Archive for the ‘Research’ category

Our wonderful PhD community: Meet Dr Iris Garrelfs

Iris Garrelfs by Peter Smith
Meet Dr Iris Garrelfs, Iris was awarded her PhD this year in Sound Art from LCC. In this article she shares her experience as a research student at UAL, how she built communities and learnt to discuss the theories behind her practice. She has recently been nominated for the British Composer Awards.

What was your awarded PhD title? Did it change much along the way?

Oh yes it did! The title I started out with was:
Cross breeding art: the impact of cross-platform arts practice on soundart at the beginning of the 21st century.

The title that I ended up using reads:
From inputs to outputs: an investigation of process in sound art practice.

In between I came up with quite a few variants on the theme, each highlighting slightly different aspects of my research. To be honest, I didn’t decide which one to go with until a couple of weeks before submitting. What swayed me in the end was keeping the title simple.

What are you up to now?

Since being awarded my PhD in June, I have begun a postdoc at UAL. I have been enormously lucky to be asked to continue my research into process as part of the cross-university JISC funded project Collaboration for Research Enhancement by Active Metadata (CREAM).

Basically, I am investigating the extent to which metadata are – or could be – used actively within practice-based research using Procedural Blending (the model of sound art practice I developed during my PhD research). Effectively, Procedural Blending borrows and extends concepts from Conceptual Blending, a theory of cognition developed by Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner (2002).

In September I will be giving a paper about this at the conference OFF THE LIP: Transdisciplinary Approaches to Cognitive Innovation convened by CogNovo and the Cognition Institute, University of Plymouth. I’m a trifle nervous….

From a performance at the Barbican Centre (Hack The Barbican), by Peter Smith

Image credit: From a performance at the Barbican Centre (Hack The Barbican), by Peter Smith.

I am also continuing to edit Reflections on Process in Sound, a journal I instigated to explore sound-related activities from the practitioner’s point of view. I have been hugely surprised
by how many people have flocked to it. On average, the website has more than 100 genuine visitors a day! The next issue will be out in the autumn containing articles with topics ranging from

  • working with sound in the United Arab Emirates,
  • listening to urban Australia,
  • creating a gallery installation in Switzerland.

I am also, of course, continuing my own practice. At the beginning of September I gave a performance talk called Room 61 at the National Gallery, as part of the Soundscapes Late. Essentially I created a composition in response to the images in the respective galleries and read from a number of CRiSAP related books.

Several of my previous works have just been nominated for the British Composer Awards (Sonic Arts category), I am keeping my fingers crossed…

Once things settle down a little, I hope I will be able to finish editing my book of interviews with leading and emerging sound art practitioners. There are some amazing ideas in there and I’m thinking about calling it Listening lives: art, music, sound.

How is your life different now to before starting your PhD?

I’ve had to mull that question over a bit, because it so feels like another lifetime altogether. On the one hand, I am still working as an artist. On the other, my practice has both deepened and broadened, and I feel a lot more confident about what I do. I have met so many fantastic people along the way, and I now feel part of a very thriving and inquisitive community.

I have always found it difficult to express myself in the written word (I found out I am dyslexic during my PhD), but now it feels a great deal easier. I have become more critical about the way I think and clearer about the assumptions underlying my thinking. Very interesting!

From a keynote performance lecture at Field Studies, by Joseph Kohlmaier

Image credit: From a keynote performance lecture at Field Studies, by Joseph Kohlmaier

The most important change is conducting research, which is not something that I was involved with before – other than researching for creative projects, that is. I love that aspect of my life; designing practice and projects to find out something. Such a fascinating process!

What were you doing before and what made you want to do a PhD?

Before starting the PhD, I was a busy artist and an Associate lecturer on the BA Sound Art and Design at LCC. Although focused on sound, my practice is in fact quite broad and I’ve always been puzzled by how it all hangs together. My PhD research came out of that question – and I guess it is mirrored by my original thesis title.

