Dr Jennifer Terry reports on a recent symposium that explored practice-led research in relation to Caribbean and diasporic culture.
On Weds 19 October 2016 ‘Caribbean and Diasporic Culture, Creativity and Research’ took place at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle. Co-organised by Jennifer Terry (English Studies and CVAC, Durham) and Laura Fish (Creative Writing, Northumbria), this symposium set out to think about practice-led research across disciplines and with particular respect to those who have found their creative work limited by existing frames and those who seek to initiate dialogues beyond dominant cultural traditions and institutions.
With just under thirty participants, the event brought together members of the public, practitioners, students, curators, cultural activists and academics.
The morning programme began with Joan Anim-Addo (Poet and Professor of Caribbean Literature and Culture at Goldsmiths, University of London) raising questions about serial exploitation of BAME artists, institutional contexts and collective agency. She was followed by Ingrid Pollard (Photographer and Media Artist) who shared her work on belonging and Britain, which draws on the colonial film unit archive at the BFI. After lunch Tina Gharavi (Filmmaker and Senior Lecturer in Digital Media/Film at Newcastle University) shared part of ‘Tribalism is Killing Us’, her provocative film on race and social conditioning that will be co-created via a participatory online platform. Lubaina Himid (Artist and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire) then spoke about her practice and creating ‘imagined conversations’ via her work series ‘cottom.com’ and ‘Naming the Money.’ The symposium concluded with a plenary discussion involving all; this picked up on earlier threads, further probed politics of exclusion in the Arts and in universities, and identified some areas of focus for future activities.
Bringing together discussion of literature, visual art, photography, film etc. yielded mutual benefits, not least because of the isolation of some practitioners occupying minority status in their daily working contexts. The sense of creative practice and ‘research’ broadly defined, that is research as finding things and finding things out as well as research as critical reflection on creative work, also proved generative.