Isabella Whitworth

probably more than natural and synthetic dyes, wax, resists, and history

Reasons to be Stressful



I’m halfway between two presentations. The first was for the 6 Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers at Stratford where I spoke about orchil and how the trade in lichen dyestuff reached global proportions in the late nineteenth century. I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Stratford which included a talk by co-speaker Joan Baxter on the way the East Sutherland landscape influences her tapestries. Her recent collaborative work with dancers Between the Web and the Loom was interesting and she showed some video clips. But I can’t find any images on the internet to provide a link beyond this one (about the dance) and this one (about the tapestry she wove).

The second presentation is for the Dyes in History and Archaeology Conference (DHA) in La Rochelle, France. That’s later this week, is about something else entirely, and it’s going to be rather sensational.

Friday 4th October

11:45          Treasures from a Leeds Dye Chemist: A Century-Old “Tyrian Purple”?

                   Isabella Whitworth, Zvi C. Koren

If you want to know more about the sensational, come to La Rochelle. Otherwise, I’m sorry, you may have to wait a little. To download the whole DHA La Rochelle programme, visit this page and follow the links at the bottom.

For the moment, here is a taster in the form of some images. You will see two men, both chemists. There is a brother and a sister, and the son of a famous father.

Lectures and technology

Those who are of ‘a certain age’ will remember that one of the worst things that could happen when giving a lecture was that you dropped all the slides just prior to going on stage then reloaded them upside down, in the wrong order and back to front.

Technology wasn’t satisfied with such piffling levels of stress. So it created Macs and PCs and system updates; memory sticks and SD cards and PowerPoint and embedding. It now arranges that hosts provide an ancient laptop unable to read anything post 1910;  it organises missing leads, the wrong leads, deflating batteries, clickers that die, videos that won’t load and projectors which will have nothing to do with your laptop.

I have watched entirely respectable speakers show a presentation devoid of images because they haven’t checked their Mac presentation on a PC – or haven’t embedded their photos.

As a result I am obsessive about options. At the 6 Guilds event I took my own Mac laptop, own projector, requisite leads plus a boggling array of memory sticks and SD cards correctly formatted and checked out on a neighbour’s PC. In fact, the options proved unnecessary as the 6 Guilds laptop was up-to-date, the memory stick loaded, and two super-calm techies were in control.

For DHA, all presentations have to be sent in advance of the Conference which is good sense – in theory. You will be informed that something has arrived, but you still don’t know if the presentation shows exactly the way you designed it. So, when you get there, you need to check – and have some options up your sleeve. I didn’t do the DHA PowerPoint: my co-author did, for which I am deeply grateful. It can all be his fault.

8 thoughts on “Reasons to be Stressful

  1. I am completely with you on the obsessive approach to options. I typically turn up to a presentation with the same material in three or four different formats, each saved on two or more devices… and Stuart has only just managed to train himself out of taking printed overhead transparencies as a backup – since the number of venues which actually have an OHP has now dwindled to near zero.

    I’m sorry I won’t be witness to the Sensation on Friday. I’m expecting to feel earth tremors in Dundee, though.

  2. Exactly what you describe ruined, in my view, my own presentation to North Devon Arts earlier this year. This entirely respectabe speaker (er, well, let’s not go there shall we) had taken great care to prepare his ‘slides’ (do we still call them slides, like do we still talk about ‘taping’ things?) in numbered order, for the tech chap who took charge to somehow manage to get them all over the place. He then proceeded to put all the thumbnails up on the screen in front of the audience so that we could talk about rearranging them. It was embarrassing and spoilt all efforts of surprise since everyone kind of knew what was coming. All my carefully thought out amusing anecdotes suddenly seemed anti-climatic at best. I admire your sheer professionalism.

    • I think I remember you telling me about the disorderly slides and the NDA presentation. I’ve been there too, except the tech chap had time to resort them with me before the presentation started, thus saving my blushes. We do still talk about ‘slides’, it seems, for want of a better word.
      Most conferences and events insist on PowerPoint these days, but that doesn’t guarantee smooth operation by any means and can mean people go overboard with clever PP slide animations, which does my head in.

  3. Luckily I’ve never had to experience your side of things, but am very familiar with all you describe from a spectator’s view! Given your level of dedication and preparation it will be smooth as clock work. I feel sure any problem will be due entirely to the French end – just don’t forget the appropriate adaptor!
    Wish I could see you in action.

  4. Oh I envy your visit to La Rochelle! Still dining out on the last one and revisit my notebook frequently! Hope it all goes well and is really inspiring and fun!! Look forward to your wonderful post about it after the fact!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s