Creative Placemaking metrics research with UVA

This month I start a new research role, with University of Virginia, Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture and the Thriving Cities Project, a three-phased project that is looking at the scope of creative placemaking.

Over the past several years, the rise of creative placemaking (CPM) within community development has captured the attention of artists, cities, and community activists. However, as CPM has gained popularity, questions over the definition and effectiveness of CPM have grown. At this point in time, there is a need within the fields of the arts and community development to draw the various scholarly and popular definitions and assessments of Creative Placemaking (CPM) into one place. The scope of this project is provide the foundational work for collecting and examining the different approaches and designations of CPM into one place.

The first phase of the project is a mapping CPM field. That is, what are the main uses and major theoretical camps of CPM and how is CPM often deployed in practice and by whom? What too are the determinants of success (i.e. what metrics are used in evaluation) that accompany the different variations of CPM?

The second phase will identify gaps in the field, what CPM as a whole often misses in relation to art and community development, its unchallenged assumptions, and known deficits. This phase will then go on to signpost emerging frontiers of research, practice, and assessment that are either aiming to fill the gaps articulated or that are happening in response to other developments.

The third and final phase will offer interpretations and recommendations. The interpretation will be of the conceptualization and corresponding quantitative and qualitative assessment of CPM. The recommendations will offer a slate of 10-15 best metrics (along with rationales) for evaluating CPM projects in particular and cultural vitality in general.

The research questions are as follows:

1.       How is creative placemaking defined? What, if any, are the main theoretical camps in these definitions?

2.       What claims are made of creative placemaking outcomes and outputs?

3.       How is creative placemaking measured? What are the metrics applied? What are the gaps or anomalies in this activity?

4.       What creative placemaking projects represent best practice in outcomes/outputs and evaluations/metrics?

If you would like to contribute to this research, by way of sources, definitions, project examples, metric examples (either in placemaking or from another sector that would be a source of learning) or opinion for example, please get in touch. Please also share this post with colleagues far and wide.

The research project will be completed by January 2017.

If you would like to be part of this project, please contact Cara via this website or email me via clc5ee@virginia.edu. 

Placemaking and heritage

This week I was part of a panel brought together by RSA Brighton and Hove, to talk at its Are we making the most of our heritage assets in the south east? event, held at The Royal Pavilion, Brighton.

The panel was comprised of Gareth Maeer, Head of Research, the Heritage Lottery Fund; Janita Bagshawe, Head of Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton; Jonathan Schifferes, Associate Director, Public Services and Communities, the RSA; Isilda Almeida-Harvey, Outreach and Learning Officer, East Sussex Record Office at The Keep; and myself.

Questions of the evening were: what will heritage look like in 50 years’ time?; how can we connect our heritage to place-based growth?; how do we leverage heritage assets for the best economic, as well as social, outcomes?; what type of dividend is it reasonable to expect from our heritage assets?; and how will we preserve the long-term future of our assets?

My response to this focused on cultural activities and placemaking, my short speech given below, starting with an introduction to a current placemaking and heritage project of mine, Modern Brighton and Hove map. 

________

 

Modern Brighton and Hove is in its material form a map of architecture of note from the last 100 years in the city. It’s a project that I am working on with Paul Zara from Conran&Partners, fellow RSA Fellow, placemaker Richard Wolfstrome, and Brighton-based architectural photographer, Jim Stephenson.

The double-sided map will feature around 50 buildings from all over the city, from art deco and Modernist of the 30’s to contemporary architecture from this century. It will include images of these buildings, a note on what they are, who the architect was and why the building is considered significant – and significant here does not just mean ‘big’ or ‘obvious’ - and it will have an introduction putting contemporary architecture in architectural context and in the context of the city’s history.

We crowdsourced the longlist of buildings with RIBA members; and gathered a curatorial panel to decide on the final listing. Buildings include anything from residential builds from the 30’s such as Embassy Court and Furze Hill, to the Library, some contentious ones too, such as New England House and Kings West and the Odeon, and the i360, and education and religious builds, from Sussex University to the Reform Synagogue.

But the map is more than its material form. The map is designed to be used as a walking exploration of the city and its heritage built environment through its contemporary architecture.

It will have trails by area and architecture type for people to walk. It will have a public engagement programme running alongside it.

It also tells a different story to the one usually said about Brighton and Hove, that of its more distant Victorian and Regency past. It will include centres of regeneration such as New England House, it will include self-builds and social housing and new builds, and eco houses and the Waste House.

The map then is a heritage activity. And it’s the notion of cultural activity that my response to these questions focuses on.

To be able to know what our heritage of the future will look like, we need to discuss the nature of our past, present and future and our cultural values around this, how they shape what we deem to be heritage. Those were large discussions we had in forming the map, and it’s an aim of the map to generate these questions in those that use it too.

So when I think of heritage, I not only think of building stock, but of cultural activities – and these have a huge part to play in making the city the place that it is, giving it that sense of place that so many are attracted to, and has kept me here for 23 years. Our cultural activities are anything from Pride and Trans Pride and the Children’s Parade to the nudist beach and paddle boarding to the Festival and Fringe, and the numerous community festivals that take place across all the neighbourhoods here, and the city-wide street art gallery.

Heritage can be big and small too. Up the hill from here we have the demolished and replaced Amex buildings. Just further along from them, ‘Rest Awhile On Your Journey’, the orange wavy bench placed at Ashton Rise, in memory of Paul Hooker, who was the Vice Chair of the Tarner Area Partnership, the group specifically dedicated to the needs of the Tarner area. Both big and small, and in equally valid ways, what the Amex and wavy bench heritage represents affects and has affected many thousands of people, economically and socially.

My response to questions on how to work with built heritage as an asset, for social or economic growth, my response is again a cultural one, and in that, using the method of a truly participative placemaking to uncover the meaning of place for people, as well as shape that place with those people too.

Placemaking is both a framework and a hands on tool then for working with place old and new. It addresses not just urban design but the physical, cultural, and social identities that define a place. At its best it’s a collaborative process that joins all stake holders of a place.

Its bespoke too, responding to the heritage and sense of place that is unique to that place.

Placemaking will show you that there is no universal method for working with heritage. It will show you though thousands of examples, of all scales and sites, of all sizes of budgets, from all over the world, that harness creative and community skills and knowledges to work with place and to make it better.