I felt that, in the constant bustle of making work I lacked the time and space to deepen ideas, and that became very frustrating, alongside the fact that I found it hard to communicate central concerns underlying my work. Hence the drive to look into process and into means that support artists in contributing to discourse.

How long did it take to finish your PhD, did you have any stumbling blocks along the way?

It took me 4.8 years from start to actually having the PhD awarded. I was very lucky to have had AHRC funding, which covered the first 3 years and really allowed me to immerse myself into the research! I then took a 4th unfunded writing-up year and the remaining months were taken up with waiting for my viva and implementing my minor amendments. This took a bit of time as I needed to apply for extra funding to have my thesis properly proofread (I am dyslexic).

I had a bit of a meltdown situation at the beginning of my second year. I found out that I am dyslexic, which expresses itself in a variety of ways but most importantly I have difficulty in ordering and structuring written materials. What seemed perfectly logical to me, does not to most other people.

So finding a way to construct my thesis was a challenge. I had only done the third year of my BA (I was admitted straight into the third year because of my experience as an artist) and as I left with a first I didn’t do an MA. A very steep learning curve indeed! Thankfully I have now found strategies to help me! Coming across Scrivener, a really easy to use modular writing software, was a particular relief!

Then my mum and my best friend both died in the space of 3 months and I had big problems with housing too. I felt rather overwhelmed by it all and wanted to go part-time to give me a bit of breathing space. But because of my AHRC funding I was not able to switch at that point. In retrospect, I am glad it worked out that way – I really had to knuckle down and that did its job in propelling my research forward! Also, it’s fab to be finished and able to embark on my next phase now!

Graduation of CRiSAP by Peter Smith

What advice would you give to prospective students?

One piece of very good advice I was given quite early on, which I didn’t listen to, was, not to produce too much primary research data. So, keeping this simple is a good strategy. It’s not always possible, especially not for the curious minded. There is so much to learn and find out about!

Also, doing a PhD is an excellent passport into a great variety of communities and in my experience it is very important to become as involved as possible. These communities have sustained me during my PhD and still do now! And, if there is no ready-made community, create one! It’s a great way to learn, and, by supporting others they will be very ready to help you too.

I also found it extremely helpful to present research in progress. It clarifies ideas by having to answer awkward questions and talking to other researchers sometimes opens up new avenues to pursue.

Did you feel part of the UAL community?

I very much felt part of the LCC community. The Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice (CRiSAP) students organised regular meetings to discuss our research and exchange ever-so-vital gossip. I really appreciated both! We also became involved with each other’s projects and created joint ones, for example, Tansy Spinks and I did a residency at Wimbledon Space last year, as part of the ACTS RE-ACTS festival. This was such a great experience and contributed to ideas which I tried out during a residency at Tate Britain earlier this year.

From A residency and installation called Listening Room at Tate Britain , by Peter Smith (IMG-9648)

Image credit: From A residency and installation called Listening Room at Tate Britain , by Peter Smith (IMG-9648)

I also co-organised the first symposium Sound::Gender::Feminism::Activism at LCC. Sadly I didn’t have the time to become involved with the second incarnation last autumn, but I did give a paper.
Further reading:

Creating practitioners of the future

NESTA – A Manifesto for the Creative Economy, April 2013

“What makes new information and communications technologies so economically powerful?

The answer is that their impacts are felt everywhere. Their persuasiveness is why economists consider them one of a small number of ‘general purpose technologies’ – like steam power and electricity – that change entire economic growth trajectories in industries that use them”.

With this in mind, Interact (interactive studios and innovation networks for future design careers) mobilises staff and students within the field of design practice, including communication design and interaction design. The project consortium comprising partners from the EU: London College of Communication at UAL (UAL) and the Danish School of Media and Journalism (DMJX), and two Australian partners: The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)  and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT)  aims to develop better graduate outcomes for future practitioners.

Interact news

This is a picture from the first staff mobility to Australia, which saw the EU partners visiting Australian partners. LCC staff, Ben Stopher and Joel Karamath are first 2 from left.

