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Dr Angela Piccini

KEYWORDS: practice-as-research / film & video archives / documentary film & TV / artist film / place & space / media archaeology / archaeologies of the recent past / community-university collaboration / material culture / heritage media

My research focus has been developed through interdisciplinary, collaborative research that links academic practices with the practices of industry, communities and the public sector. I enjoy working with different publics as a curator-producer-artist and am involved in a number of collaborative research projects that involve film and artists' cinema. My publications include The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World (2013, co-edited with Paul Graves-Brown and Rodney Harrison), 'Media Archaeologies of the Olympic City' (2016, Public 53), and Imagining Regulation Differently: Co-creating Regulation for Engagement (in preparation, co-edited with Morag McDermont and Tim Cole, Policy Press). I’m on the editorial boards of the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology and Landscapes.

My PhD (Sheffield, 2001) and early research outputs used multi-sited ethnography, interviews and visual methods to understand how heritage media (factual television, museums, heritage sites, the material culture of tourism, curricula) perform both archaeological and contemporary ‘Celtic’ identities. After joining Bristol in 2001, my research focused on art-making (dance, film and video, performance) as knowledge-producing. Work on practice-as-research involved digital humanities and eScience approaches to archive and visualising networks of practice. 

I have brought an approach to both practice-as-research and community-involved research into Productive Margins (PI, Morag McDermont, School of Law). I am Deputy PI on this 5-year Connected Communities programme, which aims to connect communities in Bristol and South Wales to co-produce new forms of engagement in decision-making across politics, policy and the arts. In June 2014, I was awarded £47,000 to support the programme's participation in the Cardiff Connected Communities Showcase. From October 2014-May 2015, I was acting PI on the project. 

Kayle Brandon and I have recently (2018) been awarded funding through the Brigstow Institute to begin work on forming the Association of the Unknown Shore. This is a new, interdisciplinary partnership that centres on co-produced practice-as-research. It is a network of artists, academics, curators, and St Stephen's Church, Bristol. The Association will build a wider network to include Inuit artists and cultural organisations, contemporary art curators, and local artists to focus on collaborative, wayfinding goals and on questions of audience and spectatorship.

We respond to the Brigstow Living Well with Difference theme by acknowledging entangled networks of Inuit and British material cultures in the city of Bristol. To do this we address the legacy of Martin Frobisher’s attempt to ‘discover’ the Northwest Passage. Frobisher’s three voyages (1576-78) instead encountered Nunavut, in what would later be named ‘Canada’. These voyages enacted complex events, including the disappearance of four sailors; the capture and hostage-taki ng of four Inuit people who were brought to UK as proof of a strange and ‘savage’ land; a resource-extracting venture which turned into the first major gold-mining fraud in European history and involved the embedding of Nunavut ore in the British built environment; and a bungled attempt to establish a British colony – including the building of a small ‘English’ house at the summit of the Countess of Warwick's Island (now known as Kodlunarn Island) - which became the first step in the eventual establishment of British sovereignty over this northern half of the American continents. Three people from Nunavut - Arnaq, Callicho, and Nutaaq – were brought to Bristol and died here, their deaths registered at St Stephen’s Church. Before he died, Callicho performed an Inuit hunting display on the Avon. English oak, English stone, brass anvils and bells were left on Baffin Island and have become part of contemporary Inuit culture. Two thousand tons of Nunavut Amphibolite were incorporated into the fabric of buildings in Britain. The traces of Callicho’s hunting displays – the kayak and spears – are lost, but assumed to remain in England. Songs were exchanged between Inuit people and sailors. These voyages mixed peoples, ideas, objects and practices and they link the material pasts, presents and futures of the people of Bristol and Nunavut.


Know your Bristol on the Move (PI Prof Robert Bickers, Historical Studies). This AHRC Digital Transformations project is a follow-on project from Know your Bristol. The project aims to enable people to explore, research and co-create Bristol history, heritage and culture using digital tools. As a Co-Investigator, I lead Work Package 4: Exploring Models of Community Co-production. @knowyourbristol

University of Local Knowledge (PI: Mike Fraser, Computer Science) was an RCUK Digital Economy 'Research in the Wild' collaboration between University of Bristol, Knowle West Media Centre, The University of the West of England, Arnolfini, BBC and the National Centre for the Coordination of Public Engagement. The project emerges out of an initial collaboration between US artist Suzanne Lacy, Knowle West Media Centre, BBC and Arnolfini. The University of Local Knowledge brings together KWMC and the Knowle West community with a team of academics, artists and educators to study the deployment and use of technologies and techniques to develop knowledge collaboratively in order to enhance our understanding of the relationships between physical and digital communities.

The AHRC-funded Into the Future: Sustainable Access to the National Review of Live Art Digital Archive (PI: Prof Simon Jones; CIs: Paul Clarke and Angela Piccini; RA: Amanda Egbe) preserves the digitised National Review of Live Art archive using the Performing Arts Documentation System (PADS) and the Semantic Tools for Arts Research System (STARS) to enable public participation in the production of user-generated metadata, interactivity and the curation of performance documents (including video) across the whole range of the Theatre Collection. Rethinking ways of delivering and processing the archived informati on using these web technologies generates new forms of understanding, both of the documents and records themselves, but also of the methodologies for online use of other kinds of archival materials.

The AHRC-funded Connected Communities project Know Your Bristol (PI: Prof Robert Bickers) was a partnership between University of Bristol, Bristol City Council and a number of community groups. The project is hosting a series of free public events about local community heritage. Each event has allowed people to explore the local history and culture through the eyes of the community. My role has been to focus on people's home movies as they provide information about Bristol's changing built environment. The project works with Peter Insole and Bristol City Council's Planning Department to develop further the Know Your Place web tool.

In 2009 and 2013, I was Visiting Scholar at University of British Columbia, located in the Centre for Cinema Studies and the Anthropology Department.

From 2007-09 I collaborated with Bristol's Institute for Learning and Research Technology and Watershed Media Centre on the JISC-funded STARS (Semantic Web Tools for Screen Arts Research) project.

From 2006-08 I was principal investigator on an AHRC Landscape and Environment Network (with UWE and University of Aberystwyth) exploring transdisciplinary and mixed-mode research approaches to site, with a specific focus on the performative processes of emptying.


Research projects