The Department of Art and Design is based at Kingsway Buildings, Chester and offers Single Honours undergraduate programmes in Graphic Design, Fine Art and Photography. You can also study Photography, Graphic Design and Fine Art as part of a Combined Honours course. We also offer postgraduate programmes in Design and Fine Art.

Recent Submissions

  • Pragmatics of Attachment and Detachment: a Constellatory Re-inscription of Textile.

    Bristow, Maxine; University of Chester (Wiley Blackwell, 2019)
    Like no other field of cultural studies, the study of textiles renders the boundaries of academic discipline elastic, and defies geographic and chronological borders. Previously dominated by empirical methods and writing, it has come of age as a field of interdisciplinary research during the past decade. 'A Companion to Textile Culture' aims to be an innovative, lively and authoritative collection of new writing that will embrace the historical, contemporary and cultural dimensions of textiles. While anchored in the history of art and visual studies, it will bring together approaches from many different fields of scholarly research, including anthropology, archaeology, literary studies, world histories and art and design, to reflect this new, expanded field of writing about textiles and the multiple viewpoints of its specialist contributors. Essays by leading experts in this broad interdisciplinary field of study will address the current state of scholarship and point to emerging issues. (Jennifer Harris volume editor: A Companion to Textile Culture) ‘Pragmatics of Attachment and Detachment: a Constellatory Re-inscription of Textile’ sits within a section of 'A Companion to Textile Culture' entitled ‘Contemporary Textiles: Conceptual Boundaries’ which explores some of the reasons why textiles have traditionally been undervalued in histories of 20th century visual culture and the shift in cultural values that moved them from the margins to an increasingly central role. My contribution provides an artist’s perspective that draws on a body of work that emerged out of a period of practice based doctoral research entitled ‘Pragmatics of Attachment and Detachment: medium (Un)Specificity as Material Agency in Contemporary Art’. It takes as its point of departure the creative challenge of how to acknowledge situated experience and communicate the particular richness and complexity of textile’s material and semantic conventions, whilst embracing the heterogeneity and creative freedom afforded by the post-medium condition of contemporary art. In the chapter I outline a conceptual framework and series of practice strategies that revolve around a dynamic process of assimilation and differentiation. Through a new body of sculptural and installational practice, I propose a constellatory opening up of textile where medium specificity is re-inscribed in terms of material agency and the cultural ambivalence of textile is re-envisioned as a productive indeterminacy. Within this (inter)relational re-mapping of textile’s complex somatic and semantic codes and conventions, textile is seen to be a medium of convergence and divergence where hierarchical disciplinary distinctions become untenable, meaning is suggested but unable to settle and categorical divisions between subject and object are destabilised.
  • Drawing in Drag by Marie Duval

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Book Works, 2018-10-12)
    In the collection at Chetham’s Library, Manchester, is an illustrated novel, published in 1877.Titled The Story of a Honeymoon, the novel was written and illustrated by Charles H. Ross and Ambrose Clarke. It is a comic novel, cheaply produced, telling a titillating and amusing story of a marriage that goes fatally awry on the couple’s honeymoon. Thousands of novels like it were produced in the period, as part of the first boom in popular mass entertainments – fashion, organised sport, smoking, tourism, day tripping, romance, musical theatre, comics and magazines. This period saw the birth of modern urban cultures of working-class leisure exemplified by the industrial city of Manchester. The Story of a Honeymoon hides a compelling secret. Ambrose Clarke never existed. Rather, another illustrator was given cover by the invented name of Clarke. This was not unusual. Writers and journalists frequently used pseudonyms to create an idea of the author that was favourable for readers, as a way to increase the popularity of their work. But this isn’t the heart of the matter, nor is it the whole secret. The artist drawing as this fictional man was a woman, Marie Duval. She was an actress and cartoonist known for her reckless comedic drawing style. As one of only a handful of women cartoonists in a male publishing environment, her work was habitually disguised, emasculated, overwritten and stolen. After her death, her male collaborators took the opportunity to erase her from history. They almost succeeded. In 2017, Simon Grennan identified Duval’s work in The Story of a Honeymoon for the first time. Grennan has been instrumental in bringing Duval’s work back to public view. He is co-author of the Marie Duval Archive online and publishes widely on her work. He was energized and excited, as well as dismayed, to discover that Duval is still catalogued under her male pseudonym after all this time. On stage, Duval was popular for performing as a leading man, in crossed-dressed roles. This re-gendering was overt, a conscious performance ‘as a man’ by a woman, rather than hidden under a male identity as the cartoons were. The Victorian era, created and reinforced many societal expectations, including the performance of gender. These boundaries and the play that they encouraged, particularly in the sphere of entertainment, has a legacy and impact today in current re-evaluations of conservative gender roles with queer explorations and gender fluidity. Grennan explores this historical legacy through his contemporary Duvallian drawings. In Drawing in Drag by Marie Duval Grennan focuses on the manners and habits of twenty-first century mass leisure culture, plus its roots in the great cities of the nineteenth century. He adopts the pseudonym Marie Duval, producing drawings in drag, as a woman.
  • The value of uncertainty: The photographic error as embodied knowledge

