Research and Enterprise Informed Teaching

 

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One of the key benefits of a university education is that students are immersed in a learning environment informed by cutting edge research. The Cardiff School of Art & Design engages in research at the highest levels; in the last research Assessment Exercise our 75% of our submission under the auspices of WIRAD was judged to be World Leading or Internationally Excellent. CSAD is determined to ensure that our students feel the benefit of this research excellence in both the richness of their education and in their career prospects when they leave us. The case studies below illustrate some of the ways School’s research and teaching agendas meet.

Thinking with John Berger

Research and Teaching at CSAD 

Image: Maria Hayes, Thinking with John Berger Conference sketchbook, Sept 2014

  I was approached by my tutor Chris Glynn to help coordinate an activity he and fellow senior lecturer Dr Natasha Mayo at CSAD had planned to enhance the ‘Thinking with John Berger’ conference at Cardiff Metropolitan University. The ideas generated for this collaboration were inspired by ‘Bento’s Sketchbook’, written and illustrated by John Berger in 2011, a book of text and images exploring the practice of drawing and its potentials.

We encouraged attendees to draw alongside the notes they would normally take at a conference, equipping them with a sketchbook and a separate room of source material and inspiration to immerse themselves in. Our role was to relay the drawn pages to the delegates during the intervals, so they could see their drawings amassing in real-time. We wanted them to put Berger’s compelling notions on visual communication into practice. As his work was at the conference’s core, most attendees were familiar with the original text and embraced the concept of our exercise. Over the two days we began compiling lots of pictures, garnering an extensive back catalogue of images that was used on the same day as a slideshow. These will also be used in a post-event video created by Drawing Partnerships, which aims to reflect on what the participators have drawn, scribbled out or absentmindedly doodled during the conference.

The correlating aspect of the talks was the appropriation of Berger’s diverse critical thinking into the speaker’s artistic discipline or theoretical research. This gave the discussions a rich diversity and easy accessibility, in a spectrum ranging from compulsive hoarding to Gustav Courbet, parental conservations to drawing in the Outer Hebrides, and for me an insight into the world of collaborative research. During the last year, the areas of research I’ve considered have been contained within, and appropriated to my field, and I saw this event as an invaluable opportunity for me to see how other disciplines approach publications, images and text that I’m familiar with, and how they differ in their individual and collective analysis. The notions and theories approached reiterated to me that the practical nature of Illustration easily extends into the depths of theoretical exploration and critical analysis, which I’m eager to infer and demonstrate into my own upcoming projects and nearing dissertation. Following on from the event, I feel like the conference has confirmed to me that my tendency towards research is now a tangible avenue of exploration that I will perpetually pursue during and after my time at CSAD. This notion never crossed me when I enrolled on to a course with the sole intention of becoming a trained practitioner, but now, once my degree is complete I could be leaving the establishment to pursue a career in research.

Rosie Turner on Illustrating Berger

Third year Illustration Student, Rosie Turner, volunteered as a reporter at the “Thinking With John Berger” conference held at Cardiff Met on 4-5th September 2014. Working with fellow student Jen Lewis to illustrate the conference, Rosie describes her experience of the event and benefits of engaging with the research interests of lecturers Chris Glynn and Natasha Mayo.

Research and Teaching Cardiff SCHOOL OF ART AND DESIGN 

The conference although formal had a supportive atmosphere. The environment and melange of delegates was an engaging opportunity to network, generate ideas and find interesting comparisons and connections between disciplines. The conference became more of a conversation than a series of scheduled, separate speakers with each talk leading topically into the next or contrasting it in a way that was thought-provoking; it also allowed the opposites to become necessary for each side of the discussion.

Collaborating on the project closely with tutors was a useful opportunity to discover more about their practice and research interests. Working alongside more experienced practitioners also gave me a much more practical and interactive insight into methods for organising and delivering a live participatory project. As Berger himself said, “You can plan events, but if they go according to plan they are not events.” This is not to say that the activity didn’t go to plan, quite the opposite: the event brought up both expected and unexpected results and in this way planning it was more like planning the ingredients for an event and letting them have dialogue, thus creating the opportunity for creativity and impromptu discoveries.

