‘We could all benefit from a mentor’ by Toni Mayner

I joined the mentoring scheme because I wanted to decide whether studying a PhD was the right thing for me. What I didn’t expect, was the impact that meeting other PhD students and hearing about their research would have on my decision.

Having spent 18 months attending courses and researching the possibilities, the enthusiasm about their subjects, shared experiences, opportunities and challenges that the mentors and mentees have shared and expressed at our meetings have all led me to decide that a PhD is possible and something that will enhance me and my work.

I have never had a mentor before and have found the experience to be delightful. My mentor is generous with his knowledge and has already shared a considerable amount of  his in-head bibliography on sources of inspiration, references and others artistic practice with me whilst enabling me to explore and refine my ideas.

At the recent professional development event the word we discussed as a group was ‘sustainability’. There were many interpretations of what this might represent, however, for me at this time, the mentoring scheme, catch-up events and research cafes all contribute to my being able to sustain the commitment and work required in achieving study at this level and have transformed what was an individual experience into me becoming part of a research community.

Toni Mayner is a lecturer at the School of Jewellery and a practicing jewellery artist whose current research examines themes of loss and remembrance.

Learning to mentor by Mattia Paganelli

In the process of becoming an academic researcher, one learns in unexpected ways; teaching has been one, mentoring at first seemed no different. Yet, I was quickly proved wrong. The dialogue with a prospective PhD researcher is an entirely different experience, miles away from the inevitable limitations of the lecturing format at BA level I already knew. It is a curiosity platform, where questions are exchanged and one offers his experience in tackling them. It requires creativity in reorganizing one’s experience beyond the structure of a specific subject of study, in order to understand to someone else’ work.

Thus mentoring has become an opportunity to explore the tutoring role in a broader and more rewarding way. This offers great help in the specific case of art school, where developing studio tutoring skills requires more than simply passing information, and one must learn to be flexible in order to respond to different sensibilities and different practices.

In the conversations we have, I find I am sharing the excitement for having a study project that is entirely my own. The experiences collected in making art in a globalized technological world and the knowledge gained studying merge in this dialogue, becoming valuable references when discussing why and how undertaking postgraduate research; not to mention the more delicate task of advising how to embark in the PhD adventure with the right mixture of foolishness and determination.

Mattia Paganelli is a PhD student at the Centre for Fine Art Research, BIAD whose research examines the relation between aesthetics and epistemology in contemporary art practice.

KED Call for applications!

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We are pleased to invite you to submit an application to take part in the Knowledge Exchange in Design (KED) scheme! This call is for projects which will take place between January and March 2014 and is open to BIAD PhD and Early Career Researchers.

Taking on a KED project is an excellent way for you to develop your professional experience and to engage with a partner organisation outside the academy.

The application process is easy:

1. Find more about KED on our BIAD Professional Development Network website by clicking here
2. Read through the partner project briefs to find out which research projects are of particular interest to you. The     projects are listed on the KED page of the website and also in the Resources section, with a downloadable document for each project.
3. Complete the application form and return to the BIAD Research Office via email to: biadresearch@bcu.ac.uk by the closing date of 6th January 2014.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Curate Your Career event

A big thank you to everyone who came to our Curate Your Career event this week! After an introduction by Dr Anne Boultwood, we had an interesting session by Prof Richard Coles who brought in some personal and strange artefacts such as the Coco de Mer seed that resonated with the development of his own career development, aims and aspirations. As a group this encouraged us to think about curating our own research career considering what has led us to our PhD journey and how we may move forward  and develop a research-related career post-PhD.

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The BIAD Research Mentoring Initiative was introduced by Dr Jacqueline Taylor and is now taking applications for mentees and mentors. Click here for more information and to apply.

This years Knowledge Exchange in Design scheme was introduced by Jayne Sharples. We were lucky enough to have two KED partners Ollie Leggett from IE Design Consultancy and Fran Welby to discuss their project briefs and to see Fran’s delightful jewellery in person! Click here for more information and to apply. Visit our KED page regularly as new project briefs will be regularly uploaded to the site.

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