Imagination empowers us to confront challenges, navigate uncertainty and shape a richer, more inclusive future.
It is central to UEA’s mission to discover and co-create new ways of learning and researching with communities, whether local or global, as collaborators, participants and storytellers.
UEA’s Richard Hand, Professor of Media Practice, voices our approach perfectly when he says ‘I have always explored creative work as a mode to understand more fully how things work, and how they matter’.
Curiosity precedes any intellectual process, and is the catalyst to formulate research questions and imaginative responses to them. Research and learning involve experimentation, risk and balancing contradictions. They need an open mind, empathy, and readiness to see things anew.
That’s why co-creation is so important for CreativeUEA, making new knowledge together with partners and communities, across languages and cultures, and between faculties at the University. CreativeUEA aims to move beyond existing borders, boundaries and beliefs to imagine undreamed horizons.
The value of imagination
Our work looks for imagination in everyday life, and seeks to understand its significance and value. Street art festivals proliferate around the world, primarily in areas otherwise affected by urban and industrial decline. 'Is street art good or bad for you?’ was the question explored by Dr Liliana Harding of UEA’s School of Economics.
Dr Harding investigated how communities can win the support of individuals for street art, and how it relates to the value we place on other cultural goods – including our inclination to buy artworks in other contexts. Participants in the research felt the main reason for subsidising public art is its potential to stimulate creativity. Our research team found attitudes varied according to the socioeconomic background of interviewees.
This project challenges assumptions about the inclusiveness of public art, and gives insights to factors that shape how we value creative works according to our own circumstances and cultures.
Imagining futures and new expression
Our research imagines new writing and drama. It also imagines what the future of these arts might be. After 50 years of supporting the development of some of the most exciting novelists, playwrights and poets in the UK and abroad, including three Booker prize winners and a Noble Laureate, UEA’s Creative Writing programme tackles new themes about the future of writing and the role of the author, anticipating new possibilities for creativity across the 21st century.
The Future and Form project supported by Arts Council England, marks the 50th anniversary of Creative Writing at UEA. It links six international writers with creative technologists and cultural partners across Norwich and Norfolk to imagine the future of writing across multiple platforms.
Their collaboration will realise new literary experiences, rooted in new approaches and ideas. Future and Form extends UEA’s reputation for creative research excellence in partnership with several partners across Norwich and Norfolk.
Imagining beyond boundaries
Our work traverses languages and cultures. Founded by W.G. Sebald, UEA’s British Centre for Literary Translation (BCLT) has taken on the challenge of working beyond cultural and linguistic boundaries to champion translation as a distinctive intellectual activity and professional practice.
UEA researchers have focused new attention on the translator’s ‘creative interference’ and the co-creative role translators play in bringing important texts to new audiences.
In 2020, the novel 'The Discomfort of Evening' won the International Booker Prize, shared between its Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld and translator and UEA alumnus Michele Hutchison. George Szirtes, a judge for the 2021 prize and former UEA Reader, remarks that ‘the BCLT was one of the important stakeholders in the foundation of the prize’ and that ‘the status of translators has risen accordingly.’
Imaginative co-created research and practice
Our research is co-created with business, commerce and industry. Dr Ieva Martinaityte of Norwich Business School works co-creatively with artist Daisy Morgan to encourage creativity in the workplace.
Together they have designed a deck of beautifully illustrated cards to inspire creativity in business. Each card invites a creative response to research by presenting a concise summary of research evidence to inform the business user’s daily workflow.
Known as DIP cards, these ‘develop your innovation practice’, help individuals explore creative routines, and stimulate original thinking. With creative thinking skills increasingly in demand by business leaders and employers, this project aims to share evidence-based strategies that can bring increased creativity to every workplace.
Dr Martinaityte’s approach helps organisations develop creative cultures through playful rituals and symbols.