Friday, 20 September 2013

One step at a time

As our second week draws to a close, it has become clear that fieldwork is a very complex endeavour. In order to capture the most complete context possible, multiple methods are utilised including our own field notes, audio and/or video recordings, building documentation, photography, and secondary sources. Not only are all of these forms intricate in their own right, but they must, in the end, be woven together to provide a coherent glimpse into someone’s life. And, at times, it is all rather overwhelming. But, as I was reminded yesterday, I need only take it one step at a time.

Yesterday was the first opportunity I had to see the Gray brothers’ stage that I was assigned to document. Because it can be only reached by boat, it requires a little more coordination to view it, but I was fortunate that Wendell Gray was more than willing to shuttle me back and forth between his stage and the Plantation. And as I was making my way down the ladder into his boat (determined that I would not be the grad student who falls in the water), Wendell’s sage advice was to just take it “one step at a time”. So that is what I did, and what I continued to do today as I tried my hand at drawing the plan for one of the buildings on his stage.

The Wendell brothers' stage. Photo by Kari Sawden.

This week I discovered that, for me, one of the hardest parts of building documentation is knowing where to begin. Even though I am armed with a good eraser, plenty of time, and patient team members, making that first line is daunting. Yet, if I can get it drawn, taking it one measurement at a time, I soon discover that everything slowly comes together. And all of a sudden, with a little luck, the lines join up and there is a building plan on the page.

The focus on small steps continued as Ed Chappell reviewed my drawing this afternoon. Instead of giving into the perfectionist urge to redraw the entire thing to ensure that it is beyond immaculate, I learned to identify the specific parts that need a little adjusting and how to go about doing so. Sometimes, all an area needs is a little clarification provided by colour or a bit of detail to flesh out the story of the building.

So as I go into the final week and work to put everything together, I shall try to focus on each step along the way, knowing that it will all come together in the end.
The view from the Gray brothers' stage. Photo by Kari Sawden.
Wendell Gray with some of his fishing tools Photo by Kari Sawden.

The following are a few pictures I took yesterday when Wendell graciously took me out in his boat to see a little bit of the coast. The weather was absolutely gorgeous!


No comments:

Post a Comment