Student Led Initiatives 2009-10


Portfolio: an e-journal for postgraduate research in visual arts and culture

Carla Cesare, University of Northumbria

Portfolio is a peer reviewed journal published twice a year by and for postgraduates in visual arts and culture from Northumbria University, Royal College of Art, V &A and  Manchester Metropolitan University. It is created to give PGRs an opportunity to publish and develop publishing and editing skills as part of their post graduate experience.  AHRC funding is supporting the training aspect of the journal.

Portfolio will address and challenge themes and issues of common interest establishing a dynamic new academic network through publishing and scholarly interaction. Research presented will represent visual culture is breaking new boundaries of being both an object of study and a method. The format will include both text, sound, and video/animation clips. In doing so, the impact of interdisciplinary studies will be affected through dissemination and outreach not traditionally possible previously. In opening and broadening our definitions of visual culture, we will be achieving the much-needed objectives of creating a forum for discussion, an opportunity for post-graduate students to publish, and foster dialogue between universities.

As a project Initiated by PGRs from Northumbria University, Royal College of Art, V &A and  Manchester Metropolitan University  the PGRs will  edit and manage it and work with an advisory board of professionals.  The combined resources and efforts of the three institutions will create a new and innovative approach to collaborative research – non-regional, visually focused, and multi-institutional.  By fostering greater dialogue between universities a broader awareness of research trends and common concerns will be developed furthering joint research activities, conferences, symposia, networks, exhibitions etc.  The audience for the online journal will include postgraduate and undergraduate students and academics of the respective institutions as well as other professionals in the associated disciplines, such as artists, museum professionals, designers and archivists.


Rethinking Complicity and Resistance: the Relationship between visual Arts and Politics

Rachele Ceccarelli, University of Aberdeen

A two-day Postgraduate Conference, University of Aberdeen 23-24th October 2009
Keynote Speaker: Zeigam Azizov
The long contested issue of the relationship between art and politics has lately re-emerged in critical debate, in conjunction with an explosion of interest in political theory and the exhaustion of the postmodernist model. Recent technological developments have radically transformed modes of creation, circulation, assimilation and dispersion of images, reframing perception and making the investigation of the interdependency of visual arts and politics an urgent ethical necessity. Yet now that activism, militancy and engaged art are back on the agenda, it is essential to analyse contemporary artistic practices and thought in an attempt to discover not just what art can say about politics, but what art can and cannot do as politics. As many of the critical models developed in the last decades have been absorbed and assimilated by the structures they were trying to destabilize, as the avant-garde and radical art has become a commodity, as revolutionary projects and ideas neutralize themselves and lose their corrosive power, we ask: can art be an effective political gesture? And if so, how? This conference invites a critical rethinking of the complementary concepts of complicity and resistance: asking complicit with what; resistant to what? It does so in the context of current critical debate in the field of contemporary visual arts, promoting a provocative and challenging exploration of the technical, thematic, and institutional possibilities/limitations/implications of artistic strategies aimed at intervening in the political.


Words from Other Worlds: Critical Perspectives on Imoinda

Marl'ene Edwin, Goldsmiths, University of London

This one-day interactive workshop entitled Words from Other Worlds: Critical Perspectives on Imoinda will be held at Goldsmiths, University of London on Saturday 7 November 2009 and seeks to collectively develop a range of critical perspectives on Joan Anim-Addo’s Imoinda: Or She Who Will Lose Her Name (2008).

Anim-Addo's text is a re-writing of Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko (1688).  The first libretto by an African Caribbean woman befittingly tells the story of an enslaved African woman who gives birth to a child which symbolises the beginning of the Caribbean Islands as modern nation-states. This work articulates the long and complex history of Atlantic slavery, colonisation and Empire which is a haunting yet crucial and integral part of European history. The critical reception of this text, like other diaspora literatures by ethnic minorities, remains marginal in comparison to the critical attention given to the English classic travel narratives, which often, although set in the same historic period, remain blind to  African Caribbean  experiences of imperial conquest. As the English travel narratives fail to give an adequate ‘speaking voice’ to this native-subject; the teaching of these literatures echoes a similar blindness as Anim-Addo (2006; 2008) & Les Back (2008), have routinely argued both collectively and individually.
Words from Other Worlds, aims to address this absence by producing a virtual and print collection of student perspectives on this ‘minority text’.

