Hi Grace, congratulations on passing your viva! How does it feel?!

It feels surreal and strangely not at all euphoric.


What was your PhD title?

The Supernatural Sex: Women, Magick & Mediumship, Assembling a Field of Fascination in Contemporary Art.


Can you explain in a couple of sentences what your PhD was about?

My PhD used a new materialist feminist framework to critique the historically ingrained concept of ‘woman as vessel’ viewed through the lens of mediumship. Historically, it was common for female artists to work under the guise of spiritual channeling and the methodology of ‘unknowing’ in contemporary studio practice seemed to me to be an odd sort of equivalent. I brought together a broad array of thinkers and artists to articulate how this could be understood through the notion of a ‘field of fascination’ in my own practice.


How would you sum up your PhD experience in thee words?

‘Hard, Hard, Hard’ and if I’m allowed one more: Lonely.


What was the actual viva like?

I had a long and tough viva with a hard defense because my external very clearly had a different view of what was happening in my work. I read many viva experiences as prep and was hoping that I would be in the category of those who enjoyed the process. This wasn’t the case. My viva was not a nice or supportive experience on the whole – if anything it made me questions the worth of my thesis.


What are your top tips to someone preparing for their viva?

Having gone through a viva, I feel it’s quite impossible to advise someone on viva prep beyond:

  • Make sure you know your thesis inside out
  • Be clear on your contribution to knowledge
  • Read the latest publications by your external examiner

Expect the unexpected!


Anything you’d tell your earlier PhD self now you’ve made it to the other side?

I would tell myself to take more time off, have more confidence in my own opinion and prioritise the opportunities that benefitted me.


What are you up to now and any exciting plans for the future?

I’ve just moved to London, which is very exciting, and I’m currently lecturer and co-programme leader for MA Digital Arts and MA Fine Art at De Montfort University. I have few big projects coming up, some of which are still under wraps but one includes a commission for VIVID projects, which will launch in WINTER 2017 and I’m currently critical friend on a Wellcome Trust project with artist Hannah Honeywill. I get married in October and we are spending a month in Italy. So to be honest, I’m ecstatic at the current future outlook.


Thanks so much for your time Grace, we wish you all the best for the future!


Keep up to date with what Grace is up to here:

www.grace-a-williams.com | Twitter: @GraceAWills

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