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Navigating uncommon ground: Engaging and articulating the places and connectivity of older adults in rural contexts through creative practice

Bailey, Jane E.


Jane E. Bailey


This thesis is an explication of the interrelations between three components - the lived worlds of older adults in a specific rural context; the academic context of doctoral research; and an ongoing art practice. The rural context is that encountered around Delphy Bridge, west Bodmin Moor, Cornwall and is approached through a focus on age and connectivity. The academic context is a deep mapping team within a multi-institution research project ‘A Grey and Pleasant Land? An interdisciplinary exploration of the connectivity of older people in rural civic society’, funded by the UK Cross-Research Council’s ‘New Dynamics of Ageing’ Programme. The art practice is the primary mode through which these contexts, and their intersection, have been engaged.

The thesis argues that this interdisciplinary art-led research - which draws on deep mapping, innovative ethnography, cultural geography and critical gerontology to explore age, place and connectivity - has led to new understandings in distinct but closely interrelated areas. Understandings of older adults’ connectivity with and through their lived landscapes, including the potential for ‘fruitful connectivity’ between long-term residents and ‘incomers’, have been produced through creative exploration of the material and situations generated through ethnographically-informed art research. Creative and critical reflections on the research progression - from establishing relationships, through to producing new work - has enabled articulation of and reflection on the processes employed in the production of art-led, digital, deep mapping. Insights produced include those into a specific ‘space between’ a potential tension-interface between the aims of deep mapping and its practice in a peopled environment, and have led to proposing an additional approach to undertaking deep mapping. Drawing on the example of this project, broader insights into the practice of socially-situated art as research within an interdisciplinary academic context are also elucidated.


Bailey, J. E. Navigating uncommon ground: Engaging and articulating the places and connectivity of older adults in rural contexts through creative practice. (Thesis). University of the West of England

Thesis Type Thesis
Keywords art research, creative practice, place, connectivity, rural, socially-engaged, participative, interdisciplinary, older people, deep mapping, ethnography
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