The a/r/tographic engagement
Arts based research
‘A/r/t/ography is an arts research methodology emphasizing living inquiry and reflective practice through examination of the in-between spaces of art-making/ researching/ teaching (a/r/t/)’ (Beare 2009). In this study the acts of art[A], research[R] and teaching[T] intermingle, intersect, and combine with reflective writing [graphy] to generate new insight through a personal practice that includes works made through collaboration, co-creation, and individual interpretation.
Creating new ways of knowing through experiential education is valuable for the progress of the field. A/r/tography offers an opportunity to do this through a combination of knowing, making, and doing. It takes influence from Aristotle by adapting the 3 ways of interpreting experience that he described, theoria (knowing), praxis (doing), and poesis (making) (Sullivan, 2000; Irwin, 2004; Schultz, 2020). These three forms of thought are fundamental to textiles education as to develop as a textiles practitioner you need theoria (knowledge of technique, weaving, knitting, printing etc.) praxis (practice of the process, to improve, develop and create) and poesis (making with meaning).
A/r/tography is flexibile; there are no specific rules, steps or methods that are required to be followed (Schultz, 2020) and as practitioner-based research it does not all need to be all about one person (Irwin & Springgay, 2008) meaning the research can engage with communities of practice (Irwin, 2008, Holbrook et al., 2014) through teaching, workshops, and collaboration. Theorizing on these practices allows the organiser to become the author of these experiences and reflecting on them helps invigorate their teaching and learning encounters (Britzman, 2003).
This a/r/tographic engagement is a series of what if’s? Followed by what now? Should I/we do this? And how do I/we resolve this? It is a process of thinking-doing-thinking-doing, an on-going perpetual inquiry.
THE PAST IN LIVING COLOUR
Copying can be good.
Drawing from a pattern archive
can lead to new discoveries. Duration, application, motivation. Do you have what it takes?
The Past in Living Colour: A task was set for for first year students of Textiles, Surface Design and Textile Crafts. The instructions stated, Choose images from Gleneden. Select colours from an alternative source. Produce 2 copies of the chosen image and paint using gouache paint. The first sample should use the original colours, the second with the new colour way.
The Past in Living Colour: Some of the responses to the task provoked questions that could be answered through design practice such as, can successful designs be produced with limited information? Can unintentionally flawed or incomplete samples produce successful design? Can simplifying a fussy design make the response appear more contemporary? What happens when the pattern is ignored and details are enlarged? Through zooming in, is the new work derived from another work still a copy? If marginalia is used as a source of design inspiration how can it be read beyond its original intended function?
A STUDIO IN MOTION
Sometimes your studio just needs
to be wherever you are.
In the park, on the train, sat in class, eating out or staying in.
Make the most of wherever you are and keep your studio in motion.
A Studio in Motion: The studio referred to is a sketchbook that was constructed in 2016 to create and collate drawings made during my daily commute in response to my photographs of Gleneden. Seated on public transport in what became an inherently dynamic mobile pedagogical site (Barney, 2019), often crammed in and uncomfortable, the process of drawing functioned as a means of being productive when following trains of thought between the not yet formed and the formed (Rosenberg, 2008). The portability of the book allowed for work to be created at or in-between destinations whenever there was a suitable opportunity. The informality of the format encouraged frivolous ideas to develop, often emerging from fleeting thoughts or the observations made in review of visual research projects such as The Past in Living Colour.
Most of the drawings were worked on quickly, produced during a train journey of about thirty minutes. Ideas would be put to paper during that window of opportunity. The book was made up of photographs of Gleneden and other paper types including tracing paper and recycled sketchbook pages. Tools of production were pencils, pens, paint, and collage. Work that began in the book could later be edited using an Apple iMac and Adobe Photoshop at a desktop studio.
A STUDIO IN MOTION
Hijack the visual elements, either the painted textile design, written text, stains, or creases. Incorporate elements of these artistic productions from the past into an alternative construction, a détournement of its content.