Knowing what is known: accessing craft-based meanings in research by artists

Ross W Prior

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Much of the work of artists relies on tacit or inert understanding of their craft and consequently communicating this knowledge is not necessarily easy or straightforward. This presents many challenges for art-based researchers. It also presents teaching and learning challenges involved in developing appropriate education and training to prepare artists. Arts practitioners have ways of knowing about themselves as ‘artists’ and it is argued in this commentary that these have grown out of their own deep and personally significant experiences. The ways in which this knowledge is rendered also appears to be based in practical experience – that is, in particular communities of practice. Artists may typically express values and concepts that are practice based, are difficult to express in theoretical terms and reflect what is deemed by them as desirable or preferable conditions for the execution of their art form. Socially and artistically constructed ways of knowing are formed in practice and through practice as craft-based meanings. Craft-based ways of knowing are founded on particular meanings inherent in practice that are often difficult to communicate. By drawing upon the author’s own research into practical actor training, this exposition attempts to capture the particular types of knowledge artists possess and why these may present challenges for researchers in using more open-ended methodologies whilst ensuring they provide validity. In doing so, this exposition also examines the fundamental question of what represents ‘evidence’ in art-based research – knowing what is known
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Arts and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


  • Tacit knowledge
  • knowledge types
  • reflective sketchbooks
  • craft-based ways of knowing
  • art-based research
  • subjective knowing


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