About Shared Drive

Shared Drive projects are shared, interdisciplinary projects with collective outcomes. Each starts with  a proposal by an individual practitioner and is generally  linked to that person’s own research practice. All students, from all levels of our programmes, work together in response to the initial proposal, and develop their own way forward and their own shared outcomes.

Shared Drive is a model for the inclusion of practice in the research life of the Fine Art programme, and for visible integration of practice-based research.

Shared Drive is additional to other research structures and opportunities. Its principles of inclusiveness, open access and sharing invite the participation of all areas.

The project series is ongoing, and linked to the academic timetable with blogged documentation and periodic printed publication.


12 thoughts on “About Shared Drive”

  1. John really appreciate the effort that is gone into this, and obviously it is vital we take the course forward in new ways to keep up with the times and meet changing demands.

    It would be great to integrate research practice and teaching as in this new approach. There are some issues to iron out but the broad approach you have taken allows all to participate in the shaping of the new structure. It will allow us also to look at the studios and re-plan how we use space; we need to be mindful of how the new intake each year is integrated into Fine Art and how MA is taught and connected to the BA.

  2. There were many successes with the This is Tomorrow project, not least in sculpture, which was invigorated by the excitement and challenge of re-iterating a major art event in the history of contemporary British Art. This is Tomorrow allowed us to better understand how to create a series of expanded artworks as a team of diverse practioners, which the original team in 1956 achieved, despite their different approaches and interests. By experiencing this process, we were liberated from our own restrictive practices and supported in examining and executing different methodologies: a unique and vital experience as an emerging fine artist. The placing of the project in the semester 1 as part of Approaches to Practice was perfectly judged: it is expected that we are fully participating in this timetabled day and that our individual practice is enriched by the experience. Tensions inevitably emerge executing such a complex process, but the challenge for us as Artists is to learn to adapt and accept to a creative experience that allows us to discover a “new approach to practice”.

    When “The Event” occurred at Christmas, it was celebrated with huge enthusiasm: we felt we had overcome major obstacles in recreating an art Exhibtion, where we were obliged to accommodate each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Developing very close relationships across years 2 and 3 as we progressed with the work, was critical and hugely beneficial.

    This is Tomorrow enjoyed a further journey in Berlin which provided us with another platform to present our work in an international context with direct curatorial experience. Far from celebrating the end of the project, we have continued to enjoy its developing significance and importance as it re-iterates once more at the ICA symposium awaiting as Ian describes it: “a material historiography with energies aimed very much at the future”.

    I’m sorry to read Ejaz that your personal experience didn’t match ours in sculpture,as we found the project was introduced thoughtfully and with skill: we now appreciate as artists that compromise has to be accounted for when faced with a collaborative project with a fixed timescale.

    I wish to see more of this kind of experience as I have plenty more to learn as an Artist: the journey has only just started.

  3. With the This Is Tomorrow project I feel that it was successful in helping to learn skills and working outside of our practice by recreating something as a team. However, it did take up more time than anticipated as not everyone was willing to take part in the project. This I feel was caused by being told that depending on what studio you were in was what part of the project you would work in. This meant students weren’t given the choice so may not of been interested in the area their studio was working on. To engage more students in the next project I feel it would be important to give students the choice in what area of the project they would like to work in, which in turn would hopefully increase the amount of people working in the project and help to lower the work load for everyone else.

  4. Leanne is right to pick up this point about the inclusion of the whole student body in such projects: it needs to become an explicitly assessed task and count towards our final degree marks, then perhaps the workload and team effort will increase and concentrate everyone’s minds on the longer term value of such projects. Working on your own on such an ambitious project,as I discovered, can be lonely and very tiring: having a few friendly students working alongside you is both helpful and rewarding in terms of developing artistic practice.

    The naming of areas can affect choices of spaces we decide to work in. I too recall being told to simply choose where I wanted to work based on how comfortable I felt in the area. However, in sculpture studio we have had to move spaces at the end of the semester to allow for greater use of space. As with all studio spaces, there are students who simply do not attend daily and some, rarely, but yet space is allocated to those students irrespective of whether they attend or not. Perhaps a better arrangement, certainly in sculpture, would be to have a few “hot desks” anyone can work at for the day and allocated spaces for those who need it and attend daily. It may seem unfair to deprive those who don’t attend regularly to have to share a hot desk/ space area, but given how limited space is and how cramped some students are in sculpture studio, and I gather elsewhere, it would seem a reasonable compromise. Some students work on bigger projects than others and so require a larger space to construct their work.

