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Harriet Carter

Visual Arts, Birmingham City University

Thesis title:

Beyond Transposition? Exploring painting and the metaphysical through birdsong and Olivier Messiaen's Catalogue d'oiseaux.

The research interrogates the mechanisms of transposition between the auditory and the visual. Painting practice is undertaken to explore ways for the intangible transience of birdsong to be encountered in the still, silence of painted surfaces. Investigations of Messiaen’s soundscapes in field trips undertaken in the South of France provide material of auditory, visual, and other phenomena and is explored through the construction of painted surfaces. The painted surfaces seek the unknown and intangible ephemera of natural birdsong that metamorphosise between painted layers, in comparison with Messiaen’s imaginative musical responses in his field notebooks and ‘Catalogue d’oiseaux’. The stillness and silence of the paintings attempt to apprehend fluctuating sound, located somewhere between abstraction and figuration, pushing the boundaries of transposition as both method and concept. 

Research Area

  • Visual Arts


Carter, H., and Vidal, R. (2021) 'Some speculations on asemic writing and the productive embrace of uncertainty', Experiential translation, 28 July. Available at: https://experientialtranslation.net/2021/07/28/asemic-writing/

Carter, H. (2020) Drawing birdsong: A comparative analysis between the electronic and the human. Drawing: Research, Theory, Practice, 5(2).

Carter, H. (2020) Shared birdsong? Exploring Messiaen's Relationship with Place and Birdsong through Drawing. In: M. Collier, B. Hogg, J. Strachan, eds. Songs of Place and Time: Birdsong and the Dawn Chorus in Natural History and the Arts. Manchester: Gaia Project. 


'Birdwatching', 10th July 2020, < > connectedness: interactions, provocations, collaborations, PGR Studio, Birmingham City University, UK.

'Birdwatching', co-authored with Dr James Fisher of University of Gloucester, 14-15th May 2020, Research in the Arts, the Arts in Research, Cultural Literacy in Europe, Lodz, Poland.

'Painting as birdsong? Transposition as method of research practice between the auditory and the visual', 8th December 2019, CARU Arts re Search Conference 2019, Oxford, UK.

Public Engagement & Impact


Experiential Translation Network Symposium, 17th June 2021, ETN First Symposium, International.

Invited talks

'Birdwatching', 19th May 2021, PGR Webinar, University of Gloucester, UK.

'Writing workshop: Peer-review, publishing, and editorial roles', 17th November 2020, Material Encounters Research Cluster, Birmingham, UK.

'Paris, Tuscany, South of France 2019', 25th September 2019, M4C Residential Induction, Warwick, UK.

'Confusing, Tricky, Research Defining', 13th March 2019, ADM PGCert in Research Practice's workshop for part-time students, Birmingham, UK.

'OneNote in a painting practice-led doctoral research project', 20th February 2019, PGR Studio's Filtering the Universe, Birmingham, UK.

Selected group exhibitions

'Say Something Back', July 2021, art write, online

'Legends and Legacy Between', April 2021, Impact 11, Hong Kong, China

'The 7 Arts Still Exist', April 2020, online

'Light and Shade', June 2018, Christmas Steps Gallery, Bristol, UK

'A Study of Colour', July 2017, The Gallery, Kenilworth, UK

'Moving On, Staying On', 2017, Blok Studios, Worcester, UK

Event organisation 

Co-organiser of 'Uncertain Knowledge(s)', July 2021, Material Encounters Colloquium, Birmingham, UK

Co-coordinator of creative showcases, May 2019, M3C Research Festival, Birmingham, UK

Co-organisor of the PGR Studio Researcher's Development Award funded 'Spice-Up Your Write', May 2019, Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK

Volunteer organisor, January 2019, PGR Studio's 'Inside//Out Research Festival', Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK 

Other Research Interests

Print making

The visual voice

Practice as research

Intersemiotic translation

Experiential translation


Experiential Translation Network, International. 2021 - present.

Cultural Literacy Everywhere, International. 2019-present.

Material Encounters, Birmingham School of Art. 2018-present.


SEDA, Learning and Teaching in HE, March 2020

Postgraduate Certificate in Research Practice, January 2019


2021 - present | Associate lecturer in Fine Art, University of Gloucestershire

2017 - 2021 | Associate lecturer in Fine Art, University of Worcester 

PGR institution engagement

2021 - present | PhD mentor, Birmingham City University

2021 - present | Executive Committee member for Material Encounters research group