Centre for Arts and Learning Research projects

Some of our ongoing research projects and consultancies.

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Dr Miranda Matthews

Dr Miranda Matthews is an artist-educator, researcher and writer. Miranda is Head of the Centre for Arts and Learning (CAL) at Goldsmiths, University of London. Before working in universities, Miranda taught art in London schools, sixth-form colleges and in community projects. Since 2016 Miranda has taught across the degree programmes in Goldsmiths, Educational Studies. Miranda researches and writes on issues of agency and representation in the arts, for students, for educators working in and beyond schools, universities and galleries, and for policymakers. Miranda Matthews develops programmes of research for CAL that connect with current critical issues such as Discomfort Zones (2019-20), Affective Digital Presence (2020-21) and Ecologies in Practice (2021-22). Miranda is a consultant academic for CAL partnership projects.

Links to articles that Miranda has published in 2021:

Finding Comfort within Discomfort

With the unprecedented circumstances of Covid-19, academics, students and people in all walks of life have had to adjust to being within what might previously have seemed to be the ‘comfort zone’ of their own home, but through limitations on travel and social gathering has changed its significance for many. This research project proposes to explore how domestic and local space is explored in new or extended forms of creative self-expression that support wellbeing.  

The arts are facing a time of great adjustment, in which the online interfaces for public engagement and learning opportunities could be more responsive to the experiences of change in localities and in everyday lives. This project intends to find out new ways in which creative learning communities can be built, and to make a new interactive interface between the research centre, staff, students and public audiences for the arts and learning.   

Visual and Discursive Practices for Intersectional Representation and Wellbeing among Undergraduates

Miranda Matthews is leading an interdisciplinary research project that investigates visual and discursive practices for the intersectional representation and wellbeing of undergraduates in British universities. This project aims to address students’ experiences of a transition away from their communities in starting university and to develop visual and discursive strategies for self-representation. The project works with lecturers who are applying visual practice in academic subjects, and with artist-educators who run extra-curricular creative sessions for undergraduates. 

Responses to Education Policy since 2010: An Investigation of the Adjustments and Strategies of Art and design Practitioners

Miranda Matthews is investigating the issues faced in the current policy climate by practitioners in art and design. Her empirical research among artist-educators aims to gather data on the adjustments made in department ethos, methods of resourcing through professional networks, and the individual and collaborative responses of practitioners. The intention of this research is to explore possibilities for building theoretical and practical support. Miranda is referring to de Beauvoir and Foucault, in reflecting upon ethos of ambiguity among artist-educators, and their negotiations of power structures. 

Dr Esther Sayers

Dr Esther Sayers is a creative practitioner, artist educator, curator, consultant and academic. She is Head of the MA Arts and Learning programme at Goldsmiths University in London. Current research includes ArtScapers where creative practice and pedagogy impacts on a whole school community, and City Mill Skate, a research project using shared design processes to construct skateable architecture within the new UCL East campus in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. www.citymillskate.com 

Film: City Mill Skate Cots and Lockdown’ pays attention to coronavirus related restrictions introduced in March 2020 and the profound effect that social distancing, skatepark closures and other measures had upon young people, London’s skateboard community, and a result, the City Mill Skate project too. City Mill Skate Dots and Lockdown.

Article: A conversation with Henry Kingsford to talk about the project and its origins, the context of the Olympic Park, how Sam Griffin and Esther Sayers managed to save City Mill Skate from failing due to lockdown by adapting to the pandemic. What are Skate Dots? – Skateboarding and London’s Olympic Park.

UCL Lunch Hour Lecture: Dr Esther Sayers, Professor Iain Borden, and Sam Griffin talk about how UCL's City Mill Skate project is working with East London artists and Skateboarders to form part of the UCL East campus, and explore the relevance of City Mill Skate to skateboarding, public space, and urban design worldwide. Watch the talk CMS LHL (YouTube Link).

UCL East Summer School: Skateboarding lessons, skate dot making and media workshops with City Mill Skate (Age: 12-14). During this week-long course young people will learn how to skateboard, how to design skate parks, and how to shoot action photos and film!

ArtScapers: Drawing on her expertise in arts education that spans creative practice, artist educator, curator, consultant and academic, the Contemporary Art Society and Insite Arts commissioned Dr Esther Sayers to write, ‘The Arts and Education Strategy for the North West Cambridge Public Art’ (2015) outlining a programme that would engage children, the community and artists. Using this strategy as a starting point, Sayers worked with the Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) to develop a new educational approach, ArtScapers, that built on the value of co-creation and learning for children, their families, teachers and schools.

This art practice programme aimed to empower young people to act as cultural ambassadors and teachers in their place-worlds and speaks to Page’s pedagogical praxis by enabling young people the opportunity to understand who they are in relation to where they are (Page 2019, 2020).

Positioning children, parents and teachers as co-researchers-learners-teachers or ‘ArtScapers’ enables communities to use arts practice and pedagogy to challenge power relations and realise social change. Understood through a practice research methodology, this act of placemaking, offers new ways of exploring the cultural politics of making, objects and events and new creative pedagogies (Sayers, 2018).

By exploring how creative activity can help young people become confident citizens, ArtScapers addresses the marginalisation of creative subjects and creative teaching and learning by collaboratively constructing alternatives that can deeply and systematically effect change in school communities.

Dr Maggie Pitfield 

Dr Maggie Pitfieldis a Visiting Research Fellow attached to the Centre for Arts and Learning. Previously she was Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Educational Studies at Goldsmiths. Maggie has taught on the Initial Teacher Education, Undergraduate and Masters programmes, and convened the MA in Children’s Literature for three years. 

For her doctoral studies Maggie researched the contribution that drama makes to teaching and learning in English, specifically how educational drama is employed as part of the reading process in the secondary English classroom. Before moving into higher education she taught English, drama and latterly media studies in London state secondary schools in a career spanning 24 years.  

Her current research includes a book (forthcoming) with Dr Jane Coles: Reading Shakespeare through Drama, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Maggie and Jane have also written an article that will be published in an edition of Teaching Shakespeare later this year. It is based on their keynote lecture for the London Association for the Teaching of English (LATE) conference in April 2021. 

Neil Walton

Neil Walton is Programme Leader for PGCE Art and Design, Goldsmiths, Educational Studies. The thematic questions Neil considers are, how can art education negotiate the movement between cultural inheritance, and discovery, innovation and critique? And, how can learners take possession of traditions which may be remote from their own experience? Neil approach these research questions using a schematic historicist framework of traditional, modern and contemporary ideas of art.

Neil is investigating how knowledge and judgment feature in Art and Design education drawing on sources in philosophical and psychoanalytic aesthetics. His approach is to reflect on and compare older and more recent writings in art education, hopefully shedding light on current ideas and practices and, in particular, on current debates about knowledge and the curriculum. 

Henrietta Patience

Henrietta is a Lecturer in Art and Design Education at Goldsmiths. Her current research explores how digital access might strengthen links between the Art and Design curriculum and creative professionals to support pathways to Art and Design Industries. The pandemic has created a catalyst for innovative educational approaches, new pedagogies, new learning spaces and virtual classrooms.

The recent introduction of Gatsby Benchmarks recognises that educators need to clearly link curriculum and careers. Reflecting on her own practice which involved exploring exciting, virtual collaborations with creative professionals and the use of inspirational role models Henrietta considers possibilities for raising young people’s career aspirations regardless of background or disadvantage.

Henrietta is developing a collaboration with Susan Coles at the National Society of Art and Design Education (NSEAD) as a call to action at The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design in Education.