We launched our first Creative Research Week at the end of June calling on our Twitter community of Postgraduate Geographers to share their research in a creative way. Be that through photography, poetry, videography or interpretive dance! We were excited to see what would be shared on Twitter and we were not disappointed. A big thank you to everyone who shared their research using #pgfhome and started conversations. We have put together a roundup of participating researchers and their creations below.
Some researchers decided to use creative writing such as Aimee Morse who used haikus to explore snapshots of her rural research, encouraging readers to think about the importance of farmers in the imagination of the British countryside. Rachel Creaney explored potential dystopian futures for older people living in homes with smart technology through semi-fictional writing. Barbora Adlerova showcased her use of fun food quizzes and creative writing workshops as part of a virtual youth club. Barbora did this to explore relationship building and responsible reciprocity when considering decision making during periods of food insecurity.
Stories are a particularly powerful way to understand space and place as Jack Lowe showed with his practice-based research. Based upon the concept of ‘@what3words’, in which 3 words are used to explain a 3mx3m space, – Jack created a location-based game to see if participants could find places through storytelling.
Moving away from words, Natasha Coleman created a beautiful watercolour sketch representing her research on sporting estates and rural change.
Photography remained a popular way for geographers to not only capture data, but also their experience of doing research. Faye Shortland shared a collection of photographs taken in the Lake District, encouraging readers to guess the location or spot items of interest. Creativity in research often allows these two-way processes and it was great to see people get involved with guessing and sharing comments.
Visual representation was not limited to photography as Andy Harrod showed by using iconography to explore ideas related to therapeutic intervention in nature for everyday wellbeing.
Finally, an important take away from this Creative Research Week is how acts of creativity can help researchers. Away from academia, there has been a growing trend in the need for ‘productive creativity’ – to create side businesses or hustles, and utilise your creative talents by monetising them. Hobbies dwindle while interests become side jobs.
As researchers we can question ourselves about why we should spend time creating a poem about how we feel or doodling in our notebooks. We may ask, if it isn’t going into a paper or dissertation – then is it just wasting time? Similarly, regarding this trend, academics don’t need to justify different ways of doing their research if it helps them to connect or understand themselves or their research to a greater degree. Andy suggested he uses creative writing to understand his positionality. Annie Evans reflected on her 6 months of fieldwork in Amman, Jordan through the compilation of a video of her walks through the city which allowed her to better understand her place in the world through her sensory experience as a researcher.
Whether you’re in the midst of a dissertation, fieldwork, or writing your thesis, it can become tedious and often we can feel stuck. Sometimes, just by exploring a different creative expression we may be able to understand a situation differently or get ourselves out of a rut. So don’t just stop with this week – draw, video, play, photograph and share your research. You are not wasting time, just taking a different way to understand our world. And be sure to tag @pgf_rgsibg and #pgfhome!