The University of Sunderland team were one of six CATE teams in 2018 who received a Spotlight award, as a result of being commended by their Advance HE CATE reviewers for their “highly creative, socially inclusive and entrepreneurial approach to building student confidence and enhancing employability within the creative industries.”
They received the award for their impactful work as Foundation Press; an experimental publishing practice and teaching and learning initiative that stimulates collaboration between participants and their wider community of creative practice.
Initially based around Risograph printing resources, Foundation Press created a space for testing collaborative approaches to design, printmaking and publishing inspired by the interdisciplinary and fast paced environment of the Foundation course it developed from.
Since receiving the CATE award (and Spotlight award), Foundation Press have gone on to develop a series of projects with galleries and arts organisations. Within the University of Sunderland, the team have continued to develop a number of projects working with students and have most recently established a Publishing Lab across the Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries.
Here we share the perspectives of members from the Foundation Press team, who reflect on how winning a CATE award has impacted them, their students, their institution, and the creative sector beyond.
Joe Woodhouse – Programme Leader, Artist
The CATE award gave recognition for an area of research that interests us, where staff practice within the arts impacts directly on students and the pedagogies we employ. It’s really important to keep trying to articulate the aims and ambitions of projects as they develop and the application helped with this. Gathering feedback from students and wider arts networks as part of this process was really rewarding and useful.
Adam Phillips – Academic Tutor, Artist
Receiving the CATE award also gave us the confidence in what we were doing and, alongside this, an increased awareness amongst peers and management. It has resulted in us being more able to extend and continue the practice with the university.
Through our arts practice, the Foundation Press project has continued to develop action research – exploring similar forms of engagement outside of higher education environments. Working with different communities, charities and art institutions has helped develop our skills further and utilised these in different contexts too.
Deborah Bower – Academic Tutor, Artist
Reflecting on the project with peers helped us develop practical plans for how a space for self-publishing might be opened out further and become more embedded within our degree programmes and different stages of study. The Publishing Lab, an exciting physical space, is currently being developed alongside the university gallery as part of a wider commitment to support ways of working that facilitate real world involvement in the arts.
In terms of impact on the students, as Debbie says, we, as Foundation Press, have worked with the university to develop the Publishing Lab; a more inclusive space, readily accessible to the whole Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries. We hope that this will increase student-led publishing activities and strengthen the links to other courses. Through work with peers, we hope to develop the capacity for the project and offer both our publishing expertise and perspectives on teaching and learning to other staff and students.
I was supported through a Vice Chancellor’s Teaching Fellowship to develop further reflection in this area. For this project, PRESS RELEASE, I worked with 10 students from across the faculty developing book projects, exploring collaborative learning and developing professional networks. Students worked with myself and also collaborated with designer Jimmy Turrell. A number of these students have continued to pursue these practices as part of their future study or professionally upon graduation, attending book fairs, setting up their own presses or pursuing commission opportunities.
The support for the Publishing Lab alongside the university gallery has been fantastic. Due to plans for moving the faculty to newly developed buildings next year, progress hasn’t been as quick as we would like but it’s good that this is part of this planning too.
The current shutdown of physical spaces in response to COVID-19 has if anything, initiated dialogues around the nature of teaching and learning within the creative sector and the type of projects that can facilitate collaborative practices or networking that students enjoy. We are very much looking at digital publishing or teaching these skills digitally, whilst also reflecting on the potential for bringing groups together that print, publishing and exhibiting these outcomes offer.
The connections that are formed through the production of these works can be really important at any time, bringing students together from different backgrounds or different courses, or initiating projects that develop a life of their own. We’d love to think it helps make Sunderland a more lively, social and interesting place to make work.
Adam and myself have worked with various partners over the last year, developing different projects that have all had the same collaborative ethos and working practices at the centre. These projects include the creation of Black Path Press; the production of a number of publications and a public artwork for South Bank, Middlesbrough. More recently, we have also been developing a weekly online publication for MIMA, working with their audience to make creative additions to MIMAZINA. This has really illustrated the capacity for publications to bring together participants throughout the current lockdown situation.
It’s also really rewarding to see students progress from projects with Foundation Press to producing their own works for book fairs, shops and exhibitions too. Shy Bairns (www.shybairns.co.uk) are one example used within our initial CATE application. Over this last year, they’ve created new works for the Castlefield Gallery and Home in Manchester and the Jerwood Arts exhibition, Collaborate. All of the work that students go on to produce really does contribute to the wider impact of the project. We are currently looking at various ways we can create a more visible platform for the wide variety of independent student projects. There is a vital scene of print and self-publishing across the north-east; we’re really keen to support this and encourage all of our students to play a part in this too.