Art as Research in Learning & Teaching

International Conference 2016

Wednesday, 31 August 2016 - 9:00am to Friday, 2 September 2016 - 4:00pm

Event Institution: 

University of Wolverhampton

Event Keynote: 

Professor Shaun McNiff (USA), Malcolm Ross (UK), Professor Carole Gray and Professor Julian Malins (UK)

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Event Address: 

University of Wolverhampton
Telford Innovation Campus
Shifnal Road, Priorslee
United Kingdom

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Keynote speakers include Professor Shaun McNiff (USA), Malcolm Ross (UK), Professor Carole Gray and Professor Julian Malins (UK). The conference will be led by Professor Ross Prior of the University of Wolverhampton and Principal Editor of the Journal of Applied Arts & Health.

Join us in beautiful Shropshire, England, for this lively three-day international conference aimed at researchers and lecturers in Higher Education and practitioner-facilitators, particularly in the Arts, Humanities and Well-being fields.

There are many ways in which we may use art as methodology and address evidence in research using the arts. Shaun McNiff (2009: 144) directs us to the potential of the artform itself in responding to issues of research:

...the arts and therapy communities have historically been so thoroughly tied to traditional social science methods of research and the more general notions of scientism that we have not appreciated our own unique potential to further human understanding.

It was in the quest for understanding how the arts may speak to another way of understanding that Shaun McNiff developed ‘art-based’ research. In his books Depth Psychology of Art (1989) and Art as Medicine (1992) McNiff uses his own paintings and drawings as a form of art-based research in demonstrating different ways of reflecting upon images. This later led to his publication of Art-Based Research (1998) and an edited book Art as Research: opportunities and challenges (2013). He discovered that personal art-making could be used to research the work done in expressive arts therapy.

I developed a deeper understanding of the need to establish the autonomy of images; how personifying images helps us to engage them in more creative complete ways; how images, as particular phenomena, are distinct from symbols; that psychological experience is characterized by multiplicity; how literalism is a great flaw when interpreting artistic expressions and dreams; and most importantly, how creative imagination is the intelligence informing everything we do in expressive arts therapy.
(McNiff 2009: 42)

This conference will explore the various visual and performing art forms including creative writing as ways to provide a rich understanding of learning and teaching in Higher Education. It will hear from some key figures in the field and give participants the opportunity to share their research and practice in multiple ways. This conference brings to life the arts and humanities within their taught and learnt contexts so there will be lively practical expressions in all art forms.

We can judge no-one’s ‘capability’ without understanding the nature and extent of the opportunity they have had to develop and hone their gifts. In so far as everyone has the inclination to and wherewithal for personal expression, they have a talent for the arts. In some of us that talent will be remarkable both in its specificity and its force. Nonetheless, everyone carries the impulse of self-expression and a propensity for reading the ‘signs’ of art, and whether their talent is exceptional or run-of-the-mill, ‘opportunity’ will determine the extent of their artistic capability…
(Ross 2011: 9)

During the 1990s, extensive debate occurred about the nature of ‘research’ in Art and Design. Various positions were taken…Confusion reigned and we were struggling in the swamp! Defining ‘research’ became an obsession. It seemed important to claim part of the territory of research for the creative and performing arts and design…and to give identity to it by naming our research ‘practice-led’ or ‘practice-based’ research.
(Gray & Malins 2004: 3)

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