The three-year project started in October 2014 and is funded with the support from the European Union in the context of Bilateral Cooperation with Industrialised Countries. UAL and DMJX staff visited RMIT and QUT in Australia in February 2015. Joel Karamath, LCC – Talks About the First Exchange at QUT.

The project focuses on 4 main areas:

  1. Staff Exchange: building academic networks within the subject and facilitating an international perspective within the teaching of interaction design at undergraduate level;
  2. Student Exchange: allowing students to experience interaction design education in an international context and broaden both their aspirations and understanding of the subject;
  3. IXD Futures: scoping out what areas, such as designing for the ‘internet of things’ and exploring the possibilities of connected infrastructure will mean for our students;
  4. Globalised Careers: work-integrated learning and placements, which will provide highly valuable globalised exposure to professional practice.

Three LCC students are currently in Australia for a term. Next month, LCC and DMJX will welcome staff and students from RMIT and QUT.

“This is a really great opportunity for students and staff to learn about the way Interaction Design is taught in Europe and Australia”.
Ben Stopher, Academic Lead, UAL

Further reading


Become part of a dynamic network of fashion/textile innovators – FIRE

F.I.R.E (Fashion, Innovation, Research, Evolution) has been awarded a second round of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council to develop a new, online fashion research portal, which you can become part of.

FIRE news

Principal Investigator, Professor Sandy Black and the FIRE team have worked hard to evolve the platform so that it is a space where academic researchers can connect with the UK’s designer fashion industry. We have held workshops with the fashion academic and designer community to establish the needs and desires for this platform so that it is most useful and inspiring.

We would love you to get involved and sign up to FIRE when we launch – here is a selection of what the platform has to offer:

  • Find collaborators for projects and funding schemes
  • Get information on new manufacturing techniques and technology
  • Read relevant fashion research content and case studies
  • Find relevant businesses and research expertise
  • Participate in network events and workshops exclusive to FIRE

Keep an eye out in October for the new F.I.R.E online platform  – and thank you to those who have already be involved!

Fashion, Innovation, Research, Evolution (F.I.R.E) 

Become part of a dynamic network of fashion/textile innovators 

Further reading:

Call for Proposals for Colour, Emotion, Non-Figuration: John Hoyland Revisited

Kilkenny Cats 7 12 82 90 x 84 ins Acrylic on canvas sml  The John Hoyla Still from film 6 Days in September 1979  BBC

Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London, is delighted to be hosting ‘Colour, Emotion, Non-Figuration: John Hoyland Revisited’ Symposium. Coinciding with a major exhibition of Hoyland’s paintings at Damien Hirst’s newly opened Newport Street Gallery, the day will explore Hoyland’s art and times, while opening his painting up to new perspectives and the peculiar pressures of the ‘expanded field’ in which art now operates. The day, scheduled for February 2016, welcomes approaches beyond the traditionally academic, and will include contributions and discussion between artists, art historians and writers.

Outlines (up to 300 words) of short presentations are invited. Presentations could focus directly on Hoyland and discuss the ideas and forces which shaped him as an artist, or they could examine contexts in which he and his contemporaries worked. We are also keen to see proposals which use Hoyland’s art to shed light on the condition of painting today, which reflect his role as an art teacher, or which respond to his position as something of an outsider or renegade in relation to the art establishment.

Submissions are invited which explore one or more of the following themes:

  • Colour and emotion in abstract art
  • Making painting and thinking painting: between sketchbook and studio
  • Materiality in sculpture and painting
  • Abstract, abstraction, non-figuration

We would like to see proposals that concisely get to the heart of their subject. They do not have to be academic, and could take the form of artist’s talks, performances or experimental events. We would also welcome proposals for group discussions. Paintings by Hoyland will be loaned by the estate, so there will be the opportunity for presentations to take place in front of the specific paintings to which they refer.

Please submit proposals to

Closing date for submissions EXTENDED: 16th November 2015

Art & Design practice-led PhD work by Hena Ali on display at CSM

Come and see Hena Ali’s ‪‎practice-led Graphic ‪Communication Design ‪PhD research displayed in the Window Gallery at ‎Central Saint Martins (Design) Degree Show Two from 24th June -28th June 2015.

