Katie Forrester is a third year PhD candidate in the field of design at Edinburgh College of Art, and one of the scholars whose research was featured at the Research Showcase at the SGSAH Summer School 2016. Katie’s practice involves designing handmade picture books based on folklore & symbol by using stencils & manual print methods.
On the 23rd of July, I attended the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) Research Showcase held at The Lighthouse, Centre for Design and Architecture in Glasgow—a versatile venue for the varied exhibitions and performances that were featured to take place. The event opened with choral singing, storytelling and opera, with explanations as to how aspects of the performances comprised parts of the research process for each PhD candidate.
Downstairs, the exhibition of practical research and visual displays of theoretical research were hosted. Personally, I found the showcase to be my most productive experience regarding my research in terms of dissemination and having valuable conversations with both fellow researchers and the public. I spoke to Nicole Kipar, researcher at Heriot Watt University and costume designer with whom I share the common interest of Grimm’s fairy tales. We had a conversation about motifs in stories and recent research on this; Nicole subsequently emailed me some of the references she had been speaking of.
During the evening I also met fellow doctoral researchers, some of whom have overlapping interests with my own, and we discussed ideas surrounding our research topics. I was also fortunate to speak to a guest who works with mental health patients in conjunction with storytelling and how it allows emotions that otherwise may remain hidden to be expressed. There is indeed something about focusing on telling a story through different means that allows thoughts to be aired, which in turn relates to what I am trying to achieve with my work. It was refreshing to talk about the practical elements of my work—the feel of the paper, the look of the characters; some people commented on them being like cave paintings, a style of image-making I had looked into at the start of my research, which was affirming for me as a visual communicator.
Overall, the Showcase was a chance to experience the practical aspects of research projects—performance, visualisations and other ways to communicate research findings—other than simply writing papers. It proved a rich and viscerally informing experience, the likes of which are, in my opinion, highly important to the dissemination of research practice across all disciplines.