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. This collection is licenced under a Creative Commons licence. The collection may be reproduced for non-commerical use and without modification, providing that copyright is acknowledged.

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Recent Submissions

  • Rhyl Caravan Parks

    Clarke, Stephen; University of Chester (Café Royal Books, 2015-06-04)
    Rhyl Caravan Parks was published by Café Royal Books in an edition of 150 in 2015, and was reprinted in 2020 in an edition of 250. It was edited by Craig Atkinson, founder of Café Royal Books. Rhyl Caravan Parks is one of Clarke’s four CRB publications dedicated to the topic of the seaside town of Rhyl, North Wales and is part of Clarke's larger project that documented family holidays in Rhyl. This photobook was published to coincide with Clarke’s exhibition End of the Season at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester. The black&white photographs record the caravan parks of Towyn situated west of Rhyl’s seaside resort. This CRB also marks Clarke's early exploration of his photographic archive that dates from the early 1980s.
  • Rhyl

    Clarke, Stephen; University of Chester (Café Royal Books, 2020-10-08)
    Rhyl was published by Café Royal Books in an edition of 250 in October 2020. It was edited by Craig Atkinson, founder of Café Royal Books. Rhyl is the last of Clarke’s four CRB publications dedicated to the topic of the seaside town in North Wales and was released to coincide with the reprinting of Clarke’s three other CRB books on Rhyl. Clarke's larger project focused on his paper archive of family holidays in North Wales. This photobook of black&white photographs shows Rhyl’s promenade and fairground.
  • Café Royal Books

    Clarke, Stephen; Atkinson, Craig; University of Chester
    An exhibition of the first 600 photobooks published by the independent publisher Café Royal Books. Café Royal Books is "dedicated to post-war photography from Britain and Ireland with a particular interest in unseen or overlooked work" (Stills). This exhibition at Stills: Centre for Photography in Edinburgh is an expanded version of the show Café Royal Books: Documentary, Zines and Subversion, held at the Martin Parr Foundation, Bristol in 2022. The 600 books exhibited will be added to the Stills Reference Library for public access. Clarke's contribution in the exhibition: twelve books and two prints.
  • Rhyl Seafront

    Clarke, Stephen; University of Chester (Café Royal Books, 2015-04-02)
    Rhyl Seafront was published by Café Royal Books in an edition of 150 in 2015, and was reprinted in 2020 in an edition of 250. It was edited by Craig Atkinson, founder of Café Royal Books. Rhyl Seafront is one of four Café Royal Books dedicated to the topic of the seaside town of Rhyl, North Wales and is part of Clarke's larger project that documented family holidays in Rhyl. The publication of this photobook coincided with the opening of Clarke’s exhibition, End of the Season, at the Grosvenor Museum, Chester. The black&white photographs record the architecture and features of this popular promenade prior to its total redevelopment.
  • Ocean Beach Rhyl

    Clarke, Stephen; University of Chester (Café Royal Books, 2014-06)
    Ocean Beach Rhyl was published by Café Royal Books in an edition of 150 in 2014, and was edited by Craig Atkinson, founder of Café Royal Books. It was reprinted in 2020 in an edition of 250. Ocean Beach Rhyl is one of four Café Royal Books by Clarke dedicated to the topic of the seaside town of Rhyl, North Wales and is part of Clarke's larger project that documented family holidays in Rhyl. It also marks the beginning of Clarke's exploration of his photographic archive that dates from the early 1980s. The subject is the fairground Ocean Beach, a major attraction at the seaside resort, which opened in 1954 and was demolished in 2007.
  • Arcade Britannia

    Clarke, Stephen; Ball, Rob; Meades, Alan; University of Chester; Canterbury Christ Church University
    An exhibition looking at the amusement arcade in British popular culture. It was proposed by Dr Alan Meades (Canterbury Christ Church University), author of a history of the British arcade from the 1800s to the present: Arcade Britannia (2022, MIT Press). The exhibition was developed by Alan Meades, Rob Ball (Canterbury Christ Church University) and Stephen Clarke. Clarke contributed twenty black&white photographs taken in the 1980s and 1990s of the seaside resorts of Blackpool and Rhyl. These photographs are part of his ongoing project about the British seaside. Many of the prints included were being exhibited for the first time; some works had been previously published by Café Royal Books.
  • Ilan Manouach’s 'Abrégé de bande dessinée franco-belge': ontography and the past and future of stories

