Inventive Synergy: Studio-based Research Beyond Reflective Practice


A studio-based doctoral research project is a peculiar two-pronged process of making and writing, aimed towards an outcome of both artwork and dissertation. How to work in synergy towards a successful thesis, is the focus of this paper, which explores processes in depth and poses questions, such as: How to develop an initial idea in multiple directions, and through two distinct modes of expression, without losing the plot into chaos? What is the matter with Reflective Practice as the model for a creative methodology? How to construct and apply an inventive methodology that embraces studio practice, theories and writing? How to achieve synergy where studio-based research and reflective dissertation work together, rather than either component becoming reduced to an explication of the other? How is artwork able to function as articulate communication, how can it be manoeuvred to ‘speak’ without shouting, but also avoid being dense and hermetic?

This paper may come up with occasional answers, but more often suggests potentialities, while validating questioning as an important aspect of a creative and successful methodology. Considering the whole thesis as collage of interconnected fragments, I propose that a methodology can be constructed by drawing on philosophical and cultural theories, to bring together complexities through interweaving experience, theory and practice: an expressive process, while situated within a critical context.

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Dr. Irmina van Niele was born in Amsterdam 1949. She worked in Paris prior to arriving in Australia in 1973. She has a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Hons) and a PhD from the University of South Australia. Selected recent exhibitions include Transient Traces, Liverpool Street Gallery, Adelaide (2005), Far from Solid, Liverpool Street Gallery, Adelaide (2004) and Words for Wandering, State Library of South Australia (2003–2006). She is currently part time lecturing in textiles and tutoring in art history and theory at the South Australian School of Art, University of South Australia.