Current students

Keith Jarrett

Keith is a winner and finalist of Poetry Slam competitions in the UK and internationally. His publications include the poetry pamphlet, I Speak Home, and his first full collection, Selah. He has performed in London, Spain and Poland. He researched Creative Education for his MA at Goldsmiths and is writing his first novel for his Doctoral research at Birkbeck (70%) and SOAS (30%) where he is examining the Jesus Name Pentecostal Church.

Dr Jan Nawrocki – PhD working title: Pride and vanity in medicine and surgery.

Image: The more light I shine on something the more complex it appears. Murano Glassware (Image by Dr Jan Nawrocki).

The practices of medicine and surgery require the exercise of judgement. Specialist knowledge and skills are commonly seen as the primary focus in the positivist scientific paradigm of modern medicine and surgery. Yet, physician and surgeon practice their disciplines in order to benefit an individual. The decisions and judgements to be made concern a particular individual not an abstract collection of people. The doctor must decide what the cause of symptoms is for the particular individual before them. The surgeon must judge where to cut, what to cut and when to cut. Abstract or theoretical specialist knowledge and skills assist the decision making and judgement required but the practices of medicine and surgery are conducted in the context of an individual narrative relating to an individual person and body. In the narratives that make up practice the physician or surgeon makes decisions under the influence of many external and internal determinants. The focus of my research concerns a missing language and narrative relating to some of the internal determinants. Narratives of medicine, surgery and medical education are interwoven with pride and vanity that are explored in relationship to other professions.

Gerrie van Noord

Image: From artists’ books, anthologies and catalogues to ‘curatorial’ projects (Image by Gerrie van Noord).

Coming from a practice as an editor of publications about and in relation to art, my research engages with the processes of their becoming. While in traditional considerations of the book the emphasis is often placed on text and its authorship, the projects I work on tend to comprise complex combinations of text and images (and sometimes other mediums) that take on less standard book formats, and that can include a wide range of contributions from multiple parties, including artists, curators, writers, translators, editors and graphic designers. Each of these actors bring their own experience and expertise, as well as ways of working to the interactions that help shape these publications. In addition, they also respond and relate to both material and immaterial conventions, while the resulting books fulfil a variety of functions in relation to the artwork, exhibition or project they relate to in the set of networks that constitutes ‘the art world’.

My research tries to unravel the diverse interactions that contribute to the making of these publication projects and thereby questions notions of authorship on the one hand and of translation and translatability on the other. While using case studies of publications produced by others, I also approach this project as a practice-based one that is situated in the wider field of curating. My interest lies specifically with the potential for publications about or in relation to art to be propositional and collaborative projects through which new knowledge may emerge – as ‘curatorial’ rather than curated.

Sally O’Reilly – PhD working title: Strategic Ambiguity

Image: Video still from Divining the Title of a PhD, demonstrating the potential of performing bodies in relation to performative texts.

I am questioning the constitutional indeterminacy of art as a means to achieve the aesthetic and political ends that it claims, and am investigating how a more technical approach to ambiguity and narrative can engender critical engagement that is neither vague nor ‘didactic’ (which is an accusation often levelled at polemic artworks). By drawing on other dicsiplines’ theories and applications of textual ambiguities, I will be formulating new modes of making that reference political realities through potentially fantastical narratives.

The research is practice led, since what is under scrutiny is the formulation of artworks, as well as their reception. The dominance of the ‘open work’ contributes to contemporary art’s loss of critical traction, and by applying the ideas in my thesis directly to practice I aim to reassess this. I am devising a new text-led perfomance format – called Live Illuminated Manuscripts (LIMs) – which enfold within themselves not only ambiguities in the register of text, but also of genre, meaning, gesture and status. There will be several exploratory LIMs made throughout the PhD research, and an ultimate LIM will be presented as the embodiment of the final thesis.

Richard E Rosch – PhD Title: Dispoiesis in action

Image: “What happens in the Elephant stays in the Elephant”, performance run, 45 min

We as human beings are always used to doing things. Yet sometimes this means moving bodies, whilst sometimes it means the opposite. We can do things by saying, by signing, or by thinking something; by gesturing or gesticulating. Like language, our actions can assume the roles of symbols, standing in for something else, referring to something.

What if actions have an additional poetic layer? I am trying to develop a framework that allows for a poetic analysis of contemporary practices. I am looking at contemporary conceptual practitioners and my own practice that revolves around interventions in public space. Here, I find themes of dissonance and decoherence between bodies and their physical actions that emerge as creative moments. Which leads me to a surprising connection to an existing field critically analysing the human body beyond normality: disability studies.

My research is practice led, in that I am using my own artistic practice as a research tool to provide encounters and experiences on which to base my critical analysis on. At the same time, I am working as a clinician with children with disabilities, basing my critical enquiry and explorations of the field of disability theory in this practice of another kind.


Ruth Solomons – Working title: How artists work. Sustainability, self-subsidy and risk management among post economic crash UK artists

Painting in Bubble Wrap

Image caption: Ruth Solomons, Painting in Bubble Wrap (‘Embers‘, 2009, oil on canvas, 41cm x 46cm), image: Ruth Solomons 2016.

My practice-led research draws not only on my experience of working as an artist, but also my experience of the risks and strategies undertaken in order to sustain my practice. Through the research process, my painting practice has become increasingly interwoven with my perception of how artists work. Continuously working part-time, balancing rent rises against stagnant pay rates, and navigating oversubscribed, diminishing numbers of artists’ studios in city centres, are all connected aspects which influence the sense of work which I am developing within my practice.

My perception of the increasing unsustainability of art practice in city centres has also influenced my conceptual attitude to space, time and resources. The image of an aging bubble-wrapped painting acts as an illustration of this unsustainability. As the space needed to store past paintings increases, time available to practice is reduced through the need to subsidise ever-increasing studio rent through part-time jobs. My instinct for retaining a biography, and my perception of economic value attached to my back catalogue, is tested by a conceptual approach which increasingly favours sustainability over storage. Thus, I now merge my past and present practice, re-incorporating elements of past paintings into new works. As a result, an emerging interest in the research is the role awareness plays in artists’ attitudes to risk and sustainability, particularly in terms of resulting practice.