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Dr Becky Shaw

Reader in Fine Art and Postgraduate Research Tutor for the Art and Design Research Centre

Summary

I make process-based, live artworks in the social realm. Works are often formed across disciplines and are commissioned by a range of UK and international organisations. My practice-based doctorate (LJMU 1998) informs my practice and drives an interest in artist’s process and research methods more generally. After co-leading art and architecture gallery, STATIC between 2000-2006, I undertook a number of teaching and undergraduate and postgraduate course leadership roles. I now lead the PhD cohort in the Art and Design Research Centre- a role that brings together my interests in research, practice and education.

  • About

    I have been making artworks in the social realm since 1993. These works critically examine the relationship between the individual and the social, focusing on contexts of care, industry, infrastructure and education. The works sit within a tradition of process-based, or live art and involve scrupulous attention to context. Respected artist Simon Grennan described a 2005 work as ‘extraordinarily ambitious and challenging’. 

    Commissioning organisations include AIR at Central St Martins, New Art Gallery Walsall, The Sainsbury Centre, Watershed plus Calgary, Grizedale Arts, ICIA University of Bath, Sculpture Space USA and Amstelveen Art Incentive Prize. My practice-based doctorate (Liverpool John Moores University, 1998) questioned whether palliative care patients were passing, spending, or wasting time, when making collaborative sculpture. Aspects of the findings were published in nursing and palliative care literature and conferences, generating an interest in the relationship between art and health, and the role of art across disciplines. 

    These interests developed in a number of roles: from 2000-2006 I co-lead STATIC, an art and architecture organisation that sought to challenge ways that culture was represented and understood in the City. STATIC produced an online journal, live works and participated in large European networks including ‘The Autonomy Project’ and ‘Cork Caucus’. After leaving STATIC I undertook teaching roles in Fine Art undergraduate and postgraduate courses and led MA Fine Art and BA Creative Art Practice, at Sheffield Hallam. 

    My work with undergraduate and postgraduate students focuses on the language of making, so process becomes the principle that unites both my research and teaching. My current role as Postgraduate Research Tutor in the Art and Design Research Centre enables me to bring together my interests in practice, research, education, and artists’ development, and to apply the, to developing a vibrant and supportive research culture for doctoral researchers.

    Infrastructure

    My research seeks ways to articulate our experience of (and our mutually constitutive relationship with) large social systems, including infrastructure, values and institutions. My research employs practical and speculative experiment to experience, acknowledge or congeal our experience of the social. Public infrastructure (roads, water, energy etc) and the public institutions that house education, care, work etc are material and substantial, and at the same time they are a constructed form of, and a site of production of, publicness.

    Visibility

    When working with infrastructure and institutions part of what is being explored is the way the situation makes itself visible or invisible, and the way that its scale is glimpsed or buried by individuals. Given this, its impossible to ignore the way that an art process might react with this, by, for example, being deliberately deployed by a commissioner to make aspects deemed ‘positive’ more visible than others. As part of an inquiry into infrastructure it is important not to ignore the infrastructures that inform art production, including how art education, research and artists are themselves constructed. 

    Materiality 

    While the work I make might be considered ‘dematerialised’, I have an on-going interest in the ways that objects and social life are intertwined and inseparable. Sometimes the live works I make are anchored or accessed by objects that carry the history of past processes and instigate new activities.

  • Teaching

    As Reader in Fine Art, I undertake personal research, and work on a number of collaborative research projects with colleagues at SHU and other HEI. I support the work of the ADRC by functioning as a staff mentor. 

    As Postgraduate Research Tutor for ADRC I work closely with my colleagues in the C3RI, and teams of supervisors, develop a vibrant research culture for doctoral students. ADRC students have studio provision at the iconic Park Hill flats, with S1 Artspace. I support this studio community and am responsible for student progression. In C3RI we work closely to develop a relevant and challenging training programme. In 2015 we instigated a project called ‘Method’. This was an experimental process that sought to dismantle conventional expectations of conferences. Rather than speaking of their findings, research students from across the University were tasked to examine their research process, trying to get in the space where methods are understood not as blanket solutions to apply, but as acts with form, intentions and consequences. In 2018 we will add another conference, on Impact- enabling our students to thoughtfully and critically explore what impact can be. 

    C3RI is part of the AHRC Heritage Consortium and also the North of England Consortium for Arts and Humanities. These partnerships broaden our community and bring in access to additional training. I am involved in recruitment and support of students in these consortia and supervise a number of HC students. In 2018 SHU will convene the Heritage Consortium conference. 

    I am interested in the debates that surround practice-based research so as part of my role I seek out opportunities to work with colleagues who lead programmes in other HEI. We are currently working with colleagues at Birkbeck and Huddersfield. 

    As PGRT I give additional mentoring to research students, build supervision teams and also provide supervisor mentoring. As a part of my PGRT role, I sit in the Faculty Research Ethics Committee. In addition to my role I also sit on the University Academic Misconduct Board. 

    I supervise a number of doctoral students- focusing on studies that are interdisciplinary and which question the role of making and the made object. In 2015 I was awarded a University Inspirational Research Supervisor Award.

    Subject area

    Fine Art

    Courses

    Fine Art MA and MFA

    Modules

    Final research Module MA and MFA

  • Research

    How Deep is your Love? Exploring Calgarian’s attachment to their watershed

    Studio Inside, Studio Outside: exploring the ‘disciplining’ of art and design studio spaces, with James Corazzo and Jerome Harrington.

