The purpose of the exercise was to identify initial secondary sources, key creatives, key texts, resources and gatekeepers.
My first action was to request time with the OCA Librarian to get her view on what strategy I should use to carry out online research of the OCA library catalogue and databases.
My searches felt a bit unstructured like I was fishing for clues. Because the subject is so current most of the information I could find was in newspaper and magazine articles. There was a lot of information about the effect of lockdown on the creative industry as a whole, which was devastated as museums, theatres and galleries were closed, and plenty of short articles about individual projects.
I started by using the following keywords: Covid, pandemic, artist, creative, diary
I made notes of all references as I went along, and, where possible, logged these in Paperpile for easy access later.
Information about how the pandemic had impacted artists was limited. The BBC Radio 4 series Shockwaves (2021) that consisted of 5 x 30-minute programmes made by artists from different disciplines was a good source of information and provided other avenues of enquiry.
Vic Lee’s illustrated Corona Diary 2020 (2020) was a good example of a artist making work that records and comments on the experience of lockdown.
There was a lot of scientific research around the psychological impacts of the pandemic. An article Creative lockdown? A daily diary study of creative activity during pandemics (Karwowski et al,. 2021) caught my attention. It discussed the counterintuitive fact that the constraints and stress experienced by artists during the pandemic had a positive effect on their creativity. I found this really interesting because it strongly correlated with my own experience.
This gave me a moment of realisation and changed how I saw the link between my area of research and my own practice.
Based on my new insight I revisited the Rhizome map and highlighted key areas.
The critical review would become about HOW the pandemic affected the way artists approached their creative work. My hypothesis, backed by scientific research was that paradoxically the pandemic had a positive effect on creativity. I would use my primary research as a way to prove or disprove the hypothesis and link any findings to my own work/experience.
One of the aspects that interested me about work made during this period is how it formed a record of the event. I noticed that several UK libraries had started projects collecting the recollections/experiences of people. I made contact with the UCA Archivist to find out whether she was aware of any local initiatives.
Local library search/access to inter library loans
At the time of writing, Knights Park Library: Dame Elizabeth Esteve-Coll Centre which provides services to Kingston School of Art is closed to visitors because of the pandemic. This is an excellent local resource that may open at some point during this course unit.
This meant I was reliant on the OCA Library services and catalogue.
My physical search involved listing potential people/groups of people to approach for qualitative research. The key audience for this were creative practitioners willing to either be interviewed or asked to complete a questionnaire about some aspect (tbc) of their response to the pandemic.
There were four groups:
- Artists/illustrators that I’ve met through attending urban sketching workshops. This was a key group because their work was all about responding to and visually reporting on immediate events
- OCA students and lecturers
- Through OCA meetups/workshops
- Using my OCA support group
- Enrolled through a blog article or via the OCA student forum
- Direct contact
- Social media contacts
- Artists/illustrators – direct contact with artists using their website/social media contact details. Some of these candidates were likely to be identified through secondary research.
Skim-read initial key texts/resources
I skim read texts during the research process, using my notebook to record key points/arguments. Where an article seemed particularly relevant I went back to it for a more thorough read through.
At this point in the process I was doing just enough reading to shape my thinking and give it direction.
Research gatekeepers, organisations and creative practitioners
There were a number of organisations/groups that would provide information/metrics relating to virtual creative workshops, virtual/experimental life/figure/dance life drawing that all started and flourished during the pandemic. The gatekeepers to these organisations were known to me through attending their drawing events.
Probably the most important gatekeeper was OCA Librarian because she had a wealth of knowledge about how to best access the library resources.
The City of Edinburgh Council (s.d.) ECA Diary Archiving COVID 19 Guidance. At: https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/downloads/download/14455/eca-diary-archiving-covid-19-guidance (Accessed 17/03/2021).
Karwowski, M. et al. (2021) ‘Creative Lockdown? A Daily Diary Study of Creative Activity During Pandemics’ In: Frontiers in psychology 12 p.600076.
Lee, V. (2020) Vic Lee’s Corona Diary 2020. (s.l.): White Lion Publishing.
Shock Waves (s.d.) In: BBC At: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000sqs8 (Accessed 17/03/2021).