University of Glasgow: Hunterian Associate Showcase: Drawn Together: A conversation with the collection

University of Glasgow: Hunterian Associate Showcase: Drawn Together: A conversation with the collection

Excerpt from pubic showcase event talk:

Have you ever had a conversation with an object?

Drawn Together: A conversation with the collection was a weeklong artist in residency that took place in half-term week in the Hunterian Museum.

Drawn Together: A conversation with the collection encouraged visitors to make their own drawings of objects that interested them from the Hunterian collections.

I was interested to find out about the different experiences we have when drawing objects rather than just looking at them, how do we ‘read’ them, what sort of conversation do we have, can we have?

Do we see details we might have missed? How do we feel about drawing and what do we think about when we are making our drawings?

Imagine that you have an object in your hands, what do you see, how does it feel, does it smell, is it rough, smooth, heavy, light… Do you have the words that could describe it, what would your drawing look like, does the object look different when you shut one eye, and then the other?


UCBC Conference: Experience and Practice within College based HE

UCBC Conference: Experience and Practice within College based HE July 2014 ‘The rhizomatic studio space’

The rhizomatic studio – online spaces as an online studio space? Are we all connected now? Is this a form of teaching and learning?

My creative practice explored the use of both virtual and real spaces to create in and share my process with others. The auto-ethnographic ‘self-surveillance’ process enabled observations to be made of a creative practice, gain insight into the creative process and consider the benefits of documenting, reflecting, and using recall techniques.


Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 19.14.05

UCBC_Conference PDF

OER14: building Communities of Open Practice The Centre for Life, Newcastle

OER14: building Communities of Open Practice The Centre for Life, Newcastle, (in collaboration with OCWC, Slovenia).

Although there are potential issues regarding what we choose to share, how we share it, and with which communities we share with, this form of open practice is potentially a method for learners to explore how documenting and sharing their making process can enhance and develop their work. This approach encourages students to adopt performance type and documentary based practices for their reflective practice with a central question: How can technology best support a more analytical, critically reflective and visible process for creative practices.

Making the Invisible Visible:

Scrutinising approaches…University of Huddersfield

Scrutinising approaches to interdisciplinary collaborative practice in undergraduate digital, creative and performing arts, organised by the The Higher Education Academy 7th April 2014. Creative Arts Building University of Huddersfield. This seminar explores the benefits and pedagogical challenges of interdisciplinary practice in HE. It considers theoretical affordances and constraints, and responds to the 2010 report Collaborative Art Practices in HE, offering space for dialogue, especially on questions of situational and relational ethics in interdisciplinary creative arts practices.

Making the invisible visible: Using digital technologies to capture, recall and re-see the reflective process

The research so far has explored how using technologies and interdisciplinary approaches to document a creative process can reveal what is hidden, change how we think about our practice. How we share this practice, producing OERs that benefit our own practice and others’, has a potential impact on how we teach and learn from the creative process. There are interesting questions to explore: personal identity through a creative making process, finding a reflective voice and using technologies to stimulate recall, observe and respond to what is often hidden to us.

Huddersfield image


Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 18.40.11


See Prezi Presentation Here

GLAD Group for Learning in Art and Design University of Sheffield The Studio: Where Do We Learn? Where Do We Teach?

GLAD 2014 conference 2014,  ‘The Studio: Where Do We Teach? Where Do We Learn? At Sheffield Institute of Arts, Sheffield Hallam University on Thursday 27th February.

The title of this conference is a poignant one for me, it is about identities: The identities we have for the spaces we operate in but also for the identities we might have. The identity I have as a teacher, a student and a creative practitioner. Where does one role end and another begin? But also how these roles operate in different spaces; the physical classroom, the University online learning environment, my studio at home, the online spaces I add content to and curate as well as the spaces that exist on my mobile devices when I am capturing thoughts or documenting…

‘Making the invisible visible’ is a piece of ongoing practice led research where the process of making and reflecting on the making of a piece of work has been fully documented using various technologies such as audio and visual to record and capture as evidence. All parts of the documented and now visible process are becoming the work itself with the captured process being incorporated into the art work itself using innovative technologies. The final piece will be the sum of its parts.

The presentation explains how this research has since contributed to a ‘Cooc’ (Community Open Online Course), a learning space that exists outside of the boundaries of traditional educational environments, accessible and friendlier, more manageable and viable than the array of Massive Open Online Courses (Moocs). Using my research and creative practice as a contribution to Coocs I began to appreciate how blurred my role as educator/tutor, learner or expert participant may be, as well as how this shared learning was being constructed in a different sort of space. Having the opportunity to publish broadcast and share this ‘documentary’ as a Cooc has helped me broaden what I consider to be a ‘course’ or educational experience.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 18.31.29

Link to Prezi Presentation Here

The Hunterian Museum Digital Auto-Ethnography Research Project


Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 14.19.00

As part of The Hunterian museums’ Associates Programme I spent five days as an artist in residence for the project: ‘Drawn Together: A conversation with the collection’. It explored the creative making process from my point of view as artist (inside observee) and researcher (outside observer). Using a digital voice recorder, Go-Pro headcam and private and public digital platforms, the research examined how digital technologies can be used to facilitate reflection in the creative making process and make this reflective activity more visible to the self and others. My creative process was documented from beginning to end on a project blog ( with the completion of sculptural textile artefacts. These outcomes refer to and were inspired by an existing fine art textiles practice, the research methodology, conversations with visitors and the scientific laboratory equipment found in The Hunterian museum collections. The project captured the decisions taken within an emergent creative process that responded to the museum space, its artefacts and visitors. It was observed how both examining practice and using technology could inform, form and change this practice.

