The Creative Critic

As practitioner-researchers, how do we discuss and analyse our work without losing the creative drive that inspired us in the first place?



Built around a diverse selection of writings from leading researcher-practitioners and emerging artists in a range of fields, The Creative Critic: Writing as/about Practice celebrates the extraordinary range of possibilities available when writing about one’s own work and the work one is inspired by. It re-thinks the conventions of the scholarly output to propose that critical writing be understood as an integral part of the artistic process, and even as artwork in its own right.

Finding ways to make the intangible nature of much of our work ‘count’ under assessment has become increasingly important in the Academy and beyond. The Creative Critic offers an inspiring and useful sourcebook for students and practitioner-researchers navigating this area.

With contributions from:

Jane Rendell, Susannah Thompson, PA Skantze, Iain Biggs, Emma Cocker, Graham White, Mike Pearson, Mojisola Adebayo, Nic Conibere, Diana Damian Martin, Augusto Corrieri, Owen G. Parry, Joe Kelleher, Taru Elfving, Peter Jaeger, Undine Sellbach and Stephen Loo, Salome Vogelin, Ella Finer, Helene Frichot, Kristen Kreider and James O’Leary, Brigid Mcleer, Cathy Turner, Phil Smith, Mary Paterson, Tim Etchells, Chris Goode, Hayley Newman, Mitch Rose, Maria Fusco, Simon Piasecki,  Goze Saner, Matthew Goulish and Lin Hixson, Tracy Mackenna, Rajni Shah, Joanne ‘Bob’ Whalley & Lee Miller, Karen Christopher, Louise Tondeur, Johanna Linsley, Lucy Cash, Douglas Kearney and Timothy Mathews.

Read introduction here

Spark: UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal

Mapping Strange Assemblages

Mapping Strange Assemblages

Mapping Strange Assemblages


“A series of encounters run by current and former LCC students who will provide performative educational experiences for visitors attending the exhibition. This ‘Band of Students’ will help visitors critically map out the multiple territories of the exhibition. They will manage and operate a number of daily and weekly provocative events that respond to the ideas, work and spaces involved. They, the BoS, will act as guides to create ‘lines of flight’ as they flow through the show. Let them entertain you and entangle you in their assemblage of mappings.”

#uncertainty #design #education #art #communication #twitter #entertainment #politics #universities #maps #futurism #geopolitics #transformations



Join us to celebrate the opening of London College of Communication Design School’s ‘Everything Happens So Much’ exhibition and series of events. We have a keynote from Sarah Weir OBE, CEO Design Council where we discuss ‘The Design Economy 2018; the state of design in the UK’; followed by a series of performances/activities from exhibition participants. We launch our new Design School Manifesto, a call to action that is never closed and always in flux; and a new research platform called Supra Systems Studio, which interrogates the politics of networked technologies. We uncover new directions in service design, explore the concept of velocity in the context of contemporary culture, delve into the UAL Archives for a display of mini-comics, and much, much more…

Explore the College’s galleries and the spaces between. Immerse yourself in open processes, research and experiments that respond to the current condition of intense activity and accelerated change where ‘Everything Happens So Much’, part of London Design Festival.

Wednesday 19 September 2018 6-9pm

London College of Communication

Elephant & Castle

London SE1 6SB

Alumni event on Tuesday 18th September 6-8.30pm (and invite your former students) and the Launch Night on Wednesday 19th September 6-9pm

Alummi Event booking link:

Launch Night booking link:


‘Boy Pool Rhizome’ 1998-2000

Book covers

• Drawing Boy Pool Rhizome used as Cover art for: The Polyphonic Machine: Capitalism, Political Violence, and Resistance in Contemporary Argentine Literature. (2018). By Niall H. D. Geraghty. University of Pittsburgh Press. 2018.

• Drawing Boy Pool Rhizome used for PhD cover art. ‘science and technology studies, spatial politics and future making’. Requested by Dan Kristian Kristensen. 2017.

