Tuesday, 25 November 2008

She Pushed Me!

Two or three weeks ago, I got a request from a highly regarded CRFR project, Connect in Care network 'for staff involved in caring for older people wherever that care takes place'. They were wondering if I had any ideas for workshops or sessions which would encourage and enable staff to share their own 'good practice' stories. It turns out that in training and staff development sessions, if there is a shift in focus from weaknesses and failings to strengths and successes, participants often find it very difficult to 'sing their own praises'.

My email response (informed by clay workshops I'd been doing) reads:
Warm up: working in pairs, people can 'shake hands' with a bit of clay filling the hollow between the two palms. Each space is different and unique to those two people. (Idea courtesy of artist Kate Foster).
Sharing: In threes each person tells their story to the other two and between the three of them they work out a sculpture which reflects the story.
Quite rightly the team thought these ideas would be more suited to a new start up group, rather than the established group they had in mind, so we left it there.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I'm sitting in a coffee shop with Caroline. We are hoping to get funding to run some creative sessions with a group of parents deemed 'high risk' to get their take on the policy and practice changes in Health Visiting. We were very productive on creating a good context and atmosphere for the sessions, but when Caroline said, 'but what will we do in the sessions?', I found myself falling back into clay warm ups.....'Mmm....any other materials apart from clay', Caroline prompted. 'Well yes, there's loads of materials we could use...they could split into threes and make sculptures and tell one another about their experiences.' 'Mmmm...I think people - all of us in difficult situations can feel really awkward talking...' Caroline pushed. I felt the push. 'Well we could work more physically', I warmed up. 'Physical is good,' prompted Caroline. 'Splitting into pairs one person takes the part of the health visitor, the other the part of the parent, and they position themselves the way the feel- and they could use simple props'. 
Then I thought of Kathy Wilkes, feminist, Glasgow based artist, short listed for the Turner prize this year, who makes installations using domestic furniture and tools - ironing boards, kitchen tables, buggies and mannequins to comment on her life. We can use Kathy and her work as inspiration. We were really warming up now. The months of conversation, research and collaboration are beginning to pay off. An artist, evidently thrives on relational work too!

Friday, 14 November 2008


There was theme of 'boys' on the go last week. First I attended a gathering of men who have been interviewed by Sarah Nelson. She is carrying out research on the care and support needs of male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The report is due to be launched at a Voices of Male Survivors Conference in February. We had gathered to hear the key findings of Sarah's research so far, to get the men's response to those findings and to explore ways the men, as survivors, might feed into the conference. One of the ideas that came up was to produce posters that could be exhibited at the conference. Various ideas were discussed. One of the group is an artist and the others have good ideas, so I am looking forward to collaborating with them. Next step is to have a look at the venue to help inform the style and design of the posters.

Boys were also the theme of the adventure lunch last week in the refurbished Chrystal MacMillan Building - the new home of the School of Social and Political Science. The idea of the adventure lunch is to spotlight a contribution from each of the  different disciplines on selected themes, in this case boys. It was fascinating to hear these different perspectives on a subject close to my heart. Every artist who works with children and young people as part of their practice has at least one story to tell about 'problem' boys and 'art' experiences which reveal them in a completely different light.

It was particularly interesting to hear from Lesley McAra and Susan McVie of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime
 They were focusing on serious offending and vulnerabilities. Their findings show that the most vulnerable and victimised boys aged 12 -13 are the ones most likely to go on to serious offending.

The Edinburgh Study findings also show that nurturing advocacy at the point of transition (age 12 - 13) is the most effective intervention, but that agencies are not good at identifying vulnerable boys. Since serious offending is very common among boys aged 15 (50% according to some figures) it begs the question that maybe all boys should have access to nurturing advocacy. Perhaps argued for along the same lines as for universal school meals.

The Edinburgh Study demonstrates to me the power of quantitative research to back up personal experience, although what was also evident was the passion and commitment of Lesley and Susan to use their figures to argue for different ways of seeing and responding. Chrystal MacMillan would have applauded.

