A different kind of creative work: a case study of visual artists in Bath and Bristol

Ayisi, A (2018) A different kind of creative work: a case study of visual artists in Bath and Bristol. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.


This thesis engages with debates around creative workers' identities and the nature of creative work to critically explore the identity of visual artists in Bath and Bristol, their challenges in work and the ways that they make decisions about where they live and work. It provides evidence from Spike Island, Jamaica Street Studio, Hamilton House in Bristol, Bath Artist Studio and Larkhall Open studio in Bath to explore the locational decisions of the artists who work there and interrogates the fit between the creative city policy of South West and the work of visual artists. Using a qualitative approach, this thesis draws on in-depth interviews with thirty visual artists in Bath and Bristol to explore how studios form an important context for the professional practices of visual artists. This thesis draws on and contributes to critical theories on cultural labour, and it uses Ashton's theory on becoming to examine visual artists' experiences of becoming and being (professional) artists. The challenging aspects of artistic work, rather than being perceived as negative, created resilient and "real artists" whose love for what they do sets them apart from other workers. Female visual artists were more likely than their male counterparts to experience challenges that hindered them from becoming or being perceived as professional artists. Male visual artists, more than their female counterparts, spoke of themselves as 'natural born artists' with talent that simply needed to be nurtured in order to attain professional status. However, female visual artists cultivated 'exit strategies' primarily because of care commitments that posed as barriers to fully immersing themselves in the professional artists' milieu and adopting certain 'regimes of conduct'. The exit strategies of female visual artists still centred on their arts practice and mainly involved giving private arts lessons or teaching arts in schools. The thesis concludes that studios provide an important context - not just for work - but for the formation of a professional reputation and identity of the visual artist. The thesis also highlights the mismatch between policy initiatives on the creative city and the needs of visual artists who work in these cities. If the creative industries are going to be a truly inclusive field, there is a need for greater attention to creative work at the local level and in specific sectors to unearth specific challenges within sectors and workers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

Thesis supervised by Dr Ranji Devadason.

Keywords: visual artists, Bath (England), Bristol (England), creativity, creative industries, professional artists, creative city policies, artistic reputation, inclusivity, interviews, entrepreneurial identity, ethnicity, gender studies, arts trail, open studios, artist studios, isolation, income disparity, social ties, accessibility
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 10:55
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2022 10:19
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/11558
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)