Link to The Hunterian Associates project page:

Reflective Film from Jo Neil on Vimeo.

Heritage Lottery Funded Project

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 14.16.26

About the Project

WW1 narratives of transformation: Their story, our story

Project Blog:

The project started as a collaboration between University Centre Blackburn College and Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery. The creative project was an opportunity for students on the Contemporary Textiles, Contemporary Fashion and Contemporary Interior Design programmes to work across disciplines and with museum curators to produce their own creative responses to the WW1 centenary.

The students explored the collections and engaged with the narratives and wider context of wartime Britain and the themes of Conflict, Change and Memory and their work was exhibited in the museum from June-November 2014. You can read and see more about this part of the project on the blog pages.

To extend and develop this collaboration students, academic and curatorial staff put together an application for Heritage Lottery Funding. This resulted in a successful bid and the 2nd stage of the project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This support has enabled more students from the University Centre across a range of discipline areas to collaborate with guest curators, artists and engage in workshops and events.

Summary of the project 2014-2015

We began our journey guided by Steve Irwin from Blackburn Museum and freelance curator Laura Briggs. We looked at and handled artefacts from the museum collections, which ranged from trench maps to periscopes and we listened to historical facts and stories about local residents, brought to life by the objects and the curators’ insights. Inspired by Laura and Steve, visiting Blackburn Library and using resources hosted on the University Centre Virtual Learning Environment we embarked on our own research processes.

Throughout the year we had creative input from international artist Paddy Hartley. We were very lucky to have Paddy join us. His work has been exhibited at venues throughout the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia. His work amongst other themes investigates memorialisation and remembrance, the origins of WW1 facial reconstruction and those who underwent the surgery. His work for ‘Project Facade’ responded to the surgical and personal stories of facially injured WW1 servicemen and Paddy gave us fascinating insight into this work, the materials and techniques he used for these pieces and his creative working process.

We held a creative writing and making workshop which focused on the postcard ‘silks’ that were popular throughout war time. Often these embroidered postcards were sent to loved ones to reassure them during this difficult time. Participants created their own poems and also created their own postcards based on observational paintings of flowers, printed fabric and embroidery.

Over 40 contributors including staff and students from Blackburn College sixth form as well the University Centre, members of the local community and the community centre and Women’s Institute in Banks, Southport, knitted, sewed or donated poppies to create a ‘sea of red’. A Children’s University event also contributed to this as well as creating their own postcards and jam pot labels! This work along with poems, ceramics, textile pieces and garments were exhibited at University Centre Blackburn College on the 25th November. To launch this exhibition we had an evening of poetry readings and a fascinating talk by battlefield historian Paul Garlington.

A selection of this work now resides in Blackburn Museum for this final exhibition and workshop held on the 12th December 2015. The workshop explored the postcards that were popular at the time through stitch and printed felt. Over 100 visitors came to the event with many taking part in the activity.

We explored the theme of transformation to inspire and create artwork and creative writing pieces to show how WW1 has shaped society through our own personal narratives. Many individuals have contributed to this project and we are very grateful to The Heritage Lottery Fund, the support of Blackburn College, Blackburn Museum and the Children’s University.

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 14.16.09

Research with Students

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 14.09.42

About this research project:

Digital auto-ethnography as practice: Research with students

Students studying on creative art and design based programmes from University Centre Blackburn College have been invited to participate in a digital auto-ethnographic research project. The research asks students to use digital auto-ethnography approaches as part of their usual working practices.

Can using digital technologies to examine and document the creative working process help to develop greater insight into work and a richer creative practice? I am also interested in whether these approaches help students gain confidence in their transition from student to creative professional.

Students will have:

  • Access to online support materials for equipment and platforms (hosted on this blog)
  • Access to face to face workshops for the use of equipment, social media tools and platforms
  • Mentoring/tutorials to support their area of work
  • Invitations to optional group crit/tutorials across discipline areas

The tools come in the form of kit bags and include go-pro headcams, digital voice recorders, pulse reading wristbands and camcorders which allow for recordings to be instantly projected back to them. Students will also use public/private blogs and e-portfolio platforms like Evernote for example.

Project Blog Site:

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 20.09.44

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 14.09.42


Teaching and Learning Conference – Experience and Practice within College based HE

Friday 4th July, University Centre at Blackburn College

With Alicia Nordstrom, Director of CETL at Misericordia University, Pennsylvania ‘Remember the Data: Teaching Critical Thinking through Research-Based Assignments’

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 20.02.25

Bookable here:

Extract from my presentation with Peter Shukie and David Meir

This presentation explores the project as a rhizomatic studio space, where the practice explored the use of virtual and real spaces to create in and share with others. The auto-ethnographic ‘self-surveillance’ process enabled observations to be made of a creative practice, gain insight into the creative process and consider the benefits of documenting, reflecting, and using recall techniques. The process of capturing and documenting not only informed the work but also formed the work itself with visual and audio narratives being incorporated.