In an Artistic Research doctorate, sustained practice is the foundation of your journey. But what does it actually mean ‘to practice’?
Most Artistic Research PhD students find that their artistic practice becomes more sustained and rigorous throughout the doctorate. Depending on the nature of your project, you may focus your attention more closely on the practice itself, on the process, on the learnings from your outputs, or on other aspects you are exploring. Creative practice can lead a theoretical enquiry, focus on the production of a significant body of work, become a ground for examining an artistic process, or for developing new artistic methodologies. Either way, practicing becomes a sustained process of enquiry, of delving into your subject matter:
Normally, this process becomes much more refined as your degree progresses. It is often circular: you will notice that there are certain activities you return too, whether they are watching a video recording of a rehearsal to reflect and take notes, analysing an edited sequence, filming the same situation several times, brainstorming and sketching some ideas out in paper, or improvising. And what that practicing looks like, changes over time:
Proposals for Action: Developing Awareness of Your Practice
Thinking about how you may deepen your practice, take a moment to reflect:
- How do you prepare for your practice? Do you warm up / have a cup of tea / go to a studio / review yesterday’s work?
- What activities do you engage in when you practice? Write all of them down and note whether you perform them in a particular order.
At the end of a practice session, challenge yourself to do one of the following:
- Use coloured pencils to draw for two minutes in response to your session.
- Map the sensorial experience of your practice session.
- Write creatively for a timed two minutes.
- Photograph three key elements that emerged during the session (this may involve photographing the workspace, a piece of paper with notes, taking screenshots if you work digitally, everything goes!)
- Make a 2-minutes video on your phone saying what you did, why, and what you are going to do next. Watch it at the start of the next session as you prepare for your practice.
The following resource developed by Artistic Doctorates in Europe contains FAQs on developing your artistic practice. See pages 37–48 for more on talking about and representing practice, how much practice to submit and many more questions on the artistic doctorate.
Bacon, J., and Midgelow V., (2019) Reconsidering Research and Supervision as Creative Embodied Practice: Reflections from the Field, Artistic Doctorates in Europe: Third-cycle provision in Dance and Performance.