James F. SILLITOE & Allan MANN & Loris BUTTON

Underpinning Practice-Based Creative Research with Quality Supervision


In the past few years, there has been some interesting debate on the notion of postgraduate research by the exegesis route, which is currently the most favoured approach to higher degree qualification in the creative arts arena.1 The production of an artwork, which is accompanied by scholarly written exposition, has become a well-accepted way in which cultural and social knowledge is generated within the creative disciplines.2

Some problems, however, still remain with the quality supervision of creative arts postgraduate students because of the concurrent requirements of having a supervisor with a significant reputation in the student’s field of creative endeavour and the skills to advise on the preparation of the scholarly document that expounds on the creative work. In addition, because of the recent history of the exegesis route to higher degrees, there are relatively few experienced research staff in creative arts departments.

At the University of Ballarat’s Arts Academy, we have been developing an approach to the supervision of creative Masters and Doctoral exegeses in the context of small staff numbers, a wide variety of practice areas, and a relatively large number of enrolled students. Results to date have been very encouraging, and this paper will report on the way in which we are attempting to provide each student with the best educational experience possible and produce world-class creative higher degree graduates within a School that has a limited financial and personnel resource base.3

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James F. SILLITOE & Allan MANN & Loris BUTTON:

Loris Button grew up in Melbourne and commenced undergraduate studies in painting and drawing at the Phillip Institute of Technology in the mid-‘70’s, followed by a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Tasmania in the early ’80’s. Since 1990, Loris has taught at the Arts Academy, University of Ballarat, and is now the Coordinator of the Painting Studio. She is currently undertaking doctoral studies. From the late ’70’s onwards, Loris has regularly exhibited in both solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia. Her work is represented in collections that include the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery and the University of Ballarat, as well as numerous private collections.

Associate Professor Allan Mann was born in Scotland and undertook his undergraduate studies at Glasgow School of Art, later emigrating to Australia in the mid-‘70’s where he has held academic appointments at Queensland, NSW and Victorian tertiary institutions. Having exhibited widely as a printmaker, his work is held in public, private and corporate collections in Australia and internationally. Allan has also authored numerous conference papers and journal articles. He is presently engaged in doctoral research and is Deputy Head of the Arts Academy at the University of Ballarat, where he supervises graduate candidates and is also the co-ordinator of Honours and Graduate studies in the Creative Arts.

Associate Professor James Sillitoe graduated with a PhD in Science from the University of Melbourne in 1969, and has subsequently worked as a lecturer in applied chemistry, education and student support in the higher education system in Australia. Since 1998, he has been mainly involved in research education for Doctoral candidates and Masters candidates by research across all faculties of the higher education system. Associate Professor Sillitoe acts as supervisor and research advisor for higher degree students and supervisors, and is currently located in the Office for Postgraduate Research at Victoria University. In this role he liaises for one day a week with the research area of the University of Ballarat.