• Drawing Boy Pool Rhizome used for PhD cover art . The power of form: Swarming resistance in cyberspace’. Requested  by Imogen Armstrong SOAS. 2016.

Book illustrations

• Drawing Boy Pool Rhizome used in Degrees of mixture, degrees of freedom: genomics, multiculturalism and race in Latin America, By Professor Peter Wade, British Academy Wolfson Research Professor. Published by Duke University Press. 2017.


• Drawing Boy Pool Rhizome used for: The Words of Others: Remembering and Writing Genocide as an Indirect Witness. By Caroline D. Laurent. (Used in defence of her PhD at Harvard University – Department of Romance Languages & Literatures). 2017.

• Drawing Boy Pool Rhizome used for a conference on Radical Democracy at The New School for Social Research. Requested by Signe Larsen – The New School for Social Research in New York. 2016.


Boy Pool Rhizome used for ‘Contemporary Art in Coffee Shops’ Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, Requested by Mary Clare Rietz. 2016.


Becoming Rhizomatic used by Bibliothèque publique d’information (public library), in the Pompidou Center, Paris, for their online magazine, Balises. Requested by Fabienne Charraire. 2018.


• Drawing Boy Pool Rhizome to be used as a tattoo. Requested by Jasmin Degeling. 2017.

[spk] Vol 3, No 1 (2018)

Home > Archives > Vol 3, No 1 (2018)

[spk] Vol 3, No 1 (2018)

Spark: UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal

Home > Vol 3, No 1 (2018) > Ingham


Dr Mark Ingham, Acting Programme Director Graphic Design Communication, London College of Communication

There is a story by Italo Calvino, The Baron in the Trees (1959), where a young Italian nobleman of the eighteenth-century rebels against his parents by climbing into the trees and remaining there for the rest of his life. After he has lived in the trees for a while, they become, ‘… hung all over with scrawled pieces of paper and bits of cardboard … with various objects; clusters of feathers, church candles, crowns of leaves… pistols, scales, tied to each other in certain order… served to jog his memory and make him realize that even the most uncommon ideas could be right.’ (Calvino, 1959, p.255).

This issue of Spark brings together an assemblage of provocative articles that have been a delight to read. Encountering these texts has led to me think about how we can come become even more thoughtful learners and teachers at UAL. What they all have in common is that they are uncommon. They are imaginative and creative thought experiments that deterritorialise our pedagogic practices (Nadler, 2015), and open up more spaces to help us become critical designers of our curricula and pedagogies. They help enliven the methods by which we can co-produce the ways and means our courses can be delivered.

In their text, ‘Arboreal pedagogy: Tree climbing for better learning’, Lewis Bush and Taylor Norton ask us to leave the classroom and climb trees, so that we might connect more closely with our students. This text jogged memories of my encounters in the 80s with the literature of Italo Calvino. Like in many of Calvino’s stories they take us on a provocative speculative journey where, ‘Arboreal pedagogy… while notional and in many respects completely impractical… is proposed here as an incitement against often unimaginative methods of teaching in art and design education’ (Bush and Norton, 2018, p.42). Lewis and Taylor consider it a,

…call for teachers to embrace creative and low-tech approaches to education that celebrate experiences that enrich the well-being and learning of students and staff alike […] education at its best can be simple, engaging and arboreal.


Provoked, I imagined a creative university of the future that has a forest as studio where we could book a branch for one-to-one tutorials, a tree for peer-to-peer learning, a copse for taking theory into practice and the arboretum for guest lectures. It is this sort of imaginative critical thinking that will help us create spaces for teaching and learning that are not based on classrooms of the 1850s, but suitable for the 2050s.

Francisco Gaspar in his article, ‘Verfremdungseffekt: Towards a critical Graphic Design education’, asks us if Graphic Design can be epic, more critical and dehabitualised, in order to question the assumptions about how we teach and learn in, with and about Graphic Design. In this thoughtful piece of writing Gaspar asks us not to do away with what we have already got, but to re-imagine the university as a site of critical engagement and resistance so we produce work that question the normative and help us make our world a better place to be. Through the idea of the Brechtian “defamiliarisation effect” Gaspar takes us on a journey back to the future, where he cleverly shows us that we already have the necessary critical tool kits in our universities to create academies that question the given and posit affective ideas and “things”.

