Articulating practice through Provenance

image of a painting with face appearing to come out of the canvas

Emergence, painting by Cathryn Lloyd

Professional practice literature acknowledges the value for practitioners inquiring into and critically reflecting on their professional practice. This is often referred to as practitioner research, but in action inquiry circles is known as first-person action research. Inquiry into and describing one’s practice has its challenges. How can a professional creatively interrogate their practice to generate new knowledge and theory that creates value for the inquiring practitioner and for others?

This paper explores practice-led inquiry and Provenance.  Practice-led inquiry is distinguished from other forms of practitioner research by its starting point within the inquirer’s own practice. Provenance, a term associated with fine arts, is a strategy/process within practice-led inquiry that enables practitioners to recognise knowledge about practice arising from their own experiences and the ability to utilise that in their theory building. Provenance helps the inquirer/researcher identify and scaffold the origins of their practice through nominating critical incidents and literature that have informed development of their practice and in turn builds meaning about how a given professional practice can be understood and undertaken.

Self portrait, mixed media, by Cathryn Lloyd

Provenance resonates with action inquiry, both in iterative cycles of action and reflection and in the use of ‘first person action inquiry’. Through Provenance, professionals identify turning points in their professional development. The narrative that evolves from consideration of critical events, and literature that have informed development of professional practice, can be revisited to generate new insights about the practice and affirm the practitioner/inquirer’s understanding and knowledge of their practice.

black and white collage image with multiple boxes and a large eye

From the Garden of his Heart, mixed media collage, by Cathryn Lloyd

This paper explores Hill and Lloyd’s development of the concept of Provenance from the origins in their own doctoral inquiries to formalising the process in post-doctoral publications and beyond that as they work with other inquirers and professionals to help them to investigate and bring new perspectives to their professional practices.

Image of Cathryn Lloyd and Geof HillDr. Geof Hill is the Principal Director of the Investigative Practitioner and currently working as a Reader in Higher Education at Birmingham City University, U.K.

Dr. Cathryn Lloyd is Founder/Director of Maverick Minds Pty Ltd.  Maverick Minds designs, facilitates and coaches powerful and flexible learning experiences for leaders, managers, teams and professional individuals to help shift thinking, gain new perspectives and create positive long-term change.

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