“Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

Max Planck – Theoretical Physicist

Moving Space works with art as a way to explore and express personal and shared experience. This brings together approaches from the arts therapies and experiential and outdoor education.
Discussion and collaboration is invited through movingspace.blog for anybody interested or who is an artist, an art maker, an outdoor educator, a health professional or an academic.
Work with art, indoors and outdoors, with groups and individuals as experiential learning, personal and professional development can be delivered as Moving Space Productions.
Moving Space is run by Chris Reed, a registered arts therapist and qualified teacher with over 30 years experience of outdoor education and groupwork in the UK, EU and USA. Chris is based in Cumbria, UK.
This site and the work is on a journey. Content and form will change over time. Much has been written, and ideas developed, which will be posted over time, ideally in response to connections made. Please come back.

About : Two Main Themes

image of art as exploration

Exploring Our World with Art

Making art as a way to explore and express experience of the world shifts the emphasis from viewing art to doing art. Art is made but the art maker becomes consciously aware of the process of making art as much as the product, the artform they create.

All art making has an element of research. Children experiment with making marks. In the privacy of the shower we may explore how we sound when we sing when nobody can hear us. A painter will seek information from paint makers about the time it takes for paint to dry or how it may work on different media. All artists are researchers. They research the form and content of their art, be they writing a novel or painting a portrait. Artists ask questions. But usually the research is done to make an finished artwork.

As a way of working, art as exploration or art as research has roots in the arts therapies, in formal post-gradute arts based research and in theatre and performance used educationally and developmentally. Art is made but each artwork becomes a token or image of an ongoing journey of exploration, or the findings of personal research.

And whilst, as ever with art, there are no clear boundaries between things, and no clear cut definitions of things, art as exploration or research has a lot to offer individuals interested in exploration and discovery. In particular, art as exploration and research has a lot to offer outdoor and experiential learning. Moving Space and movingspace.blog can, hopefully, contribute to seeking new ways of working with art indoors and outdoors.

Art making is a doing thing. It is active and experiential. Performance particularly connects to experiential outdoor learning. On stage we see three women and hear them say ‘In thunder lightning and in rain, where shall we meet again. There upon the heath to meet Macbeth.” If it is good theatre we experience ‘as if’ there were three witches in the room. We do a step across on a ropes course. We are at 40ft, we are safe, but we experience it ‘as if’ it may kill us. The theatre of adventure.

Through movingspace.blog and Moving Space Productions it is hoped new dialogues, collaborations and direct work may emerge.

image of make your world

Making Space Into Place

Make Your World overlaps with Art as Exploration but develops the ideas with a particular reference to making art outdoors, in it’s own right, but also as a way of having outdoor experiences.

A major influence here are the ideas of humanistic geography. These relate to how geographically, we start with space, somewhere untouched by our influence, say a bend in a river, and under our influence it becomes a place, with a tent, then a house, a name, a football team, a newspaper etc. We make place out of space. We do the same with art. We start with a blank canvas and make a painting.

There is also a consistent theme in art in which art explores our ideas and images of space and place. From Vaughan Williams classical composition¬† ‘The Lark Ascending‘, to Andy Goldsworthy’s sculpture, to Picasso’s painting of the bombing of Guernica. Each evokes a sense of place. Click here to feel¬† the spirit of place in northern England. Art can tell us something about a place and it’s people.

Outdoor experiences and art have a lot in common. Both have an element of adventure. In both there may be a clear destination, a place we want to be. In a gallery with a finished painting, or at the top of the mountain. But often new experiences, new paths, unexpected turns emerge out of our journey. That bit of the painting we hated yesterday, becomes a feature today. That undercut, we missed climbing yesterday, means we can just touch the out of reach hold today.

Art also inhabits liminal space, the bits in between other spaces. We go to Terra Incognito and find new forms. We work in threshold places. Adventure and art are creative. Art is always seeking places people have never been before, or revisting places to see them anew, like the same seashore is different every day.

In Practice as Research – Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry,¬† Estelle Barrett talks about art as research being a thing of doing and the senses. It’s findings are subjective, emergent, situational, changeable and ambiguous in their nature, because art is these things. Outdoor experiences are the same. Art as research could offer ways of gaining insight into outdoor experiences, personally and academically.


The purpose of Moving Space then is sixfold.

To research the use of the arts and art making as a form of experiential learning.

To research ways of integrating the arts into outdoor and adventure education.

To seek to use arts based research approaches to investigate outdoor experiences.

To broaden participation in the arts and outdoor learning.

To collaboratively use online and offline spaces to facilitate this.

And explore our world through art.

Related Links

outdoors as / art / as research