Designer Talk: Deborah Stevenson and Jane E Bennett

Debbie and Jane are PhD Fellowship students, preparing for beginning PhD next year. Both studied Fine Art Site and Archive MA at UCLan, and both are concerned with memory and experience of space.


Deborah Stevenson went through her research process.  Her research is concerned with our experience and memory of place, the city and architecture. For her MA installation, Waterloo and City (Private Thoughts in Public Spaces), she wandered the city streets observing the daily experience of the thousands of people who commute to and from the London to work each day, recording their conversations and observing her own memories of working as a City Insurance Broker. She enjoys the theory of public spaces. As I understand it, she explored the idea that the hierarchy of corporate buildings influence our personal narrative and perception of self and the city.

Debbie Stevenson

The installation is a conceptual film, consisting of four books with text and photographs and a sound track of her field recordings. I found her talk very moving.  I related to her witnessing of the individual narratives of the people, connecting to the ‘memories’ of the architecture.

My friend, Viv, told me of an interesting experience she’d had at the theatre, being ushered through a dark space with projected images.  Turns out she wasn’t away with the fairies – it was an installation by Jane Bennett.  Jane says subjects were told of the purpose, they wanted to go back in, but were refused.  The installation was about memory and transition – memory fading and the tension between remembering and forgetting. Jane is also interested in the Kantian theory of the sublime, and why we remember some things and not others (Wordsworth, who was also interested in the Kant’s Sublime, called them ‘spots of time’).

Being in the moment, experiencing the sublime

Jane spoke a little about her own practice, but the focus of her talk was ‘Employability skills for the Creative Practitioner’.  She was full of great advice for those starting out on their career, and recommended several useful websites.


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