Hobbies for when you need 'tangible results'
If you search for things to do around Glasgow you will find a lot of opportunities for being creative or learning a new skill; from making your own pottery to making a silver ring, learning acrobatics or learning different styles of dancing. It seems there is a growing collective need for being creative as it can be a very rewarding and positive experience. Taking part in creative learning is a great way of self-care, especially when you are doing a PhD as it can offer a welcome distraction from your work and can even help you reflect on your PGR degree in a new light. When you get caught up in your day to day work you might often feel like there are no concrete results as the final product of your PhD might be years away from completion. That’s why learning a new skill might give you a much needed sense of accomplishment even if it’s something as small as learning a new dance move or painting a piece pottery. I have been learning how to make jewellery over the past few years and it has taught me a lot about the value of patience and of slowing down - I usually tend to rush to get things done. I’ve also noticed my skills are improving which is really satisfying. I generally find the experience of making something quite soothing and I value being able to concentrate on a small thing for a fixed period of time, especially among all the clutter of writing, teaching and researching.
Because I find the experience really rewarding, I am a big sucker for learning new things and am always on the lookout for things to do in and around Glasgow. Here are my recommendations of creative activities and places around town where you can learn something new.
1. Go back to college. Apart from the three universities, Glasgow also has a range of local colleges that offer night classes in a wide range of subjects. Some of these are arts specific like jewellery making, painting, photography, glass work, etc. My personal preference is Glasgow City College in the city centre. The college offers ten-week courses as well as weekend ones. You usually have to pay for these but the prices vary depending on the course. I joined one of their jewellery courses three years ago and I have been going back regularly to improve my skills and because they have such great facilities. The courses run throughout the year and the tutors are usually really helpful and experienced artists themselves.
2. Join the Glasgow School of Art. Apart from its full time degree courses, the Glasgow School of Art offers short term courses in jewellery making, sculpture, wood carving and a few other things. You can choose either a day class or an evening class over ten weeks. The classes usually run six to nine in the evening and there’s a workshop tutor to help you with different techniques and small projects.
3. Find a small local business. If you don’t want to commit to a long course there’s still things you can do around Glasgow. There are more and more small local businesses like Vanilla Ink where you can learn to make a ring as a one off experience, or the Craft Pottery where you paint a piece of pottery to take home with you. The Paint Club Scotland also offers regular events you can join to learn how to paint different subjects. The Print Studio in city centre is one of my favourite places in town and apart from it’s beautiful exhibitions it has weekend courses in different printmaking techniques (you get to use this old fashioned printing press at the end!).
4. Join the circus! One of my favourite things to do in Glasgow is go to Aerial Edge’s circus themed fitness classes. They have a hall-like venue where you can climb up on silks, trapeze or hoops like a master trapeze swinger. If you want to start small you can go to their beginners’ circus fitness: a fitness class with circus elements like trapeze pull ups, rope climbing, stretching and yoga. Although this is not necessarily a creative activity, you do a learn a lot of new things and the instructors are very helpful and supportive. Their new venue is just besides Kelvingrove Museum, so not far from UofG either!
5. UofG itself also has clubs and societies like the visual arts society, the baking society or the sewing or photography society that are not as expensive as a full course. You can also join one of the many PGR creative events, like the bake off, the knitting club, or the comedy club. Alternatively, start your own creative club and encourage other PGRs to take part.
6. Get your hands dirty. Join the UofG community garden, the Good Garden to spend some time in nature and learn more about food and food growing. They have regular events and regular PGR gardening sessions on Thursdays at 1pm. You can watch a short video about how the garden can help when doing a PGR here. You can also join one of Glasgow’s many community gardens across all areas. I personally really love just being in a garden and being mindful of the plants and things around you as it reminds me to slow down and reflect on my research.
What are some of the creative things you like to do in your spare time? How have they helped you with your PGR experience? What are some of the things you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the chance to?