Siân will be using her residency to work on her PhD project.
artwork artists working: A study of the ways that artists make meaning beyond production.
Abstract: This thesis documents a practice-led PhD research project which explores the question of how the artist might be understood separately to the artwork that they produce and how we might reframe the ways that we value the artist by studying ‘the doing’ of their artistic process and the ways that they order their lives to enable their artistic practice.
The research project draws from the researchers’ own artistic practice and experiential expertise, along with empirical research with 26 artists over 2 years, through a combination of interactive and relational studio conversations, object elicitations, and interviews, situated first in Glasgow and then in Sydney. This choice of locations was a result of the pandemic lockdowns that happened during the course of this research, as the researcher was overseas during the border closures. The closure of institutional gallery spaces during successive lockdowns in Glasgow provided a new perspective to the research, which studied the ways that artists worked between 2020 – 2022, while they were unable to exhibit artwork or engage with physical cultural spaces.
Using feminist and queer theories, the thesis argues against the understanding of artists just as producers of art objects and proposes that artists, rather, are tricksters – people who live outside heteropatriarchal understandings of time, labour and capital, and invent new ways of being in the world through ‘the doing’ of studio practice. This ‘doing’ necessitates an ‘undoing’ or withdrawal from standard industrial measurements of value and productivity.
The findings demonstrate how artists work to create meaning beyond the production of artwork, and how they manoeuvre though the world despite financial precarity and government austerity. The thesis proposes a radical repositioning of the ways that governments, artist organisations and funding bodies engage with artists. It also proposes a shift in how artists might see their own contribution to society beyond the static white cubes of institutions and the piecemeal tokens of prizes, awards, and grants.