Chrystal MacMillan

Friday, 7 November 2008

Last Week's Art Session

animation concentration

clay figure

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Ignorant School Teacher

I was reminded of French philosopher Jaques Ranciere's book The Ignorant School Master during last week's drop in art session using clay. This book describes the emancipatory education of Joseph Jacotot, a post-Revolutionary philosopher of education who discovered that he could teach things that he himself did not know! After a first week of folk playing with the clay I was unnerved to see two or three of the group heading down the figurative route. I hadn't done any 3D figurative modelling since primary two when the teacher told me I was 'making' a very nice dog when infact I thought I was 'making' a very nice bird...

Perhaps since Duchamps Urinal in 1917 Art has been a contested practice. It may be that there is most agreement about the negative - what Art is not and hasn't been for a while. And that is representation. There is a broad (but not universal) consensus then,  that modelling from life as an end in itself is not-Art.

Fair enough, but that left me in a precarious position vis-a-vis my art group who were looking to me for guidance..off to the Fine Art Library then on George IV Bridge to seek out some helpful 'working with clay' manuals.  Tentatively I started following instructions for a simple figure using six balls of clay. Quite quickly  however, I started thinking, or rather feeling yoga - one of my favourite poses - Upavistha Konasana to be precise.  I proceeded with pleasure, enjoying the process and content that the result, although rough, did communicate to me anyway, some of the tranquility of the pose.  

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

View From My Window

I've recently moved back to Inverkeithing after a fifty two year gap! This is part of the view out my window - a contour drawing without looking at the paper, which is a brilliant exercise in quieting the bossy side of the brain. In the background Arthur's Seat leads on to the Castle Hill, Blackford Hill and the Soutra Gap behind. Then on to the Pentlands, not all drawn, but I can see the whole range. Then in the middle ground Corstorphine Hill and Cramond Hill are a backdrop to tanker and tug in the Forth. The defunct paper mill chimney dominates the foreground, with Inverkeithing Bay behind. Rooftops of flats and houses lead me back to my window seat in a Glasgow style tenement built about one hundred years ago to house paper mill workers. Further right tucked in from view is the cemetry where all my grandparents are buried. If I chart a line from the cemetry through the flat and on to the north I come to my grandad's small holding where I moved too when I was three. All my cousins on both sides cherish memories of the smallholding and helping my grandad with his pigs, hens, bullocks and heifers.

There is a strong feeling of homecoming after a long journey.

In art there is a recurring tension between being nomadic and being settled, as I guess there is generally. I remember in the late 70's after I completed a mosaic mural with some children in Lerwick, Shetland, I pondered the possibility of becoming a wandering muralist, relying on the generosity and hospitality of residents in places I would end up. I wasn't brave enough to even try it...something I've mildly regretted over the years.

Now I find I have a strong sense of belonging in Inverkeithing. I ponder the possibility of artistic interventions without the discomfort of questioning my right to intervene 'in other people's business'.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Desire Lines

I met with Zoe Fothergill from Talbot Rice Gallery a couple of days ago. They are developing an 'off site' exhibition entitled Desire Lines for the first half of next year, and have commissioned six artists to create site specific works in and around the university. We are discussing the possibility of developing a project with a local nursery, where the children visit some of the works, then get the chance to make their own work inspired by what they have seen, and in doing so, chart their own desire line.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

How am I doing It?

The Leverhulme Trust remit is for me to to interact and contribute. This generously open brief offers a great freedom and flexibility and is welcome after the public performative role of running of the Children's Art Studio at North Edinburgh Arts Centre. Occasionally it can feel disorientatingly open, especially when everyone else here at CRFR has a focussed brief for research and outcomes.

The give and take of it all at the moment is that on the giving side I am open to collaborative possibilities as they arise and I will continue the drawing sessions and start new lunchtime art sessions in the autumn term.

