chapter  20
15 Pages

WRITING AND THE PhD IN FINE ART

ByKATY MACLEOD, LIN HOLDRIDGE

This chapter will address the role of writing in the formulation of a PhD in Fine Art. It will view writing as part of a negotiation between setting out the thesis as research proof and critical engagement with it through conceiving and making art. Through brief but detailed analyses of five submitted PhDs and an insight into two current studies, it will adumbrate how the role of the researcher is embedded in the enquiry; that this is essential to the ‘unfinished business’ of the research (Chapter 3). The chapter will demonstrate how an artist who is in pursuit of further art research will not have produced an argument and drawn conclusions so much as provided a provocation to produce more art, contingent to the changed conditions s/he has effected through the PhD (Chapter 14). We will provide details of this process. We will also claim it demonstrates a critical reflexivity which is touched upon by a number of chapters in this book, notably by Morwenna Griffiths (Chapter 10). However, where Griffiths is concerned to clarify research distinctions between, say, critical reflection and critical reflexivity, we deploy the latter as an encompassing term which registers the way in which the PhDs cited here turn back to engage critically both with their own purposes and institutional contexts. This is partly due to those purposes of art research which refuse the convention of a written thesis, also the shifting of the central focus of research from sources external to it, to the art, which then becomes the enquiry, itself. It is not our intention to provide a theoretical exegesis to identify such art research, nor will this chapter present an argument which draws clear conclusions in that sense. However, we will provide insight into the value of critically reflexive PhDs whose formulation of questions outweighs the more conventional demonstration of an argument, proving that satisfactory research has been produced and that training has been completed; hence, the case studies have been selected to demonstrate certain critically reflexive qualities, which are enhanced by an appropriate deployment of writing.