    Piper-Wright, Tracy; University of Chester (2018-03-26)
    These days we rarely encounter photographs that have gone wrong: images that are blurred, out of focus, over or under exposed or just plain failed. But our failure to think about failure is having a detrimental impact on our relationship with photography and how we interpret photographic truth and meaning. A consequence of removing errors from the prevailing image culture is that accuracy and resemblance become the predominant visual signifiers of the photographs we see on a daily basis. Accurate photographs seem to depict things ‘as they are’, and to provide a transparent gateway to real events. These neutral, authorless photographs become the basis for an image economy where the tyranny of post-truth claims can take hold. Without a concept of photography as an embodied activity involving human decision making and the limitations of technology, the resulting image becomes the sole locus of attention for the truth claims about what it depicts. Photographic errors are important because they present us with evidence of the contingency of the photograph, breaking the spell of neutrality and reasserting human/technical relationship in the creation of the image. The proposed paper draws on my practice-based research project In Pursuit of Error which is a ethnographic study of the error in photographic practice. Theoretical models drawn from feminist theory, performance theory and aesthetics are used to interrogate the images and narratives collected from photographers. The error is revealed as a discontinuous but valued phenomenon which disrupts the conventions of photographic representation, and proposes the deliberate or accidental photographic error as an emergent, processual and performative act. The paper will argue that the error presents an alternative photographic epistemology from that found in contemporary visual culture: a form of ‘messy’, embodied knowledge which challenges a neutral and machine-led concept of photography in which veracity is the central signifier, proposing instead a concept of photography which acknowledges the subjectivity of the photographic ‘act-in-context’.
  • The Influence of Manga on the Graphic Novel

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2018-08-01)
    Providing a range of cogent examples, this chapter describes the influences of the Manga genre of comics strip on the Graphic Novel genre, over the last 35 years, considering the functions of domestication, foreignisation and transmedia on readers, markets and forms.
  • Inspired by Nature

    Turner, Jeremy; University of Chester (Forestry Commission, 2018-05)
    Sculptural work included in juried exhibition, 'Inspired by Nature'. Selected members of the Royal Society of Sculptors invited to exhibit at Grizedale Forest Gallery as part of a collaboration between the RSS, Forestry Commission and Forest Artworks.
  • Death returned her to rags - Fzkke Gallery

    Dilworth, Alexe; University of Chester (2016-07-08)
    'Death returned her to rags' is a solo exhibition installed at the Fzkke Gallery, Euskirchen, Germany. It features a substantial body of work investigated through photography, print, sculpture and site-specific interventions. The work explores both the physical and mythological resonances within remote rural landscapes. The date of the show was from 8th July 2016 - 21st of August 2016.
  • The ‘Epistemic Object’ in the Creative Process of Doctoral Inquiry

    Gray, Carole; Malins, Julian; Bristow, Maxine; University of Chester (Intellect Ltd., 2018-12)
    Within the framework of practice-led doctoral research in the art and design sector, there has long been debate about the role of the artefact/creative works in the process of inquiry and in the final submission for Ph.D. examination. Their status can be ambiguous and the concept of ‘exhibition’ is – we would argue – problematic in this context. In this chapter we want to suggest an alternative way of considering the role of artefacts/creative works in a doctoral submission, by discussing the liberating concept of ‘epistemic objects’ – their possible forms and agencies, and the alternative display/sharing of the understandings generated from these through ‘exposition’ not exhibition. Whilst our experience and expertise lies within the sector of art and design, we suggest that some ideas in this chapter may resonate and be relevant to other creative disciplines in the revealing and sharing of doctoral research outcomes. This process can be difficult and provoke many anxieties for the practitioner-researcher and their supervisors, so some clarity on this might help everyone involved in the examination of doctoral work to approach it with integrity and confidence, and see it as a valuable learning experience for all involved.
  • The Marie Duval Archive: Memory and the Development of the Comic Strip Canon

