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The Country Mouse

Moving to Stoke-on-Trent means that I now live in a city for the second time in my life. It is an odd thing to adjust to, after being brought up in small town suburbs on the cusp of Pennsylvania country side.

The month of May also marks the longest I have ever lived in a city, as previously my only experience was living in Florence for a little over a month. And though Florence is definitely a city, there were more pressing aspects of culture to adjust to while living there.

As it is, I am still deciding what to make of Stoke. It's an odd mix of city center and sprawling suburbia amidst the reincarnation of a once booming industrial hot spot.

Already, I miss the openness of the countryside, but I find the plants and animals preserving in the nooks and crannies of the concrete forest. Hanley, my neighbour hood, is a strange mix. The canal cuts through the new housing estates and it seems that every day there is construction and gentrification in some corner or another. Pop-up building block homes and tiny little sprouts of shrubbery in new gardens speckle the landscape amongst the run-down derelict buildings, graffiti saturated walls, and half-there kilns and pottery factories. On the flip side, the canal sees traffic every day and just down the street is a steel casting plant in operation which you can spot from the green banks of the canal.

Moving is upheaval, as I've mentioned is the past, but while I feel I am losing my inspiration, and to some extent my ability, to make beautiful imagery inspired by the natural world, I am also feeling a pull toward documentary work which I have not experienced even during my master's education in the field.

Suddenly, it all feels a lot more political and a lot more gritty; but maybe that's just the country mouse talking.

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