Eleanor Dare, whilst the Technology-Enhanced Learning Coordinator at LCC, always kept my thinking about pedagogy from becoming lazy and falling into self-set traps, by questioning what may have looked on the surface like shiny, new teaching and learning ideas, which on closer inspection often turned out to be no more than false assumptions built on top of raggedy, worn out, old assumptions. In her provocation piece, ‘Out of the Humanist Matrix: Learning taxonomies beyond Bloom’, Dare challenges us to question long-held notions of where we get our ideas of best pedagogic practice from. Her article rips up the ground upon which we have constructed the digital in our programmes of study. By destabilising oft-cherished ideas Eleanor helps us become more ‘disruptive thinker[s]’ (Zweibleson, 2017 in Dare, 2018, p.49) about our pedagogy.

In Sarah Macdonald’s case study, ‘Citizens of somewhere: How a cross-cultural discussion group offers opportunities for intercultural understanding’, I was struck by her thought that, ‘Western culture’s perception of verbosity as a positive attribute is certainly not universal and it is understandable that some students faced with this attitude may find this challenging.’ (Macdonald, 2018, p.28). It made me wonder why we are uncomfortable with ‘uncomfortable silences’ (Tarantino, 1994) and how we can learn to live with silence as we become more empathic with someone from a culture that we do not know. Discussing ‘The Conversation Club’ at LCC, Sarah describes its aim to give us all greater ‘intercultural competence’ (Macdonald, 2018, p.30) and not to make the assumption that acquisition of linguistic fluency automatically means that criticality will follow. I hope that the ideas that have been learnt from this very thoughtful initiative can be used in all our classes to help us comfortably enjoy the silences and not to move away towards those we already know we can ‘yak with’. I share Sarah’s aspiration that,

As students from different cultures meet and are exposed to a variety of ideas, there will always be new information shared and new perspectives gained. It is hoped that this interaction will help students develop more intercultural awareness and send them on their way to become global citizens.

(Macdonald, 2018, p.31)

Neil Drabble’s research paper, ‘It’s all about ‘me’, with you: Exploring auto-ethnographic methodology’ resonated when he described his conversational approach. Neil’s research allowed him to use auto-ethnographic approaches and to amalgamate his collection of dialogues into a playful fictional form of storytelling. They represent philosophical thought experiments and fictive narrative philosophy. For me, his imagined conversations about pedagogical practices open up critical thinking about thinking.

One way to start a conversation is to see it as a way knowledge can be exchanged. We often forget to ask, “what can you teach me?”, rather than “this is what I am going to teach you”. In the case study, ‘SAKE: Student-led, skills-based workshops to support inclusivity within the creative curriculum’, Michelle Wild shows us that, ‘peer learning brought people together, developed a sense of community and built positive communications’ (Wild, 2018, p.37). The Skills and Knowledge Exchange workshops that Michelle describe in this article acknowledge that students bring with them to university particular knowledge and understanding that if facilitated skilfully in peer-to-peer learning environments, can add to the plurality of a group’s thinking about a subject.

Ngọc Triệu, a recent alumna of the BA (Hons) Design Management and Cultures Course at LCC often wonders and wanders. She explores cities she knows well and knows by encounter by drifting through them using pyschogeographic methods so they become known, yet still stay strange. In the text based on her final year thesis ‘Inside, in between and out: How can psychogeography be beneficial to teaching and learning in Higher Education?’ she references an article previously published in Spark, ‘A journey around my classroom: The psychogeography of learning spaces’ (Lange, Reynolds and White, 2016). Ngọc quotes from an interview she conducted with Silke Lange that gets to the heart of the matter,

It is about breaking a habit and being open to experiments… If you walk the same route every day from home to work, you just switch off and you don’t look anymore because you’ve seen everything. But if you just make an effort of going in different route everyday, you will experience the world very differently. And I think you can translate that kind of experience to a way of living: be open, try different things, don’t just get stuck in one way, in the system… It is about challenging yourself and becoming consciously aware of how you engage differently with spaces.

