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Creative Practice as Research

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Creative Practice as Research (CPaR) at University of Gloucestershire interrogates contemporary ideas of creativity and their value and impact examined through practice. By practice we mean all forms of creativity and analytical writing addressing creative production. CPaR emphasises cross-disciplinary research, drawn from our core subject areas of Art, Design, Illustration, Media, Photography and Landscape Architecture. Our projects emphasise public engagement and impact in both local and international contexts. The range is broad, from Documentary Filmmaking and Community Gardening through to interdisciplinary research linking Cyber Security and Contemporary Art, Old Testament Theology and Painting and explorations of the use of sound in Landscape Architecture.

Approaches to research practice for CPaR range from the production of new art and design through to curating exhibitions, filmmaking, and public art projects specifically formed through engagement with local interest groups and independent art organisations. Many of our projects are launched and/or supported through Hardwick Gallery​, and we have a strong record of achieving Arts Council England project grants and collaborating with public arts institutions internationally. CPaR places a strong emphasis on practical outcomes as the primary evidence of an interrogation of research questions.

CPaR sees creative practice as a means of exploring questions of environment, legacy and the mechanics of attracting social investment. We use creativity to assert the value of art and design as enabler of positive change in the public realm. Internationalism is high on our agenda, with research projects and PhD research ongoing in Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Norway, Switzerland, Russia, and the US.​


St Peter’s & St Paul’s Art Action Group​

by Sarah​ Bowden​ and Jessie Brennan​

St Peter’s & St Paul’s Arts Action Group was formed by Sarah Bowden in 2016 as a collaboration between Hardwick Gallery​ and Take A Part CIC​, with local residents and researchers at UoG. Through regular meetings the Arts Action Group steers commissions and public events that aim to connect communities, increase opportunities for people to engage with creativity, and to change perceptions of the area. In 2017 Love St Peter’s, Love St Paul’s was devised and the AAG obtained Arts Council funding to commission four contemporary artists to work with groups of residents to investigate the history of the locality through creative practice.

A further project, DIG! is in development for production in 2019 facilitated by Sarah Bowden with lead artist Jessie Brennan, in partnership with local and national organisations. This two-stranded project will deliver a training & mentoring programme for local artists and crafts people, and a contemporary artist commission to devise a year-long programme of arts activities that will culminate in a celebratory festival and showcase at Hardwick Gallery.​​

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by Prof Richard Billingham​

A 25 minute, looped, black and white single screen video installation (a film for a gallery). It is elliptical, seamlessly looped, and written to enable the spectator to enter / exit the installation at any point, avoiding the linearity of sequential clock time and conveying the more ‘confined’ and homogenous time of a zoo animal or prisoner. At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, ‘Ray’ is a film about addiction, loneliness and control. Richard has received the 2018 IWC Filmmaker Bursary Award, presented in association with the BFI (British Film Institute), which comes with a £50,000 grant.

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Ray and Liz

by Prof Richard Billingham​

Richard Billingham has built his reputation on the exploration of social patterns, class and identity through photography and more recently autobiographical film formats. He has just received an award of £50,000 from the BFI for his first feature length film Ray and Liz, shown at the 2018 London Film Festival. His ongoing film and photographic research in to the nature of poverty, isolation and depression asks searching questions as to the nature of humanity and the role of the artist as interpreter.

MyStory: Digital Storytelling Toolbox for Diversity Training in Schools

by Dr Ab Gardner​

The MYSTY Project provides a means for teachers to share and embed innovative teaching practice to enhance awareness of cultural diversity. At the same time it will increase pupils’ cultural awareness and expression and enhance their social and civic competence. The project​ will also support teacher and pupil digital competence. MYSTY involves the collection, editing and uploading of digital stories to the MYSTY Digital Storytelling Toolbox website. These stories focus on ‘food’, ‘family’ and ‘festival’ and act as a platform for diversity awareness and digital upskilling. Teachers will be trained in the use of digital media for storytelling and pupils will conduct and lead on their collection and editing. More detail on the aims and objectives of the project can be found on the blog​.

