What is ‘Value’ When Aesthetics Meets Ethics Inside and Outside of The Academy

Barbara Bolt (UoM), Kate MacNeill (UoM), Megan McPherson (UoM), Pia Ednie-Brown (RMIT), Estelle Barrett (Deakin University), Carole Wilson (FUA), Sarah Miller (UoW) and Marie Sierra (UNSW)
2017 Conference

As a ‘new’ research discipline, the creative arts challenges ethics understandings with emergent research practices. In this paper we focus on a current learning and teaching project that attends to ethical know-how in creative practice research in order to address the gaps between institutional research know-how and the practices of creative practitioners in the world. Graduate creative practice researchers working in the university are required to observe the University’s Code of Conduct for Research and adhere to the guidelines provided by the National Statement, however practicing artists working in the community are not similarly constrained. Once creative practice PhD graduates leave the university, they are no longer required to gain ethics clearance for their work but use their own developed sense of ethics to make “judgment calls.”

Ethical know-how is situated, contextual, and a mainstay of all professional practices in action. The aim of this paper is to examine the notion of value as it is perceived by academics, practitioners and PAR researchers in and beyond the university as this relates ethical know-how. Through an examination of a survey of PAR supervisors and RHD candidates this paper will discuss issues specific to the creative practice disciplines. This analysis enables us to raise issues specific to the creative arts disciplines and will help us prepare our graduate researchers to become ethical and innovative practitioners in the real world.

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About the author

Barbara Bolt is a practising artist and art theorist and is Associate Dean of Research at the Victorian College of the Arts and the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music at the University of Melbourne. She has written extensively on artistic research and the ethical implications of art as research. Bolt is currently the lead researcher on an Office of Learning and Teaching project, “Developing new approaches to ethics and research integrity training through challenges posed by creative practice research.” She is author of Art Beyond Representation: The Performative Power of the Image (I.B. Tauris, 2004) and Heidegger Reframed: Interpreting Key Thinkers for the Arts (I.B.Tauris, 2011) and has co-edited four volumes including Material Inventions: Applying Creative Arts Research, London (I.B.Tauris, 2014), Carnal Knowledge: Towards a “New Materialism” through the Arts, London, (I.B. Tauris, 2013) and Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry, (I.B.Tauris, 2007). Her website is: http://www.barbbolt.com/


Megan McPherson is a practising artist and researcher with almost 20 years teaching experience the university art studio. Her research focus is on change and relations in the arts and professional practice education using feminist and queer theory and methodologies. Megan is conducting a transdisciplinary research study of subjectivity, agency and affect in the crit in the university art school. Her other research work has included a number of studies in the art school and creative industries, creative practice HDR and ethics, and academic professional development and use of social media. Her tweets and Instagram are @MeganJMcPherson


Estelle Barrett is Research and HDR Coordinator at the Institute of Koorie Education, Deakin University. She has co-edited three books with Barbara Bolt: Material Inventions: Applying Creative Research (2014) Carnal Knowledge: Towards a “New Materialism” Through the Arts, (2012) and Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry, (2007 reprinted 2010). She has published reviews and articles in Cultural Studies Review, Zetesis, Real Time, Artlink, Text, Social Semiotics, Double Dialogues, The International Journal of Critical Arts and the Journal of Visual Arts Practice. Her monograph, Kristeva Reframed: Interpreting Key Thinkers for the Arts, (2011), examines the relevance of Kristeva’s work for the creative arts and artistic research. She is a Research Fellow of the International Centre for Fine Arts Research, Birmingham University and a Member of COST, (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action New Materialism.