The importance of Research Culture in A Creative Arts Degree

By Sam Dimitrieska

  Quantity by  artist Alice Radford: Photographer Alice Radford

Quantity by artist Alice Radford: Photographer Alice Radford

“I think going to university was definitely the right choice for me,” said visual artist and Deakin University final-year student Alice Radford.  “If I wasn’t at university I wouldn’t have bothered to do the research, or have the resources to do the research, to create the works that I have,” Alice said. “I think I would be just creating art on a Sunday just for fun.”

Alice enrolled in a Bachelor of Creative Arts (Visual Art) at Deakin University six months after leaving her social work degree in favour of the chance to pursue her passion. She said the hands-on side of the course was what attracted her.

“Deakin is one of the only places that still has Creative Arts, whereas most other universities only offer Fine Arts,” she said. “There’s no requirement to have a degree to become an artist, but you can learn from the study and you can build bridges.  It’s things that you normally wouldn’t do if you were just creating art at home, like building connections and networking with others in the industry.”

Alice also completed literature units in her three-year degree, which she said inspired several themes for her art. Her most recent series of collections explores the symbolism of flowers in Western culture, literature and art. “It was a genre of painting in which I looked at language used around flowers and femininity,” said Alice.

“I would paint the images to represent how the Victorian era Western culture often described women and flowers and painted women as flowers.”

Deakin University Associate Professor of Art and Performance, Jondi Keane, supervised Alice’s Honours thesis. “A University art course provides the benefit of being in a research culture,” Dr Keane said. “Alice has taken full advantage of this structure and, because she is self-motivated, has been able to extrapolate and combine specific knowledge and skills to produce a constellation of assets best suited to her career ambitions,” he said.

Another example of Alice’s work is a series of 200 miniature wooden tiles covered in white paint, with an intricate abstract pattern in the centre of each tile. The title of this collection is “Quantity”. “The idea behind it was that a collection gains its value in a large quantity. Separately they don’t mean much but together they create this big piece of work,”

Dr Keane said Alice’s work “critiques and exploits cultural affinities for facial recognition and the cultural mythologies that link feminine beauty to the ephemeral nature of flowers”.

Another example of Alice’s work is a series of 200 miniature wooden tiles covered in white paint, with an intricate abstract pattern in the centre of each tile. The title of this collection is “Quantity”.  “The idea behind it was that a collection gains its value in a large quantity. Separately they don’t mean much but together they create this big piece of work,” said Alice.

Alice said the university gave her the drive to feel good about her passion in visual art. “To get feedback from that world is sometimes harsh, but if you get it in a safe environment like at uni where your lecturers, teachers and peers are all giving you feedback, it’s a healthy way to get you started.”

“When you are starting you have to get out into the art world and it’s hard to do that if you have no avenue,” said Alice.

Alice will graduate from her Honours degree in Creative Arts at Deakin University this year.


Samantha Dimitrieska is a second year Deakin University student, studying a Bachelor of Communications (Journalism). In 2015, Samantha graduated from Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School and has completed Certificate 1, 2 and 3 in Mandarin from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Samantha’s areas of interest for writing are business and environment. Aside from her studies, Samantha enjoys traveling, photography, and studying languages and culture. Samantha will have completed her 3-year course at Deakin in 2018.