Dr Venda Louise Pollock

Venda Louise’s research examines the relationships between arts and place, particularly during periods of change. This grew out of an early concern with urban representation in the visual arts and the way in which art interacted with urban contexts, both physical and social. Informed by a period spent as a Research Fellow in Urban Cultural Regeneration within Glasgow University’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, her approach is inherently interdisciplinary and necessarily so given the nature of the spaces, places, flows and practices she interrogates. This is reflected in her writing on public art policy and practices, particularly in relation to communities and place. It has also informed her interest in urban photographic surveys, particularly those undertaken during periods of industrialization or modernization, where issues of nostalgia, narrative and memory come to the fore.

Recognising the synergy between her work and Newcastle-Gateshead’s reputation for public art practices, Venda Louise established the research platform Intersections with her colleague David Butler. Intersections seeks to link Newcastle University with the cultural sector to develop critical dialogue about public art practice, and in so doing sits alongside the Newcastle Institute for Creative Arts Practice and Newcastle Institute of Social Renewal, for which Venda Louise is the Arts & Culture theme lead.

Current Research

Increasingly, and largely due to the unique nature of Northumberland as England’s most sparsely populated County, Intersections’ dialogues have centered on issues surrounding rural arts practices. While the narratives of art and urban regeneration are well-charted and critiqued, those of the rural remain inadequately considered. Thus Venda Louise’s most recent work is both informed by and challenges her knowledge of urban practices through research which seeks to conceptualise how rural arts practices intersect with place, integral to which are ideas of temporality. She was a co-investigator on the AHRC funded Research Networking Project Inbetween: cultural regeneration in market towns and the AHRC funded Knowledge Exchange project Northumbrian Exchanges: creative community engagement in rural Northumberland from which she is now working on a body of publications. This work is developing in close collaboration with colleagues in Newcastle University’s award winning Centre for Rural Economy. This expertise at Newcastle provides an informed, interdisciplinary environment in which to carry out research into arts and rural place-making in a contemporary context with regional and national partners.

Linked to this, is a return to consideration of ideas of Northernness and Northern identity, begun as an art history undergraduate at St Andrews University through examination of Edvard Munch’s relationship with Scotland (work which recently informed the Edvard Munch: Graphic works from the Gundersen Collection exhibition at Scotland’s National Gallery of Modern Art).

Venda Louise is not, however, neglecting the urban context and has recently been awarded funding from the Henry Moore Foundation to continue her research into public art and place-making through examination of the narratives surrounding one of Glasgow’s oldest public sculptures and how these narratives have changed alongside the evolving narrative of the city itself. This brings together her research on urban representation, urban public art and urban photographic surveys.

Pedagogical Research

In addition, Venda Louise has a long-standing interest in Fine Art pedagogy, particularly related to ideas of inclusion. She is currently working on a Higher Education Academy funded project in collaboration with colleagues in Fine Art and Student Wellbeing which seeks to develop a guide to feedback for Fine Art/studio practices and from this she intends to conduct further research into practice-led PhDs.