On the taking side I am having the opportunity to reflect on my practice. A reading of Art Encounters Deleuze and Guttari, Thought Beyond Representation, by Simon O'Sullivan, is useful for this:

'We might say then, that art practice names the careful process by which within a striated space (organised, regimented and representational) a smooth space is opened up....It is here that the 'in-between' nature of art practice again becomes important. Art is always situated between the actual and the virtual, in fact we might say operates itself as a kind of 'actualising machine' p34

This resonates with where Caroline and I are in our conceptualising of what we are doing in our collaboration. What started as a consideration of how best to 'present' or 'represent' her Phd findings has shifted or evolved. We are now thinking that the 'process' and the 'production' are inclusively about 'creating (creative) spaces for exploratory and critical dialogue'. This then resonates with Sarah Morton's evolving sense of generating 'impact' with research. She is considering the potential for each stage of the research process to generate 'impact' and for that 'impact' to be cumulative.

Another quote from Art Encounters delineating art practice could equally apply to this way of thinking research:
'..An art practice is a fluid, dynamic system always in connection with a number of different regimes and registers and always in contact with an outside, however that is theorised....in this sense, art is less the name for an object or a discipline as such but again a name for a function of 'deterritorialisation' - an affective 'moving away from the habitual'.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

What am I Doing?

What am I doing? There's a limit to how much can be explained when you in the midst of it! 'It' can be a bit confusing. Just had an 'artist's chat' with Dawn Cattanach who does CRFR graphics as her day job. Heartening. And useful to try and tell an artist what I'm doing.

I've been invited to do a two minute wonder presentation at next week's Threshold Networking Lunch hosted by the Knowledge Transfer Secretary of Edinburgh Research Innovation (phew!). I have two minutes and one slide to introduce myself and my area of work. Above is the slide I'm going to use. It features a A1 poster/chart I've made for Alice as an aid for family interviews she is conducting for the research project on work/life balance over time, entitled 'Work and Family Lives: The Changing Experiences of Young Families'. We are hoping that the personalised chart looks contemporary and feels a bit like a board game, where individually and as a group the family can chart their lives for the last six months.

For the Threshold Networking Lunch tomorrow, I've superimposed an image of William Taggart's 'Spring' (1864). I love this image of childhood.

Where am I?

Sometimes it takes me a bit of time to ask the key questions! Maybe I don't frame the questions until I am within sight of the answers. A paper from Caroline by Bernie Carter in the Journal of Research in Nursing 2006 helped me get to a view point and sparked this blog entry: One expertise among many - working appreciatively to make miracles instead of finding problems:using appreciative enquiry as a way of reframing research, http://jrn.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/1/48 . ' AI, at it's heart, is about studying and exploring what gives life to human systems when they are at their best'. This contrasts with the focus on problems and their solutions in much historical and contemporary social science research.
In The Politics of Aesthetics, Jacques Ranciere writes ' The nineteenth century was haunted by the Platonic paradigm of the democratic dissolution of the social body, by the fanciful correlation between democracy/individualism/Protestantism/revolution/the disintegration of the social bond. This can be expressed in more or less poetic or scientific terms...in more or less reactionary or progressive terms.' He goes on to say thay sociology was born from this concern with the lost social bond - as a problem.
Appreciative enquiry then, with it's focus on what works, relational processes, multiple knowledges and expertise is a radical departure. However it resonates well with a socially engaged arts practice both in terms of collaboration with researchers and in terms of engaging with participants in creative and/or research projects.
This is an o.k. place to be.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Theatre for the Very Young

Just back from a couple of weeks in St Andrew's working on a piece of theatre/art collaboration for toddlers. Since the 70's there has been a growing European movement of artists and early years practitioners interested in developing theatre for very young children. Charlotte Fallon of Theatre de la Guimbarde in Belgium has developed exquisite work at the same time lobbying for more early years access to theatre and creative arts. Although she doesn't consider herself an artist - she thinks of her work as a bridge that will encourage young children and their parents to access 'art' - her work is visually, materially and performatively captivating for babies and toddlers and their parents. La Barracca in Bologna develops work for children in it's dedicated theatre, a geographical and pedagogic neighbour to the Reggio Emilia nursery schools. Polka Children's Theatre and Oily Cart in London are also part of this movement.

