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RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy

The College has developed its research environment considerably since the 1996 RAE. The major element is that a new university, CUC (Combined Universities in Cornwall), is planned, with FCA as the Hub. The first Phase of the Hub (£40M) is being designed to accommodate stepped growth in the College's research activity along with a new learning resource centre shared with the University of Exeter. Dr David Cottington and Dr Penny Florence are both now Professors. They have recently been joined by Gaynor Kavanagh, as Dean of Faculty, Media and Culture. The research outputs of these three comprise the College’s submission under RA2 for UoA 60.They register a common concern with institutions and conventions of art practice – a shared set of interests that has positioned HAAD as the springboard from which we are working in staff and student research. Cottington’s work on the institutions and formations of the early 20th century avant-garde has been complemented by Florence’s explorations into the conventions of interpretation of visual texts, and their relation to questions of gender and practice. This in turn is complemented by Kavanagh's work on the role of museums in the construction of subjectivities. These common concerns have given coherence and momentum to individual and group research programmes across the College, via initiatives that can be summarised as follows (see also section b):
§ Sustained support, including sabbatical leave, for advanced research projects, including those for practice-related research, that have fallen within this frame of reference;
§ Successful bids for external funding for individual research projects;
§ The convening of conferences, research seminars and other events that have explored themes, within this frame, of common interest to both historical/theoretical and practice-based researchers;
§ The establishment of an MA History of Modern Art and Design, and the awarding of Mphil/PhD studentships for research, that draw on the expertise available in HAAD at the College.
There are currently 15 MPhil/PhD students overall, 3 of whom are part-time. 7 of them are fully HAAD projects, and 6 others are in cognate areas, including siting practice related methodologies within history and theory. The MA HMAD began in 1994 and the PhD in April 1995. There are currently 6 postgraduate courses, two of which are offered to MA level, and all of which are planned to be so by 2002. By then, the total number of postgraduate courses is planned to be 11. Clearly, expansion at postgraduate level is rapid, an indicator of a healthy Research culture. Our first two students have successfully completed their PhDs in history and theory of art. Three others are at a very advanced stage. All but one of the full-time students are either supported, or have been supported, with an internal studentship.
Staff who register for an external PhD are supported with a substantial contribution to fees (in most cases this covers the whole) and favourable consideration for sabbatical time. The first of these, a practice- related study in the history of photography (UOA 64), is set for examination in Summer 2001.
Falmouth College of Arts has played a leading role in the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) initiative, and has recently appointed a full-time CUC Co-ordinator. The acquisition in 1999 of a second campus at nearby Tremough provided the necessary space for the realisation of plans including resource and research centres, the first of which in Digital Media is under construction. We have invested heavily in electronic resources to improve access to research information and sources, including recent additional HEFCE Resource Enhancement monies for Research dedicated equipment. The Library has also benefited from additional resources for its research collections over the period, through regular ringfenced allocations and two substantial additional injections.
RSU staff comprise the Director of Research (post established in 1996) and two Administrators. Working with the representative Research Committee, the Director of Research oversees research and research degrees and chairs the Direct Awards sub committee and the Research Degrees Management Group. She also sits on the Research Committee of the University of Plymouth and is active nationally in the SCOP research group (vice-chair) and CHEAD. The Research Committee, chaired by the Vice-Principal, is a pivotal element in the development and monitoring of research policy. Four Research Co-ordinators in specialist areas were appointed in 1999, with the main aim of ensuring constructive dialogue between members of the College research community and initiating developments and activities as appropriate. Cottington fulfils this role for HAAD. A Research Supervision Group provides a forum for mutual support and exchange between supervision staff, students and interested research-active staff who may become supervisors in future.
