My full PhD Confirmation Report

As promised here is my full PhD Confirmation Report, submitted in April 2015
as a PDF document:

Alternatively, below is the Title/Research Question/Abstract for all those of you who “aint got time fo’dat!”

Research Title:                 Craftivism and the Political Moment

Research Question:         Can craftivism create Political Moments?

Sub Questions:

  • How is craftivism different from other forms of activism?
  • Can a material, craft based practice such as craftivism be understood as a socially engaged art?
  • In light of a post-political critique of participation is it possible to initiate political moments through socially engaged artistic practices?
  • How do feminist new materialist and post-humanist conceptions of agency and matter reshape our understanding of power and the potential of art to enact social change?


This practice-led research project is shaped by an artistic practice that plays in the spaces between craft, socially engaged art, activism, community development and autoethnography. It looks to explore how a particular style of figurative appliqué quilting might be used to initiate what philosopher Jacques Rancière describes as ‘political moments’ in a post-political environment. Through a series of creative case studies delivered in and with different community groups and organisations, this project will test the material-discursive potential of appliqué quilting to act as a socially engaged strategy for activism.

Importantly, this project doesn’t aim to develop a set of tools for leading revolutions or even to create a methodology where outcomes can be reliably repeated. Instead it looks to develop a practice based methodology for becoming more mindful of the patterns of consequential differences and of the overlapping ideas between: art, craft, activism, socially engaged practice, feminist new materialisms, post-political critique, post-humanism and community development theory.

However, if anyone actually does read my full report – I would love to hear your thoughts, feedback, reading suggestions, artists I should know about and constructive criticism. As always you can get in touch with me via email:

Finally – just for fun, below are some of my powerpoint slides from my PhD Confirmation presentation.








PhD Confirmation Presentation – 16 April 2015, TF

As promised, here is my full PhD Confirmation speech which I presented at VCA on April the 16th, 2015. If you read it I would love to hear your thoughts, so please don’t be shy!

Full presentation with slides: Confirmation-speech-TF

Here is an outline of what I covered in this 40min presentation:  Slide02Once again thanks to everyone who was there, and for those who wanted to come but couldn’t be there. I am really excited by the fact that other people are interested in my research.

My panel meeting with my supervisors and assessors is on Wednesday so wish me luck!


Sinners and Saints

Forgive me blog for I have sinned. It has been 39 days since my las post. 

I have been away in sunny Queensland to escape the cold and deliver the Volunteering Qld “Natural Disaster Resilience Leadership Project” in 3 communities across the state: Kingaroy, Rosedale and Atherton.

IMG_0628Here I am being silly with the RLP group in Rosedale

During this time I have also been working on writing a chapter on community resilience for a US textbook called “Disasters and Public Health: Planning and Response”   by Bruce Clements. It is a great honour to have been invited to write this chapter and as the icing on the cake I will also be flying to present at the 6th Annual Preparedness Symposium in Galveston, Texas which will be held this year on the 5-7 November. It will be my first time visiting the USA and I am going to take the opportunity to meet up with family and friends while I’m there. Amazing!

shifts-happenI’ve been back in Melbourne a week now and another piece of very exciting news is that I have started a new job as the social media coordinator for an inspirational charity called Igniting Change which is led by the even more inspiring Jane Tewson. I’m really excited about taking on this one day a week role as it will give me a really unique platform from which to a) act on my values and support a really wonderful non-profit organisation, and b) build connections with community groups and organisations in Victoria. Igniting Change is really supportive of my creative work and hopefully I will be able to weave some of my artwork into the work I do with them.

IMG_0683This is some of the Igniting Change family on our visit 
with Twich Women’s Sewing Collective in Dandenong 

Meanwhile, getting back to my PhD studies, I will be presenting at a Student Graduate Symposium next week on where I am at with my research 6 months in. I will use this 30min slot as an opportunity to run a micro creative workshop which means that this weekend I will be chained to my sewing machine in order to get ready! Keep an eye out for photos next week.

IMG_0756Anyways, I’m back now! So expect more posts and more updates 🙂

Side note: I stayed up last night watching a really interesting documentary about “hacktivism” and the cyber group know as “Anonymous” – if you are interested in what civil disobedience looks like in this digital world of ours I highly recommend checking it out: 

Critical Information Infrastructure Protection

Ooooh Shiny!


Every week the students who are doing postgraduate degrees with the Centre for Cultural Partnerships at VCA are invited to meet for a semistructured catch up/tutorial. This week, we were invited to spend the first 15min of the session writing down some reflections about the week gone by. This is an edited version of what I wrote:

I am a systems thinker and I constantly find myself drawn to thinking about how seemingly disconnected or unrelated things are in actual fact interconnected as part of a bigger picture. Since this time last week, which has flown past in the blink of an eye, I have had a bit of a breakthrough in piecing together the different streams of consciousness, thoughts, ideas and research that I have been conducting. For a while now I have been in the space of total not knowing (as described in my previous post) and as part of this experience I’ve been following a range of tangents that seemed disconnected but which were all interesting to me. A long time ago now I made a conscious habit of paying attention to whatever catches my interest, my former mentor used to describe these as my “Ooooh Shiny” moments, but these shiny distractions always seem to eventually come together and form a more cohesive shape.

Practically, I have focussed my energy on reading a lot and on writing, adding thoughts to my blog and making a few connections here and there with artists and craftspeople involved in socially engaged art projects. I go to gallery openings, artist talks and lectures weekly. I’ve got three new books coming in the mail: The Invention of Craft and Thinking though Craft both by Glenn Adamson as well as the Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey. Yet all this focus on theory has meant that although I have been dreaming up artworks and jotting ideas down I am yet to plug in my brand new super fancy sewing machine and I’m feeling pretty guilty about that.

I guess that I have also been looking for ways to put down some roots in my new community here in Melbourne. I’ve been looking at getting involved with the VCA student union and I’ve applied for a 1-day-a-week role as a social media coordinator for a small non-profit organisation called “Igniting change”. Excitingly they’ve shortlisted me alongside 1 other person for the role! If I get it I will be able to have lots of really interesting conversations with people involved in all the interesting grassroots projects that Igniting Change support. I’m also in discussion with the Golden Plains Art Ink about running a visioning workshop with them which would be a nice way to connect with a regional group of Victorian artists and explore what is going on in their community. Oh yea – and I delivered a two day resilience leadership project for volunteering Qld in Taree, NSW over the weekend which was very well received. So, even though it might not feel like it I guess I’ve managed to do a little more than just read…

Although my PhD is still far from being a clearly demarcated project with a focussed research question, a clear methodology and an informative theoretical framework it is slowly taking shape and emerging out of the darkness if you will. Encouragingly the shape that is taking form is much more interesting and complex than the one in my original vision and importantly it holds within it the seed of not knowing. So although I am still sitting in darkness, perhaps I have found that the flicker of light I have been searching for – although I am not ready to name it yet…