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Arts and Creative Industries Research Seminars

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Melting basalt in the field, Krafla, Iceland

Arts and Creative Industries Research Seminars

Our Arts and Creative Industries Research Seminars afford researchers with a discursive platform to present work in progress, test out ideas and seek peer input.

Current events

A Delicious Garden: An Enquiry through Text, Image and Archive

Wednesday 10 March 2021, 16.00-17.00

The event will be hosted online via Teams. Please contact alexandra.moschovi@sunderland.ac.uk to be sent a link to join the seminar

Marjolaine Ryley, Senior Lecturer in Photography

In the garden we find ourselves confronting both ‘Nature’ and ‘Culture’. Politics of both the macro and micro emerge in the garden. Ian Hamilton Finlay famously wrote referring to Little Sparta that “certain gardens are described as retreats when they are really attacks”. The very act of gardening is a rejection of the values of capitalist society, where production rather than consumption, giving rather than taking, renewal rather than decay, all manifest as the garden grows. This research aims to explore the significance of gardens and of gardening, revealing that Gardens are profoundly transformative at the micro-personal level and that they have global significance at the macro level. In the fight against climate change for example, gardening may be central to the sustainability of our planet. Drawing on the radical beginnings of Environmental Art and the Green Movement, looking at gardens and their political histories and drawing connections with the medium of photography, my doctoral research is born out of what George McKay termed ‘Horti-countercultural politics’. The lens through which this study is focused however is a very personal one, the lens of the self. This research enquiry is therefore also an auto-ethnographic story that reveals through texts, images, archives (and increasingly plants) my own entwined relationship with the garden.

This research seminar draws on current PhD Research in Fine Art at Newcastle University, funded through the Northern Bridge Consortium.

“A Gardener's Daughter" from the exhibition This is What I See,  NGCA 2019

Little boy looking at two pictures on the wall

Experimental and Creative Approaches to Collecting and Distributing New Media Art Within Regional Arts Organisations

Wednesday 28 April 2021, 16.00-17.00

The event will be hosted online via Teams. Please contact alexandra.moschovi@sunderland.ac.uk to be sent a link to join the seminar

Georgia Smithson, NPIF/AHRC PhD Researcher

This presentation is an overview of my research undertaken towards creating new models for collecting and distributing new media artworks from a regional gallery perspective. I’ve been working with my partner organisation, NGCA, a gallery on the University of Sunderland campus which collects photography, sculpture, prints and new media art. The new media collection is small and the artworks and components are relatively uncomplicated. My research deals with the key concerns for the practicalities of collecting new media art going forward and I’m also looking at innovative digital distribution methods by the use of new media.

New media art is recognised as being a relatively new art form. Curator, Christiane Paul, traces it back to Duchamp’s Rotary Glass Blades from 1920 due to the artwork’s interactive feature. From the 1960s practitioners have experimented using computers, and the art-form now ascribed as new media art has evolved into multiple strands of production, presentation and distribution. The creative possibilities of new media art seem as unlimited as modern technology will allow us to explore. But are we, as collectors, researchers, artists and enthusiasts facing an uncertain future concerning the integration of new media art into institutional cultural organisations? Recently, concerns have been raised by curators regarding the importance of learning how to collect new media art if there is to be any hope of preserving its past. This research explores how by collaboration, experimentation and the transference and distribution of knowledge and resources, these concerns may be conquered to preserve and make accessible new media art for future generations to enjoy.

Simon Martin, Untitled, 2011, HD video exhibited as single screen projection. NGCA Collection.

Simon Martin, Untitled, 2011, HD video exhibited as single screen projection. NGCA Collection


Past events

'Performing Jeju Scoria: Imagined Realities and Extended Vocabularies' 

Wednesday 13 January 2021, 16.00-17.00 via Teams

Professor Andrew Livingstone

As new ways of working emerge and are now becoming normalized as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, alternative solutions for research are being considered and implemented. This is the case with this international research project that was to take place in The Republic of Korea on the Island of Jeju in August 2020. In respect of travel limitations, the research project continued remotely and was executed within the UK in November 2020. Three Kilos of Jeju Scoria/Clay was shipped to the participants to enable the research. 

This seminar presents practice-based research undertaken as part of the international research project, The Clay Reader: Scoria, Scoria Jeju Scoria. It explores the notion and actualities of remote investigation through imagined interpretation and responses to a material and its land of origin. The material Scoria is explored and viewed through an alternative lens, that of film, which in turn engenders extended approaches to clay through performative investigation of the artist, material and processes. This research presents extended vocabularies that are proffered in response to visual and contextual investigations that contribute to a reading of clay outwith of the vernacular. 

