Practice-as-Research – The Research

By 10th May 2022 May 23rd, 2022 Musings

I’m part of a really exciting Building Research Culture project with Leeds Art University. The aim of this project is to support the development of emerging researchers, LAU’s research environment and the formulation of new narratives in artistic and curatorial knowledge production through collaborative working, and the sharing of expertise and models of research practice. I’m one of five artists involved who are already developing artistic research methodologies in their work (not necessarily in an academic environment) in the process of demystifying the notion of research.I can’t lie… I was flattered when the University reached out to me! It’s always nice to feel recognised, isn’t it?

It’s got me thinking a lot about ‘practice-as-research’, and what it even means? And what it is exactly that I do?  And how? And why? True to form, I’ve done a little reading around to get the thoughts going, and highlighted a few points made that feel relevant to me…


Clough, A. and Piper, A., 2016. Introduction to Make, Mistake, Journey: Practice-led research and ways of learning. Networking Knowledge, [online] 9(3), pp.1-4. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 May 2022].

  • “Similarly, an increasing focus on the relationship between mind, body, and world has led to questions about the role of the researcher, and challenges to academia’s requirement for objectivity and ‘truth’.Studies increasingly acknowledge or embrace the presence of the researcher, or use the body itself as the means of doing research. In these studies, knowledge is both produced and received through the body, in a reflexive and iterative process.”
  • “But while practice-led methodologies have promoted new ways of knowing through doing, they have also highlighted a number of epistemological questions:• How can theory and practice be integrated and used together holistically?• How can the merit of practice-led methods be judged within a quantitative academic framework?• How can practice-led research processes and outputs be understood as equivalent to –rather than supplementary to –the written word?• What are the limits of practice-led research?”
  • “In practice-led research, ‘knowing’ implies subjectivity, multiplicity, intuition, evocation and emotion. The challenge continues to be that of developing, revitalising, or perhaps even re-enchanting the ways we think about, communicate and qualify academic knowledge.”

Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P., 2010. Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research [online], 12(1), Art. 10, Available at: <>[Accessed 7 May 2022].

  • “Autoethnography is an approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyze (graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (ethno) (ELLIS, 2004; HOLMAN JONES, 2005). This approach challenges canonical ways of doing research and representing others (SPRY, 2001) and treats research as a political, socially-just and socially-conscious act (ADAMS & HOLMAN JONES, 2008). A researcher uses tenets of autobiography and ethnography to do and write autoethnography. Thus, as a method, autoethnography is both process and product. [1]”
  • “In particular, they wanted to concentrate on ways of producing meaningful, accessible, and evocative research grounded in personal experience, research that would sensitize readers to issues of identity politics, to experiences shrouded in silence, and to forms of representation that deepen our capacity to empathize with people who are different from us (ELLIS & BOCHNER, 2000). Autoethnographers recognize the innumerable ways personal experience influences the research process.”
  • “Even though some researchers still assume that research can be done from a neutral, impersonal, and objective stance (ATKINSON, 1997; BUZARD, 2003; DELAMONT, 2009), most now recognize that such an assumption is not tenable (BOCHNER, 2002; DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2000; RORTY, 1982). Consequently, autoethnography is one of the approaches that acknowledges and accommodates subjectivity, emotionality, and the researcher’s influence on research, rather than hiding from these matters or assuming they don’t exist. [3]”
  • “For the most part, those who advocate and insist on canonical forms of doing and writing research are advocating a White, masculine, heterosexual, middle/upper-classed, Christian, able-bodied perspective. Following these conventions, a researcher not only disregards other ways of knowing but also implies that other ways necessarily are unsatisfactory and invalid. Autoethnography, on the other hand, expands and opens up a wider lens on the world, eschewing rigid definitions of what constitutes meaningful and useful research; this approach also helps us understand how the kinds of people we claim, or are perceived, to be influence interpretations of what we study, how we study it, and what we say about our topic (ADAMS, 2005; WOOD, 2009). [4].” Autoethnographical research-practice is accessible, participatory and diverse.
  • “Autoethnography, as method, attempts to disrupt the binary of science and art. Autoethnographers believe research can be rigorous, theoretical, and analytical and emotional, therapeutic, and inclusive of personal and social phenomena.””
  • The questions most important to autoethnographers are: who reads our work, how are they affected by it, and how does it keep a conversation going? [39]”
  • Is my practice autoethnographical in nature, except the community I’m working with is that of the non-human?

Patel, S., 2015. The research paradigm – methodology, epistemology and ontology – explained in simple language. [online] Dr Salma Patel. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 May 2022].


Andersson, M., 2011. What is an artistic research question?. [online] Magnus Andersson. Available at: <> [Accessed 7 May 2022].

  • “A well formulated research question helps us gain new knowledge, it outlines the method, and it makes the artistic practice even more relevant than mere artistic interpretation.”
  • “ORCiM has suggested that “Artistic research is research where the artist makes the difference.”
  • “If research is successful it gives birth to new research.”
  • “What is often said, that there is beauty in simplicity, is not always necessarily true. Measuring the amount of saliva or the hormones that are produced during a kiss may result in exact measures but the graphs will be very poor explanations of a kiss. Too many researchers have come to love their answers, their 42 answers, without remembering what their questions were. Others merely ask questions that they can answer, and thus they avoid the questions that really matter.”
  • Is this not how we very often begin? Our question is a mere hunch rather than a full-fledged question.
  • “In artistic research, an answer can be a question. Last weekend I taught a tango seminar. For the first three hours we tried to figure out how to differentiate between the lead of SHOW (bent knee) and SHOW (straight leg). Assuming that we were conducting a class in artistic research, did we have a research question? Or did we commence the research process with the answer and from there worked to find appropriate questions for our answer? What may look like an answer may indeed be a question, and the contrary may also be true”

Taylor & Francis. 2022. Creative Practice as Research: Discourse on Methodology. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 May 2022].

  • Practice-led research focuses on the nature of creative practice, leading to new knowledge of operational significance for that practice, in order to advance knowledge about or within practice. The results of practice-led research may be communicated in a critical exegesis without inclusion of the creative artefact, though the creative practice is an integral part of the research. In practice-based research, the creative artefact is the basis of the contribution to knowledge. This method is applied to original investigations seeking new knowledge through practice and its outcomes.
  • the creative act is an experiment (whether or not the work itself is deemed ‘experimental’) designed to answer a directed research question about art and the practice of it, which could not otherwise be explored by other methods. We create art to connect with others, to connect with ourselves, and often just for the sake of it. We experiment with our art in order to push boundaries, to ask questions, to learn more about our art and our role within it. This is nothing new. What emerges, then, from this methodology, is the exegesis that accompanies the creative work: that knowledge that has remained implicitly within the artist, made explicit and seated within the context of the scholarly field.

I did have much more on my reading list but (no offense to the authors) a lot of the stuff on this topic is DRY… I have got some footholds here though to work from.

Now what can I draw out of all of that? How do I work? Where am I situated? I’ll shall ponder this in a separate post!


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