This workshop will be an opportunity for postgraduate students from all disciplines  to share their perspectives and work interactively with selected specialists in literature, visual arts, music and museums heritage. The workshop is designed to encourage the exchange of concepts, images, and ideas that will contribute to the journal and website.

If you wish to attend this event you will need to register by sending an email to  Further details can be found at


Building Sound

Ella Finer, Roehampton University


Ella Finer and Fabrizio Manco present 'Building Sound',  an on-going research experiment in ways to describe and articulate experiences of sound making and reception within theatre, theory and practice. As both Finer and Manco's doctoral studies are concerned with an interrogation of sound within theatrical space, the aim of building sound is to provide thinkers and practitioners an opportunity to offer their own ideas from their respective practices about sound within an actual and a virtual space.

Ella Finer and Fabrizio Manco have each chosen a selection of speakers to come together and describe what sound means to them; to provide an interdisciplinary hearing and sharing of ideas and definitions, leading to an open discussion. Speakers include Finn Andrews (The Veils), Ansuman Biswas, Steve Cleary, Marcia Farquhar, Simon Fisher Turner, Maggie Pittard and Mariella Greil & J. Milo Taylor. As well as hosting information about the project and storing archival sound from the symposium, the form of this website itself is the result of an attempt to question how to build a website beyond text. The concept for the 'Building Sound' Website is by Ella Finer and Fraser Muggeridge, and designed by Fraser Muggeridge Studio and Wolfram Weidner.


Bad Behaviour in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
Diane Heath, University of Kent

Our definition of bad behaviour has been chosen to cover the widest parameters of the transgressive, from the ludic, mischievous or disruptive to the violently anti-social, sexual, tabooed and/or criminal. The twin aims for this Colloquium are: to explore how text and 'beyond text' - i.e. other facets of visual and material culture - may be deployed and problematized as evidence for boundary breaking; and secondly to support the provision of essential research skills for postgraduate participants and organizers.

Beyond these aims, the Colloquium will explore transgression through transmission and memory, as both memory and perception are brought to bear on any recollection of bad behaviour. As our comprehension of bad behaviour in the past shapes our understanding of crime now, new perspectives of understanding will be created. Contextualizing different perspectives and approaches on transgressive behaviours, and engaging them in a dialogue, permits fruitful questioning of our preconceptions. This will allow us to achieve our goal of contributing high-quality research, utilizing the Colloquium and its collaborative ventures with organizations outside academia, to form an arena for shared debate. These aims tie in with the Beyond Text programme and specifically, the transmission and memory theme.

Our events and activities will emphasise connections to images, objects, performance and orality and so enhance transfers of knowledge beyond the normative disciplinary divides.


Outside the Box: Practice, Participation and Method in Live Electronic Music
Owen Green, City University London

A one day post-graduate conference with workshop and concert, at City University London, 16th November 2009. Live electronic music presents challenges for practice-led research as its outcomes are spread across a range of different artefacts and sites (recordings, custom instruments, live events). This initiative seeks to develop reflexivity and robustness in the field by sharing thoughts on how to deal with this and by establishing good, shared notions of practice.


Mediated Memory: Of Monuments, Machines and Madeleines

Tony Ross, University of Glasgow


Explaining Supernatural Nature: Mediations between Image, Text and Object in the Middle Ages

Trish Stewart, University of St. Andrews

Interdisciplinary POSTGRADUATE Conference
University of St. Andrews
9th - 11th April, 2010

Arranged jointly by:
Centre for Medieval & Early Modern Studies, University of Kent
St. Andrews Institute of Medieval Studies

Medieval beliefs about the natural world were inextricably linked with those about the supernatural. Indeed, it was almost impossible to separate the two since the medieval terms used to refer to the natural world - ‘creature' and ‘creation' - presuppose a Creator. The links between the natural and supernatural worlds are seen throughout the images, texts, and objects from the Middle Ages.

