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Creative engagement in research

Connected Communities Showcase, March 2013

We are researchers, artists and graphic designers interested in new ways of visualising research and the constellation of complex interactions that take place in research contexts. We are keen to explore the applications of and potential for creative approaches, and this exploratory website looks at how poetry, visual art and music may contribute to research.

As researchers we use a variety of methodologies to explore how creativity can be used in our research. These different approaches are reflected here with the aim of sharing our interactions with researchers and wider society.

Research Constellation has its origins in the Connected Communities Programme. It transforms the images and words from our exhibitions at the Programme’s 2013 Showcase events in London (March 13) and Edinburgh (July 4) into an online environment.

Connected Communities

A cross-Research Council programme, Connected Communities is designed to develop a better understanding of the changing nature of communities in their historical and cultural contexts and the role of communities in sustaining and enhancing our quality of life. Led by AHRC, it is distinctive in that it allows arts and humanities to take a leading role in collaborations with non-academics, including community-based researchers, artists and writers.

Our values

Connected Communities Showcase, March 2013

Our work brings together a range of inquirers, artists, researchers and engagement specialists who together are asking the question: What is community research and engagement?

The Connected Communities programme takes a long-term and wide-ranging perspective on this question, and as participating researchers we believe that concepts such as "community", "engagement", "action-research" and "co-inquiry" are liquid terms defined to a certain extent by the individuals and projects involved in the Connected Communities programme itself. To be immersed in the community is to be a researcher – and vice versa. We are all experts-by-experience, whether that experience is gained on a playing field or youth club, in a laboratory or seminar room, in a theatre or via the media; our experience may be gained and developed when in dialogue with our community partners and elders, between families and friends, or in communication with collaborators and policy-makers.

Experience in research is diverse and we believe that striving for equality and equal respect can only help to make research more robust, intelligent and meaningful. Research Constellation is a platform for a multiplicity of voices to articulate their hopes, fears and ideas about the role of research in all our lives.

Aesthetics: from research to our outward face

How do we tell the world what we do as researchers? How can we showcase the relevance of this work beyond a specialist research-focused audience?

This website presents the people who took part in our Connected Communities Showcase in two ways. "Cohort" provides a concise text listing of the people who took part in the Connected Communities Showcase. Along with this tabular view of participants, we wanted to show the faces, share the voices and ideas of the people listed in it. "Constellation" rearranges our dry text into an interactive environment that visitors can explore and navigate in order to find out more.

This is the first iteration of Research Constellation. It is a work-in-progress, and we welcome feedback from those involved in the Connected Communities programme and others.


Key to Descriptors

  • C-1 Activist
  • C-2 Artist
  • C-3 Community leader
  • C-4 Project co-ordinator
  • C-5 Project participant
  • C-6 Researcher
  • C-7 Workshop practitioner / facilitator
  • C-8 Youth / community worker
  • C-9 Scientist

Click names below for participant details:

Name Descriptors
Bailey, Marian C-3 C-1 C-5
Barnes, Christopher C-2 C-1
Birrane, Jacqueline C-1 C-4 C-5
Clay, Dave C-1 C-4 C-5
Hale, Tilly C-1 C-4 C-5
Nelson, Chris (ChriSJaM) C-2 C-7
Healy, Donna-Lisa C-2
Iqbal, Shamshad C-8 C-3 C-5
Matthews, Lisa C-2 C-6 C-7
Wakeford, Tom C-9 C-6 C-2
Winter, Jean C-1 C-4 C-5
Winter, Paul C-1 C-4 C-5


Who are we?

Those who contributed to the March 2013 Connected Communities Showcase and have curated this website include:

  • Donna-Lisa Healy – fine art photographer
  • Lisa Matthews – poet, creative writing researcher and professional writer, editor, trainer and facilitator
  • Chris Nelson – poet, coach, project manager and DJ (ChriSJaM)
  • Tom Wakeford – engaged researcher and writer

Website: ADQ Design

  • Melanie Ashby – web designer
  • Asier de Quadra – graphic designer

Design process workings-out

It is our daily challenge as graphic designers to communicate ideas to an audience by using whatever means are available. Effective communication is our goal but when presented with a seemingly contradictory combination – in this case the scientific objectivity of research methodologies with the freedom of artistic practice – we run the risk of losing the original essence of the work and delivering a stale message, a dilemma that research practitioners themselves may also experience.

It is only with the curiosity and open-mindedness of creativity that we are able to approach new ideas and and do them justice. We hope you find this website and its content stimulating and successful in conveying to you the fruitful possibilities of creative engagement in research.

Funding and support

Connected Communities Logo

This project has been funded by Connected Communities, a cross-Research Council programme led by AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council).


This is the first iteration of Research Constellation. It is a work-in-progress, and we welcome feedback from those involved in the Connected Communities programme and others.


Find your way around:

TOP GREY BAR: Click navigation links to move up and down.
COHORT: Click/tap a name to take you to Constellation, where you can press buttons to discover more.
CONSTELLATION: Explore as you would a Google map: use map controls or pinch/zoom. Click/tap the centre of each circle for more.