’t long before more and more Dundee students started arriving daily – making the situation of being on the other side of the planet in a city of 24 million a little bit more comfortable. Before long there was a mini village of Dundee students taking up residence in the Chen Yuan International student’s building at the East China University of Science and Technology making it our home away from home for the next eight weeks.
In our first week, because people were arriving at all times, those that were there early got the chance to venture off into the city centre and do what really matters, exploring! One of the most memorable journeys was one of our first – experiencing the raw heat of Shanghai (up to 40ºC), the busy streets and our soon to be best friend, the Shanghai metro. With prices ranging from ¥3- ¥6 roughly 50p and services every 2 minutes, it was hard not to love.
We traveled from campus 16km into the city centre and financial district with the ultimate aim of climbing the Shanghai Tower. The tower is the worlds second tallest building to the architectural top but tallest to the usable floor and also boasts the fastest elevators (18mps) and highest observation deck in the world. We arrived at the top with just enough time to experience the city in daylight, sunset and night, the view from the top of the world alone was reason enough to be here. We would later learn about the towers unique engineering aspects and features that make it a prime example of a “green” skyscraper.
As incredible as the views were these weren’t the only reason we were in China. We were there on a unique summer school experience with the opportunity to learn about the culture and history of China, as well as contribute to some shared learning with Chinese students on some truly compelling science and engineering projects. In our first two weeks, we eased into things learning some basic Mandarin, calligraphy, paper cutting, and Kung Fu by day while venturing into the city’s many nooks and crannies by night.
After everyone had arrived and gotten settled in we went on a group trip to Nanjing for a few days to experience Hohai University, a school that specialises in water engineering. Our time there passed as quickly as the time spent on the high-speed train we took to get there. While there we visited many interesting locations related to water engineering, the universities world leading laboratories and some places throughout Nanjing. One of these places is the Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen nested deep in the purple mountain national park. Learning about the history of modern China and one of it’s founders proved to be interesting.
Week 4 came and with it, we got to meet our fellow Chinese students all studying various subjects ranging from mechanical engineering, physics and more. Our first project consisted of an introduction to the use of ultrasound in its many applications. Our group studied and presented High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound and its future application as a non-invasive surgery.
While learning about the future of medicine and surgeries through visits to various medical device manufacturers such as United Imaging and iRay we also had a day learning about the application of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and in some cases even got to try procedures such as acupuncture and cupping, both forms of TCM which are widely used in hospitals across China.
Roll on the next trip flying from Pudong Shanghai to Shenyang and experiencing China’s notorious flight delays for ‘low priority’ flights. On the way there we only had to wait an hour or so while on the flight, a standard delay the way home was a different story. Once we arrived in Shenyang we had arrived in the lap of luxury – from student accommodation to a hotel, we made the most of everything, yes even and especially the bath robes and slippers!
Shenyang was my personal favourite place, while there the food had a more familiar taste, the beds were softer (I was unlucky in Shanghai) and the temperature was more survivable. When not in our hotel we spent our time at Northeastern University and on their campus further exploring ultrasound technology and the physics behind it. Working with students from NEU this time we explored ultrasound’s application to targeted drug delivery later presenting to other groups.
While in Shenyang all the students from Dundee decided we really wanted to visit Dandong, China’s largest border city with North Korea and the closest point to the Great Wall. While 250km away, that’s only an hour on the high-speed train, so, we decided as a group to go. While there we got to experience the Yalu river broken bridge, Yalu river boat tour, traditional Korean barbecue and the highlight of my trip the Hushan section of the Great Wall which was a climb and a half! This marked our last full day in the northeast and after climbing the wall, I mean climbing, we were all worn out for a full nights sleep before our flight the next day.
The next day came and we arrived at the airport early – 6 hours after our supposed take off time with the board still saying delayed by 1h and the flight attendant saying there was no guarantee we’d be taking off that day we were all at our wits end when they silently announced we were boarding. Filled with a cocktail of emotions but mostly overcome with joy we all made it on to the flight and back to ECUST exhausted from our day trapped in the airport.
In our final 2 weeks, we undertook a self-motivated research project working with PHD student mentors in order to create a scientific poster representing the outcomes of their experiments. At the same time, we also got to learn about China’s unique global engineering projects. As a student who comes from neither a science or engineering background this experience has taught me so many valuable lessons (more than I can cover in this post) and has introduced me to many dedicated and brilliant student from China and Dundee that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
For anyone looking in to doing something similar, a summer school, going to a new country or living abroad – my best advice would be to do it. I grew in so many unexpected ways this summer from going outside of my comfort zone. For me, that was in another country, continent, time zone, and subject but it doesn’t have to be on that scale we have the opportunity to this every day and grow from our small decisions as much as we do from our larger ones. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity, one that I’m so great full to have had.
In conclusion 上海很好.
