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Writing PAD: a grass-roots movement

Julia Lockheart

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The Writing Purposefully in Art and Design (Writing PAD) project (led by Julia Lockheart at Goldsmiths, University of London) is now in its fourth year and, with funding from HEFCE, has provided an arena for 39 art and design institutions in the UK to come together in order to debate and exchange practices involving writing. This has been a particularly thorny issue for art and design practice as it has long been felt that the government-driven change from ‘art college’ to ‘university’ brought with it the imposition of the Humanities writing component (Coldstream reports, 1960s, 1970s) unsuitable for the variety of purposes and possibilities for writing within A&D. This miss-match had never previously been dealt with across the sector as a whole, but has been being addressed by isolated individuals, often with little institutional or financial support. In this respect, the Writing PAD project has created a network which has not only brought together tutors from across the disciplines, but also across roles: studio staff, theory staff, learning support, and learning and teaching co-ordinators. As a result, Writing PAD has generated debate and collected a variety of models to examine how writing might purposefully be used to bridge the relationship between studio practice and theory and develop what is much needed by the creative industries: the reflective practitioner (Schön, 1997).1 (A variety of models can be viewed on our website:
     In this paper, I would like to discuss the organic development of a highly successful network of people and institutions that have chosen to question the imposed orthodoxy of writing practices in art and design in a creative and often subversive way. This picture will include implications of integration (studio, theory, support) for both foundation and research levels; the notion of a portfolio of writing (James 2005); the articulation of alternative assessment criteria; the extension of e-learning support, and the feasibility of co-ordination and awareness-raising amongst staff. The paper will absorb insights from the Writing PAD Symposium (Central Saint Martins, September 2005) and the ‘Technology in Writing’ Symposium (Wolverhampton, February 2006) and the ‘Designing Writing: Designing Curriculum’ Symposium (York Saint John University College, April 2006). It will be further seek to discuss project participants’ emergent practices, specifically by the survey of stages one and two partner representatives that was carried out from January to March, 2006.

Author Bio(s)

Julia Lockheart is Director of the Writing PAD Project and Lecturer in Student Learning Support at Goldsmiths College. She studied to MA level in both Fine Art (Painting) and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She also has qualifications in teaching adults with Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD Dyslexia).