    CAhN: Critical Arts and Health network: building a critical perspective on arts in healthcare, with Frances Williams (MMU), Amanda Ravetz (MMU), Sarah ‘Smizz’ Smith (PhD C3RI) and Anthony Schrag (Queen Mary University, Edinburgh). 

    Sunspots: exploring materiality and visibility, with Michelle Atherton.

    A Paper Exercise: exploring aspiration, regeneration, and ‘well-being’ kitsch through the use of ‘shopjackets’

  • Publications

    Conference papers

    Corazzo, J., Shaw, B., & Harrington, J. (2017). Studio inside, studio outside: Elasticity. In ELIA: Exploring Elasticity in Teaching and Learning in the Arts, Central St Martins, University of the Arts, London, 5 July 2017 - 7 July 2017. http://www.elia-artschools.org/userfiles/File/customfiles/elia-academy-2017-programme_20170626151752.pdf

    Shaw, B., & Butler, R. (2016). Hide and seek: playing with visibility. In Putting Space into Action, University of Huddersfield. https://www.hud.ac.uk/research/researchcentres/st/psia/

    Shaw, B. (2015). ‘Managing Expectations’: unpicking what we expect of artists in healthcare. In Design4Health, Sheffield Hallam University, 13 July 2015 - 16 July 2015.

    Book chapters

    Shaw, B. (2016). Being Seen. In Williams, F. (Ed.) Are you feeling better?. London: Cultural Institute: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/Cultural/Cultural-Institute/Utopia2016/Become-A-Utopian.aspx

    Shaw, B. (2015). Local art for local people. In Quick, C., Speight, E., & Van Noord, G. (Eds.) Subplots to a City. Ten Years of In Certain Places. (pp. 145-148). Preston, UK: In Certain Places: http://incertainplaces.org/

    Shaw, B. (2014). Reception: two subjects looking at one another. In Calow, J., Hinchcliffe, D., & Mansfield, L. (Eds.) Speculative strategies in interdisciplinary arts practice. (pp. 89-100). UK: Underwing Press: http://www.underwingpress.com/

    Books

    Shaw, B. (2009). Guest: Melanie Jackson ; Host: Becky Shaw. London: Artwords Press.

    Theses / Dissertations

    Harrington, J.J. (2015). Process made visible - in and outside the object. (Doctoral thesis). Supervised by Shaw, B., Mccarthy, P., & Sneddon, A.

    Artefacts

    Shaw, B., & Butler, R. (2016). Hiding in Plain Sight (film, photographs, and artists pamphlet). [film]. https://vimeo.com/183652272

    Exhibitions

    Shaw, B. (2011). 20 Euros per Kilo. Cork International Airport, Cork, Ireland.

    Shaw, B., & Atherton, M. (2013). BRUTE: Test 1: Transmission Symposium. Co-curated with Michelle Atherton. [Live discursive event]. Centre for Creative Collaboration, London, WC1X 9NG. http://creative-collaboration.net/030513-transmission-brute-test-1/

    Shaw, B. (2014). Half-buried. [printer, injet prints, accumulating daily, table, yellow 'panorama' behind]. The Undercroft, Norwich and Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. http://scva.ac.uk/art-and-artists/exhibitions/monument-aftermath-of-war-and-conflict

    Media

    Shaw, B. (2010). The Christmas Party. [Radio broadcast]. http://artsheffield.org/artsheffield2010/as/49

    Presentations

    Hope, S., Shaw, B., & Schrag, A. (2018). Chewing and pooing : the digestive system as a metaphor for practice-research in participatory contexts. Presented at: Cultures of Participation 2018, Aarhus University, Denmark, 2018

    Shaw, B., Hope, S., & Schrag, A. (2018). Half-eaten: practice-research within organisations. Presented at: Artistic Reasearch will Eat Itself- 9th SAR International Conference on Artistic Research, University of Plymouth, 2018

    Shaw, B. (2018). How deep is your love? : emotional infrastructure. Presented at: Beneath the City Streets, Sheffield Hallam University

    Shaw, B. (2014). Staying when things go wrong. Presented at: Staying, Archway, 2014

    Shaw, B. (2011). On display : artists and shops. Presented at: On Display, Site Gallery, Sheffield, 2011

  • Other activities

    I have worked as an external member of Periodic Review panels for Design, Goldsmiths College and in 2018 for Fine Art, University of Brighton. Prior to this I undertook a number of undergraduate external examiner appointments for organisations including UCLans, University of Brighton and Liverpool Hope. I have been an external examiner for 2 PhDs and will undertake another in early 2018. I have undertaken Independent Chair duties at Hallam.

  • Postgraduate supervision

    Heritage as Process: Constructing the Historical Child’s Voice Through Art Practice'
    Activated, Amalgamated and Accessible: The Archive as Activity
    The Printed Museum: The Effect of 3D scanning and printing on audience, practice and policy
    Model-Use as Spatial and Social Tactic
    The Margin: Using Drawing to Explore the Experience of the Radiotherapy Pathway
    Public and Private: The Sculpture Garden Examining the impact of commissioned contemporary art in post-industrial heritage sites
    Everyday London bus travel (1938 to 1988): heritage interpretation of past lived experience
    The Magic Circle: Exploring Gamification Strategies in Urban Participatory Art Works

    'Process Made Visible: In and Outside the Object'
    'The reclamation of patient narrative: Interrogating patient experience of genetic conditions through film'

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