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Dr. Anita McKeown


National College of Art and Design




Crowdsourcing, Digital Re-mix, Live Art, Psychogeography, Representation, Self-appointed, Serial Interventions

Thesis Title

Cultivating permaCultural resilience: Towards a Creative Placemaking critical praxis


This study explores the potential of a Situated Art Practice that integrates the ethics and design principles of the domain known as ‘Permaculture’ to develop a critical praxis for Creative Placemaking (Landesman, 2009). Creative Placemaking (CP), established in the USA, is a sub-field of the domain known as ‘Placemaking’, and is considered to be the latest iteration of the evolving effort to embed Arts-led processes within the domain of cultural regeneration. The thesis makes an original contribution to the evolution of CP by outlining a critical praxis for CP as a situated process of co-production for self-organisation.
The thesis overall incorporates a scholarly dissertation, an intertwined practice-based arts narrative, and body of artwork in support of the argument. In total, the thesis is offered as an original contribution to the sub-genre of Situated Art Practice within the evolving field of CP. The methodology is informed by the Situationists’ dérive. Considered as an immersive, extended dérive, the method of engagement grounds an eco-social commitment by integrating permaculture design principles within a Situated Arts Practice. The emergent praxis is proposed as an operating system for CP, which enables the re-deployment of resources and services in a creative, effective manner.
Expanding upon the foundational characteristics of CP as defined by Markusen and Gadwa-Nicodemus (2010), the research proposes a trans-disciplinary, Open Source and resilient model of praxis. The proposed framework includes a nascent evaluative matrix and practical method to develop permaCultural resilience (defined as the ability of a location to adapt to changing conditions initiated by a systemic Arts-led process). The initiation of self-organised CP can be achieved through the creation of opportunities to reveal and actualise local potential and resources, allowing for emergent adaptive behaviour building upon foundations of resilience from the inside out.
In conclusion, the research offers fresh perspectives on the potential of Situated Art Practices within an eco-social open-ended, transferable and non-formulaic process of CP. It is hoped that future scholars, will instantiate their own work to re-imagine existing place-narratives that include diverse understandings of place and continue Creative Placemaking’s evolution.



Anita McKeown (FRSA) is co-director of SMARTlab Skelligs, S.Kerry and an award-winning artist / curator, driven by curiosity, guided and motivated by getting it right rather than being right. She works at the intersection of art, equitable spatial planning / placemaking and technology; Open Source Culture and Technology (ethical and ecological implications) and STEAM education, across a range of interdisciplinary projects, processes and partnerships. Her PhD - Cultivating permaCutural resilience: Towards a Creative Placemaking Critical Praxis was completed at the National College of Art and Design, SMARTlab UCD

Her work has been recognised by the Women’s Economic Forum with a Women’s Impact award for arts-led community development and education, with recent research, (EPA-funded, 2018-20) selected by the Royal Irish Academy Climate and Environmental Science committee, for scaling Irish research impact on co-design and sustainability. She is a Member of UCD’s Earth Institute, the Placemaking Leadership Council and an Advocate within Placemaking X.

She was invited to the Cultural Adaptations embedded artist project (2020), the inaugural artist in residence with the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument (2013) and is the only non-US national to win a Bravo award, for the audio-visual sensor project, Memphis 45s (2004). With over 110 exhibitions and performative projects to date, she continues to present her work locally, nationally, and internationally.

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