In Scotland , we are very fortunate to have Imaginate, which presents the annual children's theatre festival and promotes and develops performing arts for children and young people throughout the year. Of the numerous children's theatre production companies based in Scotland, Star Catchers which emerged out of North Edinburgh Arts Centre is dedicated to producing work for the very young.

I am very lucky to be associated with this bunch of people. There is no equivalent movement in the Visual Arts. Maybe this is because theatre people tend to be more outgoing and extrovert by nature. Also, in the main, the work is more collaborative and group based, whereas visual artists often work alone. In general I sometimes wonder why there are theatre productions, books, films, television, computer games for children, but very little visual art dedicated to children. Infact most exhibitions that might appeal to children have to be covered in signs saying 'do not touch', 'children must be under control of parents at all times' and the like.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Response to The Drawing Sessions

Rosie's Feet by Dr. Alice MacLean

Some feedback from our drawing sessions based on Betty Edward’s book, Drawing with the Right Side of the Brain:

I'm not sure what I expected, but have been delighted with the sessions - to have the time just to concentrate on drawing and to find that I can actually produce something halfway respectable.

One thing I've noticed is that focusing on drawing also helps me to focus on research work when needed. The discipline and space needed for both are quite similar, I think.

I liked drawing the model best. I thought it would be difficult, but I really
liked it.

Similarities between research and drawing:

I think there are similarities between the drawing process and analysis in
research. A couple of things - you need to put in the graft to get good
results; and when you make a 'mistake' you can change it and get a better
result, and it's ok to do that. In the research analysis it strikes me
that it also involves a preciseness and a creativeness, whereby if you work with the form and shape of your data as well as the precise content you can develop a really worthwhile, in-depth analysis.


I guess research tends to focus on words more, but it's useful to think about how words can be a creative form as well.
CRFR Gallery http://picasaweb.google.com/rosiemgibson02/Drawings

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Exploring the Shared Terrain

I've been reading The Sociological Imagination by C.Wright Mills on Caroline's recommendation. Since we've been looking at a lot of art together I thought it was about time I got a bit of the history and context of her field of practice and of CRFR in general. On Art Mills says that although Art can express feelings about 'private troubles and public issues' it cannot formulate them 'with the intellectual clarity required for their understanding or relief''. I have been struck by the intellectual clarity of staff and students I meet. It's invigorating. There is the strong sense of of a craft being refined over time.

When I was at Art School as a mature student studying sculpture, I found myself looking for common characteristics of people in my class. I came to the conclusion that they were a group of young people fascinated by the material world in all it's manifestations (from wood to bronze, to people, to film, to food). Art School was about developing craft in manipulating materials to create meaning.

Can the two practices resource one another? Any other suggestions for reading material?

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Inspiring Exhibitions

I've seen a couple of well timed exhibitions recently. Caroline and I went to the Baltic in Gateshead to see Double Agent a group exhibition featuring artists who use other people as a medium.

All of the works raise questions of performance and authorship, and in particular the issues that arise when the artist is no longer the central agent in his or her own work, but operates through a range of individuals, communities and surrogates.

As well as it's relevance to the residency and collaboration, it was also interesting for it's interactivity. There's an observation by writers and curators of contemporary art that currently a visit to a gallery has become 'an experience'. This is in contrast to a time when a gallery was more of a site of contemplation.

It was all useful research for Caroline and I as we contemplate the possibilities for collaboration, exhibition and dissemination. The installation The African Twin Towers - Stairlift to Heaven by Christoph Schlingensief consists of a video projection of a film of a megalomaniac theatre director relocating the 9-11 story to Africa with his regular troupe of non-professional performers. Directly in front of the projection a white stairway rises across the screen. The viewer is invited to occupy the chair stair lift and rise up diagonally across the screen to a small viewing peephole where an intimate thumb sucking scene is being played out on film by two of the troupe! The chair lifted viewer becomes part of the work.