Through my involvement I gained many new possible research avenues, reference materials and also the experience of both observing and contributing to an academic conference. The topics of discussion both affirmed my areas of interests and broadened my vision of their applications.

What stood out to me from both Berger’s work and the presentations of the delegates was arts’, particularly drawing’s ability to help develop and improve emotional intelligence and empathy. Berger uses drawing as an act of thought, bringing philosophical ideas into tactile reality: he encourages not just looking but seeing, and by seeing we cannot help but become, and improve our understanding. He calls this collaboration. “When once the principle of collaboration has been understood, it becomes a criterion for judging works of any style, irrespective of their freedom of handling. Or rather (because judgement has little to do with art) it offers us an insight for seeing more clearly why painting moves us.” [The Shape of a Pocket, (2002) p20].

To me this is empathy: non-judgemental understanding of being. This quality is evident in drawing when it is done as a method of discovery and when seeing is used as a way of understanding, not simply critiquing.

 

Odoni-Elwell student placements

Odoni-Elwell will soon be hosting two MSc students on work placements, a key element of the MSc course that enables students to develop their skills and gain real-world experience of working in an industry setting. We caught up with Odoni-Elwell to find out more about how the Access to Masters scheme benefits them as a host company.

odoni elwell 

Odoni-Elwell is an SME based in South Wales specialising in the manufacture of multipurpose steel buildings and a range of bike parking equipment, from racks and stands to shelters and large compounds. General Manager, Simon Nurse, explains how, for a company with a small design team, student placements can be enormously beneficial for both product development and the development of the company.

“The student placements create a regular flow of new ideas coming into the organisation. It is a way to inject different personalities and fresh people into the workforce, which is good for a small team”.

“Hosting a student placement encourages the whole company to put aside thinking time and to review our products in a way that we often don’t have time to do”.

Students on placement at Odoni-Elwell are given specific ​products to work on. During the placement, students are supported by a mentor who oversees their work, and they are able to draw on expertise of the company’s staff. For Simon, this is very much a two-way process as the placement gives the company an additional resource to develop a product and creates opportunities for staff development.

“The student placement allows our own staff to extend their management skills. They get experience of managing a discrete project from start to finish and line management experience through the mentoring process. We really value what the students give back to us, both in terms of their ideas and the products they develop”.

 

Fovography: Vision Research

image: Rob Pepperll  

Image: Rob Pepperell

The Fovography project originates in the Fine Art subject in the School of Art and Design. It is an attempt by a group of artists and designers to construct a new form of pictorial perspective based on the structure of human visual perception.

Throughout the autumn term students from CSAD have been involved in the project in a number of ways. Part of the project includes running scientific studies to test how people experience visual space. Students from Illustration, Fine Art and Graphics have taken part as participants, and this has led to them gaining a better understanding of their own perceptual processes. They have reported, for example, that they have realized things about the appearance of objects they had never noticed before. They have also reported that they became aware of the peripheral areas of their visual field and how the appearance of the world is often ‘doubled’ due to the fact we usually see with two eyes. Some Masters students are also working as studio assistants, helping out with designing and constructing experimental apparatus, while others have been involved in workshops and discussions about the philosophical implications of this research.

“It’s been great to involve the students in our research. They’ve acted as participants in our experiments, helped us to design and build prototypes, and contributed ideas and feedback on what we’re doing. It’s also great they get to understand more about how vision works and how people from the arts can contribute to new developments in science and technology.” (Prof. Robert Pepperell)

Members of the fovography team are developing new forms of imaging and display media, and these are being explored by students interested in creating novel ways of presenting the final show degree work.

 

Textiles: International Greetings – Student Perspective

image: Rob Pepperll  

Image: Rob Pepperell

The Fovography project originates in the Fine Art subject in the School of Art and Design. It is an attempt by a group of artists and designers to construct a new form of pictorial perspective based on the structure of human visual perception.

Throughout the autumn term students from CSAD have been involved in the project in a number of ways. Part of the project includes running scientific studies to test how people experience visual space. Students from Illustration, Fine Art and Graphics have taken part as participants, and this has led to them gaining a better understanding of their own perceptual processes. They have reported, for example, that they have realized things about the appearance of objects they had never noticed before. They have also reported that they became aware of the peripheral areas of their visual field and how the appearance of the world is often ‘doubled’ due to the fact we usually see with two eyes. Some Masters students are also working as studio assistants, helping out with designing and constructing experimental apparatus, while others have been involved in workshops and discussions about the philosophical implications of this research.

