The Northumbria-Sunderland Consortium is a cross-disciplinary collaboration in art and design, which emphasises the integration of professional and academic rigour in the development, production and dissemination of practice-led and applied research. The Consortium emerged as a direct result of the AHRC’scollaborative BGP1 award made jointly to the Universities of Northumbria and Sunderland in 2009. A significant underpinning is its support and resourcing with matching studentships and University-level partnerships with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and National Glass Centre, two major cultural organisations in the North-East. Through our alliance we want to take research training to a new dynamic level particularly by exploring and exploiting conceptual and methodological connections across and beyond art and design. Collaboration with BALTIC, the National Glass Centre, and newly with other significant public, private and third sector partners with a Design focus, will be a planned aspect of our CDT’s future activity including in the development and training of students as well as through the dissemination of their output. We hope that in five years time the ‘big story’ of our CDT will be an intensified knowledge exchange agenda, and significant growth in the capacity of our shared postgraduate research environment for instance through the internationalisation of our annual PGR conference.
Our CDT’s central aim is the integration of academic and professional subject-specific skills at the core of a multi-disciplinary and critical environment.This Aim raises numerous questions including What resources do our research environments require to collaborate with the creative and cultural industries? We believe these must be professionally resourced public-facing centres. For Arts this means our shared public space in the centre of Newcastle, Baltic 39, which comprises professional artists studios, a contemporary experimental curatorial gallery programmed by Baltic with shared research events, and PGR studios of Northumbria’s Art Postgraduate community as well as BxNU Institute, our Fine Art research Group. Sunderland has a similar public-facing configuration at the National Glass Centre, which has an increasingly important function in regional cultural tourism, as well as offering a unique research facility which includes a focus on the public enjoyment and understanding of glass, artist production, the facilitation of industry led research, and postgraduate study, led by Sunderland’s Institute of International Research in Glass (IIRG). Into this alliance we plan to integrate complementary approaches, extending to methodologies specifically in areas of design and information sciences not included in BGP1;we plan to enhance interdisciplinary training and transferable skills for postgraduate research at and between our two external art/design partner Centres, andpromote an ease of interaction between disciplines. Further research-focused collaboration willextend our Consortium’s leading initiatives cohering around art and design’s research, building on current research grpupsInnovate, Interaction Design and Design Issues, focussed on healthcare and commercially innovative products; or the aging demographic and co-design workshops with older people in collaboration Age UK Newcastle; or curatorial practice led by Sunderland’s Curating New Media Art research group (CRUMB); or the development of digital artefacts; or models of researchwhich integrate archival study and material research led by our research group Visual and Material Culture.
To conclude, we hope our AHRC CDT students are intent on testing the boundaries of our disciplines, developing potentially beneficial conceptual linkages between Art and Design and other disciplines.Jacqueline Donachie’s (a current AHRC BGP1 student) project Illuminating Loss is an enterprising example of this in practice. Jackie has an excellent profile as a professional artist and her research builds on her own Wellcome and Arts Council funded projects. The development and dissemination of her current research is shown here in her poster is from the International Myotonic Dystrophy Consortium meeting, San Sebastian, October 2013. She describes that Consortium as “a very high end group of scientists and clinicians whom I have had contact with for over 10 years. To have an 'art' poster at a scientific meeting is a first for them, I used it to introduce a new film which will be shown at the 2015 conference, and to discuss the recruitment process - families were invited to take part via the Myotonic Dystrophy UK patient registry, based at Newcastle’s Centre for Life. We think its the first time a registry has been used to recruit for an artwork - common for drug trials and medical processes.” This is indicative of an underlying goal of our CDT - to promote a deeper understanding of the pivotal role both fine art and design research holds in the wider processes of cultural and creative exchange and the transmission of ideas, as well as in the potential development of new processes, products, services and networks.
Northumbria-Sunderland Consortium (Centres for Doctoral Training)
Professor Craig Richardson
Northumbria – Sunderland Consortium CDT
‘Innovation in our AHRC Centre for Doctoral Research’
Centre for Contemporary Art
Our AHRC CDT integrates academic
and professional subject-specific
skills at the core of a multidisciplinary critical environment.
University of Sunderland BGP PhD
student Erin Dickson with her
‘emotional Leak’ glass sculpture at
‘Collect’ Saatchi Gallery, National
Glass Centre and Berengo Centre for
Contemporary Art Italy.
Art and Design research methodologies which
embrace and develop professional practices.
Through doctoral projects, we will extend leading
initiatives cohering around art and design’s
research, such as those within healthcare, curatorial
practice, the development of digital artefacts, craft
and materiality, cultures of consumption and
models of practice and exhibition.