The Work Room PhD Partnership Project

By Morag Iles, intro from The Work Room on 07.02.18

The Work Room have been invited by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities to be an industry partner in a funded PhD along with Cove Park and The Bothy Project, focusing on the impact of artists’ residencies. The PhD opportunity has being awarded to candidate Morag Iles who will be based at Glasgow University, working with Glasgow School of Art. 

From Morag: 

I am a researcher and contemporary art producer based in North East England and Scotland. My doctoral research project is titled ‘What impact do artist residencies’ have on individual artists practice, and what value they bring to communities and the wider sector?’

The value of artistic practice is notoriously hard to define, especially with regards to its long-term impacts. Collaborating with industry partners Cove Park, The Bothy Project and The Work Room I will explore methods to evaluate the impacts that artists’ residencies have on long-term artistic practice, placing the artists experience at the heart. I will analyse existing data and generate new data to quantify and describe the value of rural, urban and interdisciplinary residencies. The research is being funded by the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) through the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). I am based at Glasgow University, working with Glasgow School of Art.

I am conducting my doctoral research part-time, whilst working as a freelance producer. I am fortunate to work across a range of art forms, specialising in contemporary performance practice and visual art. Companies and artists I work with include Unfolding Theatre, Arts&Heritage, Lizzie J Klotz, Toby Peach, Coney and The Empty Space.

I am Company Producer for Unfolding Theatre, a theatre company based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Unfolding Theatre use participatory arts practice to create nationally touring theatre that delights in bringing people together. My role is to support the company to grow and develop operationally. Unfolding Theatre have been welcomed into the 2018 -2022 Arts Council England Portfolio as National Portfolio Organisation (NPO).

I am an Associate for Arts&Heritage, a contemporary arts agency supporting artists and heritage organisations to explore new ways of working together, often resulting in extraordinary new artworks that bring history alive in unexpected ways. I project coordinate the Meeting Point programme, supporting Museums across the North of England to commission contemporary artists. In April 2018 Arts&Heritage also join Arts Council England National Portfolio as a Sector Support Organisation (SSO)

In 2013, I co-founded Space Six CIC, an artist-led-organisation providing studio and rehearsal space for performing artists in North East England. Space Six provide events, development opportunities and collaborative spaces to connect artists and resource. It is based within Commercial Union House, a building which houses a diverse artistic community at the heart of Newcastle’s East Pilgrim Street Development Site.

It was whilst setting up Space Six that I became interested in artists’ working environments, particularly the impacts of rural and urban spaces on artists’ practice. How do or can residency spaces affect an artist’s development? What influence does it have on the artistic work that is publically presented? What role does it play in an artist’s career?

I would like to get to know as many people as possible and there will be opportunities throughout the project for me to meet with members to discuss the research further or share your experiences.




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