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-09-23)
    This chapter describes the creation and publishing of The Marie Duval Archive, a free online image archive which brings together the known extant work of pioneering London cartoonist and theatre actress Marie Duval (1847–1890). It discusses how analysis of the current canon of nineteenth-century comic strips influenced both the purpose of The Archive and it’s form. Considering the impact of digitisation and remote archiving on the canon, this commentary finally describes the specific relationships between archive, canon and memory that The Archive articulates, relative to the disappearance from scholarly and public view of Duval’s work, with one notable exception, since the appearance of her last drawings in the 1880s.
  • Dispossession: A Novel of Few Words

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Jonathan Cape (Vintage), 2015-09-01)
    A scholarly remediation of one of the later novels of Anthony Trollope.
  • Visuality and identity in post-millennial Indian graphic narratives, by E. Dawson Varughese. 2018. Palgrave Pivot, Palgrave, New York

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2018-07-25)
    Review of Visuality and identity in post-millennial Indian graphic narratives, by E. Dawson Varughese.
  • The Hill of Dreams: Re-evaluating literary influences in the northern landscape photography of Raymond Moore.

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester (Northern Light: Critical approaches to proximity and distance in northern landscape photography conference 2018, 2018-07-02)
    The landscape photography of Raymond Moore (1920-1987) has been contextualised as a minor footnote in the British documentary tradition of the 1970s, yet his work deserves further scrutiny. Using the author’s previously unpublished interview with the photographer recorded in the last year of his life, this paper explores Moore’s interest in literature and charts the influences that helped to shape his unique view of the north. For Moore, reading Arthur Machen’s fantasy novel The Hill of Dreams was an epiphany – yet it is hard to think of a more unlikely source of inspiration for the photographer best known for his banal, distanced and reductive view of the north. Moore was a complex artist, not given to writing about his work and one who rarely spoke about his motives. Working outside the long-term documentary project format common amongst his peers, Moore operated without a brief or a narrative intent and was sceptical about the perceived proselytising tone of his contemporaries. Instead and like Machen, Moore saw the northern landscape as a fantasy playground – a territory rich in visual banality and a space to exercise formalism and an aesthetic sensibility imprinted from an earlier career as an abstract painter. Drawn to liminal spaces and deserted edgelands and with a fascination for the nondescript, Moore was a mute chronicler of the mundane and an unacknowledged proponent of the detached observational genre so familiar today.
  • Courir deux lièvres: un roman de peu de mots

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Les Impressions Nouvelles, 2015-01-01)
    A scholarly remediation of one of the later novels of Anthony Trollope for the Francophone market.
  • Michael Sandle: Grit in the Oyster and Ideas Never Completed

    Quayle, Cian; University of Chester (Cheshire West and Cheshire Council, 2018-05-18)
    'Grit in the Oyster and Ideas Never Completed' appears in the book publication which accompanies the exhibition 'Michael Sandle - Monumental Rage' at the Grosvenor Museum, May 19 - October 7. The exhibition was curated by Peter Boughton, Keeper of Art at the Grosvenor Museum. The artworks in the exhibition were loaned by the artist and Flowers Gallery, London following their exhibition entitled 'Time, Transition, and Dissent', 22 January - 20 February, 2016. Michael Sandle is one of the leading sculptors of his generation with public artworks on display worldwide. The essay takes the form of an interview based on meetings and correspondence with Sandle, which focus on a collection of the artist's sketchbooks from 1965 onwards. Sandle's work is rooted in drawing as a medium as he continually works through ideas for sculpture, which are not completed in the sense that the themes and concerns, which the work addresses thematically, are unresolved in relation to their subject and content. The sketchbooks reveal the development of thoughts and ideas for artworks and their relationship with time, place, dream and memory. These ideas are continually reformulated in drawings and etchings, which are then made manifest in site-specific works of sculpture. The essay references significant events and influential works by other artists, writers and composers which have shaped Sandle's life and work. Sandle's empathy for humanity, and the injustice and catastrophic tragedy of war are also referenced in relation to Walter Benjamin's 'Theses on the Philosophy of History' (1940) via Paul Klee's drawing 'Angelus Novus'.
  • Marie Duval

    Grennan, Simon; Sabin; Waite, Julian; University of Chester, Central Saint Martins (Myriad Editions, 2018-03-22)
    General audience book presenting and analysing the work of Victorian cartoonist and actress Marie Duval.
  • Medium, knowledge, structure: capacities for choice and the contradiction of medium-specificity in games and comics.

