Navigating Creative Practice through Research Methodology

Professor Siân Bowen, Professor of Drawing, Arts University Bournemouth

In 2011, Daniel Rourke wrote, “Over the last 20 years art has eased its way into academia. Past the door of the artist’s studio and up the back stairs it tiptoed until, in a very bold move, it seated itself in the commissioner’s chair” (FuelRCA). Nearly a decade later, creative practitioners working with and within academic communities throughout the UK continue to consider ways to navigate this new landscape.

From around the time that Rourke wrote this, Siân continued to develop her own practice as a visual artist through a number of projects that included residencies at Kyoto Art Centre, Japan; the V&A, London and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. These projects share a number of key ideas relating to drawing practice – and ways in which it can be used to examine themes of ephemerality and materiality; polarities of light and darkness; museological dimensions of states of flux and the mutability of place and space.

This presentation compared two projects: Sensing and Presencing Rare Plants through Contemporary Drawing Practice, was devised and framed as ‘practice-led research,’ and is currently supported by a Leverhulme Research Fellowship, and Gaze, which did not evolve within such a framework and which was supported by the V&A and an Arts Council England Grant for the Arts. Through this comparison Siân aimed to consider what role a defined and articulated research methodology might play in relation to creative practice. More specifically Siân asked first, how can it enable open-ended experimentation? Second, how might it facilitate the generation of meaningful outputs? Last, how can the dynamic between research methodology, project narrative and commitment to an initial idea be made purposeful.