This could be a good chance to get a better understanding of the beauty of Art & Design practice-led PhD’s.

Also, its could be interesting for you to see how issues can be taken as strategic design opportunities; initiating points; how collaborative practice and context/s can be taken as a sustainable design tool for designing effective systems as innovation.

‘Graphic communication design practice for sustainable social advocacy in Pakistan: Co-developing contextually responsive communication design (GCD) methodologies in culturally diverse contexts’, Hena Ali, 2015


Her PhD demonstrates the amazing potential of collaborative communication design practice to facilitate generate and enhance sustainable social engagement. The research establishes how design can effectively respond to issues as design opportunities and help sustain innovation by designing effective systems, through engagement within diverse contexts.


The PhD specifically explores how social advocacy can be made sustainable in low-literacy contexts like Pakistan by drawing on graphic communication design practice. The exploration focuses an exemplary issue of garbage disposal practices in a low-literacy low-income community of Dhok Chaudrian in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The practice identifies and engages vernacular graphic media, collaborative design projects and local communities through graphic communication design practice, to map and co-design effective graphics-based social advocacy interventions sustainable in Pakistani context. The resulting design models and the methodology is documented as transferable communication design schema of practice applicable in diverse contexts.


Hena’s PhD work will be displayed in the Central Saint Martins (Design) Degree Show Two in the Granary Building Window Gallery , 24-28 June 2015.

Further reading

Inspired by Nature- Art & Science talk

Inspired by Nature- Biosensor research & bridging the gap to application at the Institute of Biotechnology.

Inspired by Nature- Biosensor research & bridging the gap to application at the Institute of Biotechnology.

Inspired by Nature – Biosensor Research And Bridging The Gap To Application At The Institute of Biotechnology

Talk by Dr Colin Davidson, University of Cambridge

15th June 2015, 5.30pm

CSM seminar room C303

Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, 1 Granary Square, London, N1C 4AA

The development of biosensors, sensors inspired by or incorporating elements from nature is a complex, multidisciplinary research field that has a huge impact on many aspects of our lives -­ but very few of even the best research ideas reach market. Dr Davidson will talk about research at the Institute of Biotechnology and how the ideas that will have the greatest impact are often the ones that consider design for application from the outset. The IoB has a track record in producing biosensors for use in a broad range of medical, industrial and consumer applications. Davidson will discuss their holographic sensors as an example of how chemistry and biology can be informed by nature and design (in this instance the wings of butterflies) for goal of commercialisation.

Colin Davidson is a Post Doctoral Biotechnology Scientist working with Professor Chris Lowe OBE, Director of the Institute of Biotechnology (IoB), Dept of Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. He studied at Lancaster University, Nottingham University and has developed and patented numerous technologies in microbiology, optics, physics, holography and chemistry, which have been spun out into multiple companies from the IoB.

Convener Dr Jenny Tillotson, Arts, Science and Technology Research Group, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. All welcome but places are limited, so please contact Jenny Tillotson in advance

Congratulations 11 research students awarded funding in 2015-16

Miriam Ribul_Material Activism_Photography by Lydia Whitmore

Image credit: Miriam Ribul Material Activism Photography by Lydia Whitmore

We are pleased to announce that 11 UAL research degree students have been awarded funding for their research projects. 7 students were awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) TECHNE partnership. Through TECHNE, students are part of a collaborative engagement with 14 Partners in the cultural sector. Offering students rigorous scholarly training and opportunities with PhD students from Royal Holloway; Kingston University; Royal College of Art, London; University of Brighton; University of Roehampton, London; University of Surrey.

This creates a wider network of support and helps provide links to peers, which during a PhD can be invaluable. Partners involved in TECHNE include: National Archives; Museum of London; Culture Capital Exchange; Science Museum; Barbican; National Maritime Museum; Natural History Museum; British Film Institute; Drawing Room; Rose Theatre; English PEN; V&A Blue; Victoria & Albert Museum; Brighton Festival; Wired Sussex.

