Talk at Institute for Knowledge Exchange Practice

Poster of comics in the Whatever People Say I Am series.

‘Knowledge exchange’ is a term used to describe the transfer of ideas, expertise or skills. This may result in a collaboration between a university and a business, community, third sector organisation or government.

Professor Tim Minshall, Head of the Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, states: ‘Knowledge Transfer is a ‘contact sport’; it works best when people meet to exchange ideas, sometimes serendipitously, and spot new opportunities.’

On the 5 July Nottingham Trent University’s Institute for Knowledge Exchange Practice (IKEP) held a conference to raise awareness of innovation funding, best practice, and, of course, to get people in a room so they could get chatting.

I submitted a poster paper detailing collaborations involved in Whatever People Say I Am – a series of online comics challenging stereotypes. One of the posters gave a brief outline of comics produced so far in the series and the other is on our current comic which explores what a better world for women might look like. We’ve run focus groups and interviews for the past two years and I now have a couple of solid ideas about how to map these out into a narrative.

Poster explaining process of creating a comic

The posters were produced in Canva – a graphic design template service – and took a couple of days to complete. I recently took out a paid subscription with Canva because it’s been so useful in helping me create the Locating Lawrence video essays.

My motivation for taking part in the conference was to hear what other people were up to and hopefully find story ideas for future comics. I was particularly intrigued by the research of Rachel Stubbington, a Prof in River Ecology, who has recently been investigating polluted chalk rivers. A river, like a tree, is a silent witness to centuries of life. What kind of observations would they share if given the chance?

Most of my partnerships and collaborations have come about through being arsed to attend events; you never know who you might end up sitting next to – such as Fo Hamblin who is exploring alternative ways of experiencing art galleries for the visually impaired. But beyond the many interesting people and projects remains the eternal hunt for money – so I was intrigued by the Knowledge Exchange’s innovation fund. Since the Arts Council’s funding portal Grantium is so inaccessible, I’ve begun looking elsewhere for investment. Talking of which, if you have a bit of cash and have a story that could be told in a comic, get in contact…