(Lange, 2017)

Ngọc argues that, ‘psychogeography practice is an act of acceptance, a way of befriending the uncertainty and embracing the beauty of everyday knowns and unknowns.’ (Triệu, 2018, p.62).

In his mixed media case study submission, ‘‘On the spectrum’ within art and design academic practice’, Luca Damiani gives us his video ‘My Aspie Hacks the Brain’, which he describes as, ‘Attempting to represent my neurological flow, the video explores my relationship to my surroundings and the way I process phenomena internally’. Luca by sharing with us, ‘…the idea of being neurodivergent within a creative academic environment’ helps ‘create an engagement at all levels of academic practice bringing qualities and abilities into the surface, and opening diverse conversations on the topic, looking at the potential of an inclusive society’. He makes us aware that the strength of any organisation is its ability to be diverse and to recognise diversity as a critically creative way to understand how to construct radical pedagogies.

As the guest editor of this issue of Spark and editorial board member I believe that one of its functions is to frame and lead the debates in the thinking and practice of creative higher education teaching and learning. This issue in an exemplar of how we can open up the multiple ‘pockets of good practice’ (Orr, 2016, p.1) we have at UAL, showing us how we can start to sew them together for the benefit of all our staff and students.


Calvino, I. (1959/2017) The baron in the trees. New York: Mariner Books.

Lange, S., Reynolds, R. and White, D. (2016) ‘A journey around my classroom: The psychogeography of learning spaces’, Spark: UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal, 1(2), pp.122–129. Available at: (Accessed: 21 January 2018).

Nadler, C. (2015) ‘Deterritorializing disciplinarity: Toward an immanent pedagogy’, Cultural Studies <=>Critical Methodologies. 15(2), pp. 145-152,

Orr, S. (2016) ‘Preface’, Spark: UAL Creative Teaching and Learning Journal, 1(1), p.1. Available at: (Accessed: 14 January 2018).

Tarantino, Q. (1999) Pulp Fiction: Screenplay. London: Faber & Faber.


Dr Mark Ingham is a Senior Lecturer and UAL Teaching Scholar in the Design School at London College of Communication. For the last two years Mark has been an acting Programme Director for Contextual and Theoretical Studies, Spatial Design Communication, Branding Design Innovation and most recently Graphic Design Communication. His pedagogical and creative research are entangled encounters with: images of thought and memory, rhizomatic and meta-cognitive learning theories, fuzzy narratives and virtual and physical liminal teaching spaces.

Copyright (c) 2018 Dr Mark Ingham

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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Agents, Agency, Agencies in Assembling Liminal Learning Spaces

Agents, Agency, Agencies in Assembling Liminal Learning Spaces

This Research Project will investigate the types of learning landscapes we have at LCC and UAL in order to propose a remodelling of the way we teach our students now and in the new LCC building in Elephant and Castle. It recognises that the more involved all participants in the hosting, delivery and acquisition of teaching and learning become in this research, the more likely we are to have a building that delivers world class teaching and learning. As Dr Cathy Hall states in the literature review of, The impact of new learning spaces on teaching practice (2013) ‘To “create a world-class learning environment for students by offering opportunities for collaboration, team work, a sense of belonging, a creative culture and opportunities to excel…” (6)

The research would look at how we can create, spaces, physical, virtual and representational that fully allows for learning gain and aims to answer the question that Hall (2013 sets that, “no one knows how to prevent ‘learning-loss’ when you design a room ‘pedagogically’, whereas we know lots about designing for minimum ‘heat loss’ ” (6)

This project will interrogate a number of key questions such as ‘What do we want our learners to become? (15). The Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LCS) has given a number of answers to this question based on their research one of them is that our leaners becoming ‘Agents of their own learning’. (15). This would then lead to the question. ‘What experiences make that becoming happen? (8) One answer could be that we create access to “laboratory” ‘hack’ ‘maker’ ‘prototype’ spaces to experiment with innovative pedagogies or more temporary mobile spaces, which fill an urgent pedagogical need.