“It’s been great to involve the students in our research. They’ve acted as participants in our experiments, helped us to design and build prototypes, and contributed ideas and feedback on what we’re doing. It’s also great they get to understand more about how vision works and how people from the arts can contribute to new developments in science and technology.” (Prof. Robert Pepperell)

Members of the fovography team are developing new forms of imaging and display media, and these are being explored by students interested in creating novel ways of presenting the final show degree work.

 

Textiles: International Greetings

International Greetings 

As part of a long-standing relationship with the Ystrad Mynach-based International Greetings, final year Textiles students worked on a term-long project with the company, which is the UK’s largest manufacturer of greetings cards and gift wrap.

The students were invited to design either a range of paper greetings products including a gift wrap roll and sheet; gift bag; gift tag; ribbon; gift bow and greeting card or a collection of eight greetings card.

Sarah Morris; Tiffany Gravenor; Ellie Jarvis and Lauren Bevan selected by Sarah Barker, Head of Creative at International Greetings (UK) and awarded £300 as well as the offer of eight weeks’ work placement at International Greetings, with other runner-up prizes awarded to Elen Davie; Cara Hearne; Ceris Butterworth; Daisy Dando; Nia Hendry; Sam Birch and Emma Bagnall. Esther Young from the creative studio team at International Greetings, said: “We are passionate about sharing our commercial industry knowledge with the students and giving them a live insight into making the transition from university to full time employment.

“The students apply a fresh, unbiased and explorative take on our core products, which is exciting and rewarding to see. Throughout the project, it gives us great pride to observe their creative journey evolve, as they take on board commercial design advice from senior and experienced members of the International Greetings Design Studio.”

 

The performance of Rugby

IestynShawInspired by Prof Andre Stitt’s ‘Painting Performance’ Field Project, third year Fine Art student, Iestyn Shaw, is taking advantage of the expertise and research interests of staff at CSAD and Cardiff School of Sport to build his approach to practice and develop creative solutions to the problems encountered during the production of new work.

Based on Andre’s research exploring the historical, theoretical and practical relationships between painting and performance art, the “Painting Performance” Field Project encouraged participants to consider the physical act of painting, through geasture and abstraction as a performative process. For Iestyn, this presented the opportunity to approach paint in a new way.

“When I first started at CSAD my interest was in painting and printmaking. I never expected to be interested in performance art. Andre’s field project helped me understand more about the process of performance and how artists like Jackson Pollock or Yves Klein used elements of performance in their work but still saw themselves as painters”.

By considering ideas around the energy of the work rather than focussing on a fixed result, Iestyn found a way to combine his two passions – art and rugby – to explore ways to capture motion. This started by using paint and performance techniques to demonstrate the impact of rugby and has developed into using stroboscopic photographic techniques to capture movements and the adjustments of the body in a still image.

“I am interested in the balance between the subject and the uncertainty of the image. By focussing on the process of making the image, it has allowed me to experiment and explore mediums beyond those that I was ‘used to’ when I started my degree”.

Supported by CSAD’s Technician Demonstrator (Photography), Mal Bennett, this led to a collaboration with Cardiff School of Sport Lecturer, Lucy Holmes, and volunteers from Cardiff Met’s rugby team that combines Iestyn’s artistic intent with Lucy’s research into motion analysis and the use of performance analysis and technology to provide feedback to athletes.

“It has been a real learning process and people have been available to help me test ideas and solve the technical problems encountered as the work has developed. Working with Andre, Mal and Lucy has helped to give me the confidence to try different approaches and see my practice in a new way.”

 

Graphic Communication: Work Experience

 

BA Graphic Communication Work Experience  

Led by Ian Weir, the Work Experience Field Project encourages students, with support from their subject teams, to secure work placements with businesses and organisations based in the UK.

During the four-week placement period, student work within one or two organisations. The experience helps artists, designers and makers understand the context in which they will work post-graduation, and to discover the wide range of roles within studios, galleries, museums and other organisations that they might wish to pursue in the future.

