drawing the line

Music Illustration and Drawing Research

Category: writing

PhD American Studies – February 2019

I today officially accepted a place on a PhD in American Studies at Nottingham University which will now commence in February 2019 due to personal circumstances.

Ever since I was awarded an M.A. in Fine Art in January 2014 I have been working towards this outcome.

It has been a bumpy four years and a lot of spilt milk and broken plans in between not to mention some life-changing events which only my close friends know about but which have had enormous impact.

It has also been a learning curve about modern academia and the role of funding (especially for people over 50) and I am hopeful that this part-time PhD will be funded by a AHRC 4 Cities scholarship which I am applyign for in new year with N.U. support.

The subject of the PhD is close to my heart i.e. Illustration/ Music/Politics and as such a near perfect fit after many different approaches and options.

I have been through three PhD interviews, been accepted twice before (Loughborough and UAL St Martins) and had my fair share of academic arrogance and sheer stupidity to deal with…BUT..I have made it through and slowly built a very good proposal from the ashes of those previous attempts.

I am especially grateful to Dr Ian Waites at Lincoln University for his encouragement and constant support. The very fine Thames based proposal we built together will now go forward in a entirely poetic form as a part of a TRACK project revolving around Thames/ Trent locations. I also would like to thank Professor David Matless at N.U. for encouragement and helping write a very decent historical cultural geography proposal which again feeds into the TRACK poetry project.


I am also grateful to Dr Roger Sabin at St Martins for supporting the successful Scrapbook PhD which sadly I had to withdraw from last year before starting when events became to difficult to continue.

The process of creating that, in my opinion excellent idea, led directly to the concept behind the present PhD subject as I started looking at visual tropes and racial ‘stereotyping’ (ironically a word based on a print term!) as part of that proposal writing.

Indeed a part of that aborted PhD goes into the new proposal which can be read here:

PhD Proposal

Finally a word for Professor Richard H. King , Dr Sharon Monteith, Graham Caveney and other members of the Department of American and Canadian Studies at Nottingham University who gave of their time for free to conduct an excellent series of lectures on Southern Gothic Writers at Nottingham Contemporary last autumn.

As I sat down at the first event to see my old poetry publisher John Harvey ( M.A. American and Canadian Studies) and listened to Richard H. King I realised I was on the right path at last……the rest was easy and will probably involve listening to a lot of jazz which not a bad thing..just yesterday I found another David Stone Martin cover….

Lastly a big thank you to Fay Harding for her constant support in trying times and last and not least to Emma, my wife for being here and still being here despite everything…..

My struggles with academia are nothing compared to the struggle she has fought these past five years and hopefully she now coming through the dark days too….keep swinging kid 🙂

It ain’t worth a thing if it ain’t got that swing…

Frayling paper published


The Arts Humanities in Higher Education ‘new voice’ paper ‘ Can grey ravens fly: Beyond Frayling’s categories’ has finally been published to paper in latest copy of journal.

It appears in a special issue devoted to ‘Theorising Practice in Creative and Applied Arts’. It is alongside a range of papers presented at the ‘Practice Makes Perfect Conference’ at Swansea Metropolitan University in September 2012. I would like to thank Howard Riley and Amanda Roberts for their kindness there and for giving me this opportunity.

It is my first main journal publication after a couple of conference papers in proceedings.

at: http://ahh.sagepub.com/content/13/3/235.abstract

The pdf is available through download from SAGE website if subscribed through institution and I can share with colleagues in private so please request. I cannot post separately on internet for copyright reasons.

If interested in abstracts and other my research please go to

ACADEMIA EDU : https://nottinghamtrent.academia.edu/ShaunBelcher# 

Studio Diary M.A. : That’s all folks and a chapter on Moogee

Surprise of the week was news that Moogee had his own chapter in a new Loughborough/UAL/Teachers Columbia publication 🙂

TTDfront moogee


This is the final entry in the studio diary section as I will be assessed on my M.A. this Wednesday afternoon. To prepare for this I have created the pdf below and uploaded to Scribd detailing the progress made throughout the M.A. and the final outcomes at this point.

Where I go from here is a good question and not one I can answer easily.

There are three separate yet overlapping areas I have become deeply interested in.

