I haven’t ended the year with a retrospective list since the days of MySpace where I posted what young-me considered to be a ‘quirky’ list of stuff that I did; I think it included the words ‘toast’ and ‘kites’.  In comparison to 2006, this year has been a bit more, well, everything.  But on balance, there has been a distinct lack of kite flying in 2015.

Here are my highlights of the year that changed so much.


Working with the fantastic Sunderland group, The Art Studio, has been one of my biggest pleasures this year. I had worked with the group throughout 2014 and during this time they all beavered away creating wonderful, unexpected, monumental and ridiculously colourful pieces and in the infancy of 2015 we were ready to compile the show. Installing a show that comprised of over 20 artists in the gloom of January was tough going but the end result was brilliant. Without a shadow of a doubt, this gallery has been my favourite to be a part of so far. To see so many people so proud of what they had achieved was an incredible experience. Art really can help mental health issues and museums are wonderous places.


No Stigma Attached – The Art Studio (2015)


The moment of February I remember the most was lying on the gallery floor at 10pm, after a stress tea of Cadbury’s fingers thinking that I would never have an opinion on whether an object looked better at one angle or another *ever so slightly different* angle ever, ever, again. Of course, this was the time just before a new permanent gallery opening and after a brief sleep that night we were up and moving precious objects into place once again. The Roberts Gallery of South Asia, South East Asia and the Himalayas caused many headaches and I am still in awe of our small team for creating such a gallery with the restrictions that we had.  I loved working in a team where if you suggest a colour scheme of: bright yellow, bean orange, turquoise, and hot pink, it is not sneered at and instead becomes the colours that will be there for at least 10years.

Late Night Museum Feels.


The time when I was in sole command of the most awesome thing that ever hit Holi festival.


“Would you like to trial a powder canon for free Ms. Barnes?”


I spent almost the entirety of April sending emails planning the Korea Festival for the following month. I regret not taking more of the world in during this time and I think that this is something that I should ensure doesn’t happen again. More lunchtime walks, more evenings outside. I took about 10 photos for the whole month. Here’s one of them: Darth Vader playing synth on a typically grey Newcastle day. Naturally.

Mobile Photos 2392

Hard times for Darth.


The Korean Festival at the Oriental Museum occupied every moment of this month for me. The end result, I think, was worth it and it was a pleasure to teach and give people the opportunity to learn about Korean culture. It is a bit of a blur looking back at it now but I think that my best day was definitely Buddha’s Birthday, it almost felt like a break.

The Korean Oboe is an acquired taste sort of sound, but I love it.


For Father’s day in June we hatched, what was, in retrospect, a foolish scheme. Well, I came up with the idea and then certain truths were omitted to ensure that I followed through with the preposterous plan. My Dad and I embarked on a 27 mile walk from Sunderland to Consett and after a hefty 10, 11(?) hours of walking, we made it to the outskirts. Unfortunately, it was here that we made the foolish decision to sit down. I still feel as if I am stiff from all that fresh air and exercise and my toe nail has only just grown back. Still, this was one of the best days of the year. I think next time we’ll cycle it though.


It may appear that we are posing but in fact we just couldn’t move.


This was a bittersweet month. When moving to the other side of the planet, there comes a time where you have to say goodbye to people and July was it for us. Although it was ultimately very awful to leave all of our friends and family, it was the time where I have felt most loved and most secure. I made time to see people that I hadn’t in years and they made time back. I stopped complaining about small things and I allowed myself to fully enjoy the time with my friends and family. It was awful. It was great. It was intense.


SEOUL! The place of my dreams for many years and I had finally made it! Seeing people in hanbok for the first time, eating real kimchi, listening to Korean conversations, the music as the train approaches, the strange toilets, the whole overwhelming LOT of it was brilliant. I spent a solid week geeking out about everything Korean. I was insufferable and I don’t even care.

The magical, boiling-hot first day in Korea featuring Secret Gardens, Joseon Dynasty hats and Lotus flowers in the Joggye Order Temple.


And living in Korea, it wasn’t long until I stumbled into a lantern festival. The annual Gongju Cultural Festival has all the historic-shaped lanterns you could possibly want.


A flotilla of awesome.


A lot happened in October. It seemed that every weekend we journeyed to a new place. It was a very busy month. We visited Seoraksan National Park and we were reunited with friends from home. Perhaps one the best moments of this month was seeing the sea again. Having grown up on the coast, the sea has been a big part of my life, and I didn’t realise how much I had felt landlocked until I saw it once again. This new sea was a huge relief. Thank you Busan.


I was so excited that I ended up with this nondescript sea-snap.


It took me a few months to become even slightly adjusted to living in Korea but in November, my life improved greatly when we started to go to the cinema with friends. It may seem like the most mundane thing, but believe me, the mundane matters.

Oh and a sheep cafe. There is such a thing in this crazy world as a sheep cafe.


N’aww, so cute, so gnawy.


Did December happen this year? I honestly don’t know. All ideas that I have ever had about what December is like were completely disproved by living in Korea. This is ok though, I know that I will compensate with mince pies and festive treats in the future.

It’s been a strange year. I hope 2016 is stranger still.


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