Member - Dr. Laura Brearley


Hello My name is Laura Brearley and I am an academic who writes songs and sings. I’m a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia.

I specialise in creative approaches to research and incorporate multi-media, poetry, art and music into my own research. I like exploring what lies at the edge. A esthetic research appeals to me because it is vital, relational, multi-vocal and multi-sensory. The title of my PhD was: ‘Exploring the Creative Voice in an Academic Context: Representations of the Experience of Transition in Organisational Change’. I love supervising research students I currently supervise a range of post-graduate research students in education, management and the creative arts. My students include a large cohort of Indigenous researchers who are using Indigenous ways of knowing in their research. In our research practice, we are incorporating an Aboriginal concept called ‘Dadirri’ which means deep listening with respect in ways which build community. Artists are collaborating with musicians and we are exploring the spaces between art-forms and cultures.

It is taking us to places where research, creativity and reconciliation meet.

I think a lot about these questions

  • How can we work within a recognised framework of scholarship and challenge its assumptions about form?
  • How can we stretch the edges of a recognised form and retain its strengths?
  • How can we move beyond compliance to an authentic originality?
  • How can we invite emotional engagement with data and avoid sentimentality and self-indulgence?
  • How can we invite intellectual engagement and avoid pomposity and emotional absence?
  • How can we integrate our creativity and our rationality?
  • How can we reflect the substance of research content in a congruent creative form?
  • How can we avoid the form subsuming and eclipsing the content?
  • How can we creatively enliven content while responsibly honouring the original voices?
  • How can we be more human and foster greater humanity in our academic and organisational work?

In my doctorate , I undertook research with a group of ten middle and

senior managers during a period of protracted turbulence, while their organisation merged with two others, to form a new corporate entity.

The original data were in the form of images drawn by the managers, which they then described to me. The metaphors and symbols within their drawings and stories were so dense and evocative, that I began a theoretical and practical exploration into ways of representing their experiences in forms which could do justice to the data.

I began exploring creative forms of representation such as poems, songs, mandalas and multi-media tracks which could invite engagement at a range of levels, including the cognitive, emotional and kinaesthetic.

In my post-doctoral work , I have undertaken aesthetic research into the experience of being a doctoral student and becoming a researcher.

I am currently working in partnership with Indigenous students and colleagues to explore the incorporation of Indigenous ways of knowing and multiple voices into arts-based research.


Contact Information
Ph. 613 9925 7923
Fax 613 9925 7586
Dr Laura Brearley
School of Education
RMIT University
PO Box 71, Bundoora
Victoria 3083

Publications & Papers

Brearley, L. 2004, ‘New Forms of Creative Representation and Exploration within Doctoral Research: Implications for Students and Supervisors’,Australian Association of Educational Research, Melbourne, Australia.

Brearley, L. 2004, ‘Becoming a Researcher: An arts-based aesthetic approach, Australian Association of Educational Research’ , Melbourne, Australia.

Brearley, L. & Rose, M. 2004, ‘Crossing the Bridge Between Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Western Academic Practice: An aesthetic exploration into giving voice to authentic identity’, Art of Management Conference, Paris

Brearley, L. 2002, ‘ Beyond Univocal Authority: An Exploration of Creative Voices in Academic Research’, UltiBase, Melbourne, Australia. Reprinted

Brearley, L.’ What Is the Matter?’, Journal of Management Inquiry, Thousand Oaks; Sep 2002; Vol. 11, Iss. 3; pg. 298, 2 pgs

Brearley, L. 2001, in Boucher, C & Holian, R. (Eds.) ‘Foot in the Air: An Exploration of the Experience of Transition in Organisational Life’, pp 151 – 184, Emerging Forms of Representing Qualitative Data, RMIT University Press, Melbourne, Australia ISBN No. 0-86459-152-7

Brearley, L. 2001, in Barnacle, R. (Ed.) ‘Exploring Creative Forms within Phenomenological Research’, pp 74 – 87, Phenomenology, RMIT University Press, Melbourne, Australia ISBN No. 0-8649-153-5

Brearley L.. 2000, ‘Exploring the Creative Voice in an Academic Context’, The Qualitative Report, Volume 5, Numbers 3 & 4, October