research & writing > PhD

PhD Abstract

In the forest, field and studio: art/making/methodology and the more-than written in the rendering of place is an interdisciplinary arts practice based PhD that incorporates fieldwork into its exploration of particular forests in the North of Scotland, specifically Abernethy Forest in Cairngorm National Park and Culbin Forest in Morayshire. This thesis consists of three elements, each of which speaks to and adds context, value and depth to the other: an exhibition of artworks, a collection of essays and a written exegesis.

The thesis explores how a contemporary arts practice can help articulate a place’s multi-layered complexities and how processes of coming to know influence and impact on the kinds of artworks created. The art produced forms a non-linear, multi-stranded body of work that emphasises the benefits of multiple formats within an arts practice. These include etchings, photography, video, sound, bookworks, sculptural works and creative non-fiction essays. My way of working incorporates an innovative approach that draws on geographical, anthropological, historical and ecological sources, and includes the synthesis of a contemporary arts practice with an ethnographic element - more specifically participant observation - as a mode of gathering. Walking, repeated visits to these places and the incorporation of other peoples’ knowledge and experiences facilitated the attunements to place that created the conditions necessary for gathering the raw materials for art-production.

PhD and academic papers

Two articles reflecting on aspects of my PhD are in the following academic journals:

A walk among the dead amongst the living, in Performance Research 17: 4, On Ecology, August 2012.

Making a place: art, writing and a more-than-textual approach, in The Geographical Review, 103(2), April 2013

A paper, Making a place: art and a multi-modal, multi-disciplinary approach, presented as part of the Impact8 international printmaking conference held at the University of Dundee in September 2013, is published in the Dundee University publication Borders & Crossings: the artist as explorer (2015).

More info about my research outputs can be found here:
Glasgow School of Art Research Repository