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I’ve been thinking about the different strands of research I’m involved in (simultaneously) and have come up with a simple classification system to contain the chaos. I have very little time to do all I want to do with these strands of research, and that’s making my head hurt, so I’ve spent most of the day trying to figure this out rather than getting on with it, but that will come.

Inspired by my 16 month old’s shape sorter, I have clustered my areas of research into four simple shapes: Square = Manual Labours; Cross = Between Us; Circle = Cultural Democracy and Triangle = Corkscrew. My plan is to shape shift to focus on a particular area of research when I can. If I think like a square I can become the square and wallow in all things Manual Labours, for example, in the comfort that it’s fine, because I will become a triangle another day. These shapes of research are all connected and their roots go way back in time, but I’m hoping my shape shifting will help keep me focused in the time I have to do the thinking, reading, talking, admin, organising, practical work and writing that each area requires.

SQUARE: Manual Labours
This is the ongoing research I’ve been doing with Jenny Richards into physical and emotional relationships to work – exploring the times and spaces for complaining and caring at work.

CROSS: Between Us
This represents the research I’ve been doing into criticality, governance and intersubjectivity in the socially engaged art economy. It incorporates Cards on the Table, Social Art Maps, the research I’ve been doing for UP Projects and a new piece of research I’m doing with Henry Mulhall for BE PART.

CIRCLE: Cultural Democracy: histories, theories, geographies
This includes my work with Owen Kelly on the podcast MIAAW, my 1984 Dinners and my interest in exploring methods for doing histories work into cultural democracy, community arts and socially engaged art practices.

TRIANGLE: Corkscrew
The triangle connects the work I’m doing to try and understand and reflect on practice-based research as a methodology and provide a framework for peer-support and shared resources for practice-based researchers.