The establishment of the Research Degrees programme has been a major achievement in the period, and it is led from within the HAAD group. Florence’s specialist engagement with contemporary cultural theory and practices, in particular feminist studies and the aesthetics of difference, has provided a high quality foundation for the theoretical research interests of a cluster of our Mphil/PhD students. Complementing this, Cottington’s research interests in the field of Cubism, modernism and the early 20th century avant-garde, and his management of the MA HMAD, have provided support and example for the more empirical researches of others. The same is true of the growth of research-related appointments college-wide and of the research culture – the development and diversification of the latter by means of a portfolio of events ranging from informal lunchtime ‘sandwich seminars’ through one-day research exchange seminars to major three-day conferences in partnership with the Tate Gallery St Ives (see below) has been one of the group’s principal achievements. Among the additional consequences of these initiatives has been the emergence and development of practice-related research into questions of landscape and identity.
Individual research: Professors Cottington and Florence have maintained considerable research outputs and have benefitted from internal research support. The latter’s work in digital media as research tool has attracted attention, evidenced in the four publications that relate to it. Her work on aesthetics and the Cornell interview were also published in two places. Cottington’s long-term research into Cubism and the early 20th century artistic avant-gardes is now bearing fruit in the form of major publications. He is presently completing a book on cubism for Manchester University Press’s Critical Perspectives in Art History series, and researching a project (for which in 1999-2000 he was awarded an AHRB Research Leave grant and a Leverhulme Trust Research Award, each of approximately £10,000) that maps the ‘differential spaces’ of modernism in London and Paris c1900-1914. Kavanagh
has recently been researching traumatic memories and their recall within public environments as well as private ones. This work has led to a paper ‘Remembering our selves in the work of museums: trauma and the place of the personal in the public’ given at the Museums and Social Inclusions Conference held in Leicester in April 2000. The paper will appear in a volume of essays on social inclusion to be published by Routledge.
Conferences: The following have been organised by the HAAD group:
Imagining Cornwall: English Modernism, Tourism and the Pleasure Periphery, FCA/Tate Gallery St Ives, September 5-8,1994. Convened by Prof. Cottington, this was the first conference at FCA. Its interdisciplinarity drew a wide range of participants from Britain and the USA.
Feminism and the Aesthetics of Difference. September 8-9, 1995. Initiated and organised by FCA in partnership with the University of London School of Advanced Studies (IRS); held in London, Falmouth and at the Tate Gallery St Ives, this was a major event with 40 papers from scholars such as Profs. Ann Wagner (USA), Griselda Pollock and Elizabeth Grosz (Australia, now USA) and artists such as Bracha Ettinger. Convened by Prof. Florence, it also laid the foundation for Differential Aesthetics (Ashgate 2000).
Differential Spaces; the European Axes of British Modernism, FCA/ Tate Gallery St Ives, June 1999. This was convened by Prof. Cottington; a book related to the proceedings is under consideration.
Research partnerships: 1999 saw the launch of the FCA/Tate Fellowship, an annual joint small project award. An exhibition and pamphlet Artists and Writers in St Ives, plus video subtitling for the deaf, resulted in May 2000. The first Fellow’s contract has been extended to enable her to write a more extended paper.
Other recent events at the Tate Gallery St Ives have included a Day School on Mona Hatoum (organised by Florence with the Newlyn and the Tate Galleries) a joint presentation with artist and winner of the 1999 CAA critic’s prize, Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe and a joint presentation with Lubaina Himid, Artist in Residence.
In May and June of 1997 FCA contributed a series of four one-day symposia, ‘The Falmouth Dialogues’ to the major site-specific art event A Quality of Light , organised in conjunction with the Tate St Ives, the Newlyn Gallery and South West Arts. These symposia were themed in relation to the work on exhibition around west Cornwall, and the issues raised by it, as follows:
1) ‘Artists Talking’(chaired by Guy Brett ); 2) ‘Territory and Sight (chaired by Mark Howarth-Booth); 3) ‘Curating in the Public Domain (chaired by Sandy Nairne ); 4) ‘Light and Enlightenment’ (chaired by Ed Winters). In addition, Regional Research Seminars have been hosted in turn by FCA, Plymouth University, and Dartington College of Arts, intended primarily as a means of supporting, co-ordinating and developing MPhil and PhD research activities, but also to foster overall research exchange.

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Last updated 17 October 2003

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