ABSTRACT

Over the last two decades there have been heated discussions and a plethora of publications about art practice and its relationship to the dominant research culture in mainstream higher education (Candlin 2001; Macleod and Holdridge 2006; Elkins 2008; Mason 2008; Sullivan 2008). In the United Kingdom practice-based doctorates were introduced into art universities (formerly art schools and colleges) in the 1990s; however, the desirability and viability of art as an assessable research practice remains a topic for debate. Some deliberations echo those from the 1960s and 1970s when the Coldstream Report paved the way for diplomas in Art and Design (1960) and Bachelor of Arts (1974). These standardised qualifications brought requirements

for written/theoretical components, which were seen, by some, to be pressing art too deeply into an academic mould. Other discussions have focused on the integrity of art practice and art education in a knowledge-based economy, which has shifted expectations of how research and knowledge will be used (Pierce 2009; Rogoff 2010). The Bologna Process (1999) (see https://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/educ/bologna/ bologna.pdf) has also loomed large in many debates (Roelstraete 2010). Twenty-nine European countries signed up to the Bologna Declaration (1999) with an intention to make European higher education more compatible and comparable. However, its mechanisms for regulating and standardising academic qualifications and its homogenising tendencies can be seen to have little regard for the creative importance of art’s ostensibly aberrant modus operandi. In contradistinction, promises of legitimacy, recognition and parity for a discipline which has resided in the margins of the higher education framework have been welcomed by many commentators (Frayling 1999; Sullivan 2005) who also hold that an acknowledgment of art’s contribution to the field of knowledge is long overdue.