Creative River Journeys: Using Reflective Practice Within A Practice-Led Research Context

Ms. Kylie Stevenson & Ms. Sue Girak - Post Graduate
2012 Conference

The past two years have seen Kylie Stevenson deeply immersed in designing and enacting a PhD research project, Creative River Journeys. The project involves her working with a group of nine artist-researchers who, like Kylie, are also completing their PhDs (or research Masters) at Edith Cowan University, Western Australia, and for whom creative practice is a key component of their projects, some identifying as practice-led researchers and others not. The co-author of this paper, Sue Girak, is one of those artist-researcher participants. Prior to engaging in the Creative River Journey project, Sue had elected to use the methodology a/r/tography that Kylie also uses. Sue is completing a M.Ed. by research, with a studio practice component. Other artist-researcher participants come from the disciplines of visual arts, performing arts and creative writing. This paper will show how, through conversation and reflection, Kylie and Sue have worked together to document the critical moments – that is, moments of significance or change – in Sue’s creative and research practice using a reflective practice tool called the Creative River Journey. Kylie is particularly driven by her deep interest in identifying meaningful methodologies for practice-led researchers. In this paper, Kylie will give a brief overview of the PhD project including Sue and Kylie’s chosen methodology, a/r/tography. Kylie will outline the theoretical foundations of the project that, like a/r/tography, involve the conceptual terrains of art practice, research and teaching. Using Sue’s practice as a case study, Kylie and Sue will illustrate how the Creative River Journey acts as reflective practice to document the creative process, thus facilitating connections for the artist-researcher between practice and research. Kylie and Sue will propose, with reference to this artist-researcher’s Creative River Journey, that the reflective practice is a method of facilitating and documenting practice-led research.

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About the author

Kylie Stevenson is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication and Arts at Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia. In her PhD research project, Kylie has engaged closely with a group of artist-researchers through reflective arts practice in order to explore their emerging practice-led research methodologies. Kylie has worked at RMIT University teaching creative writing, and as a teacher and curriculum writer for the Victorian Department of Education. In 2004, Kylie completed a novel as part of a practice-led research M.A. degree in Creative Writing at RMIT, and has recently shifted her writing practice to poetry in a year-long advanced poetry masterclass. Kylie has been the recipient of four postgraduate scholarships and awards. In 2008, Kylie was awarded a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust scholarship for an M.Phil. degree in Arts, Culture and Education at the University of Cambridge.

Sue Girak is an M.Ed. candidate in the School of Education at Edith Cowan University, in Perth, Western Australia. Sue’s arts practice-led research in developing environmental sustainability awareness through the creative reuse of materials arose from a wish to develop a more sustainable visual arts practice. Sue has taught at a number of primary schools in Western Australia both as a generalist teacher, visual arts specialist and artist in residence. In 2010 and 2011 Sue was commissioned by the City of Joondalup to collaborate with primary school children to design and make mosaics for the city’s mural arts program. Sue is currently preparing for a solo exhibition based on her research.