Jessica Singer, third year PhD student and curator of our current exhibition ‘Being and Becoming: the creative balance of the artist teacher’, tells us about the exhibition and the process:


Michael Samson, ‘The Desperate Artist Teacher’, showing work in progress

Being and Becoming: the creative balance of the artist teacher is a research- led exhibition currently on display in the MacRobert Artspace. The works on display take the viewer into the personal journey of six artist teachers and how these artist teachers balance creativity in being an artist and a teacher. The exhibition itself is an integral part of the research process and is an innovative method of research.

The artist teacher moves through various identity constructs in the process of learning to be an artist, learning to be a teacher of art, and learning to work within the social environment they are engaged in. My research project explores how individuals learn in and through their experiences and the impact of identity and the relationships they form in different environments.


Jane Hislop, mind-mapping the creative balance of the artist teacher

The six experienced artist teachers presented in this exhibition are based in the North East of Scotland and have worked in both formal and informal education. In coming to know the artist teachers through interviews, it was important to me that the people I interviewed  had an outlet to showcase their feelings and views on being both an artist and a teacher . After discussing with the artist teachers the idea of an exhibition, we collaborated on a title that would best fit within the parameters of the research study. A common buzz word  that kept arising was ‘balance’. It was clear to me throughout the interviews, and as the artist teachers explained their previously generated works to me, that balance was something they viewed as an important part of  being an artist teacher. From this that we agreed upon the title of Being and Becoming: the creative balance of the artist teacher.


Install of the exhibition with assistance from the University of Museums Staff

Participants were asked to create one art piece that best represented how they as artist teachers ‘balance’ being an artist and teacher. Through the creation of artwork, artist teachers explored the ways in which their lived experiences influenced their choices in becoming an artist teacher.


Exhibition Opening, Friday 4th November, 2016

As they created the works, participants were asked to keep a visual journal/photographic log on their choices of mark- making as a means into the research question. These decisions are available for viewing from:


The artist teachers and the PhD student researcher (L to R : Jane Hislop, Anne Marquiss, Michael Samson, Jessica Singer, Susie Hunt, Brian Keeley, and Ian Smart)

This exhibition is not only contributes towards the research study, but also works as a means of unveiling to the public the importance of the creative artistic identity. The exhibition is a means of translating work produced in a written context (the research study) into a visual context (the exhibition). The construction of the exhibition will work as a process of reflexivity for me and the participants involved.

Acknowledgements: With thanks to University Museums staff; to Dr. Elizabeth Curtis and David Johnstone of the School of Education , and to the participants: Jane Hislop, Susie Hunt, Brian Keeley, Anne Marquiss, Michael Samson and Ian Smart for their involvement in the research study.

Written by Jessica Singer, PhD student curator for Being and Becoming: the creative balance of the artist teacher



About uoamuseums

The University of Aberdeen's Museums include King’s Museum and the University's Zoology Museum. The museums can claim to be Scotland's oldest, with records of museums and collections as far back as the late 17th century. Thanks to their status as a Recognised Collection of national significance, the Zoology Museum’s displays are currently being improved, while King's Museum hosts changing exhibitions drawn from across the collections, particularly those formerly in Marischal Museum. Visitors are warmly welcomed to the museums, and there are no charges for admission. Marischal College now houses the Museums Collections Centre, caring for and conserving many of the collections.
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