Not all have an economic imperative, and not all should. To have positive social outcomes is valid in its own right. Yet with or without an economic imperative, placemaking – if done properly - can contribute to the health of a place – cultural and community and individual, and as a consequence, an economic benefit too.

Placemaking demands for people not to be satisfied with the first designs that they see; to not be satisfied with ‘anywhere architecture’ that belies the architectural and cultural character of a place; and to demand more by way of consultation than a formal and controlled exercise of CAD images on foam board, on display for certain hours of limited days

It demands that people, get hands on with these issues together, to create and shape the places that people really want to be in, whether that’s to work, play, live or shop in.

Thinking of the situation in the city right now, this city will look very different in five, ten, fifty years’ time. New demands are being made of the heritage assets that we have here and these are pressing to respond to the changing functions we have of the city pertaining to housing, infrastructure, and all types of businesses, as well as the more overarching wellbeing of the city’s residents.

The map is one mechanism for the debate of what the city will look like in the short and long term.

 

Call for Papers - second Academic Archers conference

Call for Papers: The Archers in fact and fiction: Academic analyses of life in rural Borsetshire

Dr Cara Courage, University of Virginia, and Dr Nicola Headlam, University of Oxford, with Prof Carenza Lewis, University of Lincoln, invite the submission of abstracts to a seminar on the subject of BBC Radio 4’s The Archers.

The second Academic Archers seminar will feature a strand on the Helen and Rob storyline alongside papers from any and all other aspects of life in Ambridge and Borsetshire. Submissions are invited from any academic discipline and of the following formats:

·         Keynote (45 minutes, incl. Q+A)

·         Paper (15 minutes with 5 minute Q+A)

·         Quick pitches (5 minutes)

Papers might include but are by no means limited to:

·         Clicktivism and crowd-sourcing philanthropy

·         Archers tribes – ethnographic accounts of a fandom differentiated by online activity

·         The housing crisis in South Borsetshire

·         Route B as “local democracy as usual”

·         Are all educated older women permanently stoned?

·         Rural and village economics, from the village store to agribusiness

·         Divisions of labour on a family farm

·         The implications of coercive control for the legal and penal system

This list is not meant to be exclusive or exhaustive, but is meant to inspire you to think how your academic research, sector professional expertise or listener forensic knowledge of The Archers can illuminate and explain life in Ambridge and Borsetshire. The day is intended to give fans of The Archers a platform to exercise their love of the programme and their subject area.

The seminar will take place at University of Lincoln, 17th to 19th February 2017 and will include a field trip.

If you are a fellow Archers fan and/or academic please submit your abstract of 200 words to cara@caracourage.net, headlams@gmail.com and clewis@lincoln.ac.uk by 1st November, indicating the type of presentation you are intending. Programming will be determined by an Academic Archers panel and will be communicated by mid-November.

Further information on Academic Archers can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AcademicArchers/.

 

AAG 2017 CfP - Metrics of place: measuring and evaluating placemaking

DR Anita McKeown and I will be back at AAG next year and have a call for papers out for that addressing issues of measuring and evaluating placemaking, details below: 

AAG 2017 CfP - Metrics of place: measuring and evaluating placemaking
American Association of Geographers annual conference, 5th to 9th April 2017, Boston

This session asks what metrics of placemaking, and in accordance with the co-convenors particular research interests, creative placemaking, are and how they are being measured.

The ‘creative’ in urban planning is a ‘fuzzy’ ‘buzzword’ (Lilliendahl Larsen, 2014, p.330), one that is used systemically through concepts of vitality and vibrancy to articulate how arts and culture change the qualities of place, such as with the Vitality Indices in the US and UK (Gilmore, 2014, p.20), Arts Council England’s recent metrics, and Vital Signs Evaluative Matrix (McKeown, 2015). In the culturised city (Zukin, 2009), culture and ‘the arts’ become part of the city’s symbolic and fiscal economy. Creativity in the city though is also a site of resistance to culturisation, a ‘call and response among different social groups’ (Zukin, 1995, p.264) to find, create and maintain sites of different cultural value through new city visualisations (Stern, in Lowe and Stern, in Finkelpearl, 2013, p.146). Further, existing paradigms (Scientific/Social Science) and their evaluative aims maybe irrelevant.  Placemaking occurs within a complex dynamic system – with causal relationships difficult to establish and baselines from which to measure impact hard to define within dynamic non-stable contexts existing evaluation aims, creative acts of placemaking may require an entirely new approach. 

The session aims to include both qualitative and quantitative research and project evaluations, as well as methodologies, from researchers and sector professionals, as well as critiques of the same. 

Please submit an abstract for consideration, of no more than 250 words, by 24th October, to cara@caracourage.net and anita@smartlab-ie.com. Successful applicants will be informed by 7th November for their timely registration to AAG 2017.

Please note: all presenter places at the conference will need to be self-funded, with registration fees paid in advance, November 2017. 

RGS 2016

This last week saw Dr Anita McKeown, University College Dublin, and I convene two sessions over four panels at the Royal Geographical Society international conference. These curated sessions looked through two lens into the meeting of arts and geography through theory, research and practice, papers from academics, artists and artist-academics – and presented as both prose, verse, performance and film – and closed with a world café group discussion on issues raised in the day and around this converging of practices in general.

Feedback from participants and audience alike has been overwhelmingly positive and long-lasting connections were made on the day. Anita and I certainly have a lot to think on now about how to progress these ideas further and will be working with the group to do so – watch this space!

The day started with ‘Sensory orientations: transversal practices and dissemination within art and geography’:

·         Breaking the Frame: Spatial Ideology and Resistant Practice-led Research Approaches, Lucy Livingstone (University of Northumbria, UK)

·         Guide74: a mountain recording activity, Luce Choules (Independent Artist)

·         Collaborative Narration –An Artist's Practice, Jane Dudman (Newcastle University, UK)

·         (Re)Art (Re)Geography (Re)Performance, Charlie Rawson (Independent Artist)

The following three panels were under the ‘The Nexus of Art and Geography: practice as research’ session:

·         Art without artists? An experiment in facilitating community-led arts commissioning, Phil Jones (University of Birmingham, UK)

·         A translocal approach to dialogue-based art, Rachelle Knowles (Coventry University, UK)

·         Qualitative representation in the space between arts practice and geography, John Stell (University of Leeds, UK)

·         CRYSTALLINE - The Arctic Circle, Siobhan McDonald (Independent Artist)

·         Interrogating Territory: Borders, fictions and contradictions, Anne Gough (Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden)

·         Brokering Connections: public art as a nexus of knowledge production, Elaine Speight (University of Central Lancashire, UK)

·         Mapping the Scottish Borders: collaborative art practices, Inge Panneels (Northumbria University, UK)

·         Always Outsiders: Map-less Social Practice Art in the Ancient Landscape of a Global Geopark, Stephen Pritchard (Northumbria University)

·         Bodies of Water, Amy Sharrocks (Independent Artist)

·         Visualising Changing Identities, Communities and Labour Practices on Dublins' Docks, Moira Sweeney (Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland)

·         Expeditions as Art: Impacts of Fieldwork by Artist-Geographers in Our New Ecological Reality, Andrew Ranville (Independent Artist)

·         Breaks, flows, interruptions: Discovering new questions through collaborative research, Sally Labern and Bobby Lloyd (The Drawing Shed)

Walk a Mile in Her Veil

This weekend at the Walking Women festival as part of Somerset House’s Utopia programme, I was given the opportunity to wear a burka, through Yasmeen Sabri and her Walk a Mile in Her Veil project.

What follows below is a prose piece on the thoughts and emotions I was feeling in the hours after wearing the burka. It is offered not as any definitive position on wearing the veil – that position is not for me to take and nor would I advocate for any such a reductive reasoning. Nor is this offered as any form of ‘dress up’ cultural appropriation or as an act of white, western cultural imperialism. It is offered as an account of the experience from my intersectional self – I had my own conflicted feminist thoughts on the veil and it felt imperative, on being offered the chance to wear one, that I should take this to give me a slight insight into it as an embodied experience at least.

I am aware my terminology for the elements of the burka are clumsy – I have found conflicting terms for the components of the burka online so remain unsure how to navigate around this and have used the words we used in conversation on the day. I also refer to the category of woman in the widest understanding.

I first put on the dress of the burka. Wore it as a smock over my clothes. It was light and roomy. Lots of room in the arms – I didn’t know if I was expecting this or not. It was down to my feet and I walked a few steps, a naturally ‘wading’ motion as it felt so long I was cautious to not step on it.

On putting on the eye veil, the first thing I noticed was its pressing against my eye lashes. It was pressing them down and into my eyes slightly. It felt very close to my skin, very ‘on me’. I adjusted it slightly and it became comfortable. The veil was like gauze. I could still see, but it was a black filter to my vision.

The veil was tied close but not tight to my head. The smock was then pulled up and over my head from its material around my shoulders. I noticed then the layers of the smock and the veil more, how different the textures of the fabrics were. Yasmeen then took strands of the fabric at the head of the smock and moved these under the head covering and behind my ears to tie the strands behind the head covering, again, close but not too tight to my head. We laughed that she was battling against my quiff and worked to hide it. She then moved away and I realised I was dressed.

I walked to the mirror – I emerged into its frame and did not see myself. I was there but I did not recognise myself. I was a black form of my height, my shape, such as it was, beginning from my head in a gentle triangle. I could see my hands holding my phone. But not my wrists or forearms. I could see the toe of one shoe. I could see my eyes in the shadow behind the veil. I found it hard to look at myself then.

I turned to look around. I took some steps. It was easier to walk now. It felt very much that I was ‘looking out’. Sound was slightly muffled. Sight was through the black filter, but not dark or darkened – colour was still bright. No one looked at me – I did not know if this was ‘cos they weren’t looking or weren’t caring, of if the veil made me invisible or if, as this was an ‘activity’ at a conference, they were blind or blasé to me.

I wanted to look at myself again now. It was easier this time. I looked more closely at myself as a figure and at the detailing of the veil. It had sparkles on its hem. I tuned side to side, as I would looking in the mirror when trying any garment on. My feeling then was of an appreciation of this garment. It was comfortable around my body. But it was starting to get hot. I noticed how tired and old my eyes looked –‘even’ under the veil, there was vanity. I found my eyes hard to look at, I was confronting issues of myself by only being able to zone in on them in the gaze I scrutinized on myself.

I recalled how one person I thought would be challenged by the hijab, on eyeing someone wear it, they way to understand it was to say it was no different than their mother wearing a headscarf. I did not know if that was a good or bad way of understanding – it was culturally reductive but also, if it helped them normalise the veil in their purview, was that, in its limited way, a good thing?

Yasmeen told me how some women took food and ate under the veil. Someone next to me asked how people wore glasses and the veil.

I lifted the gauze veil over my head in an effort to get fresh air. This did give some relief. I sat down. A woman next to me in a hijab and I talked about how we felt safe wearing our scarfs and veils. Taking it off felt exposing.

Wearing it felt different, but not odd. I felt separate and abstracted, but the diversion, the break from the male gaze, was welcome and comfortable, I felt safe and protected. I reflected too that whist I no longer felt the individual and direct lascivious male gaze on me in my daily life as an object of desire, I do feel the omnipotent and structural male gaze on me that shames me for my body size and shape. I realised this was just like when I wear my ‘big clothes’ when I am self body shaming. Though I did not think this was a motivation for others necessarily, I wondered if this reprieve from being on show was welcomed in others as it was with me. We talked about how if you wear the veil you can and should be able to wear it as you wish; how telling someone to wear it, or not wear it, was an equal act against a woman’s autonomy. The experience was profound and ambivalent. I felt honoured to have had the experience, to ‘walk a mile in her veil’, and the opportunity for it as a means of cultural understanding. Later, from a sense of weighty and immense connection to my woman self and the women of the world, I wanted to cry. 

Expression of interest - call for artists

Papplewick Green and Annesley Festival of Place and schools workshops: call for artists expressions of interest

 

This document comprises the information to calls for expressions of interest for projects across twos sites in the Ashfield area of Nottinghamshire. Artists are invited to respond to one or both of the opportunities, and if responding to both, indicate how a programme of linked activity could be formed.

 

1 – Festival of Place

Precis

The communities of Papplewick Green and Annesley, Nottinghamshire, are involved in a creative public consultation for public art and placemaking interventions on two new, large-scale housing developments.

As part of this consultation process, a day of creative and place-based activities will be held at the end of July to engage the communities in the place in which they live. The purpose of these days and activities is to foster and galvanise a sense of place on the new housing developments and to begin conversations about the commissioning of public art/placemaking interventions on these sites. As new housing developments, these are new communities, so these days will offer an opportunity for neighbours to meet, as well as for conversation about the public art commissions to take place.

Site information and indicative images can be found below. The commissioning is taking place through Open Plan and consultants Cara Courage and Richard Wolfstrome, for Ashfield District Council.

Artists commissions

We are seeking socially -orientated arts activities for all ages that will engage residents, though creative activities and interventions, principally in where they live and, more widely, the public art/placemaking commissions (principally, what form they might take, where they might be sited).

These activities can be from any artform and delivered through performance, installation or workshop for example.

Activities will take place during a weekend day (Saturday, 10th September, Annesley; Sunday, 11th September, Papplewick Green) and should be suitable for all ages, in mixed or age-specific groups. There is the potential for a night-time illuminated installation to be left in place at both sites.

In response to this brief, artists are encouraged to propose one or more activities, to work over one or both sites. If you are proposing more than one activity, please however indicate which is your preferred.

Due to the short deadline for these commissions, it is anticipated that responses will be activity that can be easily replicated from an existing portfolio, with simple adaptions to site if required.

Further commissions over the summer and into the start of the school term will be sought in due course: these will be aimed at art interventions that can be left in place to continue place-based conversations, and schools making workshops leading to a children’s procession.

Fee

A daily rate of £150pd of delivery is available, with addition budget lines for materials and travel.

Response requirements

Please submit a response of no more than three A4 pages, with any images (no larger than 300dpi), attached separately. In your response, please indicate:

1.       description of activity and how it meets the brief;

2.       age range(s) aimed at;

3.       duration of activity;

4.       materials and travel budget;

5.       any prior to delivery activity required (on-site or off, but that would involve any element of project management);

6.       artists biography and link to website(s).

Deadline

·         Deadline for expressions of interest: 12 pm, 5th August

·         Commissioning: no later than 12th August

Please send expressions of interest to Cara Courage, cara@caracourage.net.

Site information

Papplewick Green: The daytime activities will be sited on a grassed area on the housing estate, with an option of using the school hall in wet weather. The site also includes a wild grass area and river and links to a community-managed woodland. The night-time installation will be sited on a grassed area.

Annesley: The daytime activities will be sited on a grassed area on the housing estate, with an option of using a nearby new-build parish hall for wet weather option and/or a separate event on the same day (TBC). The night-time installation will be sited on a grassed area.

  

2 – Schools workshops

Precis

The communities of Papplewick Green and Annesley, Nottinghamshire, are involved in a creative public consultation for public art and placemaking interventions on two new, large-scale housing developments.

As part of this consultation process, a series of creative workshops with pupils from a number of local schools are proposed. The schools are both Primary and Secondary schools.

The purpose of the workshops is to engage the pupils in creative activities that will help foster a sense of place and connection to the new housing developments, on which many of them will be resident and on which one of the primary schools is sited, and to garner their ideas towards the creation of a brief for the public art and placemaking commissions.

Site information and indicative images can be found below. The commissioning is taking place through Open Plan and consultants Cara Courage and Richard Wolfstrome, for Ashfield District Council.

Artists commissions

We are seeking an artist, collective of artists or an arts organisation that can run a standalone creative activity, the theme and content of which will engage the pupils in where they live.

The workshops:

·         can be from any artform;

·         will take place over three half-day sessions, in the mid to latter two weeks of September;

·         could take place both in and out of school hours;

·         will take place at both at a school site and community centre location, and close to grassed areas that could be also be used;

·         and the final workshop should include a procession or presentation of the work created to family and the local community.

Due to the short deadline for these commissions, it is anticipated that responses will be activity that can be easily replicated from an existing portfolio, with simple adaptions to site if required.

Fee

A daily rate of £150pd of delivery is available, with addition budget lines for materials and travel.

Response requirements

Please submit a response of no more than three A4 pages, with any images (no larger than 300dpi), attached separately. In your response, please indicate:

7.       description of activity and how it meets the brief;

8.       age range(s) aimed at (Primary, Secondary or both);

9.       materials and travel budget;

10.   any prior to delivery activity required (on-site or off, but that would involve any element of project management);

11.   artists biography and link to website(s).

Deadline

·         Deadline for expressions of interest: 12 pm, 5th August

·         Commissioning: no later than 12th August

Please send expressions of interest to Cara Courage, cara@caracourage.net.

Site information

Papplewick Green: the housing development site comprises of a primary school and two large grassed areas next to the school and nearby- these can be used for delivery. The site also includes a wild grass area and river and links to a community-managed woodland. The workshops may also take place in other school sites.

Annesley: the housing development site comprises a large grassed area, a nearby modern community centre with two adjacent greens, and school sites.  

 

 

Papplewick Green images

 

 

Annesley images

 

 

Placemaking in a new place

I start this month working on a community consultation and engagement project that is using public art as a means to create a sense of place and community in two new housing developments in Nottinghamshire. 

The new town sites are Annesley and Hucknall and the first stage work for over the summer and into the autumn is to create the public art commissioning brief with communities using a creative placemaking framework.

I'm part of a team on this, working with Richard Wolfstrome and Open Plan.

 

 

Tate Switch House

Last week I had the joy of going to see the Tate Modern's new extension, the Switch House. I saw it in full action of performances and so mobbed by the art crowd attending that I saw the circulation areas being put to the test (and largely, succeeding). 

I wrote a short review of the building for Guardian Opinion, focusing not just on the architecture but the ambition for the arts of the space, to include live and performance art and a socially-leaning art programme too. 

Unsurprisingly, I gave it 5 out of 5. 

The review can be found here and click through the images below.

SPACE INVADERS

Next month sees SPACE INVADERS at Jubilee Library, Brighton, a photographic exhibition of people in space and place, how we both react our built environment and are shaped by it, and how we adapt it and reappropriate it.

I was delighted to be asked by architectural photographer, Jim Stephenson, to be part of this in the curation process, with Paul Zara from Conran&Partners. and thanks due to RIBA Sussex for supporting the exhibition.

Images selected are those from Jim and a cohort of others. Launch night is 10th June and the exhibition runs 13th to 26th. You'll see the images in the windows of the library, and inside. 

Exhibtion text

SPACE INVADERS is an exploration of the inter-relation between the human and the built, both equal actors in the lived experience and in a symbiotic relation where the one is re-worked by the other in continuous loop. It is a celebration of who we are and where we are, space and place as a a stage to our lives, a theatre of our performed selves.

Through the eye of the photographer we are privy here to moments of reflection and repose; to intimate rites of life; to play and action; to rebellion and subversion.

We see the human form in miniscule scale to the infrastructure that enables living, weaving our life around its imposing structures. Conversely, we see the mark of the human personality against that seeming impermeable structured form that seeks to determine us, our vernacular articulations of the intimate self.

SPACE INVADERS is a deliberate act of the inclusion of the human and the stuff of human life in the architectural photography genre. Through its diptych pairings of images from Jim Stephenson and curated guest photographers, the images as a collection both celebrate architecture and the life that occurs in and around it and that in turn, changes it.

SPACE INVADERS is curated by Paul Zara, architect and director, Conran & Partners, Cara Courage placemaking practitioner and researcher, and architectural photographer and film maker Jim Stephenson. It is supported by RIBA Sussex Branch. 

RGS 2016 sessions

Very happy to have had the confirmation through for a total of four sessions I am co-convening with Anita McKeown from NCAD, Dublin, at this years Royal Geographical Society annual conference. 

The first is a triple session, The Nexus of Art and Geography: practice as research, the second, Sensory orientations: transversal practices and dissemination within art and geography. Abstracts and programme below. 

The conference takes place Tuesday, 30th August to Friday, 2nd September, all information here.  

The Nexus of Art and Geography: practice as research

Spatial practices are not unique to geography, historically artists have engaged with materialities as social practice (Courage, 2015; Kester, 2011; Lacy, 1998) physical environments (landscape painting, perspective) and exploring and shaping concepts of time and space (virtual worlds, telematics/telepresence). Both fields share experiences of spatial and social turns in theory (Soja, 2008; Bishop, 2006; Bourriaud, Massey, 2005), and practice (Mel Chin; In Certain Places; M12; France Whitehead) with theoretical, methodological and epistemological impacts.  

The artistic and spatial turn across arts and geographical disciplines is maturing and the conversation is not an exclusive, but mutual conversation. Artistic practices utilise geographical methods; Cartography, GIS, Spatial Inquiry, Participant Observation and share research interests with geography e.g. Information Modelling, a cultural and emotional engagement with place. Equally, geographers are utilising arts-based methods (Hawkins, 2012; Rose, 2011); visual and performative methods and methodologies e.g. Photography, Compositional Analysis, the Situationist’s dérive, to expand their understanding of the world and make connections to synthesise knowledge between disciplines.

This panel, taking inspiration from the nexus theme of the RGS-IBG 2016 annual conference, aims to bring together ‘artist-geographers’ and ‘geographer-artists’ to present on the perspective of practice-based/practice as research, engaged in nexus discourse towards social-ecological resilience.

·         Art without artists? An experiment in facilitating community-led arts commissioning, Phil Jones, University of Birmingham

·         A translocal approach to dialogue-based art, Rachelle Viader Knowles, Coventry University

·         Qualitative representation in the space between arts practice and geography, John Stell, University of Leeds

·         CRYSTALLINE - The Arctic Circle, Siobhan McDonald, artist

·         Interrogating Territory: Borders, fictions and contradictions, Anne Gough, KTH - Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm

·         Brokering Connections: public art as a nexus of knowledge production, Elaine Speight, In Certain Places and University of Central Lancashire

·         Mapping the Scottish Borders: collaborative art practices, Inge Panneels, Northumbria University

·         Mapping Systems, Frances Halsall, National College of Art and Design (Dublin)

·         Bodies of Water, Amy Sharrocks, artist

·         Visualising Changing Identities, Communities and Labour Practices on Dublins’ Docks, Moira Sweeney, Dublin Institute of Technology

·         Expeditions as Art: Impacts of Fieldwork by Artist-Geographers in Our New Ecological Reality, Andrew Ranville, artist

·         Breaks, flows, interruptions: Discovering new questions through collaborative research, Sally Labern and Bobby Lloyd, artists, The Drawing Shed

 

Sensory orientations: transversal practices and dissemination within art and geography

This session presents a curated selection of papers that represent a breadth of arts practices that operate at the intersection of geographic study in the field, addressing the vital question of what is the potential for these practices to disseminate complex geographic ideas and engage individuals on a human-scale with the physical world?

The practices are sensory and embodied and variously visual, tactile, sonic, gustation, even olfaction. This session curates a range of practitioners active in research to collectively present insights into how artistic practice re-configures spatial narratives through collaborative co-performances of ‘making-sense’ producing cognitive maps (Lynch, 1976); the mental organisation of sensory experience.

As individuals navigate their daily lives they mark the environment through their own spatial practices and narratives. These interactions are often in contrast to spatial narratives developed over time through city planning, urban design and geo-political ideologies. This ongoing organisation and re-organisation transforms space dynamically and continuously into places of meaning and value (De Certeau 1984; Tuan, 1977) challenging static understandings that may come from institutional or political ideologies. Over time this enables collective constructions and re-constructions of space; socio-politically, culturally and economically.

Agile and adaptive these practices appropriate when necessary social forms and are cognizant of a range of theoretical and practical disciplines. Their critical inquiries develop creative, dynamic and complex methodologies combining ‘action with vision’ (Wright, 2005;136). Their multiplicitous trajectories (Massey, 2005) include scientific and social science research paradigms, interdisciplinary methods, human and non-human co-constituents. Collaborative by nature and design, their ‘intervention-orientated enterprises’ (Wright, 2005;136) serve to migrate and cross-pollinate ideas to traverse disciplinary frontiers.

Through their creative tools and practices the artist’s explore and exploit ruptures in physical and conceptual spatial narratives by their interactions with residents, environments, technologies and even mountains. 

·         Breaking the Frame: Spatial Ideology and Resistant Practice-led Research Approaches, Lucy Livingstone, University of Northumbria

·         Transient Space: Re-interpreting Place Through Augmented Soundscapes, Andrew Hill, artist and University of Greenwich

·         Guide74: a mountain recording activity, Luce Choules, artist

·         Collaborative Narration –An Artist’s Practice, Jane Dudman, Newcastle University

·         (Re)Art (Re)Geography (Re)Performance, Charlie Rawson, artist

AAG 2016

I am off at the end of the month to attend the American Association of Geographers annual conference in San Francisco, co-convening two sessions, Creative Placemaking and Beyond: Continuing and re-invigorating the arts-led conversation, with Anita McKeown from NCAD, Dublin. 

This is the State-side continuation of a conversation started at the Royal Geographical Society annual meeting in London, 2015, on the same. We are honoured to be joined in San Francisco by a cohort of international colleagues and as Discussant, by Ann Markusen, University of Minnesota, who along with Anne Gadwa, wrote the Creative Placemaking Whitepaper for the National Endowment for the Arts in 2010.  

Our sessions are billed on the opening day of conference and sponsored by the AAG Cultural Geography Specialty Group. Schedule information for both sessions can be found below and venue details for Part 1 here, and Part 2, here

Creative Placemaking and Beyond: Continuing and re-invigorating the arts-led conversation (part 1) 

Torange Khonsari, PHD student - public works Ltd and London Metropolitan University, Temporary architecture as a contemporary typology for place making

Peter Rundkvist, Business Region Göteborg and Michael Landzelius, University of Gothenburg, Chalmers, Creative Placemaking and Urban Social Cohesion

Margo Handwerker, University of California, Los Angeles, Creative Placemaking in Rural Areas

Luísa Alpalhão, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College of London, [ outros espaços ] a critical view on the participatory process for the physical and social transformation of neglected urban spaces in Beja's Housing Estate, Portugal

Stephen Pritchard - Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, Place Guarding: Social Practice as Direct Action Rather Than Gentrification
 

Creative Placemaking and Beyond: Continuing and Re-invigorating the Arts-led Conversation Part 2 

Dominc Walker, University of Exeter, Agency in the public realm: learning from Critical Art Ensemble

Dr Sarah Barns, University of Western Sydney, Arrivals and Departures: Public space, public collections, and public contests over Sydney's waterfront history

Shauta Marsh, Co-founder/Curator - Big Car Collaborative and Jim Walker, Executive Director, Big Car Collaborative, On the importance of engagement, collaboration and bringing art to people in placemaking

Eje Kim, Gyeongin National University of Education, The condition of creative placemaking through public art: Critical reflections on Anyang Public Art Project in S. Korea

 Discussant: Ann Markusen, University of Minnesota
 

Academic Archers

Along with Nicola Hedlam, University of Liverpool, and Peter Matthews, University of Stirling, I was organiser of The Archers in fact and fiction: Academic analyses of life in rural Borsetshire symposia, which took place on 17th February at University of Liverpool in London (and thanks to it for the kind donation of its room).

13 papers from across cultural studies, geography, engineering, archelogy, sociology, social policy, medicine, literature and history (full listing below) were delivered to an audience of 100 academic and ‘non-academic’ Archers fans and delivered and received with great enthusiasm, interest, and a lot of laughter.

Trending top ten on UK Twitter that day, the event garnered a lot of media attention too, with coverage in The Guardian, The Observer, The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, New Statesman and the Daily Mail and across BBC Radio 4 on Feedback, PM and Farming Today, as well as local radio stations.

What we all shared was our love and knowledge of The Archers and we formed on the day a unique community of practice that we will be taking forward into research and dissemination projects, as well as publication and future symposia’s and events.

The conversation continued at #AacdemicArchers and on its Facebook page.

 

I just wanted to say thank you for organising yesterday - I had a lovely, lovely day, and you should all be proud of being responsible for such a successful event.  It's no mean feat to keep an entire room engaged and interested through an entire day, including the afternoon slot! It was also great to have so many different disciplines represented.  I really liked that variety, and again, it's a rare thing to have that spread of interests at a conference. 

I'd like to thank you and your colleagues for organising such a tremendous event. It was thoroughly enjoyable, with an excellent programme, built towards appropriate climaxes at each break, and treated of some very profound themes. It was great to see the way the presenters took seriously the questions and processes without taking themselves - or The Archers - too seriously.

Thank you everyone for such wonderful papers, and congratulations to the organisers for putting together such an engaging, hilarious and truly interdisciplinary day. I was really happy to be involved, and humbled by the Archers expertise in the room!

A very unusual conference - the interdisciplinarity linked by a fictional text really worked. And the audience just loved it. Quite an achievement as Archers fans can be very critical! 

The energy and encounters coming out the day are what conferences should be about. A fun-filed, focused, interdisciplinary, critical celebration.

The range of presentations and subject matter were outstanding and so humorous and some touched with sadness. There were many sobering issues dealt with in such an informative light way. Obviously using a soap as a medium to deliver education is clearly the way forward in education. I must remember this for my own undergrads and post grads.

it was great to take part in such a fascinating set of interdisciplinary discussions and to be able to talk to such an enthusiastic audience!

I learned a lot and laughed a lot, which is a fantastic combination.

Your conference showed academics have got a sense of humour and don't take themselves too seriously.

It was a fabulous day. I've been talking about it ever since!

The conference was just brilliant! A remarkable and memorable day!

A brilliant idea! I look forward to attending events in the future!

Thank you so much for making this happen

Telling everyone I went to an Archers conference seems to be making me very popular, everyone wanting to know what it was like. I think, 25 years after we left school, it might be safe to be out to my school friends about it, now they've all become listeners too...

Prof. Carenza Lewis and Clemency Cooper

Prof. Carenza Lewis and Clemency Cooper

 

Schedule:

Keynote, Prof. Lyn Thomas, Professor of Cultural Studies, School of Media, Film and Music, Sussex University: Nostalgic Englishness, the rural everyday and high drama:  The Archers in the 21st Century

Christopher Perkins, Reader in Geography and Programme Director Geography with International Study, School of Environment Education and Development, University of Manchester: Mapping Ambridge

Dr William Barras, Undergraduate Programme Convener in Linguistics, School of Language and Literature, University of Aberdeen: Rural Voices: What can Borsetshire tell us about accent change?

Dr Samantha Walton, Lecturer in English Literature: Writing and the Environment, Bath Spa University: Cider with Grundy: On Orchards and the Commonplace in Ambridge

Prof. Deborah Bowman, Professor of Bioethics, Clinical Ethics and Medical Law, Institute of Medical and Biomedical Education, University of London               From Dr. Locke’s Professional Boundaries to Carol’s Confession: On MedicalEthics in The Archers

Prof. Neil Mansfield, Professor of Design Engineering and Human Factors, Imperial College London and Visiting Professor of Human Factors Engineering, Loughborough Design School and Dr Lauren Morgan, University of Oxford: Tony’s troubles: back-pain amongst agricultural workers and design improvements

Dr Katherine Runswick-Cole, Senior Research Fellow in Disability Studies & Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University: The dis/appearance of disability … or why Bethany had to leave Ambridge

Helen Burrows, MBASW, Independent Social Work Education Consultant: An everyday story of dysfunctional families: using The Archers in Social Work Education

Jo Moriarty, Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King's College London: Heather Pet – a dramatic end to ongoing lack of good social care

Prof. Carenza Lewis, Professor for the Public Understanding of Research, College of Arts, University of Lincoln and Clemency Cooper, MA MSc PASt Explorers Outreach Officer, Portable Antiquities Scheme: The historical development of Ambridge, as revealed by archaeological test pit excavations

Philippa Byrne, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oxford: Scenes from the Feudal System in Ambridge: The Archers as Anti-Utilitarian Medievalism

Abi Pattenden: ‘Seeming, seeming’: Othello, reputation, and Rob Titchener

Dr Peter Matthews, Lecturer in Social Policy, University of Stirling: Lynda Snell as Archetypal Class Warrior

CfP RGS 2016: The nexus of art and geography as practice as research

Convenors: Cara Courage, University of Brighton and Anita McKeown, SMARTlab, University College Dublin.

RGS 2016 Annual International Conference, London, Tuesday 30 August to Friday 2 September.

Spatial practices are not unique to geography, historically artists have engaged with materialities as social practice (Courage, 2015; Kester, 2011; Lacy, 1998) physical environments (landscape painting, perspective) and exploring and shaping concepts of time and space (virtual worlds, telematics/telepresence). Both fields share experiences of spatial and social turns in theory (Soja, 2008; Bishop, 2006; Bourriaud, Massey, 2005), and practice (Mel Chin; In Certain Places; M12; France Whitehead) with theoretical, methodological and epistemological impacts.  

As the Century of the System (Gawande, 2014) progresses it is no longer possible for any single discipline to address potential future concerns and systemic approaches will be required to address current nexus challenges; water, food, energy, climate, economic growth and human security challenges. As part of a growing inter- and transdisciplinary concern to research and practice, the dissolving of both academic and sector field-specific boundaries is emerging. Methodological promiscuity is common practice within arts practice, matured through a half century of non-object, process-orientated practices, cross-pollinating and fertilising ideas across ‘disciplinary frontiers to address global challenges for humanity and the earth’s myriad of systems’ (McKeown, 2015).  

The artistic and spatial turn across arts and geographical disciplines and the conversation is not an exclusive, but mutual conversation. Artistic practices utilise geographical methods; Cartography, GIS, Spatial Inquiry, Participant Observation and share research interests with geography e.g. information modelling, a cultural and emotional engagement with place. Equally, geographers are utilising arts based methods (Hawkins, 2012; Rose, 2011); visual and performative methods and methodologies e.g. Photography, Compositional Analysis, the Situationist’s dérive, to expand their understanding of the world and make connections to synthesise knowledge between disciplines.

This panel, taking inspiration from the nexus theme of the RGS-IBG 2016 annual conference, aims to bring together ‘artist-geographers’ and ‘geographer-artists’ to present on the perspective of practice-based/practice as research, engaged in nexus discourse towards social-ecological resilience.

We are seeking a range of submissions from artists, geographers, researchers, curators commissioners, scientists or others working in this area, and papers might address, but are not limited to:

·         Systems thinking for knowledge production within the Arts / Geographic practices

·         Practices encouraging collaborative research and interdisciplinary problem-finding

·         Practice as research and the development of new methodologies through fieldwork.

·         Discovering new questions through collaborative research

·         Exploring symbiotic relationships towards different ways of knowing and producing knowledge within Arts and Geography collaborations

·         Agile adaptive behaviour - The fluid state between specialist and non-specialist; itinerant academics and artists

Please submit an abstract for consideration, of no more than 250 words, with a short biog, by Friday, 29th January 2016, to cara@caracourage.net and anita@smartlab-ie.com. Successful applicants will be informed by 5th February, to confirm attendance by 12th February. 

2016 conferences

 

January 2016 sees me delivering a paper, Performative architecture: reclaiming a vital architectural practice (abstract below) at the All-Ireland Architecture Research Group annual conference; and then talk about my PhD research, in relation to community groups making change in their built environment, at the British Academy-funded Landscaping Change conference, organised by Dr Samantha Walton at Bath Spa University. I will also be returning to the American Association of Geographers annual conference in March/April, co-convening a session, Creative Placemaking and Beyond, with National College of Art and Design, Dublin’s Anita McKeown (abstract below, and more details on that will follow).

Landscaping Change conference takes place at the Arnolfini, Bristol, on 1st January.

AIARG conference takes place in Cork, 29th and 30th January.

AAG conference takes place in San Francisco, 9th March to 2nd April.

 

AIARG abstract:

Performative architecture: reclaiming a vital architectural practice

This paper will present performativity in architecture as an emplaced social arts practice, performed on the margins of formal urban space and architectural practice in liminal and meanwhile spaces, a critical spatial practice (Rendell 2006) in the urban public realm.

The paper will locate this thinking in contemporary practices of ‘social practice placemaking’ (SPPM) (Courage 2014) and will draw on global examples of SPPM, including that from the author’s PhD research project, ‘Making places: performative arts practices in the city’, signposting examples of masterplanning and architectural build that have successfully incorporated this approach, such as that of Croydon Council’s award-winning placemaking-led regeneration.

It will position this contemporary practice as one where architects and artists work together in a collaborative practice, and co-produced with the micropublic (Amin 2008) in positions of relative expertism. Inherent in this co-produced practice is a subverting of sector normative representation and power, of who can speak for whom, when and how, if at all and will thus argue for performative architecture as questioning and support of intersectional production and use of space. As a post-modern social arts practice, performative architecture will be positioned in the arts canon both with and contra too the avant-garde (Kester 2013) and new genre public art (Lacy 2008), relational aesthetics (Bourriaud 1998). It will argue that performative architecture is of a dialogic aesthetic (Kester 2004, 2013), productive of new cultures of architectural knowledge.

The paper will close with a provocation to the architecture sector on its need to adopt co-productive modes of design to maintain, and arguably reclaim, its cultural significance in the built environment, essential for the future of the sector in extending its practice, reaffirming its relevance and ensuring its vital role in the current and future urban realm.

 

AAG CfP (now closed) abstract:

Creative Placemaking and Beyond: Continuing and re-invigorating the arts-led conversation

This session will continue the interrogation of notions of creative placemaking started at the RGS 2015 annual conference, bringing this conversation to the US and to broadening its international and sectoral/practice discussion. 

The creative placemaking (Landesman 2009) term has entered the arts-driven placemaking sector narrative presented as a ‘new [U.S.] policy platform across all levels of government’ (Markusen and Gadwa 2010:26) with a particular ethos; a cross-sectoral approach to arts-led regeneration (Markusen and Gadwa 2010) and of including non-arts stakeholders within community revitalisation (Poticha, 2011).

With contemporary debates around creative placemaking and its relations now reaching a moment in maturity and diversity a critique and a deeper understanding of practice is necessary.

Persistent questions arise around issues of arts practice/process, power relations, individual and community agency and creative placemaking’s relation vis-à-vis the neoliberal. As such, this session encourages a re-consideration of the role of the arts and creativity within socially-engaged placemaking practices for their potential to encourage self-organisation and how citizens can take the initiative in effecting their lived spacetime (McCormack 2013). It seeks to broaden the constituents in the creative placemaking discourse through presenting an international conversation that focuses on socially practiced, co-produced and citizen-led placemakings, addressing issues of scale, interdisciplinarity and radical practices within creative place production and co-production.

Given the vital need also for theorists to be in dialogue with practitioners, this session is seeking abstracts from both constituencies, with papers spanning theory and practice and examples of where the two intersect in the academy or in the field. It thus aims to provide a critical assessment of creative placemaking and of community driven placemaking (Hou and Rios 2003) and social design across all settlement types and conceptual, empirical, methodological papers are invited.

 

 

Brighton and Hove Urban Ramblers

Its been exactly a year since I started Brighton and Hove Urban Ramblers...and its been one of the most enjoyable things I have done.

In this first year 612 people have joined the group; we've had 9 rambles, with another 2 to go this year and another 5 in the schedule already for next year; 3 of those rambles have been specifically guided, thank you David Bramwell for the back passages, Claire Potter Design for the foraging and fizz, and Dan Wilson for the churches, and thank you in advance Matt Weston and The Brighton School for the Stones and Donna Close for the public art; and the largest single group was 37 in number, for the May Artists Open Houses - we looked amazing, filled the houses to bursting, and stopped traffic.

Parasites Abroad

In grappling with my research data and writing up my thesis, I am struck by how the work of social practice arts in placemaking - something I have come to term 'social practice placemaking' - is the notional parasite in the neoliberal, culturised built environment ecology, the break in the signal-noise of top-down city making. 

Its thinking that I am playing with at the moment, and it may go no further than to act as a hypothetical tipping point into something else, but I am reminded of a masters (Psychosocial Studies MSc) presentation I did on parasitical theory and Woody Allen's 'Vicky, Christina, Barcelona', a film that is an adept imagining of the theory. I did a presentation on this, which can be found here

 

AAG 2016 CfP: Creative Placemaking and Beyond, part 2

CfP - Creative Placemaking and Beyond: Continuing and re-invigorating the arts-led conversation

Convenors: Cara Courage, University of Brighton and Anita McKeown, SMARTlab, University College Dublin.

This session will continue the interrogation of notions of creative placemaking started at the RGS 2015 annual conference, aiming to take this conversation to the US and broaden international and sectora/practice discussion.  

The creative placemaking (Landesman 2009) term has entered the arts-driven placemaking sector narrative presented as a ‘new [U.S.] policy platform across all levels of government’ (Markusen and Gadwa 2010:26) with a particular ethos; a cross-sectoral approach to arts-led regeneration (Markusen and Gadwa 2010) and of including non-arts stakeholders within community revitalisation (Poticha, 2011).

With contemporary debates around creative placemaking and its relations now reaching a moment in maturity and diversity a critique and a deeper understanding of practice is necessary.

Persistent questions arise around issues of arts practice/process, power relations, individual and community agency and creative placemaking’s relation vis-à-vis the neoliberal. As such, this session encourages a re-consideration of the role of the arts and creativity within socially-engaged placemaking practices for their potential to encourage self-organisation and how citizens can take the initiative in effecting their lived spacetime (McCormack 2013). It seeks to broaden the constituents in the creative placemaking discourse through presenting an international conversation that focuses on socially practiced, co-produced and citizen-led placemakings, addressing issues of scale, interdisciplinarity and radical practices within creative place production and co-production.

Given the vital need also for theorists to be in dialogue with practitioners, this session is seeking abstracts from both constituencies, with papers spanning theory and practice and examples of where the two intersect in the academy or in the field. It thus aims to provide a critical assessment of creative placemaking and of community driven placemaking (Hou and Rios 2003) and social design across all settlement types and conceptual, empirical, methodological papers papers are invited.

Papers might address, but are not limited to:

  • Challenges to the concepts of creative placemaking and citizen-driven placemaking
  • Examination and re-imagination of radical practices within arts-led community regeneration.
  • The role of the individual and the artist/practitioner and other professionals in ‘open source’ placemaking
  • Performing and un-performing place
  • Systemic approaches to creative placemaking and Place-based design - Dealing with complexity.
  • The role of administrations and policy development effected by grassroots placemakings
  • The personal is political – behavourial related interventions of placemaking beyond party political agendas.

Please submit an abstract for consideration, of no more than 250 words, by 25th October, to cara@caracourage.net and anita@smartlab-ie.com. Successful applicants will be informed by 27th October for their timely registration to AAG 2016.