Project Brief

The exhibition Transgressions and Boundaries of the Page forms part of a creative project and transdisciplinary investigation into the artistís book as practice-based research.

A catalogue and website ( will also form part of the exhibition and project.

Artists include: Rosalind Cleaver, Leon de Villiers, Stephan Erasmus, Leora Farber, Gordon Froud, Cheryl Gage, Piet Grobler, Flip Hattingh, Roela Hattingh, Leti Kleyn, Sanko Lewis, Danie Marias, Kabous Meiring, Hennie Meyer, John Moore, Meryke Naude, David Paton, Henning Pieterse, Maritha Snyman, Jaco Spies, Angus Taylor, Strijdom van der Merwe, Jan van der Merwe, Maggie van Schalkwyk, Frikkie Vermeulen, Diane Victor, Fanie Viljoen, Steven Bosch, Louisemarie Combrink, CTexT, Heilna du Plooy, Franci Greyling, Colette Lotz, Ian Marley, Alwyn Roux, Paul Schutte, Richardt Strydom, Betsie van der Westhuizen, Wessie van der Westhuizen, Cashandra Willemse.

Institutions involved through participation of artists and researchers are: North West University (NWU), University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of Pretoria (UP), University of the Free State (UFS), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Vega, The Open Window, Beeld, Nasboek and Lapa-Publishers.

Artistsí books function outside the constraints of the publishing industry, and tend to be based on individual artistic vision, conceptualisation and execution. It is therefore the ideal medium to involve artists from diverse disciplines through exploration and discovery of the possibilities and boundaries of the book. We foresee a number of innovative artistsí books in diverse media, which will invite readers to (re)discover the book-as-artefact.

The aims of this project are to provide a space for practitioners to pursue and produce creative outputs as well as to facilitate and deliver formal (textual) research outputs.

The project provides opportunity for:

  1. artists to pursue their creativity by making an artistís book
  2. artists to produce research on their own creative practice
  3. researchers to reflect on creative processes, concepts and results
  4. collaboration between artists and researchers to the mutual benefit of both

Research context

Creative practitioners often participate in interdisciplinary multi-practitioner creative projects, for example themed group exhibitions, collaborative writing projects, performance poetry and performance art. However, these projects are rarely managed or conceptualised with a view to generate research findings. The project Transgressions and Boundaries of the Page aims to create a space for artists and artists/researchers to produce creative work while also being directly or indirectly involved with formal research.

Specifically, this research is conducted in the emerging field of practice-based research (PBR). PBR refers to creative work in a number of disciplines (fine art, graphic design, creative writing, performing arts) characterised by its reliance on artistic activities and creative outputs. These strategies are growing in popularity and sophistication, especially in terms of individual research. Internationally PBR is also characterised by collaborative efforts and the value thereof is increasingly recognised. It is argued by the UK Council for Graduate Education (2001) that PBR will develop more rapidly if there is a cross-institutional fertilisation as well as cross-disciplinary co-operation. This would also generate original work across sub-discipline boundaries.

In South Africa, PBR in still in a developmental phase, and is being debated from various perspectives - for example, recognising creative outputs as research by the Department of Education. It is therefore in the interest of PBR in South Africa to develop an interdisciplinary project, which will lead to an understanding of the management of collaborative PBR and in the process also empower creative individuals to formalise their practice as research.

Transgressions and Boundaries of the Page: a transdisciplinary exploration of a practice-based research project by means of the artistís book is a research project in the Research Unit: Languages and Literature in the SA Context and in the proposed (developing) research niche for Visual Culture. This project follows in the footsteps of the successful Tracking Creative Creatures, which was conducted at the Potchefstroom Campus of North-West University in 2007 and 2008.

Project time scale

  • 2009: Project planning, workshops, individual artistsí projects, community projects and web page
  • 2010: Exhitions at Woordfees (Word Festival) in Stellenbosch, NWU and UJ, digital catalogue and documentation
  • 2011: Writing up research findings, conference papers, articles and symposium/conference.

Expected research outcomes

  • Exhibitions
  • Digital catalogue
  • Web page for project
  • Conference papers
  • Scholarly articles
  • Practice-based MA projects (Graphic Design)
  • Conference/symposium