January 22nd 2020 will see the third Inside//Out Festival, organised by the PGR Studio, take place at BCU – and you would be CRAZY to miss it! If the thought of another dry and dull academic conference leaves you yawning, then this is the event for you!! Less mud than Glastonbury, cheaper than Glyndebourne, closer than the Isle of Wight, and more love than Lovebox – because it’s indoors, FREE, in Birmingham, and FUN!

What should you expect? The unexpected of course! Presentations are just 5 minutes long, and will take the form of Pecha Kuchas, open-mic spots, poster contributions, provocations, performances and more. Participants are positively encouraged to take risks, revel in the chance to play and explore, and soak up the atmosphere as new ideas and pathways are shared, culminating in a well-deserved Post-Festival session at the Eagle & Ball!

Seriously though, at this time of year, everything is an effort! But believe me, this is an effort worth making. I have presented at both previous festivals, and can vouch for the unique opportunity this gives us – a safe, inclusive and encouraging space to share a snippet of your current research ideas, to solicit help to unpick a confounding conundrum, to test new work, or to simply sit back and marvel at the breadth of what we collectively do.

For the 2019 festival I opted to do a poster presentation…but no polite shiny A1 printed poster for me! Mine was more billboard than poster, more installation than information, more mess than fact. I had recently completed a studio residency exploring my emerging ideas around re/positioning the primacy of process within contemporary painting practice, bodily engaging with my field of study, and restaging the ‘act’ of painting as a performed line of enquiry. The outcomes and the residues of the residency were gathered, layered, collaged, and re-presented as my ‘poster’. This presentation allowed me to disrupt the traditionally accepted notion of painting leading to an exhibition of resolved work, and instead showcased the complex, messy, processes of that practice, and to recorded that process in a way that negated the necessity of the art object as the only quantifiable outcome. I came away from the festival with some great feedback, new ideas, and a renewed sense of energy and affirmation in my work – and I hope to achieve the same again this year!

Let’s face it, PhD life is often an inherently solitary state of being, and January is a very dark month indeed, so take this invitation to shake off that lethargy and gloom – sign up, join in, and prepare for the festivities (glitter and crowd-surfing are optional)! Applications are no more taxing than a tweet – so what are you waiting for??


*Ok, this image may not be Birmingham. Or Inside//Out. Or January. But it’s the thought that counts, right?

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