The idea of liminal learning spaces (landscapes) would be an over arching concept that drives this research. What might be called ‘uncontrolled’ informal spaces’ that rub shoulders and be contiguous with all other teaching and learning spaces and places will strive to ask can we go beyond the metaphors of ‘Blended Learning’, Braided Learning’ (16) or even ‘Woven Learning’ to a model of learning spaces that are agencies of for our agents of change so they enhance, articulate and understand their own agency?

Theoretical Framework  

1. De-territorialisation: ‘The pursuit of a line of flight into smooth spaces beyond that of the formal learning space is described as a process of deterritorialisation as boundaries are broken down and fluid movement and cultural heterogeneity emerges. This can present issues, as Savin-Baden (2007) states, ‘The contrast between smooth and striated learning spaces introduces questions about the role and identity of universities and academics in terms of what counts as a legitimate learning space and who makes such decisions of legitimacy.’ (p.14)’ (17)

2. Smooth learning spaces: ‘Smooth learning spaces are open, flexible and contested, spaces in which both learning and learners are always on the move. Students here would be encouraged to contest knowledge and ideas proffered by lecturers and in doing so create their own stance toward knowledge(s).’ (10)

3. Troublesome Knowledge: ‘This is knowledge that appears, for example, counter-intuitive, alien (emanating from another culture or discourse) or incoherent (discrete aspects are unproblematic but there is no organizing principle). Disjunction, then, is not only a form of troublesome knowledge but also a ‘space’ or ‘position’ reached through the realization that the knowledge is troublesome.’ (10)

4. Critiquing Threshold Concepts: “Advocates of ‘threshold concepts’ refer to ‘liminal spaces’ as places that students occupy as they move from a confused cognitive state of mind on the way to grasping what ‘threshold concepts’ mean, but say nothing about the physical spaces where learning occurs.” (7) “We now understand that learning spaces are not just classrooms: any space where a student can access a computer; talk with another student; read a book or join peers around a table at a café, is a potential learning space … the whole university is a potential learning space” (Jamieson et al., (2009, p.1). (7)

5. Deconstruction: Research and Teaching ‘The most compelling innovations are spaces that attempt to re-engineer the relationship between teaching and research. Spaces have been created to link teaching with research activity between undergraduates and postgraduates, and to facilitate collaboration between students and academics. (7)

6, I would want this project to use some if not all of the principles set out in the Learning Landscapes in Higher Education (2010) (7) paper. These being:

1. Drive research into effective teaching and learning.

2. Provide support models for staff and students on how to use innovative spaces, with provision for mentoring.

3. Include students, as clients and collaborators, ensuring their voices are heard.

4. Evaluate spaces in ways that are academically credible, based on measures of success that reflect the kinds of activities that are taking place.

5. Understand the importance of time as an issue for space planning: not just space, but space-time.

6. Connect the learning and teaching space with the campus as a whole, in ways that articulate the vision and mission of the university.

7. Recognise and reward leadership that supports the development of learning and teaching spaces.

8. Create formal and informal management structures that support strategic experimentation.

9. Clarify roles, grounded in supportive relationships between and across professional groups.

10. Intellectualise the issues: generate debate on the nature of academic values and the role and purpose of higher education: the idea of the university.


As the project’s aims is to look at multi versatile spaces I would want to use ‘…multi-factor, multi-method analyses…’ (6). I would use:

1. ‘Concept Mapping’ as a data collection method, ‘…[as it] is especially valuable when researchers want to involve relevant stakeholder groups in the act of creating the research project.’ (14)

2.  ‘Structuration Theory’ is a social theory of the creation and reproduction of social systems that is based in the analysis of both structure and agents (see structure and agency), without giving primacy to either. Further, in structuration theory, neither micro- nor macro-focused analysis alone are sufficient.