1. Drawing research ; phenomenology of drawing and in particular an interest in sense of place and notions of ‘signature’ in terms of preparatory drawings especially in Gorky,  Miro up to Motherwell and Twombly all developing out of the surrealism and dada influence on mid-century American painting.

2. Early film/photography and magazine culture of the 18th Century/early 19th century and its relation to current developments in web. I have a paper to present in Paris on Charles Dickens magazine illustration end of March and I will be concentrating on that alone from now until then.

3. The continuation of this research into artistic research theory/philosophy of aesthetics and its dissemination through fine art pedagogy.

All three are possible PhD subject matter and how my institution views my future will probably have a major bearing on where I go.

My heart though probably in number one…..my head in number three and my teaching future at present tied up somewhere in number  two whether I like it or not…….

Interesting times ahead 🙂

Meanwhile I’d like to thank Deborah Harty for her very good supervision and for stopping me going off-track all the time or as they like to say in academia develop ‘focus’. Focused I am right now but come Thursday who knows:-)
please note the backgrounds have distorted in this display.


A basic plan?



Simplistic but this rough outline of new directions is kind of accurate.

Path One: Traditional practice-led craft orientated production – drawings not theoretical more instinctive. Crossing into surrealist/automatic and subconscious areas.

Path Two: Literary/Historical..orientated toward factual and historical research linked to a wide gamut of technology in early stages affecting a specific area of the Thames Valley – possible PhD subject area? Relating developments in 1850s to present day impact of ubiquitous media. Possible crossover with poetry/cultural geography. e.g. Charles Tomlinson’s borders thesis.

Path Three: Criticism as Research/Graphic Research. Cartoons as investigative art criticism. James Elkins and Mark Staff Brandl connection. Political edge.


Studio Diary April 9th

Finally back in studio after Easter break and torn between the reading required for the Film History paper for Amsterdam and keeping drawing experiments going. In the end managed both. Above are drawings I did as usual trying not to think almost automatic and the larger ones at bottom slightly different. Inspired by some recent text paintings of my friend Zenon I played around with notion of text as drawing. I then produced the strange calligraphy like ‘hill’ drawing. Not sure exactly where this going but does seem to be laying on borderline between cartoon, text and drawing. I was reminded a lot of the Abstract Expressionist drawings I looked at a lot in the 1980’s.

Also been flicking through a Marukami Catalogue: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takashi_Murakami

Post Conference Papers


Have rewritten the ‘Perfect maps:Imperfect Practice’ paper to contain new knowledge gained at conferences.

This paper has now appeared as part of Drawing Research network proceedings 2012 and now available here: http://www.drawing-research-network.org.uk/drn-2012-proceedings/

New title is Can grey ravens fly: Beyond Frayling’s categories.

Here original document and the associated cartoon strip.




Practice Makes Perfect?

I shall be giving a pesentation at this Symposium in September based on the following paper:

Perfect Maps and Imperfect Practice: How practice-led methodology turned into graphic research.




Research Return 2011-2012

Like an annual Tax Return the institution expects and who are we to complain.

Here the return for 2011 and half of 2012.
Again some of this counts with the Research Inspectorate and some of it probably does not….

Shaun Belcher Research 2011-2012
CONFERENCE papers and presentations: (*Forthcoming)
Drawing Research Network Conference 2012 Loughborough University.
10-11 September 2012.*

‘Practice makes perfect’ Conference, recipe Swansea Metropolitan University.
6-7th September 2012. *

‘With Humorous Intent’: Symposium: Mostyn Gallery. Llandudno.
2-4th March 2012.


‘Biting The Hand That Feeds‘ – Lacemarket Gallery New College Nottingham
in aid of Epilepsy Action.
5th-16th March 2012.
Artcore’s Card Deal – Derby DEDA – 1-30 September 2011


Matter Magazine interview with Matthew Collings
December 2011

WHY ART CANNOT BE SEEN? Has the internet changed the way we look at and criticize art? An exchange conducted by email discussing the art critic Matthew Collings’ recent experimentation with analysis of paintings online using Facebook photo albums.


Perceptions of Practice : Photography: Workshop: NTU: 11th July.2011.

Eco-Tone: Object Space Entanglements: NTU 28th June.2011.

Digital Hybridity – Stellarc: Derby University: Symposium 17th June.2011.

What is Rural? Symposium: Lincoln: 18th March.2011.

(not as productive as 2010 due to personal problems)


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