Author Identifiers

Kylie Justine Stevenson
ORCID: 0000-0002-7819-1391

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Arts and Humanities

First Advisor

Professor Lelia Green

Second Advisor

Dr Lyndall Adams


This ‘Creative River Journey’ doctoral study explored the processes of art practice and knowledge-making by six artist–researchers engaged in creative higher degrees by research (HDR) at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in three arts disciplines—performing arts, visual arts, and creative writing. The study applied the Creative River Journey (CRJ) reflective practice strategy, originally applied as the River Journey tool in music education (Burnard, 2000; Kerchner, 2006), but further developed by the researcher into a three-phase reflective practice strategy for its application in complex practice-led research projects over the extended period of the participants’ HDR studies. Six rich cases studies of HDR artist– researchers, and their reflective practice and practice-led research, resulted. The researcher took an a/r/tographical approach (Irwin & de Cossen, 2004) and specifically focused on inquiring into the intersection between arts practice, practice-led research, and HDR creative arts training and pedagogy. The study addresses three questions in relation to these three concepts about what the application of the CRJ strategy to the creative process elucidated for, and about, the HDR artist–researcher. A fourth question addresses the experiences and evaluations by participants of the CRJ strategy.

The ‘Creative River Journey’ study aimed to examine the way that reflective practice and the CRJ reflective strategy might add to emerging practice-led research methodologies for individual artist–researchers and the field of practice-led in general. In the past decade, there has been a significant continued discussion about the nature of research in the creative arts (for example, Nelson, 2013; Barrett & Bolt, 2007; Smith and Dean, 2009). This study adds the perspective of the HDR artist–researcher engaged in a creative arts doctorate to this discussion. The study’s HDR perspective joins existing Australian contextual reviews of practice-led research, for example, effective supervision of creative practice higher degrees (Hamilton & Carson, 2013a), and examining doctorates in the creative arts (Webb, Brien & Burr, 2012). This study advances this discussion by providing rich case studies of HDR practice-led research from the outsider perspective of the researcher whilst, at the same time, providing a unique insider perspective as the researcher acts as a co-constructor of the participants’ reflective practice, and as the participants independently document their creative practice and reflective practice strategies.

This thesis will demonstrate that the CRJ reflective strategy is an innovative way of exploring the relationship between the creative and critical components in creative arts higher education degrees. The strategy generated knowledge about how each artist–researcher engaged in a meld of practice and research in the art-making process within practice-led research, and brought to light key critical moments in the practice-research nexus. Of consequence to the knowledge outcomes for the HDR artist–researchers in the study is how these captured the phenomena of their praxis, and thus was a useful documentation approach to their practice-led research. This thesis will make evident the ‘Creative River Journey’ study’s contribution to the rich established field of practice-led research in general, made possible through the deliberate pedagogical interventions of the CRJ reflective strategy.