3. ‘Contextual Design’ as a process that consists of the following top-level steps: contextual inquiry, interpretation, data consolidation, visioning, storyboarding, user environment design, and prototyping.’

4. Bricolage and Assemblage Methods: The idea of research as an assemblage derives from the DeleuzoGuattarian view of assemblages as ‘machines’ that link elements together affectively to do something, to produce something. Applying the conception of a ‘machinic assemblage’ different stages in the research process such as data collection or analysis, or techniques used, for example, to sample data or increase validity, can be treated as a machine that works because of its affects.

Project’s Alignment to College Priorities & Intended Impact:

It would address, ‘Improving student transition, understandings of independent learning &

Retention and the ‘Innovation of use of physical and digital learning spaces with an

emphasis on flexibility and change’.

If we want to be for, ‘..for the curious, the brave and the committed: those who want to transform themselves and the world around them,…’ we need physical spaces, conceptual space, virtual space and representational places that foster these aims. We have a chance to do this as we transform and transpose from one place, LCC on the north side of Elephant and Castle to the south side of where we are now. We have great opportunity to use our existing infrastructures to model new ones for our new building in 2022. This project I hope you be a small part of helping this transformation. I would want it to be a collaboration between all our stakeholders, from Deans to students from Estates to Teaching and Learning academics, subject specialists to workshop technicians, Associate Lecturers to Quality managers and everything and every body in-between. Without all voices being heard and given the chance to help build these new experiences we could be left with retrofitting spaces reactively rather than being proactively creating productive innovative teaching and learning spaces.

Using UALs Strategic 2015-2022 this project would place curiosity, making, critical questioning and rigour at the heart of our curriculum and create the spaces for this to happen. This project would engage,’… our students in developing flexible modes of teaching delivery, taking into account the particular characteristics of a London-based education and advances in digital technologies. At the core of this project would be to place diversity and inclusivity at the core of our recruitment and education for staff and students, and the access to inclusive spaces and place where they help at home with us.

Project Dissemination:

This would be through an ‘unconference’ so  “the sum of the expertise of the people in the audience is greater than the sum of the expertise of the people on stage.” As Nick Terry  (23) says ‘The concept is fairly simple. At an unconference, no topics have been predetermined, no keynote speakers have been invited, no panels or working groups have been arranged. Instead, the event lives and dies by the participation of its attendees. They decide what topics will be discussed and they convene the individual breakout sessions. In other words, an unconference has no agenda until the participants create it.’ This would then lead to an ‘unwebsite’ with perhaps all the key aspects of the ‘unconference’ kept intact.


1. Designing Spaces for Effective Learning: A guide to 21st century learning space design (2006) JISC

2. THE HILT ROOMGUND 522 (2013)

3. Innovative learning spaces (2011)

4. Innovation Spaces: The New Design of Work (2017)

5. Classrooms of the future (2002)

6. The impact of new learning spaces on teaching practice (2013)

7. Learning Landscapes in Higher Education (2010)

8. A Guide Planning for Assessing 21st Century Spaces for 21st Century Learners

9. Design for Learning Spaces and Innovative Classrooms (2013)

10. Forms of Learning Spaces

11. State Of The Estate

12. Learning in Liminal Spaces

13. The Liminal Space Consultancy

14. Using Concept Maps to Gather Data

15. Learning Spaces Collaboratory

16. Braided Learning – a theoretical background

17. Learning Spaces – Exploring Complexity Beyond The Seminar Room

18. Tinkering with the Idea of Bricolage

19. The Critical Potential of Experience in Experience-Centered Design

20. Contextual Design

21. Landscapes of Practice: Bricolage as a Method for Situated Design

22. Mixed methods, materialism and the micropolitics of the research-assemblage

23. What on earth is an ‘unconference’?