NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

‘Currents’ Graduate Research Journal

On 28 September, Currents, a new post-graduate arts research journal, was launched through the Centre of Visual Arts (CoVA) at the University of Melbourne by editors Kelly Fliedner and Jeremy Eaton. This new initiative, established between CoVA and the School of Design, University of Western Australia, draws on a broad range of arts-based research to form an interdisciplinary, supportive and valuable platform, which highlights the rigorous inquiries being undertaken by emerging scholars.

By Jeremy Eaton and Kelly Fliedner

On 28 September, Currents, a new post-graduate arts research journal, was launched through the Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) at the University of Melbourne by editors Kelly Fliedner and Jeremy Eaton. This new initiative, established between CoVA and the School of Design, University of Western Australia, draws on a broad range of arts-based research to form an interdisciplinary, supportive and valuable platform, which highlights the rigorous inquiries being undertaken by emerging scholars. The journal has been developed by an editorial that is either undertaking, or has recently completed, post graduate research, which has necessarily shaped and formed the initiative and its unique publishing processes.

We have witnessed the negative impact hard publishing deadlines can have on the quality of the review process … and thus an open-ended publishing approach allows us to work closely with authors, their writing and circumstances

Early in the journal’s development many on the editorial had identified a gap in possible outlets for experimental research being done by ECR’s across the two universities, and also, a lack of exchange occurring between discrete disciplines and institutions. This was an opportunity to break down some of these barriers and connect people and places through practice, language and ideas. As an initial step towards forming these conversations and as preamble to Currents, theatre student Jonathan Graffam published VIBE: Southbank Arts Review. VIBE provided an overview of the experimental, inquisitive research that was occurring across the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, at the University of Melbourne, and demonstrated the capacity for interdisciplinary platforms to break open the ‘silos’ that we can often find ourselves in the arts.

Whilst VIBE provided a valuable overview, Currents expands on specific research outcomes and capitalizes on the possibilities pointed at through VIBE, by reimagining the traditional academic publication processes in-line with the experimentation of the disciplines we find ourselves in. As Currents developed throughout 2020 we found that the potential of a digital publishing platform, the difficulties presented by new (and no doubt ongoing) social, economic and health issues and the role peer-review processes can play in experimental spaces necessarily shape this initiative.

Given the diversity of submissions that we have received under the interdisciplinary remit of Currents we have moved towards a model that approaches the peer-review process as a more collaborative, conversational and open ended process, shifting the hierarchies of standard double-blind peer-review that is derived from the sciences. This openness of approach has allowed us to cater to the diverse approaches, voices and understanding of research that occurs in contemporary creative, theoretical and historiographic practice, generating important dialogues between ECR’s and professionals in the field. Taken further, Currents looks to the malleable approaches of publishing afforded by a digital space. As each annual issue is serialised by the cessation of a calendar year. Working on other research  initiatives, we have witnessed the negative impact hard publishing deadlines can have on the quality of the review process, as well as the rigour of the authors responses, and thus an open ended publishing approach allows us to work closely with authors, their writing and circumstances, to see their contributions to completion at the highest possible standard.

As Currents further develops, we look to incorporate reviews, interviews and even more creative submissions and experimental approaches to research from emerging scholars. Navigating the relatively emerging terrain of the diverse approaches we anticipate receiving will further prompt and develop our editorial approach to arts-based inquiries into the new social, political and creative conditions we find ourselves in.

The website for the journal is currentsjournal.net and an online version of Vibe: Southbank Arts Review can be found here: https://issuu.com/jonathan.graffam/docs/vibe_magazine


Jeremy Eaton is an artist and writer based in Naarm/Melbourne. Jeremy is the co-editor of Currents, gallery coordinator of KINGS Artist-Run, the editorial coordinator of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art and an editorial committee member of un Magazine. Jeremy has exhibited throughout Australia participating in exhibitions at Sarah Scout Presents, Dominik Mersch Gallery, West Space, BUS Projects, CAVES, Margaret Lawrence Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Photography. Jeremy has also written extensively for artists, galleries and publications including: the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Art + Australia, un Projects and Gertrude Contemporary.

Kelly Fliedner is a Perth-based writer and curator who is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Western Australia in the School of Design. Her research is, in a broad sense, interested in the discourses of postcolonialism and decolonisation as they manifest in, and are related to, contemporary art of South Asia. She is also the editor of Semaphore, a publication about art from Western Australia and convenes the Perth Festival’s Visual Art Writing Group.  Kelly has worked for a broad range of organisations as a writer, artist, curator and editor including the Perth Festival, Tura New Music, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Sydney Biennale, Next Wave Festival and West Space.

More from this issue

More from this issue

Regional tertiary students learned alternative skills in performance when after just two weeks of face to face acting classes, we were forced to undertake all teaching and learning online via Zoom due to the pandemic. Emergency remote teaching offered in response to a crisis such as COVID-19 is different to well-planned online learning experiences.

My friend, Kate Daw, died from cancer on 7 September. Kate was Head of the VCA School of Art, in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, at the University of Melbourne. I first met Kate in 1994 when I was a third-year undergraduate student in Sculpture at the VCA. I saw her one day just outside the Sculpture yard and I approached her to introduce myself. From that moment we stayed within each others’ psychic radar.

The arts publishing industry in Australia is remarkably vibrant and resilient, offering a platform for a range of voices and serving the interests of multiple demographics in a nation built on the virtues of cultural diversity and equal opportunity. In this ecology, the running of a nationally distributed arts magazine can be a complex, albeit highly rewarding endeavour.

The current and projected state of Creative Arts, in the context of an ongoing global pandemic, can be symbolically represented by Aesop’s fable The Lion and the Mouse. This fable refers to power balances and how these can be inverted, regardless of the implied strength or magnitude, which ultimately indicates that even the smallest being – in their creative resourcefulness – is capable of assisting a greater one.

It’s probably not a good time to be using flu symptoms as a metaphor for the grim circumstances that envelops us all. But being the good scholar I aim to be, if I am going to use it then I’d better use the right source. It was, in fact, not an American politician but the Austrian diplomat, Klemens von Metternich, who first coined the snappy phrase “When France sneezes, the rest of Europe catches a cold.”

Winding through ARM (Ashton Raggatt McDougall) Architects’ 2001 design for the Garden of Australian Dreams at the National Museum of Australia Canberra, snakes an impressive architectural interpretation of the Boolean string rising and plunging like a rollercoaster. This bold element is intended to conceptually embody the past and future of our Australian history, within which we are entangled.

2020 has waged a remarkable and sustained attack on the ranks of the glass half full creative practitioner. As the consequences of COVID-19 have leeched through every fibre of our industry, trying to identify anything that might signal a bright, or even brighter, future could be seen to be the preserve of a strange cabal of tin hat wearing creatives.

2020 has brought major changes that have, and will continue, to impact upon higher education and tertiary creative arts in particular. But as our contributors remind us, these upheavals have brought resilience and innovation to the fore in creative arts.

If we can look up and away from the ongoing challenges to both the arts and tertiary sectors, we may see some opportunity. Ways of doing things differently, working together in new ways, trying methods we may not have previously, looking at sustainability in different ways.