Reflections on further study

I have already mentioned in an earlier blog that I was finding it difficult to get sufficient interest in my research proposal, and where there was, I could not find a Phd supervisor available this coming year. Here is the story so far.Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 12.20.02

I went to two PhD open days at CSM in December, but felt that facilities in my field of interest available to me as a PhD student were insufficient, and therefore it was a less suitable University for me. I am already using CSM digital fabrication and digital media 4D facilities and technical support, albeit ‘under the radar’. However these are explicitly off limits as a PhD student, as CSM Kings Cross is apparently for BA students only, so a lot less easy to get away with using them as a bona fide CSM post graduate student. Their tutors also seemed to be a lot more comfortable with purely academic PhD’s than practice based. So I opted to apply to CCW instead.

At CCW, I could continue to use CSM Kings Cross facilities as I have been doing, and I like the less commercial and more art school feel of CCW, particularly Camberwell and Chelsea, which both have foundries to support my current practice (which CSM does not). However, I made the interview but was not offered a place. The key interviewers really did not understand my proposal to create immersive experiences of past digital art installations for our cultural legacy.  They thought that it was merely another, but novel, method of documentation. They completely missed the point. perhaps because they had very limited experience, if any, of developments in Virtual and Mixed Reality. I later found out that the most senior interviewing professor had been physically sick after trying an early VR headset. That may have sealed my fate!!

I went to an open day at Oxford University, Ruskin School of Art recommended to me by Prof Stephen Farthing. I had the opportunity to discuss my proposal with one of the new professors who had recently joined their faculty from the Royal College of Art. He was most helpful and suggested that Oxford Ruskin was not the best place for my particular line of research, suggesting that I contact a specific PhD supervisor he recommended. Ruskin support for digital art, in particular digital fabrication and with no Virtual Reality was also extremely limited. I later met an Oxford/Ruskin DPhil student who presented at a digital conservation conference at the Jerwood gallery. She said her experience with support at Ruskin for her DPhil research suggested that the Ruskin professor was probably right to deflect me from applying to Oxford. I therefore contacted and subsequently applied to RCA, but during supervisor negotiations, she said that she was not the best person, and referred it to two other professors, who responded in the same way. So that application failed too.

My application to Kingston University went much better. I had previously met their head of postgraduate research at a PhD funding conference at UCL, who after discussion, invited me to apply to Kingston. I was interviewed by a professor who was very familiar with the Factum Foundation (who use scanning and 3d printing to resurrect ancient architectural sites such as Palmyra), and who saw similarities with my practice and the potential of my research for cultural legacy. However, they invited me to reapply next year, as despite wanting to offer me a place and to support an application for LDOC funding this year, they could not find a suitable supervisor.

Then after a tutorial by Dr Nick Lambert, a professor at UCL Birkbeck and Head of Research at Ravensbourne, I asked if I could give him my ‘elevator pitch’. He immediately got what I was on about and offered to be my PhD supervisor with access to both Universities he worked for. He needed to get a joint supervisor from Birkbeck, and referred my application to him. A similar outcome to Kingston. Great idea, bit full up at the moment. Please try again next year.

By now I am getting somewhat frustrated, so I thought why not do the research anyway for a year. This time under my own steam, without the umbrella of a PhD. So I applied for the Mead Fellowship, which I wrote about in my previous blog. Fingers crossed I said, but sadly, and despite encouraging words from the organisers, I did not make the first cut. There were 220 applications, and others were more deserving.

On reflection, I have now made a decision. I will not apply for any more PhD’s this year (I was thinking of UCL Slade and Cambridge University). I will instead carry on my own research, unfunded if necessary. This will enable me to decide whether my research captures enough interest and will test feasibility. Hopefully enough to consider making further enquiries and PhD applications for 2018, and after I have passed my MA.

In the meantime, I have been invited by a senior curator at the V&A (who curated the David Bowie exhibition) to follow up with him to see if there is interest from Douglas Dodds, the senior curator for the V&A Digital Art Collection. Further, during my exhibit at the Tate Exchange, I had a discussion with someone who recommended that I approach the Arts and Humanities Research Council for funding and support under their collaborative PhD track. Here’s what they say about it on their website:

ARHC Collaborative Doctoral Awards

Collaborative Doctoral Awards (CDAs) provide funding for doctoral studentship projects, proposed by a university based academic, to work in collaboration with an organisation outside of higher education. They are intended to encourage and develop collaboration and partnerships providing opportunities for doctoral students to gain first-hand experience of work outside the university environment and enhance the employment-related skills and training a research student gains during the course of their award.

The projects also encourage and establish links that can have long-term benefits for both collaborating partners, providing access to resources and materials, knowledge and expertise that may not otherwise have been available and also provide social, cultural and economic benefits to wider society.

I will follow this up.

Finally I am angling to ‘Do a Donald’ (inside joke) to continue in some guise  at UAL Camberwell next year.

Onwards and Upwards!!!!……….Hopefully.



2 thoughts on “Reflections on further study

  1. anomiepete

    Well you’ve certainty tried all the options Terry. But you’re probably correct that the year of independent study should give you application next year a better chance by offering more understandable shape.



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