Christian Edwardes

Course Leader for BA Illustration, Arts University Bournemouth

Christian Edwardes

A Ship Aground (2012)

Affective References: Staging illustration resources in and beyond the studio


The presentation and curation of visual references plays a pivotal role in the teaching practices of undergraduate illustration departments. They are often value-laden objects used to shape, agitate, and even limit the development of a creative project. In an increasingly distanced learning and teaching environment, the scenographics of presentation has become an increasingly important part of preparing and sharing resources in online delivery. This paper is positioned as a provocation to take seriously the affective and scenographic dynamics involved in the way reference material is presented to undergraduate students.

In doing so, it traces existing work in the sociology of creative practices that has drawn attention to the circulatory role of these artists’ references in the professional design studio: collections of images, textures, palettes, materials, or objects that are used to inform, mediate, or communicate contingent ideas as part of the design process. However, whilst these studies—which largely draw from the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS)—position the reference as a means of stabilising material relations during the activities of collection and analysis that connect the laboratory (or studio) to the world, I turn my focus towards the affective relations in which references become ‘scenes’: stagings that structure or attempt to translate affective experiences.

Drawing on personal examples of studio and online delivery within an undergraduate illustration award, I proffer a means of understanding the reference not just as a representational register or a way of structuring meaning, but as a means of structuring and conditioning our affective connections between work and world.


Christian Edwardes is Course Leader for BA Illustration at the Arts University Bournemouth. His recent research is centred around studio geographies and the geoaesthetics of artistic production, which also form a central strand of his artistic practice. After studying fine art at Liverpool John Moores and Central Saint Martins, he completed his PhD at Chelsea College of Art in 2016. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, and recently co-edited “Non-Representational Theory and the Creative Arts” published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.