Thinking Through Writing and Making – Alison’s Perspective

I too attended the workshops and found them to be really useful. Many of our ‘direct entry’ students up here in Scotland have little or no experience of critical theory when they come to us from an HND course, so engaging with academic writing can be extremely challenging, even more so if they are dyslexic, as some are.

I hope to work with our Effective Learning tutor this coming year, when we offer a summer school for these students. I’ll take what I learned from the day and expand on some of the excellent ideas from Pat’s workshop, I’ve already suggested that they buy her book, as I have. It will be my companion all through my PhD. It’s rekindled my love of John Berger for a start!

 The collage workshop in the afternoon, I found particularly difficult to engage with; this is my own doing and no fault of the workshop itself, which was excellent, offering as it did, convincing references and arguments as to why collage is good for reflective thinking. Trouble is; this is what I’m doing as part of my qualitative inquiry for my own research; using collage to think, to articulate what I can’t say out loud, sometimes because I just don’t know but other times, it’s because it’s just too hard to find the words, let alone say them.

 So, because this method of reflection is embedded in my poor brain, I found that I couldn’t just ‘go with the flow’ and enjoy it, I took it far too seriously. So much so that I took scissors to my concertina book, cutting into its form, almost deconstructing it. (there’s a paper in there somewhere!)


But all was not lost, I came home and reflected on my response and this has fed into the research. So maybe I did engage with it after all but not in the way intended? It was heartening to watch all the delegates immerse themselves in their collages; you should do it more often guys!

 I came back up to Scotland invigorated and inspired, hopefully I will be able to pass this feeling onto my students and they too will benefit from some lateral thinking.

Thanks folks!

Alison F Bell

Artist & PhD candidate

University of the West of Scotland.


1 comment
  1. Sarah Williamson, University of Huddersfield said:

    Dear Alison
    This article is ‘hot off the press’ – don’t know if you have seen it:

    MacKenzie, S. K., & Wolf, M. (2012). Layering sel(f)ves: Finding acceptance, community and praxis through collage. The Qualitative Report, 17(Art. 31), 1-21.

    And the forthcoming book I mentioned to you which has a chapter on the use of collage with PhD students is :

    Clover, D. and Sanford, K. (2012 forthcoming) Eds. Lifelong learning, the arts, and community cultural development in the contemporary university. Manchester University Press.

    Some of the chapters headings are
    Using collage-making to enhance the exploration of research questions on an interdisciplinary skills training course for PhD students
    Creative Pathways: Developing Lifelong Learning for Community Dance Practitioners
    Crossing a Cultural Divide: Transgressing the Margins into Public Spaces Fosters Adult Learning
    Liberate the Tate: Adult education, disobedience in the art gallery
    Dwelling in Possibility: Exploring Artistic Modes of Teaching and Learning in the Adult Education Classroom
    Fear of Glue, Fear of Thread: Using and teaching arts-based adult education in the university classroom
    Midwifing Creative Scholarship: Arts-based Research in the Academy

    Thought they might be of interest! All the best with your work,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: