The Theory and Practice of ‘Theory and Practice’

The Theory and Practice of ‘Theory and Practice’ in Art and Design HE


17 May 2017
9.30am to 4.30pm

This teaching platform will look beyond the simple binaries between theory and practice and put into focus the evolving pedagogical relationships between these two different yet intertwined disciplines.

It seeks to be inclusive of current theories and practices that relate theory and practice. It aims to question contemporary theories and practices, which support ‘theory and practice’ in Art and Design undergraduate courses in the UK.

The conference will consider the long and complex history of the ways in which theory and practice has been taught on arts undergraduate courses in the UK. From the Coldstream Reports in 1969/70 with the introduction of Art History and Complementary studies on an undergraduate degree in Art and Design and the subsequent developments in Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Complimentary and Contextual Studies.

As Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1990 p2) argues, “Since practice is an irreducible theoretical moment, no practice takes place without presupposing itself as a example of a more or less powerful theory,” then can we now see the possibility of there being no difference between theory and practice being the future of the pedagogies of theory and practice in UK undergraduate courses?

The conference will reflect on how different writing practices support the relationships between theory and practice in contemporary Arts education. As this education, now contextualised within the massification of the University sector, involves preparing students for the world beyond university, we ask how can these writing practices support this preparation?

What will I learn?
This teaching platform will offer an opportunity for art and design educators to explore some of the historical and evolving relationships that theory has with practice and practice has with theory.

Themes covered by the day will include: writing practices; the possibilities of being no difference between theory and practice; the future of the relationships between theory and practice in UK undergraduate courses; curriculum models and pedagogies that most effectively support the integration of theory and practice.

Who should attend?
This event is open to academics, technicians, support tutors and librarians who have an interest in the relationships between practice and theory.

Spivak, G. C., Harasym, S. (ed) (1990) The Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues. Routledge. New York & London
Draft Programme (subject to change)
0930-1000 Registration and Coffee
1000-1010 Introductions – Prof Susan Orr, David Webster
1010-1110 Workshop with Dr Mark Ingham
1110-1130 Refreshments and Networking
1130-1220 Keynote with Dr Julia Lockheart
1230-1320 Lunch
1320-1420 Roundtable discussion
1420-1500 Degrees of Separation – Student Presentation & workshop
1500-1530 Refreshments
1530-1615 Future Theory:
Craig Burston
Katharine Dwyer
1615-1630 Plenary

Speaker Biographies

Craig Burston is Course Leader on BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design at London College of Communication. His teaching emphasis focuses on the practical testing and application of semiotic theory, the interplay between analogue and digital media and the impact of new technologies upon aesthetics. Craig’s ongoing practice based research explores the relationship between iconic representation, memory and communication and has manifested itself through a range of output including audio-visual collaborations, gallery installations, research seminars and comic strips. With photographer and digital media artist Richard Tomlinson, Craig is also the co-founder of skip-rat designs, latterly skipratmedia. Twitter: @skipratmedia

Katharine Dwyer spent a decade working in a corporate environment before returning to study Fine Art at UAL. Katharine completed her Master of Fine Art (MFA) at Wimbledon College of Arts in 2016. Her art pratice explores languages of authority, both personal and institutional, which are used to manufacture consent in the modern workplace. Twitter @tumble33

Dr. Mark Ingham is the Contextual and Theoretical Studies Coordinator at London College of Communication. Mark is a fine artist who uses old SLR film cameras and LED lights to create multiple slide projectors in large scale art installations. His art and design research includes, relationships between autobiographical memory and photography, Gilles Deleuze’s and Felix Guattari’s ideas of ‘Becoming Rhizomatic’. His pedagogical research into the relationships between theory and practice and their roles in art and design disciplines has made him acutely aware of the importance of an holistic approach to teaching. He used his knowledge of making and doing skills, including design and multimedia software, in combination with his practical and theoretical knowledge to give students a full and rounded educational experience. Twitter: @malarkeypalaver

Dr Julia Lockheart is the director of the Writing-PAD project and co-editor, with Professor John Wood, of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice. She has studied both Fine Art and TESOL to MA level and is also qualified to teach adults with SpLDs (Dyslexia). Julia has a PhD in Design from Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research focussed on developing tools for co-writing in design teams. She has presented and published both nationally and internationally. Twitter: @jollyjewels

Prof Susan Orr is Dean: Learning, Teaching and Enhancement at University of the Arts London. Susan has written extensively on the subject of art and design assessment and her more recent work explores various aspects of art and design pedagogy in higher education. Susan is editor for the journal Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education, and on the editorial board of three further journals. Susan is on the Executive of CHEAD (Council for Higher Education in Art and Design) and GLAD (Group for Learning in Art and Design). In 2010, Susan was awarded a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship. This was awarded in recognition of her teaching, leadership, research and contribution to art and design HE pedagogy. Twitter: @Susan_K_Orr

David Webster is Associate Dean: Learning, Teaching and Enhancement for Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges at University of the Arts London.
Twitter @webster858

Teaching Platform Series
This event is part of a series hosted by University of the Arts London, exploring key issues in Arts teaching and learning in higher education. Each event includes leading speakers sharing current thinking in creative education and is designed to be interactive: delegates will have opportunities to engage in activities to support networking and engagement.

For more information about Teaching and Learning at UAL visit the Exchange website. To subscribe to our mailing list for more details about these and other events, please email, or follow us on Twitter @UALTLE.

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