    Grennan, Simon; Hague, Ian; University of Chester, London College of Communication (Image [&] Narrative Journal, 2018-03-01)
    Chris Ware’s Building Stories (2012) is a box containing fourteen items that can be read in any order, and for this reason it appears to offer its readers a great deal of choice over the narrative structure of the work. This paper contrasts Building Stories with the video games Fallout: New Vegas and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to demonstrate that that although Building Stories does offer choices, these choices are not ultimately meaningful because while the reader can decide the order of presentation, they cannot decide the order of events as they can in the games, and in other examples such as Marc Saporta’s novel Composition No.1. The article draws upon the work of Seymour Chatman, Gonzalo Fresca and Espen Aarseth in analysing narratives in games and texts, and concludes by considering the implications of choice in narrative.
  • Medium (un)specificity as material agency – the productive indeterminacy of matter/material

    Bristow, Maxine; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2018-03-22)
    In this article, I consider some of the debates brought to the fore by the proliferation of recent textile focused exhibitions; namely the tension between a continued allegiance to medium specific conventions and the richness, hybridity and heterogeneity afforded by the post-medium condition of contemporary art. Through a new body of sculptural and installational practice I propose a constellatory opening up of textile in which the medium specific can be (re)mapped in a fluid and fragmentary way. Drawing particular reference from Adorno’s conception of the constellation and mimetic comportment, this model of practice involves a mode of behaviour that actively opens up to alterity and returns authority to the affective indeterminacy of the sensuously bound experiential encounter. This is manifest through a range of practice strategies - “thingness”, “staged (dis)contiguity”, and the play between “sensuous immediacy and corporeal containment” - which mobilise a precarious relationship between processes of attachment and detachment. Acknowledging the critical currency afforded to textile through feminist and poststructuralist critique, the work moves away from “a rhetoric of negative opposition” and predetermined discursive frameworks, returning authority to the aesthetic impulse, privileging the ambiguous resonances of an abstract sculptural language over more overt strategies of representation.
  • Practical Projects for Photographers: Developing rich practice through context

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2018-07-01)
    The book will make explicit the benefit of linking practice skills with contextual research and knowledge. Each project will point students to well-known textual and visual contextual sources which will further develop their awareness. Unlike many titles in this subject area, this book joins together contextual underpinning and practice. In essence, both skills and contextual knowledge are embedded within each project rather than delivered as separate elements, so students effectively contextualise through practice. The projects work like a briefing document containing all the necessary information required to spark off practice ideas.
  • Restoring the Faith: Vernacular repainting of Catholic devotional statuary in Ireland.

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester (Royal Anthropological Institute/ British Museum, 2018-06-03)
    The act of repainting and retouching allows devotees to re-tell miracle stories by proxy. Layering their own vernacular narratives onto figure groups and tableaux, this act of restoration and reconstitution provides essential maintenance to the community shrine and spiritual redemption for the decorator. Catholic devotional statuary, shrines and grottoes are a widespread and familiar sight in the Irish landscape. Rather than carved from marble, many are cast from concrete, fibreglass or plaster and require ongoing maintenance from the pervasive damp climate. Using non-traditional materials such as house paint and pebbledash local church dignitary and devotees extend their personal faith by adding the sign of their own hand to familiar tableaux. Without the sculptors grasp of form and without a painters eye for symbolism, this vicarious act of creation however, show official stories retold in a local visual dialect. Whilst not the primary narrators of miracles and visions, these statues and groups are treated as blank templates ready for customisation and local interpretation.
  • No Sign of Canals on Mars: An artist's response to the illustrated travel diaries of Eileen Burke

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester (Canal & River Trust/ National Waterways Museum, 2018-03-15)
    From 1960 to 1979, Eileen Burke created 23 illustrated travel diaries with her friend Flo Boyde while touring in their car and cruising the River Lee and the River Stort with their boat, the 'Lillian Maud'. The diaries are a unique example of leisure as documented by a keen amateur photographer and artist. Inspired by these diaries, Tim Daly, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chester, has produced a book: "No Sign of Canals on Mars", which includes reproductions of Eileen Burke's watercolours, drawings and excerpts from her diary pages. The exhibition celebrates the 'thingness' of the diaries especially their handmade contents and Eileen's formidable making skills.
  • Book handling as a research method

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester (Impact Press Publications, 2018-04-11)
    How do we conceptualise touch? Unlike most visual art, touch is a fundamental aspect of interacting with artists’ books and without such a physical interaction with the artefact it is impossible to fully make sense of it. Despite this, there is no obvious syntax for us to report our experiences of handling an artists’ publication. Without handling a book, entire swathes of intertextual nuances could be missed - the deliberate material choices of the artist and the reader’s own rich experiential past never get the chance to make meaning. It can be argued that handling books provides a type of tacit knowledge that is unavailable from viewing alone. Developing a framework for reporting this haptic experience applying notions from material culture (for touch) and from literary theory (for intertextuality) together into a discourse to enrich and enhance our understanding of artists’ book works.

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