Anna Frances Douglas

Anna is a curator, researcher and writer with a particular interest in the practices and theories of visual media, particularly photography in its many forms (that she terms ‘photographies’) and filmic medias.  Over the past ten years, she has curated five major photographic-based projects engaging little known archives and collections of ‘documentary’ and ‘record’ photography unsettling, shifting and expanding received historical and interpretative narratives of photographic meaning, highlighting the medium’s polyvocality.

She considers and argues in her Phd-by-practice, that curating is a research practice, through which counter-narratives and new knowledges about media images can be uniquely accessed.  This is explored through the curation of a major exhibition project engaging the photographic works of North West photographer Shirley Baker, a hitherto ‘overlooked’ actor in the history of post-war British ‘documentary’ photography. Through challenging the documentary/record framework through which Baker’s work has hitherto been classified, Anna seeks to shift the emphasis from what ‘is’ the work of Shirley Baker?, to what is the work of Shirley Baker ‘doing’?

Borrowing from the theoretical framework of Peter Reason and action research, through curation (‘fieldwork’), Anna seeks to experiment with participatory processes through which ‘experiential knowledges’ add to, and indeed challenge, the ‘propositional knowledge’ of her performance as informed art historian/curator.  Her thesis additionally raises questions regarding researching and writing ‘about’ practice, and researching, exhibiting and writing ‘as’ practice.  The notion of storytelling structures the thesis, with chapters providing alternate’ stories’ narrated about and through the images of Shirley Baker. One of these stories also belongs to Anna herself, and why she was drawn to the photographer’s work in the first place – a visualisation of her own memories of a childhood in inner city Leeds at the same time Baker was photographing children in Manchester.

You can find more details about Anna’s work here.

Seminar Three Provocation: Playing together

Anna will reflect on the importance of physical space, student multi-sensory relationality and proximity in developing a studio-centred, collaborative (teacher/student) learning environment. Her first year project (Togetherness) was designed to encourage fine art students to model innovative methods of responding to uncertainty, and engagement and relating to ‘the other’, as well as to experience and validate their own embodied  experiences and knowledges creatively together.

Whilst not disputing the alternative forms of interaction that the digital affords, she will put forward that face-to-face sensory and embodied-aware teaching is fundamental to supporting the diversity of our students’ life worlds and their future creative potential.

Related Profiles