The other inspiring exhibition is Communication Suite in the Wolf son Medical School at Glasgow University curated by artist Christine Borland.
The exhibition explores the role of communication in art and medicine and is displayed in the actual rooms at the University of Glasgow's Medical School where students are taught how to communicate with patients through role-play with actors. The artist developed the concept of the exhibition after observing students practice their communications skills in these simulated consultations.
http://www.amh.ac.uk/images/-Communication%20Suite%20exhibition%20pdf.pdf, and www.glasgowwestend.co.uk/whatson/art-of-communication-exhibition.php

The exhibition is inspiring as work that can emerge out of an artist's residency in a university department, as an exhibition that works very well in a site specific space outwith a gallery, and that brings together a range of works by different artists round the theme of communication.

Friday, 27 June 2008


When considering socially engaged and participatory artforms art critic Claire Bishop draws on the notion of the aesthetic as defined by philosopher Jacques Rancière, who said that the aesthetic is the "ability to think contradiction".
I find this useful. In my last residency at North Edinburgh Arts Centre, I set up and ran the early years Children's Art Studio making work with and for young children and about childhood. While at one level, it was a great success, I began to think of it as pathetic also. Pathetic in the sense of arousing emotions about the lack of truly child 'minded' spaces in our environment. The existence of the Children's Art Studio makes visible the lack, and our incapacity to get it right.
In The Politics of Aesthetics Ranciere explores this contradiction in the context of Americam films from the 70s and 80s on Vietnam.
...like Cimino's The Deer Hunter, where the war scenes are essentially scenes of Russian Roulette. It can be said that the message is the derisory nature of war. It can just as well be said that the message is the derisory nature of the struggle against war

This is not to become melancholy about making work, just to be aware that contradiction is embedded in it.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Visual Methodologies or Methodologies sensitive to Affect?

A few months ago I gave a talk about my work to CRFR. One of the comments was that the talk carried a lot of emotion. I've been mulling over that comment since.
I've been reading Children's Geographies, vol 6, May 2008, and finding lots of similar ideas and references to those which inform my work. I'm looking forward to exploring these further. In True geography [] quickly forgotten, giving way to an adult-imagined universe'. Approaching the otherness of childhood, Owain Jones gives an insight into a collaborative space for artists and social science researchers.
"...the developing linkages between geographical and artistic interests and methods are going on apace in the pursuit of methodologies sensitive to affect. Artists...are often commenting upon, witnessing, 'analysing' the world and their and/or other people's place in it, but through affective/creative narratives rather than the rational/representational registers."
Maybe we should reframe the scope of the residency to Visual Methodologies and Methodologies sensitive to affect.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Philosophical Leanings

Anyone for philosophy? The director of North Edinburgh Arts Centre said of my installation 'Playing Field', "it sits there quite quiet and unassuming. Then children come in and they animate the work and it animates them! My starting point for the installation had been what I had observed as the fluidity of very young children. The corrugated card sculptures offer (soft) structure for the children to flow all over. This piece is a prototype for a collaboration with theatre artist Andy Manley. We are developing a show for toddlers called 'The Floor!'. We wondered what scope a raised floor would give us - access to under the floor or under the ground. We were able to observe toddlers and how they reacted to the structure. They liked walking round it, climbing up, walking round on top, exploring the trap door, going inside, climbing out, climbing down. Moving. Flowing. Professor Colin Trevarthen has likened this fluidity of children to the Dionysian principle in philosophy. Do the structures respond in Apollonian mode? Is it the two together which make the work? This is new territory for me. It would be good to have a guide for a bit of the way. Calling all those with a philosophical leaning to their practice.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Viewing of Pork and Milk with Caroline

