A research journey is beginning

When a close friend started on a research journey in her area of dance for people with dementia, I found myself hankering after the academic life again. The stimulation, inspiration and dialogue with the research community I felt could fill in the gaps in my ceramics practice. Essentially I am feeling that I have more to offer than being a potter making for the tourist shops in Noosa, or making work for exhibitions that stand alone, resulting in shelves of left over work that gather dust.

While I say that, some of my work motivates my thinking and my creative impulse, but I need a larger community to interact with to deepen my thinking and to increase the effectiveness of the work. What do I mean by effectiveness, you may wonder. In the past as an environmental educator working with the arts and other artist/teachers, the focus of our work was the effect it had on our audience of teachers, parents and children. Now my audience looks at my work in exhibitions and galleries, often love it, then walk away and probably forget about it.

I want my work to leave lasting memories, impressions and above all an increased awareness in the observer that might mean they deepen their understandings and possibly take action on the issues of importance (in my view) that the work highlights. Today’s complex social and political world is bought into existence by the resources of the planet which are being depleted at an alarming rate, or manipulated by the actions of humans. So there is a smorgasbord of choice for art that brings focus to issues of importance.

Here I am reflecting on the journey I want to take over the next couple of years which is unfinished business of gaining a Research Higher Degree. I did start a PhD at Griffith Uni in the 1990s, which was unfinished due to pressure of full time teaching, and personal circumstances, but ultimately my interest in the topic (drama education) waned as I left my work at Pullenvale Environmental Education Centre and moved to Noosa, and pursued my passion in ceramics. This is a passion I have had since living in a community in New Zealand in the 1970s where there was a ceramics studio workshop with a wood kiln and inspirational potters.

I did enjoy the research for my PhD, and I wrote several papers and reports – the methodologies, the metastories and the theoretical underpinnings and critical analysis, the logic of an argument, the uncovering and linking together of disparate ideas from different disciplines, finding patterns appealed to my mathematics trained abstract mind and natural curiosity to find out more. I love the journey of exploration. I find the process of writing and expression challenging, but rewarding, and I am fascinated by how to find artistic sculptural forms to express ideas, engage and audience and create poetic metaphor and aesthetic.

I am feeling motivated and stimulated by my initial reading of ideas and literature on activist, participatory and relational art, I already have some ideas for representation of my ideas as a sculptural pieces, but I want these to change as I engage with some of the local community as I research my topic. I am very interested in how static sculptural work can be more interactive and participatory.

The focus of the project is the Glossy Black Cockatoo, the beautiful birds who fly over my house, call gently to each other, feed on the casuarina nuts in my local park (that my Bushcare Group is conserving and replanting), and are endangered.

CockatooFinding a university is not as easy as I first thought, my local university Central Qld Uni, where I worked for several years, and my good friend Dr Sue Davis, may not be able to find a suitable supervisor. I am hoping this may resolve itself in the new year, and meanwhile I will work up a research proposal, that will stand me in good stead as I may apply to other universities to undertake this degree.

So this blog is one of the documentation methods I will be using in my research journey, and these initial posts are the prerequisite to the knowledge building for not only, the research proposal but the journey that follows.

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