What is the role of the artist in the public sphere – in ecology, culture and society? During the second phase of the research programme, the question shifted from viewing the contemporary artist in remote rural contexts to questioning the place of art in relation to other spheres of action, including ecology, culture and society. The ‘On the Edge’ team continued to develop an international network of artists and academics, now incorporating those who were similarly concerned with a more outward-facing role of the arts in culture and society – arguably a subject that defines contemporary art practice in postmodernism. Artists included Suzanne Lacy, Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison in the US, Barbara Steveni and Artists Placement Group in the UK, and Wu Mali in Taiwan; all are internationally renowned for their work relating to ecology, social art practice and art in industry. The programme developed two interrelated projects: ‘Artist as Leader’ and ‘Working in Public Seminars’. Both projects looked into individual formulations of art in public life, which we have come to understand as the poetics of practice. Through these projects, we gained insights into how contemporary art practices were developing in relation to issues outside of art. We also recognised these practices as being research-led. In order to create a compelling presence in public life, artists such as Suzanne Lacy in social art practice, and Helen Mayer and Newton Harrison in ecology faced a double-edged problem: attempting to balance obtaining recognition for their work as art while also increasing visibility of social inequality or environmental devastation. Our deepening understanding of the dynamics of how artists actually work in culture and society enriched new forms of experimentation alongside theoretical understandings, and also increased our knowledge regarding histories of practice. This approach to analysis has been acknowledged as characterising the contribution of ‘On the Edge’ to knowledge.

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  • Breaking through the aesthetics of public art. 

    Douglas, Anne; Fremantle, Chris (Bergen National Academy of Arts, 2008-12-31)
    DOUGLAS, A. and FREMANTLE, C. 2008. Breaking through the aesthetics of public art. Presented at Sensuous knowledge 5 (SK5): questioning qualities, 2008, Bergen, Norway. Bergen: Bergen National Academy of Arts.
    Our research is concerned with the changing nature of public art. We work with the experience of making art, drawing on articulations of process developed by artists themselves as well as theorists and historians. We also ...
  • Research papers: leading through practice. 

    Douglas, Anne; Fremantle, Chris (a-n https://www.a-n.co.uk/tag/leading-through-practice, 2007-03-01)
    DOUGLAS, A. and FREMANTLE, C. (eds.) 2007. Research papers: leading through practice. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: a-n [online]. Available from: https://www.a-n.co.uk/tag/leading-through-practice.
    Artist as Leader is a programme that aims to understand the ways artists lead through their practice with a view to informing and developing a critical understanding of the role of creativity in culture. There are two ...
  • Working in public: art, practice and policy. [Project website] 

    On the Edge Research (http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/, 2007-12-31)
    ON THE EDGE RESEARCH. [2008] Working in public: art, practice and policy [online]. Available from http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/
    The partners for this project were Suzanne Lacy, Public Art Resource + Research Scotland, the Scottish Arts Council and On the Edge together with the four venues in the four major Scottish cities, The Foyer (Aberdeen), CCA ...
  • A public conversation: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar four. 

    On the Edge Research (http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/, 2007-12-31)
    ON THE EDGE RESEARCH. 2007. A public conversation: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar four [online]. Proceedings of a seminar held in 2007, Edinburgh, UK. Available from http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/
    This seminar was the culmination of four seminars, Working in Public, funded by the Scottish Arts Council through a new initiative, Public Art Resources and Research, Scotland. This initiative is to promote excellence and ...
  • Representation and power: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar two. 

    On the Edge Research (http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/, 2007-12-31)
    ON THE EDGE RESEARCH. 2007. Representation and power: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar two [online]. Proceedings of a seminar held in 2007, Glasgow, UK. Available from http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/
    This seminar explored power in relation to the authority of the artist, institutional authority and authority as individual. In each of these situations the issue of representation was closely linked to how power might be ...
  • Quality and imperfection: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar three. 

    On the Edge Research (http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/, 2007-12-31)
    ON THE EDGE RESEARCH. 2007. Quality and imperfection: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar three [online]. Proceedings of a seminar held in 2007, Inverness, UK. Available from http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/
    We explored some of the ethical and artistic implications of veiwing the idea of public as a living process of forming of different publics in response to specefic circumstances and through discrete modes of address. How ...
  • Aesthetics and ethics of working in public: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar one. 

    On the Edge Research (On the Edge Research http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/, 2007-12-31)
    ON THE EDGE RESEARCH. 2007. Aesthetics and ethics of working in public: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar one [online]. Proceedings of a seminar held in 2007, Aberdeen, UK. Available from http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/
    The seminar drew discussion through a range of questions: How we might determine what is art and what is not art? When and where is it appropriate for the artist to speak for others? When art is camouflaged in every day ...
  • Participating in the 'wrong' way? Practice based research into cultural democracy and the commissioning of art to effect social change. 

    Hope, Charlotte Sophie (Birkbeck, University of London Film, media and cultural studies, 2011-12-31)
    HOPE, C.S. 2011. Participating in the 'wrong' way? Practice based research into cultural democracy and the commissioning of art to effect social change [online]. Available from: http://sophiehope.org.uk/research/
    Through this practice based research I argue that cultural democracy as a way of thinking contests dominant models of commissioning art to effect social change. A method of generative metaphor of critical distance emerges ...
  • Artist as leader (2007-09). 

    On the Edge Research (On the Edge Research https://ontheedgeresearch.org/artist-as-leader-2007-09/, 2013-11-26)
    ON THE EDGE RESEARCH. 2009. Artist as leader (2007-09) [online]. Available from: https://ontheedgeresearch.org/artist-as-leader-2007-09/
    Artist as Leader posed the questions What does leadership mean to artists? Can artists be leaders? The research formed a partnership between Performing Arts Labs, London, Cultural Enterprise Office, Glasgow and the Cultural ...
  • The artist as leader: constructing a national network to support research into the creative competencies of the artist as cultural leader. 

