Artist and writer Fern Thomas has just started her practice-based AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership PhD at University of South Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru. Her research will explore ‘Performing Prehistory - increasing the meaningfulness of archaeology collections for diverse museum audiences.’
I have practiced as an artist for the past twenty years. I did my Masters in Social Sculpture ten years ago, a territory of transdisciplinary creativity focused on the shaping of a humane and ecologically viable society. More recently my practice has begun to interrogate the intersection between heritage and ecology, seeking out ancient understandings of the world or place-based beliefs and customs, as a way of understanding what it is to be human in a time of ecological crisis.
I have been researching ritual and ceremony in my work for a long time and working with the Iron Age collection at St Fagans will allow for a new depth of enquiry into ritual and belief. I am also interested in the museum as a civic space and how the collections a museum holds and the work that it does should be accessible to all kinds of audiences.
I have wanted to study for a PhD for a long time and when I saw the opportunity to work with both USW and Amgueddfa Cymru it made so much sense to where I am in my practice and my research areas. Being placed in the Faculty of Business and Creative Industries means that I have access to the amazing research that is happening in performance, storytelling, and music amongst others, all of which are of interest to my own work.
The AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership is a very special form of collaboration between different organisations, and my supervisory team is composed of staff from USW and staff from the museum.
I am particularly looking forward to spending time with the archaeological collections and finding new forms of engaging others with an aspect of our collective history. I am a big fan of libraries and was happy to have taken out my first few books on my first day so I can begin my reading! I also enjoy being part of an academic community and look forward to learning about my peers’ research and having the opportunity to learning alongside each other.
As a Welsh learner I am happy to have the opportunity to further my understanding of the language through intensive courses and through engaging with others in Cymraeg for me to offer performances, workshops and encounters bilingually to different audiences. I am particularly looking forward to learning some new archaeological words in Welsh!
Fern is supervised by Prof Lisa Lewis (USW) and Dr Steve Burrow (Amgueddfa Cymru) along with Dr Sera Moore Williams (USW), and with Rhiannon Thomas (Amgueddfa Cymru) as special advisor. If you are interested in pursuing a PhD on a specific theme under the Centre for Media and Culture in Small Nations, please contact Prof Lisa Lewis: [email protected]