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Panel discussion art & research, NIE Singapore


At the opening of The Art of Creative Research we held a seminar, a discussion in the NIE Art Gallery around the theme of the exhibition and around our understandings as Artist and Teachers/educators. On the panel was:

Gary Clough - Royal College of Art, UK

Rebecca Heaton - NIE, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Laurence Wood - University of Hong Kong, HK

Kwok Kian Woon - UAS, Singapore

The questions and discussion was around; meaning, benefits and tensions, academic structures, audiences, teaching and making art.


Some of my thoughts were:

What it means to me?

I tend to use the term Visual art practice as research rather than creative research – my form of inquiry -my form of meaning making– it’s a dialogic form of research – a conversation as an artist teacher, with audience and students/ or self, a way of developing new knowledge and understanding with my making

Often I make insitu, installations, in a space, a gallery/ often outside, using drawings, objects, text, sculpture and film - I us a range of materials/processes that best suit for me the issue I’m inquiring into – so even though my first degree was in FA sculpture, I’m comfortable in a range of specialisms, so for instance the films catching perceptions is an attempt to understand and articulate my creative process

A series of b/w tight shots of my hands repeating a series of the same actions, trying to catch materials /objects, metaphors for my making, a pencil, drawing, a tool, a pot, an object, materials and soul, a double meaning of the body, my sole, my interior and soles from my shoes, a way for understanding space, i.e. walking/experiencing physically space – an embodied way of knowing. These films are more like sculptures, than films, performances if you like, the artist hand at work. These repeated actions show various levels of success, constantly trying to catch a perception, sometimes nearly catching, often missing, often failing, but continuing to try, occasionally being successful, but instantly then I drop it and move on and start the cycle again – its like I’m disappointed with the solution, successfully answering the question isn’t the point, I’m more interested in the question, the process than the outcome. It could be argued that these films are conceptual – the repetitive, almost hypnotic nature of the fleeting image is intended to represent the hit-and-miss struggle to make something worthwhile I think that is a kind of summary of my creative practice and research.


Benefits and tensions of art associated with art as a form of research

I think you need a tactic to tackle institutional bias and privileging of other subjects over art practice research – we know we don’t fit into the model that was designed by other disciplines – humanities, sociology, science, they designed it and run the structure and therefore they dominate – it doesn’t measure or value what or how we do things– in many ways we exist on the boundaries/ margins in academia.


Now I don’t mind that, I’m an artist first and foremost – I personally think the boundaries, are interesting places, very productive places – these are never static places, like contemporary art, it moves, it changes, it shifts, and are fluid, dynamic and exciting places, sites we can attack and breach, or barricade and reinforce- depends on your position.


Artistic practice as research is multi-disciplinary or transdisciplinary, so we don’t exist in the boundary of one discipline – we acknowledge the multiple contexts, the different ways of doing things, and the different contexts – because we exist in the knowledge production realm, the transformation of new knowledge, we often disrupt notions of discipline, the traditional academic subjects that identify and regulate universities, so we are at odds – live with it, embrace it, disrupt the structures, and try to transform, antagonise them, expose there failings, and limitations, think about socially and politically engage art and how it has helped us see the rich and fertile ground for giving agency and voice – think about how we can provoke conditions and cultivate locations, like this space this week, thank you NIE, for making it possible – territorialising the space and making moments that challenge the academic apparatus – and finally i think we have to have hope, hope that they will eventually catch up with the rest of us in the contemporary world.

As an irritant I feel lucky that UCL tolerate my research


Practice what you preach

So, I describe myself as an Artist teacher – and I run a network of artisteachers who meet at the Freeland’s Gallery in Chalk Farm – a way of developing insight and understanding on the relationship to our own making and teaching – teaching as a creative act, as a creative practice. ARTISTEACHER is a regular discussion forum that meets both online and in-person at Freeland’s Foundation. Through the group, artist teachers engage with their practices and explore the principles of teaching as artistic practice, share projects as well as working collaboratively to develop new ideas.


I think it supports the social production of knowledge and understanding. It’s about being a part of a community that’s prepared to support and develop the individual's interests. Quite often working in education one’s personal development is missed out over the professional development. Having a space or an opportunity to engage with your own personal interest and development as an artist and an educator is a very rare space. I think the network is important as a place where people can come and share in a safe, positive environment.


We often forget that artists need these moments, these relationships, and these kinds of opportunities because they feed directly into their making and their teaching. There's lots of research that indicates that there’s a correlation between the spaces like the one we've generated and the positive impact they can have both on learners and on one’s making.


I think that ARTISTEACHER has taken off from the initial thirty or forty of us to now over five hundred, because people wanted those connections more. COVID drew our attention to the neglect of these aspects of our own growth as artist teachers. I think that's possibly why it's grown so much recently.


To watch the whole panel discussion please follow the link.


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