Research in Fine Art at Newcastle includes practice-based and theoretical research in Fine Art, Art History, Curatorship and Digital Media. Researchers in the unit are based at the centre of the University campus, which provides excellent facilities and resources to support the full spectrum of our work, including Culture Lab - the university’s focal point for research in human-computer interaction and digitally-based creative practice.
The first School of Art at Newcastle University was established in 1838 and it has consistently maintained an excellent reputation as one of the UK's leading centres for art education. Many distinguished artists have been associated with Newcastle, either as students or as teachers, and include Richard Hamilton, Victor Pasmore, Sean Scully and Susan Hiller. The department also houses one of the most iconic artworks of the twentieth century - Elterwater 'Merzbarn', the final work of Kurt Schwitters.
Our reputation is built on world-leading research, disseminated in the form of publications, exhibitions, installations and interventions. The quality of our research culture is such that we were able to attract significant new researchers to the unit, for example the unit was successful in securing 17% of the UK’s PhD studentships in Fine Art and Digital Media/Film from the Arts & Humanities Research Council BGP1 scheme. We are now partners with Durham University and Queen’s University Belfast in the AHRC-funded Northern Bridge Doctoral Training Partnership.
Our research strategy is fundamentally rooted in evolving Fine Art practice. Building on our distinguished history of studio-based activity, (the first British works of Pop Art were made in our studios by Richard Hamilton) today we respect equally the value, importance and distinctiveness of individual practices as well as collaborative and interdisciplinary work. Alongside work in painting, sculpture and printmaking we actively promote visual art generated at the nexus of established and new practices, technologies and methodologies as well as cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Central to this is our work with Culture Lab. This bold initiative situates a unique world class state-of-the-art digital infrastructure at the heart of the university and opens up novel media terrain at the interface of the arts and sciences and new forms of knowledge transfer in partnership with the creative industries and wider community.
The unit’s strategy also involves inviting researchers into the unit to work alongside us – artist-fellows and other researchers on short term projects, facilitating their research. To this end, we have a firm commitment to supporting research around the full range of traditional, contemporary and emerging studio-based art practices, along with the associated theoretical and historical discourses. This commitment matches our long-standing pluralistic philosophy around UG and PG teaching, where we have a well-established four-year UG Fine Art BA and two-year MFA programme.
We are partners in large RCUK-funded collaborative and multidisciplinary projects – including ‘Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy’, (SiDE), and ‘Creative Exchange’. We are aligned with the University’s research institutes and initiatives, NISR and NICAP – the Newcastle Institutes for Social Renewal and for Creative Arts Practice, which now provides an ambitious new framework for research and doctoral training for creative practitioners across the university.
The above strategy and initiatives combine to complement our continuing key research themes, Material and Process; Digital Media; and Site, Curating and Exhibiting – which have been framed to embrace and interrogate work developed within the rigorous intellectual environments of specific disciplines, individual practices and cross-disciplinary and collaborative projects, while also responding to the research directions of new staff, and new directions in the methods and research interests of existing staff.
These broad areas of interest were framed to reflect and embrace the range of research in visual art across the school and Culture Lab, stressing the connectivity of the different areas of our research. Across all of these themes, we are concerned with generating research that extends traditional Visual Art practice through the exchange of specialist knowledge with other subject areas. This aim is also supported through conferences, seminars and other events such as Connecting Principle. We aspire to enrich research territory with work that tests established boundaries and methodologies.
We are proud of the international profiles of our staff, who have created cutting-edge exhibitions, events, installations, videos, films and publications. A selection of these projects, along with the projects of our recently-completed and current Research Students, can be seen on the following pages using the navigation menu on the left (or above on mobile devices).