You can read some of my biggest lessons from the whole experience here
Exploring ideas relating to rituals and routines – “Routiual” relates these ideas to the thought of the morning routine progression being a looping ribbon or Mobius strip (infinite line and surface through only a single edge and surface), a continuous evolving process all the way from cradle to grave – a lifelong daily process existing in the 4th dimension. Connecting routines with the idea of ritualistic objects and behaviours creates a hierarchy of ceremony and respect for each of the individual elements of the object.
A collection of life drawings undertaken with lecturer Reinhard Behrens as part of semester 1 to understand the human form and anatomy more accurately – something to take under consideration when designing products, furniture, and spaces. Some are formal drawings and others are more expressive showing a balance of work.
Dundee – Once known as being the worst slum in Britain in the 19th Century has now transformed to be defined as Britain’s coolest little city as well as being titled the only UNESCO city of Design in the UK – and soon to be home to the only design museum outside of London. How did our cool little city come to be this way and how does it keep this impressive status?
In 1867 Architect George Gilbert Scott built the Mcmanus galleries, now an icon of the city, which at the time seemed like a strange place for this impressive and grand building to be built – in the city of Jute, Jam, and Journalism (once a ‘juteopolis’), but it endeavoured to provide an education for everyone in the city – a way for them to access culture out with the cities small bubble. Now, with the V&A Dundee set to open in summer 2018 and already being coined as, “A living room for the city,” and focussing on Scotland’s rich design heritage, it seems it too will provide for those who come looking from near and far. Dundee appears to always have been committed to providing its people with the highest quality of cultural experience.
A recent event run by the Architecture Fringe ‘Turncoats Dundee: Is Dundee losing itself in the chase of glamour?’, explored the idea of losing our ties to Dundee’s gritty past in the chase for shiny new titles. Four speakers presented for the argument and then had to switch sides and present against it – showing that there are always valid points to both sides of the argument. Overall the audience felt that the city was not losing itself as the definition of glamour is, ‘an attractive or exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing!’, so how could we possibly be lost chasing something we already have.
On the subject of architecture, 2016 was the year of Design, Innovation, and Architecture, celebrating all our major advancements in each of these fields over the last century. The Festival of Architecture a major, year-long, Scotland-wide celebration led by The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland which brings Scottish architecture to life and is a key part of the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. Both the DCA and Dundee Rep theatre were nominated as the most impressive buildings to be built in the last century and the Light Nights celebration saw our City of Design host the closing ceremony, lighting up significant historical buildings/sites such as the Steeple, Mcmanus Galleries, Caird Hall and an area of current significance, the V&A site, showing the cities commitment to our new cultural direction.
The city itself has a vast variety of places and spaces which can be found in 99 things to see and do in Dundee – published by creative Dundee – all offering a rich cultural experience of the city. Outside of these, a number of events happen frequently that celebrate, support and question the creativity and creative future of Dundee. A number of these hosted by Creative Dundee – a small organisation that supports creative endeavours within the city. Recently, I had the pleasure of attending two events hosted by Creative Dundee, Pecha Kucha and Make/Share.
Make/Share, a monthly event held on the second Wednesday of every month brings people together to gain a behind the scenes insight into the work and process of people from a mix of creative, scientific and technological backgrounds to create links in the community and build on the creativity that’s already there, all alongside a free bevy! From condoms, knitting, 3D printing and community projects all of these have recently come up and have been incredible topics to learn more about.
Pecha Kucha – to sum up the absolute power of this event I only need one quote;
“Some industries burn through coal and oil – the creative industries burn through people’s lives.” Colin Anderson – a local games developer.
This quote embodies what the arts, design, and creative industries really mean and why they have true value. Dundee is one of the few cities that really holds this value to heart, (demonstrated in no shortcomings at Pecha Kucha) often this value can be misplaced in items of monetary value, but to see a city put value in people’s time and people’s lives is truly refreshing and shows why the city is starting to make some real headway.
Also at Pecha Kucha a new scheme AMPS was launched – a way for creative practitioners to ‘buy into’ their local communities. From as little as £2 a month (for students), among other things you get access to all future Pecha Kucha events, an annual amps forum on how to improve the Dundee creative scene, the opportunity to apply for an exclusive amps members Community Ideas Fund awarded once a year to enable a new collaboration between local Amps. This enables the community – a wide and varied community – to have a say in the continued development of our creative culture, co-designing all of our futures.
Another of Dundee’s recent titles in the media ‘living cultural experiment‘ highlights how early on our city is in its development, as a city with two universities many of the people who come here are looking show what we can do and find out who we are, much in the way the city is doing right now! We’re so early on in our cultural journey, just discovering who we are and just about to show what we can do! The future has never been brighter for Dundee, from Jute, Jam and Journalism to the future of Scotland’s design direction – we truly are a city of pioneers and innovators.