Live briefs, research and community engagement

We’re often told that research informs teaching, but what does that really mean? Here’s a great example of how the research undertaken by academic staff supports innovative teaching methods and informs teaching.


Senior Lecturer in Comics and Graphic Novels , Julian Lawrence is an award-winning cartoonist and educator specialising in comic books. Julian’s work concentrates on the undercurrents of communication through gesture in the medium of comics.

In June 2021 Julian presented his conference paper, 21st Century Winter Journey, at the Media Communication and Cultural Studies Association Conference (MeCSSA). The paper introduces his visual essay book chapter describing a collaborative comics-based research (CBR) project between a homeless charity and a cohort of 2nd-year university students. The 21st Century Winter Journey project explores the status of community art education (CAE) in Middlesbrough UK, and the ways learning and making comics impacts communities locally and internationally.

Cover by Julian Lawrence

The project challenged Year Two students in Comics & Graphic Novels at Teesside University to make comics, do research beyond the classroom boundaries, and explore the surrounding local community. Academics and students partnered with staff and homeless members of Streetwise Opera (SWO) who were staging a performance of Schubert’s opera Winterreise. SWO provides resources and community support to people affected by homelessness across the UK. The task as a class was to collaboratively develop the opera into a narrative with SWO and adapt the libretto into a graphic novel.

Traditional comics-making methods informed the foundation of the project’s artistic practice:

• Rough sketches and thumbnails based on research
• Cleaner pencil drawings and lettering
• Rendering inks and colours
• Final, camera-ready artwork.

Following each iteration, SWO and Julian (as tutor) gave students feedback and revisions.

Page by Ebonny Cavanagh

Julian suggests that analysis of the project widens conversations in CAE through Research Informed Teaching (RIT), Just-In-Time Teaching (JITT) and Paolo Freire’s “conscientizaçāo” (awareness). RITT, JITT, and awareness triangulate and locate learning in a community’s relational and public spaces. In applying these theories with cartooning practices, a powerful pedagogical tool emerges. When students become researchers and make comics they negotiate their understandings of community, their identities, and their futures. These observations are evidenced in the reflections students wrote as well as in the finished comics they submitted at the conclusion of the project. RIT, JITT, awareness, and cartooning guide the flow of artistic practice through shared group experiences within community spaces.

Page by Mia Redfern

Forms of comics such as comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels are recognized internationally. Creative practices of making comics and cartooning are transferrable to schools, community centres, universities, and care homes everywhere. As such, the medium of comics functions as a transversal language and participatory culture that links people and communities together.

Tragically, the global pandemic hit as students were developing the comic, and all teaching migrated online. Despite increased pressure to self-isolate, socially distance, and learn online the 64-page graphic novel was successfully completed and deliverd as Christmas presents in December 2020.  Julian continues to use live briefs to encourage research and create meaningful and community-based learning in and outside of the classroom for students.

The School of Arts & Creative Industries offers both a BA Comics & Graphic Novels and an MA Comics & Graphic Novels

 

Curating – what’s it all about?

Straight from latest issue of the  School of Arts & Creative Industries Magazine , we’re sharing extracts from an interview with MIMA’s exhibitions and collection curator, Helen Welford, who tells us a little bit about her job.


Helen studied BA (Hons) Fine Art in Manchester. Following graduation she moved back to the region and set up a studio. Keen to further her learning she undertook an MA Art Museum and Gallery Studies and began curating at Newcastle University, as well as getting involved with Saltburn Artists Projects. Helen’s role at MIMA has changed over the years. Beginning as a gallery assistant, she moved up through the ranks from assistant curator to exhibitions and collections curator

“My favourite thing about being a curator is working with artists to develop ideas for shows. I love working on commissions and helping artists develop new work. My job is incredibly varied and every day is different. From studio visits to planning an exhibition to designing the gallery’s look and feel, it can be very creative.”

The School of Arts & Creative Industries at Teesside University offers an MA Curating as well as a Degree Apprenticeship in Curating, which awards an MA Curating along with the apprenticeship qualification. The degree apprenticeship offers an excellent opportunity for individuals in a curating role to gain a masters level qualification in their specialism whilst discovering the benefits of networking with other like-minded curators, studying part-time in our international art gallery and museum MIMA (Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art), whilst still working and earning.

Helen’s advise for anyone considering a career in curating – “I recommend that you see as much art as possible. Read magazines and websites and soak it all up. Go to as much locally as you can but also try and go further afield. Art online has really advanced during the pandemic and it can be a great place to come across new artists. Go to openings and meet people. Ask for support and mentoring, people are happy to help. Middlesbrough is a great place to be in the art world and make things happen.”

Find out more about our Curating Degree Apprenticeship (MA)

 

 

2022 Graduate Showcase – a Sneak Peek!

May is the month of the Graduate Showcase in the School of Arts & Creative Industries and with just two weeks to go, we’re so excited about the incredible work that we have seen, that we just can’t help but give you a sneak peek…

P.S. Shout out to Becky Thomas, 3rd Year Graphic Design & Illustration student, for the fabulous Graduate Showcase promo artwork! 🙌


Each year, students from the School of Arts & Creative Industries submit their finest pieces of work, the culmination of three years of study, for inclusion in THE event of the year. This year’s Graduate Showcase opens on Monday 16th May and is open to anyone who wishes to come along to see the work of our students. Check out the full programme of events here.

Unlike the 2021 Degree Show which was all online, this year we’re thrilled to be opening our doors to students, families, friends, employers, schools, colleges and local organisations that wish to come along to applaud the achievements of our final year students.

A full printed programme showcasing student work will be available for visitors, along with a showcase of our film and media work on a digital platform. But you don’t have to wait – here’s a taster of what’s in store for you! For each course we’ve randomly selected just one amazing piece of work to show you, to help whet your appetite for more!

BA (Hons) Comics & Graphic Novels

Student Sophie Poole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BA (Hons) Fashion

Student Grace Goodfellow-Lovlo

 

 

 

 

 

BA (Hons) Product Design

Student Scarlett Bonas

 

 

 

BA (Hons) Graphic Design 

Student Jue Shuen Soh

 

 

 

BA (Hons) Fine Art

Student Amelia Curry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BA (Hons) Interior Design

Student Lauren Bailey

 

There’s much, much more to see when we open our doors on 16th May AND watch this space for information about where to find work from students of our Music & Media Production Courses, which will be available to view on our TUxtra platform. You’ll see some incredible work from students on the following courses:

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek and look forward to welcoming you during Graduate Showcase week, 16th – 20th May.