Through these, students have the opportunity to develop skills in innovation, critical thinking, risk taking, creativity and communication that are valued in academic and work contexts.

Congratulations and welcome to TECHNE funded students starting their research degrees in 2015-16:

Congratulations to 3 continuing students who were awarded TECHNE funding:

  • Eleanor Suess, Constructing the architectural moving drawing: transdisciplinary practices between architecture and artists’ film, CSM, Fine Art
    Professor Graham EllardSteven Ball
  • Miranda Garrett, Professional Female House Decorators, 1874 to 1899: an examination of their work and an evaluation of their significance in the history of British interior design, CSM, Art History
    Professor Caroline Dakers, Judy Willcocks
  • Francesca Peschier, Theatre Design in Regional Theatre: Realising the Visual at The Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse 2003 – 2015, CCW, Performance
    Professor Jane Collins, Dr Esther Armstrong

4 practice-led design studentships were awarded to research degree students at UAL by the London Doctoral Design Collaboration (LDoc) collaboration, LDoc is an AHRC-funded centre for doctoral training, a collaboration between the Royal College of Art, Kingston University and the University of Arts London.

The LDoc students benefits from network and training opportunities provided by the members and contributions of creative industry partners, which include: AEDAS; British Fashion Council; BT; London Borough of Camden Communities Division; Camira; Creativeworks London; Design Council; Designing Out Crime Association (DOCA); Ford Motor Company; Ian Ritchie Architects Limited; International Flavours and Fragrances; Microsoft Research Cambridge; Sense; Sorrell Foundation; Textile Institute; Topshop; TFL; United Nations/UNCTAD Responsible Ecosystems Sourcing Platform; V&A Museum.

Congratulations and welcome to our new LDoc Studentship holders starting in 2015-16:

  • Paola Pierri, Design and social innovation: a critical analysis exploring the encounter between these two different organisational cultures, LCC, Design
    Dr Alison Prendiville, Dr Adam Drezin (UCL)
  • Miriam Ribul, Material Activism: A practice-led enquiry into the role of design in the development of materials and its impact on their cyclability, CCW, Design
    Dr Kate GoldsworthyProfessor Carole Collet

Congratulations to 2 continuing students awarded funding:

  • Georgio Salani, Towards a taxonomy of artisanal ceramic tableware: a practice-led enquiry into qualities and values in British and Japanese pottery, CSM, Design
    Dr Matt MalpassProfessor Janet McDonnell
  • Rhian Solomom, LCF, Design, Designer Facilitator: The body as a meeting place for advancing collaborations between design and reconstructive surgical fields to enhance methods in clinical practice, Professor Jane Harris, Professor Sandy Black

Related links:

AHRC-logo-CMYK LScape            LDOC                  techne04

Tara McDowell – Pure Information: Conceptual Art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design

Image: John Baldessari, I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, the Mezzanine Gallery, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1-10 April 1971

Image: John Baldessari, I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art, the Mezzanine Gallery, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1-10 April 1971. Courtesy NSCAD University, Gallery Archives, Mezzanine fonds.

Talk by Tara McDowell

‘Pure Information: Conceptual Art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design’

Tuesday 26 May, 2-4pm,

Central Saint Martins, Room D113

In 1970, the coastal Canadian city of Halifax became an unexpected hotbed of conceptual art when a small art school, the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, threw its doors open to a number of young artists who had decided that the idea mattered more than the object. Conceptual art often took the form of instructions, so it became an ideal vehicle for experimental education. Vito Acconci, Dan Graham, Lee Lozano, Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, Sol LeWitt, James Lee Byers, Lucy Lippard, Robert Barry, and many others retreated to Halifax for a time, and some especially influential conceptual artworks were made there. This lecture considers the Petri dish of Halifax circa 1970, and maps the everyday terrain that structured one of the most radical moments in the history of art. Rather than an aesthetics of administration or a politics of publicity, rather than artmaking as purely dematerialized, mechanized, or philosophized, imagine conceptual art circa 1970 as a site of draft dodging, game theory experiments, acid dropping, relational psychodramas, divisions and alliances, power plays, boredom, loneliness, and isolation at the end of the world. And all this at an art school.