    What you call those spaces is less important: pathways is just plain confusing and redundant terminology. Any change would be an improvement.

    1. I agree with Juliette on the point how there are some students who do not use their spaces which are areas that aren’t utilised. This means other students who do attend regularly miss out, so therefore hot desks maybe a good way to allow students to still have a space to work from. I feel students should be advised that they do not have to have a desk if they would prefer to work from home but also if students don’t attend regularly without legitimate reasons that their desk may be used by other students to utilise and other temporary areas would be available.

      1. All good points there Leanne. I gather from other Lecturers that the University is ‘obliged’ to provide a desk space for all students so it may not be possible to insist on ‘hot desking’ approach/policy, but students could be asked at the outset if they require a desk space or are willing to share etc. There are at least 3 students in sculpture who have never attended to use their desk/space and a few who just like to ‘drift around’ and enjoy the freedom of ‘No Fixed Abode’. If some students simply want to use their desk/space to sit their pen pot on all year, then perhaps a shared cupboard with a lock for such a purpose could be provided by the University in each studio area?

        Perhaps with greater flexibility introduced into the system and more space available, the pressures might ease over getting some decent, more permanent space to work in for those who need it. It’s a very popular method in the world of corporate companies and maybe then, good preparation for learning about how space works and is shared in the wider world beyond Uni?

      2. I visited the BBC in Manchester recently to see hot desking in action. It only works there thanks to rigorous enforcement: anything left on a desk at the end of the day is swept into a bin bag and if unclaimed after 24 hours is discarded. The system is very unpopular. Moreover, I’m not sure it would be practicable with activities that go beyond paperwork and laptops. Nevertheless, I take the point that we should examine how we express the positive side of the choice not to work in the studio, and clearly more discussion is needed.

    2. Part of the purpose of the Shared Drive exercise is to achieve clarity on how collective projects fit into the Programme as a whole. The discussion appears to be taking us towards a model for such projects which is not quite as demanding on individuals as This Is Tomorrow was, nor quite as long. Assessment Criteria do allow for participation in studio projects to be recognised, and we will seek to articulate this more clearly at the beginning of next year’s projects.

      I think that there will always have to be a degree of fluidity about the way each studio is used, and the deployment and sharing of space will change according to the use that different people make of it. The intention behind proposing new names for the areas, which is not a major part of shared Drive, is to emphasise the versatility and cross-disciplinary nature of the studios rather than to narrow the focus.

      On the issue of terminology, we are at a moment of transition, in that the current Level 3 is divided into Pathways and Levels 2 and 1 are not. From the end of the current Semester, there will no longer be Pathways on this Programme; all degrees awarded will be in ‘Fine Art’.

  5. Although I did enjoy elements of This is Tomorrow, I do feel a shorter project of a similar nature would be more suitable in the first term. At times I found it overwhelming to cope with the demands of navigating a collaborative project that often seeped into time I should have been spending on my own practice.
    I can understand the temptation to ask for the work to assessed, but as the boundaries of authorship within collaborative work are blurred I think this would add further stress.

    1. Shorter projects in the first semester is, in effect, what is proposed for Level 2 and 3. For Level 1, projects would be longer than they currently are.

      Assessment encompasses collective projects in terms of participation and contribution to the programme, rather than the work produced. It may be that we need to design projects which allow for individuals to choose to make individual works within the project briefs, as is the case with Level 1 projects.

  6. I think the suggestion of shorter projects with individual works, as in Level 1,sounds great.

    The BBC Hot desk practice reminds me of just how sensitive and alert they are to their employees needs. I would look to more successful corporate companies who practice it much more successfully and don’t throw their employees belonging in the bin. It is very popular in many London offices where space is at a premium and many people work shifts, job share and don’t need their own desk/space: maybe it’s just a Manucian thing…..

    More seriously, your suggestion that greater clarity is provided on how the assessment criteria allows for participation in studio projects is most welcome. When I arrived, I asked lots of students about how the work was assessed and if we were obliged to participate. The answers provided were not very encouraging or helpful. If you do re-state the criteria, it would be helpful to have them re-issued to all students once the projects start to increase participation and improve the work rate.

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