Artists break boundaries in academia

Issued: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 00:00:00 GMT

Performing artists are joining the world of academia in a bid to enhance the way arts education is taught at higher education institutions. Performing artists Peter Dowling and Adrian Howells have been appointed Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Creative and Performing Arts Fellows, hosted by the University of Glasgow. The aim of the fellowships is to combine research and performance: performance as part of the research process and the results.

The only artists to receive these fellowships in Scotland this year, musician and composer Peter Dowling and performance practitioner Adrian Howells will be based at Glasgow University for three years to develop performance based research in the Music Department and the Theatre Studies Department.

Professor Elizabeth Moignard, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, said: "This is the first time that Glasgow University has hosted AHRC Creative and Performing Arts Fellows and we are very excited about their presence in the University. There has been a definite focus recently on breaking the tradition of theory-only education in the arts and Pete and Adrian will help take this a step further. Music and theatre by nature are performance based areas and it therefore makes sense to incorporate this into traditional research fields."

Peter Dowling, who will be focusing on the concepts of composition and collaboration via the use of new performance technologies in the creation of music works, said: "The appointment of myself and Adrian to the University is very exciting. The University is a fascinating and culturally busy place with many inspirational people here, and events already taking place that feed my practice-based research. I intend to be very visible ヨ presenting new work in and around the University and Glasgow city throughout my research project, and taking the results to international audiences as well. One of my major aims over the next three years is to compose a major new mixed-media music-theatre work involving public performances, whilst retaining a commitment to analysis and self critique."

Adrian Howells will also be combining the academic environment with his performance experience. He said: "I will be developing my interest in solo performance offering distinctive experiences for both practitioner and audience. The combination of support available at the University and the specific research environment being developed here makes this an ideal place in which to pursue my research through practice.

"Like Pete, I fully intend to be very visible creating new work as an integral part of my fellowship in and around both the University and Glasgow, and I sincerely hope this will enrich and further develop the already vibrant cultural landscape here in the city and in Scotland generally."

Artist Minty Donald, received an AHRC Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship in 2005. Although hosted by The Glasgow School of Art, her fellowship is linked to the University of Glasgow's Theatre Studies Department, as her cross-disciplinary practice-led research is concerned with space, place and performance.

Minty said of her experience: "These fellowships not only benefit the institutions the artists are based at but also help develop the work of the individual and enhance their skills and profile. Being at The Glasgow School of Art, with links to Theatre Studies at the University of Glasgow, has allowed me to place my work in different contexts, and to gain perspectives from a range of practitioners and researchers in different disciplines. This has been really inspiring, and has shaped my practice in exciting and unanticipated ways."

The research of all three artists will include performances throughout their fellowship to highlight the fusing of theory and practice.

Peter Dowling will be staging and performing a gig in Glasgow this summer as part of his ongoing research and performance work.

Adrian Howells is currently researching and developing a new performance piece called 'Held' which will premiere in May at the Fierce Festival, Birmingham. The piece will involve Adrian holding individuals in a domestic environment in order to explore the concept of intimacy and risk in a confessional, one-to-one performance context.

Minty Donald's project, Glimmers in Limbo, will result in public exhibitions at the Panopticon/Britannia in October 2007 and Tramway in January/February 2008.

Kate Richardson (

Peter, Adrian and Minty are available to speak to the press. For information please contact the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3683 or email

Images of the artists are also available.

Peter Dowling:
Peter Dowling?s interests focus on the notion of collaboration across different arts practices, and linking classical and improvised music to electronic music techniques, composing pieces for individuals rather than for instruments. Having performed across the world as a composer, sound artist and saxophonist, Dowling will develop his reputation for innovative and experimental performances. His website is at:, and more information can be found on the Glasgow University Music Department website:

Adrian Howells:
Adrian Howells is an experienced performance practitioner most recently focusing on productions based around his alter-ego Adrienne. His recent solo work includes: Adrienne?s Dirty Laundry Experience (The Arches, 2003); Adrienne: The Great Depression (Great Eastern Hotel, 2004); Salon Adrienne (Glasgay, 2005); and An Audience with Adrienne (The Drill Hall, 2006).

Minty Donald:
During her time at the Art School Minty will develop her research programme, Glimmers in Limbo. This project involves the creation of a series of site-specific art works for two of Glasgow?s most intriguing cultural spaces: contemporary arts venue, Tramway, and the semi-derelict Panopticon/Britannia music hall on Trongate. The artworks/interventions invite spectator-participants to engage with the built environment as a living, evolving organism, and to contribute to debates around the buildings? futures.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC):
Each year the AHRC provides approximately ?90 million to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,500 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.