Had a very interesting day at Konstfack on Friday – presentations of artistic research projects and degree shows. Doing the research course has been a truly great experience, not only have I had the opportunity to find out more about what Artistic Research is – or might be! – I have gotten to know a really interesting and generous group of artists (in which I also include the course tutor). The course has provided me with a framework within which to think about my own practice but it has also opened up possibilities of vast new areas and approaches – things that I want to continue to explore and develop.

I have just received details of the ‘next’ course and will apply for that too.

The course has given me a lot to think about – directly and indirectly. One of the more interesting indirect things has been my resistance to the word ‘project’! I now think my that resistance had to do with a) how the word is sometimes (mis)used, and b) its relevance to my own practice. Partly in preparation for applying for the next course, and partly for my own sake, I have been thinking about what my work is about, what subject, theme or topic I can draw out of it (as opposed to ‘place on it‘). I realised that this subject, theme or topic is the essence of what could be called my ‘project’ – I like the idea that ‘project’ can describe the theme and approach of my practice. In that way I think that the word, and the concept, could be very useful to me and perhaps it is this usefulness that has enabled me to re-access my resistance. Through the course I have begun to think more carefully about the persistent qualities in my practice and it is these that are slowly forming into what I might be happily able to call ‘my project’.

I remain nervous about the relationship between the thinking, reading and writing, and the actual physical visual making. This, I suspect, is an important feeling and one to be embraced rather than avoided, for it is this tension between theory and practice – if I can get it right(!) – that will develop and progress what I achieve.

One of my fellow students and I had a very interesting discussion about one of the research presentations, I was delighted when she called me the following the day to talk a little more about what she and her partner had been discussing over night. Even more delighted that she spoke Swedish with me and that I was almost entirely able to speak Swedish with her! Language is both central and incidental part of my life at the moment, I am so pleased that outside of the course times my class-mates speak Swedish with me, it is an incredible help for improving my ‘art’ Swedish and it the best kind of feedback that I could receive as it is so easy for Swedes to seamlessly, and politely, change to English when they realise that someone does not understand them or is incapable of expressing themselves in Swedish.


After days of reading, writing and confusion it was lovely to come to the studio put on my old overalls and get on with something practical before sitting at the desk and switching on the computer.

I am tying myself in knots trying to write about my work for the research course. Writing about my work does not come naturally to me, at the moment I am so confused that I do not quite understand what it exactly is that I am even trying to write! Phrases from the final assignment float around in my head but somehow they remain intangible. Writing is not my medium, visual art is – and this is, I guess, the challenge faced by all artists wishing to participate in fields such as research where the demand for dissemination, communicability and academic status steer us towards the written word.

Being able to express my practice, or at least ‘give an account’ of it, in written form would be great, and I am certain that this skill would open doors for me beyond the immediate situation. I imagine that writing any kind of application or proposal would be easier if the ‘right’ words flowed freely.

Searching for inspiration I started to read about some of my favourite artists. This produced strange sensations of both surety and futility – I began to imagine that my work had a heritage and a context, and conversely I began to wonder where its originality, if it had any, lay.

The originality lies, of course, in the execution. The challenge I face now is how to make the execution (rather than the concept for example,) the focus of the writing, because for me the execution has always been the actual artwork.


If research is about improvement, what does ‘improvement’ mean in terms of artistic research?

If research needs to be evaluated, what does ‘evaluation’ mean in terms of artistic research?

If the intention of artistic research is to draw the research topic out of the practice rather than present the topic to the practice, how does the artist(ic researcher) produce and investigate the practice at the same time? It sounds as though I need to be simultaneously both inside and outside of the practice. Can that be right? How could that be possible?

Leaving the above aside (!), what have I come up with so far? What can I suggest that my artwork does in a way that might be considered ‘research’? It presents new ways to think about things, it encourages heightened/increased sensitivity to the material world, it attempts to offer new possibilities and methods of comprehension. (I worry that this all starts to sound rather patronising and egocentric.)

The idea of making new connections interests me as it starts to suggest a way of producing new knowledge, or at least extending existing knowledge, making additions, this is certainly something that I can draw out from my practice.

I worry that the things I have identified so far are not (nor should they be!) unique to my practice. Research is of course related to the access to, and distribution of, resources, which is why the question of ‘significance’ comes up so often. If I cannot make a good argument for the significance of my practice then I feel that it is unlikely to gain access to research resources even if it might be considered to be research. I find it particularly hard to think of how I might claim the significance of work that is yet to be made. Perhaps this is where the term ‘project’ has its use. Could the ‘project’ be the structure that gives subsequent artworks significance?

I resisted the word ‘project’ as I could not see its relation to my practice, perhaps I am beginning to realise its potential. This week we received information about the follow-up course that we are invited to apply for, it’s name: Artistic Research Project – maybe it’s a sign …