Having spent the autumn term researching, thinking and generally poking about, my calendar revolves around three characters.
Character 1 – Professor Karen Lodge
Karen has worked as a lecturer in an unnamed subject at the University of Birmingham for more years than she cares to remember. Middle aged and lonely, she battles to maintain a healthy BMI. She is increasingly suspicious of the growing corporatisation of higher education and while she knows her subject inside out, the passion that initially drew her to it is fast becoming replaced with bitterness and ennui.
Character 2 – Oliver Lodge
Oliver is 72 and has worked as a gardener on campus since 1961. While he loves his job and refuses to retire, his greatest passion (second only to that for his long-standing wife Karen) lies beyond the university gates. He spends most weekends breeding roses on his allotment. His own calendar is determined not by essay deadlines and exams, but by the seasonal changes played out amongst the rolling English Midlands.
Character 3 – X
X is a second-year Mechanical Engineering student, male, gay and on the cusp of something profound. Exactly what isn’t clear. X is 20 years old, diligent, reliable and well-liked. His occasional forays into Birmingham’s gay scene have left him decidedly underwhelmed and is also at an age when just one night out can contain enough substance to last a whole year and beyond.
These three fictional characters and their respective stories, told throughout the academic year, allow me to fuse and develop my interests in drawing, writing and graphic design. Imagery is coming from various sources: television adaptations of so-called campus novels, old prospectuses, PowerPoint presentations on thermodynamics, photos of techno duo DJ Karenn and so on. Along with the decorous treatment of members of the rugby and netball teams (one of my nods to Bellows) and the monotonous clip-clop of George I on his horse outside the Barber, my calendar aims to reflect something of the rich complexity of university life in 2017 and its position at the intersection between knowing and not knowing.