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Archaeology for the Creative Industries

Creative Sector Education

Live projects are simulated real-life situations used routinely in art and design education to create a distinct set of experiences for students. In general terms these experiences take students outside of the ‘community of practice’ of the ‘art school’ and place their skills in external art and design contexts.

The CinBA Live Project was devised and delivered by the University of Southampton and the Crafts Council in 2010-11 as part of the HERA-funded project Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA). It offered institutions a unique opportunity to offer a practice-led, research-based Live Project, which was distinct to those generally known to be available to art and design institutions, using the Humanities as a source of inspiration for creative practice, and suggesting new roles for the interpretation of the past through creative work.

The opportunity was promoted to subject and course leaders teaching contemporary craft subjects in further and higher education institutions across the UK. Five leading UK institutions took up the opportunity to offer the brief to their student cohorts, reaching approximately 150 students. The institutions hosted an initial seminar run by CinBA Project Leader Prof. Joanna Sofaer. This session introduced the students and tutors to CinBA, and Bronze Age material culture. This was enhanced by an online, password-protected resource pack of images from Bronze Age collections to enable self-directed research.

Those that pursued the project after the initial lecture undertook a number of activities. One institution used the project to set a critical studies writing assignment on the use of the past and its relevance to contemporary craft making. A number of institutions offered organised field trips to students, which included visiting Bronze Age and other prehistoric sites in the UK, including Stonehenge and Avebury, and making use of museum collections such as the Wiltshire Museum and Manchester Museum. Individual students also pursued self-directed research visits to diverse institutions such as the British Museum, Blythe House Archive, National Museum of Wales, Heaton Park and Chester Zoo in the UK, and museums in Stockholm and Copenhagen in Scandinavia. Students also reported reading around the topic, including specific volumes on prehistoric textiles and Bronze Age jewellery, watching popular media, such as the BBC series ‘Ancient Britain’ which was televised in 2011, performing internet based research, talking to experts already known to them, and making records of materials using photographyand drawing.

To echo the tangible real-world outcomes offered by Live Projects, the students were invited to submit a portfolio and any final pieces with an artist’s statement to an online exhibition. This exhibition was selected and curated by visual arts and computing academic and curator Professor Janis Jefferies of Goldsmiths’ University; 14 were selected. The exhibition was published to the CinBA website in 2012 and subsequently promoted on the Crafts Council and HERA websites. The students’ work is accompanied by essays from Professor Janis Jefferies and Rosy Greenlees, Executive Director of the Crafts Council.

The exhibition was formatted on a separate open-access platform, enabling the full colour PDF to be downloaded, and for the ‘show’ to remain online for an indefinite period of time: http://cinba.net/exhibition/

The innovation in pedagogical models developed by CinBA comes at an important time for higher education. The CinBA Live Project was essentially interdisciplinary and therein lies its strength as a model; as one of the participating tutors articulates, it had, ‘”significant alignment with emerging educational trends with its prioritisation of interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration”. Its methodology was drawn from art and design pedagogy, the content and research question was drawn from archaeology, and the dissemination model was drawn from professional practice and the third sector. In combination, these elements offered tutors and students a genuine alternative to other live projects. This stimulated broader outcomes, enhanced employability for participants, and prompted shifts in practice in crafts education.

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Miriam Jones
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Caroline Allen
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Helen Reeves

the project had significant alignment with emerging educational trends with its prioritisation of interdisciplinary thinking and collaboration

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