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Department of Arts Research information.

Through critical examination and innovative forms of practice, research in the Department of Arts is united by strong principles of social engagement through creativity, collaboration, participation, and cross-and interdisciplinarity.

These principles shape distinctive research practices which include investigations of transglobal exchange in visual and material cultures; fine art conservation; experimental forms of exhibition making and curation; studies and production of moving image and examinations of popular media; and the socio-political ‘spaces’ of theatre and performance. They have resulted in unique interactions across, for example, fields of fine art, science and technology; and between black and minority ethnic organisations and cultural studies’ academics in interpretations of (Multi) Cultural Heritage.  

Current research groups are: 

Visual and Material Cultures

Cultural Negotiation of Science

Curatorial and Collaborative Practices

Moving Image, Popular Media and Culture

Spaces of Appearance in Theatre and Performance

Contemporary Art Research Forum (CARF)

Our emphasis on forms of public-facing research and dissemination with stakeholders across cultural and creative sectors is exemplified in our partnership with BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in the BxNU Institute, established in 2012 and currently led by Andrea Phillips. A developing focus of non-western forms of visual and material culture has led to the recent establishment of our International Research Centre for the History and Culture of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms in China. 

Funding for our research is typically drawn from sources such as ACE, AHRC, Creative Scotland and Leverhulme. Examples of currently funded projects include: Patrick Duggan’s AHRC COVID-19 Response project, ‘Social Distancing and Reimagining City’; Johnny Walker’s AHRC Early Career Fellowship,  ‘Raising Hell: British Horror Cinema in the 1980s and 90s’; Jamie Sexton’s  Leverhulme Project Grant, ‘Anonymous Creativity, Library Music and Screen Cultures in the 1960s and 1970s’ and Victoria Horne’s  Paul Mellon Mid-Career Fellowship for research into the evolution of women artists’ networks in the 1960-70s. The Department also currently hosts Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow Elizabeth Fisher’s project ‘The Dialectical Landscape: Negotiating the Legacies of British Modernism in the Rural’. 

The University Gallery on City Campus is a hub for specific research around arts, culture and heritage practices. This includes the Woon Gallery of Asian Art, Gallery North and the University Art Collection (comprising 3,000 paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures, ranging from Japanese prints to works by Manet and Paolozzi). Gallery North, along with the Experimental Studio, provide a space for experimental contemporary practice through a regular programme of exhibitions, symposia, research-in-progress and public-facing events for ADSS and the University at large. 

Arts at Northumbria has a flourishing postgraduate research culture with a longstanding reputation in supporting practice-based doctoral research. From 2014, we led the AHRC consortium Centre for Doctoral Training in Arts and Design, and since 2019 have benefitted from studentships awarded by the AHRC Northern Bridge Consortium. An important recent development in the Department in linking staff and postgraduate research is CARF (Contemporary Arts Research Forum) which draws together researchers across Arts and beyond in discussion and the exploration of cross and interdisciplinary possibilities.

A considerable number of Arts researchers are editors or serve on editorial boards across a range of academic and practice-based journals, reflecting the breadth and diversity of our areas of expertise. Similarly, members of the Department contribute significantly to arts and cultural organisations as board members, trustees or steering group advisors on regional and national galleries, theatres and artist-run organisations. Many are also active on numerous national and international subject associations, including Theatre and Performance Research Association; International Association for Media and History; International Association of Critical Heritage Studies; as well as the Live Art sector Steering Groups (e.g., ‘Assessing the impact of Live Art’). We have also recently been convenors of key conferences such as the International Design History Society (2019), IAMH (2019), and the Association for Art History (2020).

For more information about current research in Arts see our Research Groups and our Staff pages.

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