    Douglas, Anne (Arts and Humanities Research Council http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/documents/project-reports-and-reviews/ahrc-annual-report-accounts/2006-07, 2007-07-12)
    DOUGLAS, A. 2007. The artist as leader: constructing a national network to support research into the creative competencies of the artist as cultural leader. In Arts and Humanities Research Council, Annual report and accounts, 2006-07. London: TSO [online], page 14. Available from: http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/documents/project-reports-and-reviews/ahrc-annual-report-accounts/2006-07
    This case study describes how the author is constructing a national network to support research to encourage and enable artists as future leaders.
  • Jane Jacobs and the nature of (practice and research) work in public. 

    Douglas, Anne; Fremantle, Chris (Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, 2009-12-14)
    DOUGLAS, A. and FREMANTLE, C. 2009. Jane Jacobs and the nature of (practice and research) work in public. Presented at Public and participative art: performance in everyday life, 14-15 December 2009, Helsinki, Finland.
    Jacobs argues that economies follow the same rules as ecological systems. They behave in the same way as systems in nature: as dynamic systems of interdependency. The core of Jacobs' argument is energy, whether it is ...
  • Artist as leader. [Film] 

    Davie, Emma (Edinburgh College of Art, 2008-01-31)
    DAVIE, E. [2008]. Artist as leader. [Film]. Edinburgh: Edinburgh College of Art.
    Artist as Leader posed the questions: "what does leadership mean to artists," and "can artists be leaders?" The research formed a partnership between Performing Arts Labs, London, Cultural Enterprise Office, Glasgow and ...
  • Negotiation-as-active-knowing: an approach evolved from relational practice. 

    Chu, Chu Yuan (Robert Gordon University Gray's School of Art, 2013-06)
    CHU, C.Y. 2013. Negotiation-as-active-knowing: an approach evolved from relational art practice. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.
    This PhD research offers a new conception of negotiation that attempts to re-imagine the roles of and relationships between artist and participant-other in social art practice. Negotiation is implicit in art practice, ...
  • Ecology and environmental art in public place: talking tree: won't you take a minute and listen to the plight of nature? 

    Goto Collins, Reiko (Robert Gordon University Gray's School of Art, 2012-02)
    GOTO COLLINS, R. 2012. Ecology and enviromental art in public place: talking trees: won't you take a minute and listen to the plight of nature? Robert Gordon Unviersity, PhD thesis.
    My research started with a question: Is it possible to create change if we understand life is interdependent and interrelated with nature in our environment? I researched this question from the perspective of a practising ...
  • When is the artist a creative leader? A provisional framework. 

    Douglas, Anne; Fremantle, Chris (Littoral, 2006-09)
    DOUGLAS, A. and FREMANTLE, C. 2006. When is the artist a creative leader? A provisional framework. In the Proceedings of the creative rural industries: the arts and rural regeneration; mapping the new creative rural industires, 10-13 September 2006, Lancaster, UK. Ramsbottom: Littoral.
    Ian Hunter, in the New Rural Arts Strategy, provides us with a framework for thinking about regeneration by drawing deeply from rural culture, both its traditions as well as the challenges that are posed by social, cultural ...
  • The artist as leader: research report. 

    Douglas, Anne; Fremantle, Chris; Performing Arts Labs; Cultural Enterprise Office; Scottish Leadership Foundation (Robert Gordon University http://www2.rgu.ac.uk/subj/ats/ontheedge2/artistasleader/ArtistAsLeader.pdf, 2009)
    DOUGLAS, A. and FREMANTLE, C.; with Performing Arts Labs, Cultural Enterprise Office, Scottish Leadership Foundation, 2009. The artist as leader: research report. Aberdeen: Robert Gordon University.
  • Summary and reflection seminar 3: quality and imperfection. 

    Douglas, Anne (Robert Gordon University. http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/, 2007)
    DOUGLAS, A. 2007. Summary and reflection seminar 3: quality and imperfection. In On The Edge Research. 2007. Quality and imperfection: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar three [online]. Proceedings of a seminar held in 2007, Inverness, UK. Available from http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/
    In embarking on Working in Public, we started out with an implicit assumption that criteria for judging quality in art in the gallery and museum were widely understood and broadly agreed, whereas quality of art in the ...
  • Representation and power seminar 2: a critical reflection. 

    Douglas, Anne (Robert Gordon University http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/, 2007)
    DOUGLAS, A. 2007. Representation and power seminar 2: a critical reflection. In On The Edge Rsesearch. 2007. Representation and power: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar two [online]. Proceedings of a seminar held in 2007, Glasgow, UK. Available from http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/
    The thematic area - Power and Representation emerged in our discussions with Suzanne Lacy as an issue that framed tensions within the Oakland projects' specifically, as well having relevance beyond Oakland. These tensions ...
  • Aesthetics and ethics of working in public art: a summary of the discussion for seminar one. 

    Douglas, Anne (Robert Gordon University. http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/, 2007)
    DOUGLAS, A. 2007. Aesthetics and ethics of working in public art: a summary of the discussion for seminar one. In On the Edge Research. 2007. Aesthetics and ethics of working in public: 'Working in Public Seminars' project, seminar one [online]. Proceedings of a seminar held in 2007, Aberdeen, UK. Available from: http://www.workinginpublicseminars.org/
    The hunch behind Working in Public is that art now exists in the public sphere in unprecedented ways. Working in Public aims therefore to open up greater uncertainty in what we think art is and to provoke more thoughtful ...

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