The work presented in this exposition is the result of seven research projects in disparate disciplines, following a two-year conversation among the authors about creative practice methodologies. All the researchers are members of the SWWDTP [1]  Creativity in Research cluster [2]  and have been meeting since 2019 to share and discuss their various approaches to creative practice as research. The developing pandemic pushed us to rethink our methodologies as individual researchers and as a research cluster. Situated, as we are, in various locations across Wales, Scotland, England, Italy, Palestine, and France, regular online meetings have allowed us to foster a community of collaboration and support. We set up meetings where each practitioner gave a short presentation outlining their research methodologies, followed by Q&A. We observed commonalities, differences, refractions, shared themes and issues, and adapted our discussion in light of these new insights, applying Robin Nelson’s model of art praxis to the collective process of the cluster.


The model of art praxis was particularly useful to us as it can be applied to all research projects using artistic practice without privileging any of our discipline’s frameworks, highlighting, in particular, the importance of recognizing different stages and different forms of knowledge production. Nelson’s model contains three stages (Nelson 2013: 37): know-how (‘insider’ close-up knowing), know-what (‘outside’ distant knowledge), and know-that (‘the tacit made explicit through critical reflection’). The three stages are placed within a circle to highlight the non-linear and often fluid approaches used by practitioners. We consider Nelson’s 'know-how' stage as the intuitive artistic thought process that each researcher brought to the cluster through their presentations; the 'know-what' as the moment of discussion, and the connections and frictions between our projects; and the 'know-that' as the new knowledge: the individual project freshly informed by the collective work of the cluster, the collective project newly orientated by the individual work of each practitioner. Even at the moment of writing this exposition, this is a process that we apply in the discussion and presentation of ideas. 


This process has helped us bring to the surface and better understand concerns that bridge all our projects. Through our discussions the theme of community began to coalesce under different forms and definitions, not only as a context for our research but also as a practical outcome of that research. Each of us is working on a project where there is a transfer, exchange, facilitation or application of creative practice as a means of disrupting or re-defining dynamics of power, with a focus on forming, empowering, enlightening, participating with or creatively constructing real or conceptual communities. We also found that all of our research projects investigate the value attributed to different forms of knowledge, showing that creativity, linked with agency, can be a valuable form of knowledge production or insight. 


To allow our collaboration, we leave the term ‘community’ open to interpretation; as something ‘changeable’ and ‘elusive’, in constant formation (Brent 2004: 213–23). Community, as concept or reality, will always have its intricate power dynamics, and these should be constantly questioned. We believe that practice-based research is particularly apt for this task because it does not merely offer solutions, but rather creates ‘viewing platforms’ to look at the problem (Webb and Lee Brien 2010: 190–92 and Webb 2015: 70), limiting the reimposition of new power hierarchies. In this optic, practice-based methodologies are in constant review, bridging open theoretical investigation with ideas tested iteratively in real-world contexts. 


This exposition gives us a chance to bring into contact creative research methods that are traditionally only text-based (like creative writing) with non-textual ones (like composition), and emphasizes not only that creative practice can disrupt or redefine dynamics of power, but that it can do so in an infinite variety of ways. In this variety and adaptability lies the potential of creative research. 


Three of our projects explore how different aspects of the creative writing process can be altered or shared in order to challenge existing hierarchies. Sabrin Hasbun reflects on a variety of different writing strategies that can be utilized by authors working on non-fiction texts to produce a greater degree of agency for marginalized or minority communities. Focusing on poetry, Rachel Carney applies Ekphrastic Inquiry as a method of disrupting the oft-unseen power dynamics at play in the public setting of the art museum. Gareth Osborne adapts the process of writing fiction in order to challenge the established power dynamics between children as readers and adults as authors, creating a more participative reading experience.


Turning to the visual arts, Julika Gittner applies the visualization of statistics as a means of challenging and redefining the power dynamics that exist in re-development projects, for the benefit of residential communities. Catherine Cartwright reflects on the power dynamics in community arts where participants are affected by trauma, using printmaking and collage to explore trauma-sensitive arts practice. Agnès Villette applies artistic practice as a means of challenging the unseen power dynamics and long-term effects of nuclear contamination embedded within a French landscape.


Considering our understanding of sound, Harry Matthews investigates the interplay of choice and control in musical performance. He reflects on a process of re-defining the relationship between performer, score and composer in a way that challenges our preconceptions of noise.



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