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MY STORY – Digital Storytelling for Social Cohesion across Europe
My Story

The Order of Things, second phase

by Andrew Bick, Katie Pratt and Jonathan Parsons

Currently Andrew Bick, independent researcher Katie Pratt and current Doctoral student Jonathan Parsons are working with the Risk Lead in Cyber Security Research at the National Cyber Security Centre, developing analysis of the common language usage between systems art and systems theory as used in the world of cyber security. This will lead to joint workshops, a presentation at NCSC’s annual conference in Glasgow in April 2019 and a collaborative publication. Drawing workshops at University of Gloucestershire will host researchers from NCSC and examine the interface between creative visual thinking and risk analysis. This cross-disciplinary development has emerged from NCSC Risk Lead John Young viewing the Being Human and ACE project grant supported exhibition The Order of Things at The Wilson Cheltenham Museum and Gallery and being struck by the commonalities of interpretation and synchronicity between artist’ imagery/interpretation and images used in cyber security research.

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Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism

by Stuart Geddes

Stuart Geddes upcoming curated project for the Royal West of England Academy, Albert Irvin and Abstract Expressionism will bring together works by Irvin and the major abstract expressionist artists that inspired him, including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Barnett Newman, Sam Francis and Adolph Gottlieb from UK collections and works by Grace Hartigan and Jack Tworkov on loan from the USA, giving a unique chance to see so many of these important artists’ works in this country. These will be shown alongside other leading British abstract artists, such as Peter Lanyon, Basil Beattie, Gillian Ayres, John Hoyland and Sandra Blow. A symposim at RWA in February 2019 will explore the exhibition content in relation to contemporary painting and legacies of abstract expressionism in the UK.

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by Fumio Obata, Dolores Phelps and Georgina Hounsome

Fumio Obata, Dolores Phelps and Georgina Hounsome’s research aims to highlight contemporary crises language alone often fails to address. 

Fumio Obata’s project On the Palm​​ of Unknown, at Beacon Museum in Whitehaven, Cumbria, makes surprising connections between the nuclear plants at Fukushima and Sellafield. ​​​

Georgina Hounsome​: Entangling is an illustrative presentation of human behaviour and its effect on nature. It mirrors the idea of changing nature through behaviour through dense layering of largely word-free pages, in which digital drawing mutates and reconfigures ideas of trees, water and growth. The imagery offers a bleak echo of destruction through thoughtless behaviour and habit.​ 

Dolores Phelps’ Instagram project My na​me is Aurelia is a narrative based on her mother’s experience as a Basque émigré to the UK escaping the Spanish Civil War, focusing on graphic visual language and the expression of emotion in illustration.

Transdisciplinary research practices now; the porous University

by Angus Pryor​, Dr Don Parker and Dr Jacqueline Taylor​ (BCU)

University of Gloucestershire and Birmingham City University are working on a series of collaborative works; Beyond Borders: book Chapter. A study of transdisciplinary research practices as a praxis point of interface in relation to institutional borders and the porous University. This is a critique of how the institution consumes PaR, and how PaR is excelling within the institution.

God’s Scribe: Encountering One Enoch in Image and Object

by Prof Philip Esler and Angus Pryor​​

Professor Philip Esler and Angus Pryor have been working with Professor Grant Macaskill (New Testament, Aberdeen University), Professor Loren Stuckenbruck (New Testament, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) and Ethiopian theologians on a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust funded project entitled 1 Enoch and Contemporary Theology. Pryor’s component of the research, as a practicing painter, is to make a set of twelve 2 x 2 metre paintings on themes and imagery from One Enoch and a large-scale model of an Ethiopian church, decorated inside and out with imagery relating to Enoch’s ascent to heaven (mentioned in Gen 5:22 but richly developed in One Enoch). One Enoch is an ancient Jewish apocalyptic text (written in stages from 300-50 BC), which has been scriptural Old Testament for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tehawedo Church since about the 5th century AD. It develops the figure of Enoch in Gen 5:22, including Enoch’s at point serving as God’s scribe in relation to the ‘Watchers’ (the angels who abandoned heaven to marry human women).​​