Graphic Communications student, Jordon Gazzard, reflects on his work placement with the Cardiff Met’s Student Union design team:

My whole experience with Taz and the Student Union was very positive. I was really nervous before starting this project because I did not know what to expect when designing in an actual workplace. I quickly learnt that working in an in-house design team was fast paced and fairly similar to what I do on my course, and that in-house design teams are heavily relied us to promote events. If we were not around I’m sure everything would fall apart!

We had a major responsibility as designers to get the job done quickly and efficiently and what was interesting was the level of work being produced. I had definitely upped my game and spent more time focusing on attention to detail in my work, which will carry on, through my future designing.

This field project has given me a lot more confidence when talking to others and a lot more confidence in my own abilities as a designer – and most of all the opportunity to see what working life would be like. After this my desire to work as a designer has been confirmed¬. I would recommend work placement to anybody it has been a great learning curve and a wonderfully positive experience for me as I have accepted a job offer from all of my hard work.

Makers Making Maker

As the first cohort of Artist Designer: Maker students prepare to graduate, Ingrid Murphy and Jon Pigott reflect on how the structure of the course and the student’s work has helped to push forward their research and approaches to teaching.

The Artist Designer: Maker course has making at its heart, enabling students to engage with practices drawn from a broad spectrum of creative disciplines including art, design and craft, bridging the gap between traditional skills and new technologies, such as bronze casting, joinery, 3D printing and augmented reality.

The philosophy of the course is driven by the interests of the teaching staff – experimentation with tools and material culture – but also evolves in response to the student’s needs and interests.

Jon explains “Maker is not a traditional discipline. The starting point is the materials and process applied to a range of new and traditional contexts. As a result, the students are continually experimenting with materials, contexts and tools to develop outcomes. This non-hierarchal approach to techniques and disciplines creates an environment where we are constantly exploring new technologies with our students and this informs our own research”.

An example of this is Hannah Morgan’s work inspired by bespoke Wedgewood Jasperware. These traditionally handcrafted objects, have been combined with 3D scanning and CNC milling to create a series of objects decorated with images of students and staff.

Hannah Morgan 

Ingrid also describes how, through working with the students to experiment with Lithophanes, a traditional technique where designs are etched onto very thin, translucent porcelain and can only be seen clearly when back lit with a light source, it became clear that CNC milling could be used to replicate the effect, bringing new technology to bear on a traditional process.

This approach produces a symbiotic relationship where research and practice informs the course and the course informs research and practice. As a result, research has become embedded in the structure of Artist Designer: Maker and has helped to develop the innovative teaching style that the course has become known for. This has been formally recognised by a 2015 National Teaching Fellowship, awarded to Ingrid Murphy for her work into the creation of immersive learning and teaching environments, be they physical, social or virtual that promote engagement for learners.

 

Poppy Farrugia: MSc Product Design

Poppy Farrugia 

In March this year Poppy Farrugia undertook her industrial placement within the Surgical and Prosthetic Department – PDR as part of her MSc in Product Design. Dominic Eggbeer (Head of Surgical and Prosthetics – PDR) introduced Poppy to Tom Wheeler who sustained a brachial plexus injury 4 years ago following a mountain bike accident, leaving his right arm paralysed. Since then Tom has developed a bespoke carbon fiber arm brace that allows him to cycle again due to the lack of products available to aid his rehabilitation.

Poppy was tasked with developing new knowledge in the area of custom orthotic devices for individuals living with brachial plexus injuries, and understanding how rehabilitation devices can better meet the aspirations of users whilst being sympathetic of c​ost. Applying the research skills and knowledge from her university experience, Poppy found justification for the project identifying a need and unravelling problems and tribulations within current products that aid rehabilitation.Currently the market lacks sports specific arm orthoses, as a result individuals with this type of injury have to immobilise the limb causing additional strain on their unaffected arm.

Poppy’s work set out to explore ways to resolve these issues, the final design is customisable, easy to adjust singlehandedly and enables the individual to regain bilateral arm use whilst cycling. The final design to date has been entirely 3D printed using SLA (Stereolithography). Poppy would like to thank Dominic Eggbeer, Tom Wheeler and PDR for their support throughout the project.

Find out more about the project at www.poppyfarrugia.co.uk