A man against a brick wall looking from behind a round mirror


Crossing Boundaries

Wednesday 9 December 2020, 16.00-17.00 via Teams

Programme Leader for MA Design

This presentation will concentrate on my research with western calligraphy. For many years I have explored the theme of ‘Crossing boundaries’. This is not a conscious choice, but a natural development of my ‘self-being’ in knowing (and sometimes not knowing) what I need to do with my creative expressions. It is about the building of bridges between east and west, handmade and digital media, simplicity and complexity, energy and stillness, old and new, control and spontaneity. 

Calligraphy to me is like drawing with lines. I move the linear elements along the page and compose them intuitively. When the ink and my energy are inter-mingled, the two entities are inseparable. They are working in unison—a unity. Calligraphy is also a process of capturing the essence of the line—it is an expression of life and beyond. When we write, we give birth to each stroke, and each stroke has a life and path that are unique to itself. In Chinese, they call this phenomenon ‘Ch’i Yuen Shen Tong’, or more commonly known as ‘Ch’i’ in the west.

One could try and intellectualise this process, but it feels pointless at times. If you know it, you can feel it. The truth is, it is the unforced but intuitive manner in which we create the instantaneous marks that unifies everything. It should be as natural as breathing.

“Every day is a journey and the journey itself is home” by Basho, Calligraphy by Manny Ling and Sumi painting by Christine Flint-Sato.

Chinese black and white calligraphy


'Cyber Cage: Next Generation Knowledge Fusion between Art, Technology and Innovation'

An interdisciplinary research seminar of the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries and the Faculty of Technology

Wednesday 25 November 2020 via Teams

James Hutchinson, Sardar Jaf and Nick Lewis

During 2020, Creative Fuse North East and CoLab Sunderland worked with Dynamo North East and Breeze Creatives to facilitate a creative response to the complex business challenge of cyber security for #Cyberfest, the North East’s largest cybersecurity festival. This cross-faculty seminar will share the outcomes of the creative collaboration that subsequently emerged between the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries and the Faculty of Technology at the University of Sunderland. Cyber Cage, a series of artworks and interventions, exemplifies the value of an arts-led innovation approach to; identifying and addressing complex challenges emerging at the nexus of technology, the economy and society, and the visualisation of complex cybersecurity concepts and social network phenomena.

During the early stages of the UK COVID-19 lockdown, University of Sunderland academics James Hutchinson, Sardar Jaf and Nick Lewis came together (over Microsoft Teams). They considered the impact of escalating risks and detrimental effects associated with cyber security on individuals, the economy and wider society, with a focus on social media, user privacy and security. The resulting interdisciplinary project synthesized tools, methods, knowledge and perspectives drawn from their distinct disciplines (arts, creative industries and computer science) to explore ideas of containment, cloaking and invisibility and the ways in which information is coded and decoded within systems. The final works open up a critical dialogue between the technological vulnerabilities that facilitate cybercrime and the psychological impact of pervasive cybercrime within our digitally driven society.

By interrogating cybercrime through a cultural, educational and behavioural change perspective rather than a solely technological one, Cyber Cage highlights the multicentric nature of cybercrime. Thus, provides cyber security providers with human-centred, socially driven insights that can inform the development of impactful innovations within their growing sector and wider society.

James Hutchinson
MA Fine Art Programme Leader, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries

Nick Lewis
Lecturer, Illustration and Design, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries

Dr Sardar Jaf
Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, Faculty of Technology

Dr Suzy O’Hara 
Research Fellow, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Project Director for CoLab Sunderland.

Professor Lynne Hall 
Professor of Computer Science, Faculty of Technology
Creative Fuse – Principal Investigator

Co/Lab Sunderland 
Launched in 2018, Co/Lab Sunderland is a cross-faculty programme of activity that explores the intersection of art, research and society. We develop and test new methods for collaboration that bring diverse disciplines, industries and communities together. In doing so, we enable academic staff in the University of Sunderland to; critically engage with interdisciplinary perspectives and processes, take disciplinary risks, innovate new ways of thinking, develop new contexts for doing and challenge the ways in which their field is understood and experienced through creative practice. 

Creative Fuse North East 
Creative Fuse North East is an interdisciplinary collaborative project that supports innovation and growth in the creative and digital economy in the North East. The region’s five universities (Newcastle, Durham, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside) share knowledge and practice exploring how HE expertise and resources can support the creative, digital and IT sector. Academics work alongside industry, cultural organisations, charities and the public sector, to explore how creative, digital and IT firms can have a sustainable future in the region adding value to the region’s broader employment base.

At the University of Sunderland, Creative Fuse North East aims to support academics, graduates and students in external engagement, research and teaching and learning. The project aims to build on and support existing initiatives, relationships and interests, aiming to support live projects and collaborations with SMEs and research partners. The project is based in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries with two Researchers in the David Puttnam Media Centre.