Tara McDowell’s paper begins with a close reading of John Baldessari’s ‘I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art’ (1-10 April 1971), which was an exhibition at the Mezzanine Gallery, a small space founded in response to David Askevold’s Projects Class, an extraordinary experiment in conceptual art as pedagogy. Overall, her research has been into NSCAD as an expanded social site of making and showing, in some ways anticipating current hybrid research projects and spaces, albeit in a looser, less programmatic way. The Mezzanine is of interest less for any one exhibition that took place there – although shows such as Lee Lozano’s ‘Infofiction’ (27 January-13 February 1971) and Vito Acconci’s ‘Accessibilities’ (1-15 December 1970) perhaps stand out – and more for its relation to other forms of practice occurring simultaneously, with visual art, performance, teaching, printmaking and the NSCAD press all testing and nurturing each other.

Tara McDowell is Associate Professor and Director of Curatorial Practice at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. She is Editor-at-Large of The Exhibitionist, a journal on curatorial practice and exhibition making for which she served as Founding Senior Editor, now published and distributed by The MIT Press. She holds a Ph.D. in the History of Art from the University of California, Berkeley and has held curatorial appointments at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Anyone interested in attending this event from outside CSM should email Lucy Steeds directly for further details:

Student Selected for Hong Kong Residency

Exhibition view of Excessive Enthusiasm: Ha Bik Chuen and the Archive as Practice, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, 2015. Courtesy of Asia Art Archive.

Exhibition view of Excessive Enthusiasm: Ha Bik Chuen and the Archive as Practice, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong, 2015. Courtesy of Asia Art Archive.

Central Saint Martins has teamed up with Asia Art Archive, creating a new exhibition studies research residency in Hong Kong.

Asia Art Archive is a non-profit organisation that documents and makes accessible art from the region.

Alec Steadman, a student on our MRes Art: Exhibition Studies course, has been chosen through open competition as the first research fellow. He will travel to Hong Kong in July 2015.

Diverse artistic practices
Alec’s work looks at the diverse models of self-organisation currently being practiced and developed by artists in Asia, with a particular focus on the south-east Asian archipelago. As part of his residency, he will give a talk about this project.

Alec will be provided with flights, accommodation, a per diem and a modest honorarium.

More information:
MRes Art: Exhibition Studies

Holding it Together: Art Magazines, Then and Now

A reading of five issues of Studio International magazine by Jo Melvin (2015). Film still. Camera by Oliver Beatty

A reading of five issues of Studio International magazine by Jo Melvin (2015). Film still. Camera by Oliver Beatty

Holding it Together: Art Magazines, Then and Now

Artist Pages, Policies and Criticism

Panel discussion with Jennifer Higgie, Jason Farago and Jo Melvin (Reader in Fine Art Theory at Chelsea College of Arts), convened by Antony Hudek and Alex Sainsbury

Saturday 25 April, 3-5pm  

Jennifer Higgie (writer and co-editor of Frieze) and Jason Farago (writer and founding editor of the new art magazine Even) join Jo Melvin (curator of Five Issues of Studio International, Raven Row) to discuss some of the motivations, exasperations and ambitions behind art magazines from the 1960s to the present day, broaching such questions as: What conditions compel a magazine to get started and thrive? How do magazines create and serve networks of writers and artists? What does an editor do that a writer and curator cannot?

Presented by Raven Row at Whitechapel Gallery, to coincide with the exhibition Five Issues of Studio International at Raven Row, until 3 May.

Please click here to reserve your place via the Whitechapel Gallery website.

Tickets £8.50 full price, £6.50 concession

Whitechapel Gallery
Zilkha Auditorium
77-82 Whitechapel High Street
London, E1 7QX