I started a Practice Led Research phd last week.
I’ve been thinking about my reasons behind this and it’s basically that I don’t want to stop learning. Having had a break between my Bachelors degree and my Masters degree, I’ve found that I don’t want to leave the university atmosphere of conversation, interaction and learning. I’m studying part time and continuing to work as an artist and art tutor on a study programme with teenagers who have mental health, autism, anxiety along with care leavers.
However, starting a phd is no guarantee of being accepted through the next stage, which is a revision of my original proposal and a tightening up of my ideas, this then goes to a committee who don’t know me or my practice for assessment. I then have to wait a few weeks to find out if I can progress the study. This is really challenging my imposter syndrome and pushing way beyond my comfort zone.
In my little greenhouse, the seedlings have been sleeping all winter, suspended in living but not growing, waiting for warmth to release the hibernation.
The outdoor plants have survived winter snow and frosts, they are thriving, strong, the hardships have made them stronger. They are stretching for the first bits of warmth the sun is teasing them with.
Suggestions of using my greenhouse as an installation space appeal. The garden becoming my art gallery, curated by me. Seen only be six to start with, then more can slowly and gently be allowed in and guided around this personal space.
How do I preserve the flowers I’ve grown? I can dry them, press them, use cut outs from magazines?
Exploring different materiality, moving away from stitching and sewing.
Developing ideas through making, taking the time to be introspective, reflective.
Wondering where this will all lead to and how to use my artistic voice that is slowly getting louder.
For part of my phd proposal, I want to look at rural locations and explore what this means in terms of fine art and domestic settings, particularly ones with an abuse of the power relationships, this is partly due to my own geographical location but also my psychological approach to where I chose to live.
I’ve been pondering over how to approach this area of research, until I took a step back, this is supposed to be practice led, not research led. So looking at what I had been doing, I realised it was mainly growing flowers. Obsessively. To the point of having to dig half my garden up so that I can grow more, I can safely say, they have been my saviour and distraction through lockdown.
They also hold their own meanings, the Victorians would regularly send secret messages through flowers, and these would often get misunderstood if the recipient had a different book of definitions than the sender. Lots of miscommunications would happen, different languages would be spoken and hidden meanings could make or break a courtship. Botanicals are used for perfumes, healing, teas, beauty products. My main line of enquiry is now following a route of which flowers have sinister and darker meanings? And can I grow them in my garden to create a living piece of artwork?
Cosmos – No One Could Love you More – Romantic or Sinister?
Sweet Pea – Protection, Responsibility along with You are Beautiful.
I’ve submitted my application for registration.
This is quite significant and has meant a lot of emails toing and froing.
I’ve had to really focus on what I’m trying to say, what I want to achieve and how I’m going to get there in a limited word count. Focussing on writing, very little making, what group work I want to do and why.
I also had to use a spreadsheet – that was a shock to the system.
I’ve decided to take August as a rest month, although I’ll probably read, especially some of the more difficult theorists, I’m picturing myself in the garden with coffee and books.
I’ve found this exhausting, lockdown in a house of 3 teenagers and my partner who is an artist, working on commissions, balancing a part time job, and reading & writing for a phd.
I’ve keep forgetting why I’m doing this and then my partner reminds me I like a challenge!
This is certainly that, an emotional and intellectual challenge.
Well the first couple of months has been a whirlwind of balancing life, work and phd study.
I feel as though I haven’t actually done any phd study even though I’ve been trying to read my extensive bibliography. This in itself has been a challenge, the stack of books and journal articles is so big it’s all a bit overwhelming, how do I decided which one to read as they are all relevantandineedtofititallinbeforeiimplode…. or just turn Netflix on and ignore the growing panic. Which isn’t necessary panic, as it’s part time and my first deadline isn’t until July. Or if I get my arse into gear, it could be April. The problem being, there are so many threads to explore that I’m not sure which one to follow.
I have however been enjoying workshops, presentations and just generally trying to get my head around the beast that is the phd. This in itself presents a dilemma as my work is different to all the other phd’s which are theoretical and not practice based, my saving connection is with another artist who started the same time as me. We just need to co-ordinate when to meet up.
So lots of reflection here, lots of planning to do and I need printer ink to get some bits physically in front of me so I can start work properly.