Creative Fuse North East is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and European Regional Development Funds along with contributions from all of the five University partners.



#CyberFest, the North East’s largest cyber security festival is now in its third year, with ten events across the region throughout September. The aim of #CyberFest is to raise awareness of cyber security activities across the region as part of our mission ‘To Make the North East the place for cyber security.’

#CyberFest 2020 is planned to be bigger and better than last year with a range of events covering businesses, students, the general public and cyber security providers.

Dynamo North East 
Dynamo North East is a business-led organisation with the core mission of: Growing the North East tech economy through collaboration, innovation, skills and noise. Our vision for the region is to have a world-class reputation as a hotspot for digital, data and technology. We raise awareness of north-east England as a great place to build a career in tech, as well as to live and work. We help local people and organisations thrive, and build confidence, and showcase the great work already being done throughout the region. We are proud to be based in the North East and recognise the importance of passing the message on to others.

Breeze Creatives
Breeze Creatives is a contemporary visual arts organisation based in the North East. Breeze Creatives’ dedication and passion towards the development of new sustainable approaches is driven by the ambition present in Abject and Abject 2 galleries, alongside commissioning and supporting artists with space, facilities and exhibition opportunities as well as funds to help realise exciting new ideas.



Undercurrents of Ethical Marketing in the United States in the Nineteenth Century: The case of the Ceramic Trade

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Dr Neil Ewins 
Senior Lecturer in Design History

The intention of this presentation is to identify early examples of ethical marketing, which has often been perceived as rather sporadic, or simply, a more recent phenomenon. At this stage, this paper deals with a range of speculative ideas, to be further developed for conference papers and publication. Having won the Best Paper Award at the Conference of Historical Analysis and Research in Marketing (Ottawa, May 2019), Neil Ewins' confidence has grown and he continues to explore the issue of culture and identity. It appears that the backgrounds of early 19th-century ceramic importers and dealers impacted on their marketing strategy. This research paper develops this theme by exploring the impact of religion on the activities of sellers. It is argued that ethical and moralistic marketing existed that had implications on issues of race and equality. However, this was not always immediately obvious from the wording of advertising, but from where the advertisements were placed, and researching the wider context of the sellers.

Neil Ewins, Constitutional ware, detail, Staffordshire, c. 1838.

Constitutional ware, detail, Staffordshire, c. 1838

Graphic Swim: 2D and 3D printing in Glass Casting

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Dr Jeffrey Sarmiento
Associate Professor in Glass

This presentation focuses on processes to encourage flow of screenprinted imagery in kilnformed glass. It follows the latest development of the Encyclopaedia series, a body of work that utilizes glass printing, cutting and fusing processes to combine the printed image within the glass object. New visual qualities were exposed through a mishap, which was turned into an aesthetic choice. This presentation will link 2D print approaches to 3D printing and an innovative integration in cast glass.

At the heart of this presentation is the dilemma that glass artists face as they seek to master a difficult medium – an insistence on control may improve quality, but also serve as a barrier to experimentation and progress. The artist hopes to take the audience through the elements 2D and 3D printing used in his work, in which high levels of precision can be attained in the digital and mechanical reproduction processes. 

Work by Reader in Glass Jeffrey Sarmiento, part of the Encyclopaedia series, 2019

Jeffrey Sarmiento, Encyclopaedia series, 2019

In Vulcan’s Forge

Dr Cate Watkinson
Senior Lecturer in Architectural Glass 

Colin Rennie
Senior Lecturer in Glass 

The aim of a new collaboration with Cate Watkinson, Colin Rennie and volcanologists at Durham University, Fabian Wadsworth and Ed Llewellin is to explore the dynamic similarities between glass art practice and processes active in volcanoes, utilizing the observation that both hot glass and magma have similar behaviours.

Surmounting traditional disciplinary boundaries, this project aims to create new ways of seeing art-science collaborations culminating in the creation of exhibition pieces and publishable scientific investigations. The artworks will be created using natural basalt as a starting material, collected from the Krafla volcano in Iceland. The intention is to build a body of evidence developing new glass artworks from materials and techniques inspired by volcanoes and examining new and un-studied aspects of volcanology.

It is the intention to develop pedagogic tools for helping researchers from both disciplines to contribute their understanding to each other’s field and to build physical intuition about viscous materials.

Melting basalt in the field, Krafla, Iceland

Melting basalt in the field, Krafla, Iceland

Work by Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie, titled 'In Vulcan's Forge'

Cate Watkinson and Colin Rennie, 'In Vulcan's Forge'

CRMCS Past research seminars 2000-2017

Research seminars 2000-2017

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