Along with the other PhD students on the PGR Studio team, I was tasked with developing and organising our first PGR conference. The result was How to play knowledge: an intense and intimate one-day conference, where researchers from both within and outside academia had the chance to share something about the obsession/method/mood that are moving their minds and hands.
Before the conference, we organisers were slightly concerned about the possible response of the public, which could have been a bit disorientated, given that the speakers/performers coming from a broad range of disciplines were taking risks by experimenting with new/unusual ways to deliver their presentations. Luckily the public’s response was above our expectations! Probably the most successful aspect of this event was actually the keen interest expressed by the audience, who always asked smart and challenging questions.
I suppose everybody was struck by different things, personally what I enjoyed the most were on the one hand the positive, sweet and confident attitude of Nikki Pugh (artist and one of our external speakers) and on the other the pre-linguistic, almost warlike tension expressed in the performance by Sian Hindle (PhD student and lecturer at the School of Jewellery).
Once the tight schedule was over, we all relaxed in the sun on Parkside’s rooftop, where we had the chance to exchange our impressions and ideas on the conference and each other’s research. Meanwhile, DJ Guy Dubious (aka Guy Osherov, MA student who has just been awarded the Gertrude A Bowater scholarship to start his PhD, congrats Guy!) was providing everybody with really good vibes from the most diverse latitudes.
To conclude, beware that organising conferences is quite stressful, but that the result is rewarding!