Embodied Learning: Towards new models for engaging with art within the university

Professor Clive Barstow and Dr Paul Uhlmann
2014 Conference

Mark Johnson’s embodied mind thesis (2007) makes a case for aesthetics as being the most important philosophy for the 21st century. If this is the case, then art schools become even more important to the advancement of knowledge; however economic reforms clearly place traditional art schools under enormous pressure. These two points provide a background for considering two ongoing projects as flexible models for embodied learning – the Jimmy Pike Scholarship, which is an annual artist-in- residency programme for Aboriginal artists, and the Third Space Project which is an ongoing International exchange programme between Edith Cowan University and University of Shanghai Science and Technology. Both of these projects provide multiple platforms for dynamic exchange between students and artists, which engage and challenge all participants in new ways. These projects embrace embodied learning through art as a methodology that moves beyond language barriers within the multicultural community of the contemporary university. In this paper we consider something of the imperceptible transference of knowledge that is exchanged through diverse cultural groups interacting with each other while creating art. Importantly, these groups must engage with each and so the learning we focus on happens primarily through social interaction rather than relying on the internet – as such, these models work in opposition to the Massive Open Online Course model (MOOC). We consider how these kinds of projects might provide flexible integrated models, which assert the necessity and vitality of art as an open-learning platform within universities beset by constant change.

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About the author

Professor Clive Barstow is Head of School of Communications and Arts at Edith Cowan University, Honorary Professor of Art at the University of Shanghai Science and Technology China and global faculty member of Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey USA. Prior to moving to Australia, Clive taught at Middlesex University in London and the Kent Institute of Art and Design.
Clive is a practicing artist and writer. His exhibition profile includes thirty years of international exhibitions, artist residencies and publications in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. His work is held in a number of collections, including the Musse National d’Art Modern Pompidou Centre Paris and the British Council USA and he currently holds executive membership of the Printmakers Council of Australia and the Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools. Clive is also Director of the Open Bite Australia Print Workshop, which encourages the development of printmaking within a number of local indigenous communities.
His recent exhibitions include “Cultural Pruning” at the Meou Art Gallery Shanghai China and recent publications include “Encountering the Third Space: a study of indentity and hybridity through trans cultural artistic practice in Australia and China” Oxford University UK. In 2005 Clive was awarded the distinguished teaching award by the Australian Council for University Art and Design Schools, Australia’s peak body for creative arts teaching and research for his contribution to art and design education in Australia.

Paul Uhlmann is a practicing artist and educator with over 30 years experience who works in painting, printmaking and artists books. In 2012 his practice-led research PhD was conferred at RMIT. The title of his thesis is Painting, Sensation and Immanence: Creating Spaces for Contemplation through Immersive Installations. Within this project, which encompassed six years of research, he experimented with the camera obscura, the black mirror and methods of painting, drawing and printmaking processes in order to create works which investigated philosophies of process, becoming and impermanence. Case studies within his exegesis concerned the work of Caspar David Friedrich examined through the influence of the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza on the intellectual circle of the German Romantics. He created a series of immersive installations, which had as their aim the intention to induce the audience to contemplate interconnectiveness between all living beings. Paul studied art in Australia, Germany and the Netherlands. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and his work is held in many collections including; National Gallery of Australia; Art Gallery of New South Wales and National Gallery of Victoria. He has lectured for over twenty years in various institutions including Australian National University, Monash University and Edith Cowan University. He is currently coordinator of Visual Arts Course and coordinator of the Printmaking Studio at Edith Cowan University. He is a committee member of the Printmaking Council of Australia (PCA). His Work is currently touring nationally in Luminous World Contemporary Art from the Wesfarmers Collection Curated by Helen Carroll.