This film by Valerie Mrejen creates a space for young people from ultra Orthodox Jewish groups to talk about their struggle with living within the strictures of the religion, their decisions to leave and the subsequent strain that puts on family relationships.
Caroline and I watched it together at the French Institute. This time people are talking about their own experiences rather than the narratives being delivered by actors.
However the static camera, attention to detail in the selecting and framing of the shots and the lighting create a conducive listening and looking space for the viewer and (I deduce)a conducive narrative space for the participants.
I am reminded of the static camera of film makers Jane Campion (Piano 1993) and Chantal Ackerman in the 70's.
Caroline also notes that there has been a lot of crafting of the fragments of what people are saying to build a 'pork and milk narrative'. This is essentially the editing process she is talking about and she compares it to the analysis and presentation stages of the research process.
She references Arthur Frank and says:
"I had read a paper of his prior to him running a seminar in Edinburgh in July. He spoke about a picture: Rene Magritte's La Condition Humaine . He discusses that the longer you look at the picture, you see that it is layers and layers of painting which go as he puts it 'all the way back'. He equates this to qualitative interviewing whereby there can be an assumption that you turn on a recorder and the person being interviewed will tell their story.
But,it's not like that. I found this notion intriguing and thought
provoking in relation to my own work ...."
She talks about the cultural gaps in knowledge and understanding the health visitors have vis a vis the mums. We come up with a spatial idea of nested knowledge.
We resumed our discussion exploring the opportunities to make visual/sound work from Caroline's research findings.
We briefly considered other forms of presentation - for example an installation or large scale projection...
We have a brief discussion about the film/video making process, budgets etc.
We touch on the consideration that the form of the visual/audio work could reference Caroline's own research practice.
It's all a bit tentative but feels quite exciting at the same time!

Playing Field@North Edinburgh Arts Centre

It's been a bit of a time since my last entry. I've been enveloped in putting together an exhibition at North Edinburgh Arts Centre to mark the end of residency there. Called 'Playing Field', it's an installation for toddlers and their big ones at http://northedinburgharts.co.uk/. The fluidity of young children is one of the themes in the installation. Because of my conversations with researchers here at crfr about children's spaces, I started to consider the pleasures of municipal paddling pools especially for toddlers. I also started to consider their demise in recent years.
I was taking photos of a neglected looking paddling pool in the Glen in Dunfermline when my cousin said she had video of her children's nursery trip to the paddling pool twelve years ago.
I was able to edit a couple of minutes from the footage which capture the fun that everyone is having splashing about on a sunny afternoon.
This contrasts with the melancholy air of the large scale photographs of the pool now in it's sorry state of disrepair.
On a technical point, the large scale poster/photos were beautifully and economically produced by the university's information services at Kings Buildings.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Collaboration with Caroline

Caroline and I have been in conversation. We started mulling over her observation that as a researcher interviewing health professionals and mums, language could be a barrier rather than exchange. Somehow we got on to dress codes and gifting!
Then I thought about the films of Valerie Mrejen. She is a French Artist and Writer who makes video films of every day conversations, encounters and narratives which memorably illuminate the fraughtness of 'communication' that we are so skilled at glossing over.
Steven Rogers interviews Valerie Mrejen:
Filmmaker, photographer, plastician and author, Valerie Mrejen is an authentic jack-of-all-trades. Whether directing short films, penning novels or shooting documentaries, she consistently paints from the same palette, mixing memories, childhood and anecdotes with language, incommunicability and non-relationships.
The artist says this about her work: “I wouldn’t know whether I subscribe my work to a particular tradition, but I am interested in doing work about banality. I think it’s an ambiguous term which has taken on a negative connotation. It can be interpreted as something to do with squalor or something boring, but I find that, in what people call the everyday or banality, there are hundreds of details which make everything and nothing. It’s precisely these minute details which reveal everything that can be behind them.”
Caroline's had a look at some of the films and finds them really interesting. I am pleased to find some one who is a fellow fan of the work.
We've been analysing the films. Valerie Mrejen uses actors to portray episodes based on autobiographical experiences. The delivery is quite deadpan - banal, althought the content is often quite harrowing. We ponder two things. First that the deadpan delivery of excrutiating or uncomfortable material can have a bigger impact on the viewer than an intense delivery. Second that using actors gives the artist flexibility in exactly how she wants them to perform.
We looked at the way the films are shot - very simple, static camera, often just head and shoulders. We talked about the importance of sound quality and lighting on simple set ups.
We've discovered that the French Institute in Edinburgh has a dvd of 'Pork and Milk' a fairly recent documentary by the artist which hopefully we will get to see together.
Caroline is considering the possibility of using video as a way of disseminating some of her findings. We are considering doing a joint presentation to CRFR on our conversations and explorations so far.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Advancing the use of visual methods in research on children's cultural worlds

