- Place-based cultural and literary studies (particularly in relation to Bloomsbury, London)
- Research as creative practice
- Arts infrastructures and institutions
- Public engagement & co-produced research methodologies
- Arts and health
My research interests intersect with my professional practice (and vice-versa). In broad terms, all my work explores what I call the ‘cultural politics of cultural practice’. I am interested in the structures, intuitions and social contexts in which cultural/artistic practice takes place, particularly in relation to collaboration and ideas of artistic community. A lot of my work has explored festivals of various kinds, but I am also interested in galleries, museums, archives, funding and policy infrastructures in both the cultural sphere and higher education.
Increasingly I’m interested in activity that happens on the fringes of mainstream cultural/ educational infrastructure and which challenges it. Small museums, micro-galleries, home archives, self-publishing, outsider artists, collectors, community art activity and art collectives are all of interest. I’m fascinated by how such people and projects sit in relation to the structures that surround them, the motivations behind them, and how they connect to wider publics.
Research meets practice
My research has developed alongside an ongoing professional career in community arts and public engagement. These two sides of my practice overlap significantly. A large proportion of my research is therefore explored through practice. I have worked collaboratively with a number of artistic groupings and community arts practices – including for example conducting narrative interviews with participants in Nottingham City Arts’ Arts on Prescription programme and working with a number of grassroots arts charities, initiatives and festivals.
I’m interested in exploring ideas of ‘research practice’ that sit outside or complicate the professional infrastructures of higher education. I’m interested in independent, unfunded, very short (one day) projects and projects that are highly collaborative, interdisciplinary, perhaps even a bit messy….
A current interest is in creating experiments in ‘small’ cultural infrastructure which provide a framework for asking critical questions of larger, more powerful structures. Bloomsbury Festival in Box – which created a mini, portable festival – is one example of this. Another more recent example is The Secret Diary of Bloomsbury – through which I co-created a life writing/mass-documentary project that continues to run in Bloomsbury.
‘Documenting Disappearance: A Day in the “Research Laboratory” of Iona and Peter Opie’. Performance Research. (2020)
‘Festival in a Box’: Development and qualitative evaluation of an outreach programme to engage socially isolated people with dementia. Dementia: the international journal of social research and practice. (2016).
Bloomsbury Festival in a Box: engaging socially isolated people with dementia. Final Project Report to AHRC. (2014).
Arts on Prescription: a qualitative longitudinal outcomes study (co-authored with Dr Theodore Stickley). Public Health. (2013).
The Communality of the Underdeck-Dirty Pretty Surrealism. Sample chapter from PhD thesis. (2012).
‘Cells, Recesses, Tombs: Vertiginous Spaces in Bataille’s Le Bleu du ciel’. MHRA Working Papers in the Humanities, Vol. 4.(2009).
‘Want to save the humanities? Try getting off your pedestal’. Wonkhe. (2019).
‘6 Hidden Gems to Check Out as Part of this Free Festival’. Londonist. (2019).
‘Sex, solitude and secrets: what we learnt from Londoners’ anonymous diaries’. (With Elizabeth Dearnley). The i. (2018)
Tensions between the everyday and the exceptional. Arts Professional. (2018).
Being Human and the British Academy. Guest blog for the British Academy. (2017).
Kindred Spirits? University/ cultural partnerships. Arts Professional. (2016).
Still Invited to the Party: Festival in a Box. Arts Professional. (2016).
Festival in a Box: archives. Talking Humanities (blog). (2015).
Being Human: a new forum for public engagement with the humanities. NCCPE guest blog. (2014).