Astronomical data that was recorded through the use of complex technical instruments such as the astrolabe was used for religious purposes (notably the calculation of Easter and the canonical hours), and also for the potentially problematic calculation of horoscopes. Texts such as the Aviary, Bestiary, and the numerous encyclopaediae were often illustrated and contain a wealth of information about the natural world with a religious purpose to teach moral and theological lessons.

We are organising a postgraduate conference to investigate the ways in which these images, texts, and objects were used in conjunction with one another to explain the relationship between the natural and supernatural worlds. The conference is designed for students working in this area to share their research through presentations (potentially including a poster session) and demonstrations relating to the actual use of the image or object, as well as the opportunity for round-table discussion relating to any unsolved mysteries that may have appeared during the research.

For example, potential topics include the use of astronomical instruments, how to read or cast a horoscope, and the recreation of medieval medicinal, herbal, or alchemical recipes.

We envisage this conference as a way for postgraduates to share their work in progress and to benefit from the interdisciplinary knowledge of those attending. We are also going to create a webpage so that postgraduate students can publish their research (including images, sound, and video) in an alternative format to the more traditional journal article.

It is hoped that the conference and resulting web-page will help create an interdisciplinary community where students can share their research freely and benefit from the knowledge of others, and in turn, increase our understanding of the medieval view of ‘supernatural nature'.


Danae Theodoridou, Roehampton University

10 PERFORMANCES is a text-based performance project that will explore the nature of performative writing and its relation to the staged event of performance. Five established international artists and five UK based postgraduate artists will contribute one written work each. Within the project’s frame the page will become the material stage upon which 10 PERFORMANCES are realised. Artists include:

  • Mark Caffrey (Queen's University, Belfast)
  • Barbara Campbell (Australia)
  • Robin Deacon (UK)
  • Matthew Goulish (USA)
  • Akillas Karazisis (Greece)
  • Johanna Linsley (Queen Mary, University of London)
  • Cathy Naden (UK)
  • Tamarin Norwood (Goldsmiths, University of London)
  • Theron Schmidt (Queen Mary, University of London)
  • Danae Theodoridou (Roehampton University)

     Explaining Supernatural Nature: Oxford, St. John's College MS 178, f. 153r,  Zodiac man.  The various parts of the body correspond to the signs of the zodiac, as labelled on the man. Photograph by Trish Stewart By kind permission of the President and SchTrish Stewart, University of St. Andrews, Lead Organiser: Explaining Supernatural NatureExplaining Supernatural Nature: Prague Astronomical Clock, detail, photograph by Trish StewartExplaining Supernatural Nature: Prague Astronomical Clock, photograph by Trish StewartExplaining Supernatural Nature Oxford, St. John's College MS 178, f.161r.  The griffin has a captured horse, the text relates how griffins hate horses. The elephant is shown with a tower and soldiers on its back. Photograph by Trish Stewart, used by permiMarl'ene Edwin, Goldsmiths, University of LondonOne Day Postgraduate Workshop - Saturday 7 November 2009Image by Chris HeppellImage: pgcolloqiumpo10sansee1.jpgDiane Heath, University of KentDr. Malcolm Jones, University of Sheffield, Keynote SpeakerKrista Bonello Rutter Giappone, University of KentTwo Medieval Pilgrims Fighting, cloister capital, CahorsEd, Will and Ginger, modern wayfarers, singing for their supper and supporting our Colloquium on Bad Behaviour with a recording of medieval bawdy songs:

    Emma Rose Barber, University of Kent
    Emma Rose Barber, University of Kent

    Owen GreenBy Mitsi A.EThe Building Sound logo

    Arts & Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,000 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. Arts and humanities researchers constitute nearly a quarter of all research-active staff in the higher education sector. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. See Arts & Humanities Research Council website.