Attended this QUALITI seminar at Cardiff University last week.
http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/qualiti/VisualMethodsSeminar/VisMethodsSeminar.html - papers will be posted soon.
Very good presentations from a range of researchers discussing the processes, outcomes and issues arising from using photography and video to research children's cultures.
Most of the projects engaged the children and young people in using the technologies themselves to gather data/make work which illustrated and/or reflected on aspects of their lives and/or identities.
Coming from a particapatory arts background I found myself considering the projects in terms of the participants experience - what the children and young people got out of being involved, how much control they had over the processes, at what level?
How much ownership they had of the outcome?
Issues of 'informed consent' to show the visual outcomes arise in research as they arise in arts projects. One of the presentations successfully discussed photos without actually showing them.
The seminar was great for helping me to unravel and clarify possibilities with the residency here.
First of all i think it's useful to be really clear about how visual methods interact with the different stages in the research process. I understand these as:
formulation of research questions
design of process
data gathering
data analysing and processing
formulation of findings and answers to research questions
knowledge dissemination and transfer
In considering this 'visual methods' have to be unpacked too. I think we could have a useful discussion exploring differences between visual methods as tools and visual methods as processes.
The second observation (related to the last point) is the use of off- the-shelf technologies of photography and video as visual methods. In contemporary art practice, a common strategy is to use ( and evolve) technologies and materials which are most appropriate to the endeavour, rather than start with the technology.
Applying the same strategy to visual methods in research practice could take us into interesting territory!
The residency creates a space for us to explore some of these possibilites together.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Children and Young People's Spaces

Had a tantalising conversation with Emma yesterday about young people's spaces. I might be getting a bit obsessed about children and young people's spaces! or the lack of....or the strict adult regulation of...
There was a fascinating feature on last Friday's "Landward" (BBC1) about a nursery project in Fife called The Secret Garden - a nursery where the children spend all their time outside - come rain, hail, snow, sunshine. Inspired by Norwegian practice.
I'm looking forward to gleaning more from Emma, and hopefully sharing ideas.
I am interested in the aesthetics of children's spaces among other things. (More about aesthetics in another blog.)
I think adults often see children and young people's communal spaces as untidy, messy, unsavoury and chaotic. Then they use this uncontested view to modify the space to the extent that it no longer functions for children or young people.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Negative Space

4th Drawing session went well. Space in between was the theme. Looking at the 'negative' spaces which shape a chair. Then drawing the shapes which make up the spaces. With a bit of practice (!) this is a really useful drawing tool. In fact some might say you can't do a decent drawing without considering the spaces between.
Reminded me of Glasgow School of Art Environmental Art Course, with the strapline - the context is half the work.
Led us to a brief conversation about socially engaged art practice and socially engaged research practice.
I think Sarah was right yesterday when she said there might be mileage in some of us looking at the similarities and differences between the two practices.
Any takers?
We also talked about Bruce Nauman, Rachel Whitread and the contested practice of life drawing the female nude.
The drawing sessions are beginning to take on a context as well as being about learning a skill. I didn't expect this! We are beginning to explore a shared space between social science research and fine art. Quite organically.