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester
    This chapter will consider Manouach’s own explanation of the genesis of Abrégé de bande dessinée franco-belge (2018) in theorisations of cross-media visual correspondence systems (Bogost 2012), utilising the concept of the ontograph, or “a graphical […] representation that provides concise and detailed information about the units and the ways they relate with each other in a particular situation” (Manouach 2019: np). Instumentalising this concept, as a method of production, Abrégé tests a general hypothesis derived from Jean-Christoph Menu's 2005 polemical analysis of mainstream commercial bande dessinée. The chapter will interrogate this idea – and Manouach’s methods for producing the book – in terms of a range of related concepts: first, the use of social conventions as productive constraints, according to Jan Baetens' proposal that "“the study of constrained writing should no longer be restricted to the study of internal constraints in high-cultural texts that are detached from their cultural and historical context" (2010:76). Second, what Crucifix calls “undrawing”, or the disruption of “the relationship between drawing and storytelling to refocus attention on the social and political economy of the drawn image” (Crucifix 2019:7). Third, collage, as a method of interrogation or resistance (Brockelman 2011) and, finally, Wilde’s theorisation of characters without storyworlds, or kyara (Wilde 2019). The chapter will conclude that Abrégé de bande dessinée franco-belge accumulates redacted and arranged fragments, of which readers have memories that appear stylistically and discursively similar. These memories establish an identity for Manouache’s sources by identifying storyworlds, rather than stories. Then the storyworld not only includes the causes and consequences of the object of depiction, that is, its past and future, but also the pasts and futures of the ideas that the reader employs to make sense of the image.
  • Marie Duval: The methods and politics of attribution.

    Grennan, Simon; Sabin, Roger; Waite, Julian; University of Chester; Central Saint Martin UAL (Manchester University Press, 2023-05-16)
    Visual journalist and actress Marie Duval (Isabella Emily Louisa Tessier 1847–90) was one of the most unusual, pioneering and visionary cartoonists of the later nineteenth-century. Her work focused on the humour, attitudes, urbanity and poverty of the types of people she knew, in a period of diversifying leisure activities for working people. Frequently importing the ethics, habits and practices of the theatre into the periodical press, Duval’s work distributed marginalised ideas (such as a woman employing masculine humour, or feminising employment in the print industries), to a wide, eager and heterogenous readership, increasingly rendering these ideas and types of behaviour unremarkable, habitual and quotidian (Grennan, Sabin and Waite 2020: 1–13). This chapter will outline Duval’s achievement as a visual journalist and the ways in which her work continued to be obscured, stolen and erased, through phases of denial, misuse, exclusion and neglect, since the 1880s (Dalziel and Dalziel 1901: 320, Boswell Jnr 1922: 11, Dalziel 1927: 10, Ray 1976, Barr 1986, King, Easley and Morton 2017, Gale NewsVault 2020, British Library Catalogue 2020). It will describe the specific problems that the mechanisms of this obfuscation and erasure continue to create, for attribution of both signed and unsigned work by Duval, most recently due to a lack of attribution in the metadata of digitised collections. The chapter will then consider the range of methods of attribution that the authors employed and developed, in order to classify items in The Marie Duval Archive (Grennan, Sabin and Waite 2015). Referring to methods in diplomatics, connoisseurship and visual stylistics, the chapter will evaluate the authors’ process of collating empirical evidence, commentary, and stylistic analysis, in attributing work to Duval (Cencetti 1939, Munro 1946, Ventrella 2017, Morelli 1880, Bal 2003, Rose 2012, Munsterberg 2009, Meyer 1987, Forceville, El Refaie and Meesters 2013). Examples of these methods and rationales will be interrogated in a small number of comparative case studies of attribution, including a case of misattribution (Lodge 2019: 212–5). The chapter will propose that attribution and the lack of attribution have significant political dimensions, deriving from the exclusion of information from the development of a canon or from the foundational learning tool provided by any agreed condition of current knowledge. For example, over a century and a half, the invisibility of Duval’s work can be accounted for by the repetition of teaching and learning about a canon to which her work has never belonged (Grennan 2018). Finally, the chapter will argue that his political dimension is often gendered, by default. The achievements, innovations, impact and significance of women’s work is diminished, obscured or lost, again and again, through exclusion from the record by lack of attribution. Its present-time status is diminished or erased and history is recurrently distorted.
  • Comics Drawing: A (Poly)Graphic History

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2023-08-31)
    This chapter contextualises narrative drawing, first identifying types of drawing that are specific to comics. It proposes that the comics medium intervenes in the long history of drawing, by introducing polygraphy as a recurrent feature of comics. Referring to Bakhtin’s concept of polyphony (or multiple voices) in the novel, polygraphy accounts for the techniques of accumulating diverse graphic indices of the labour and ideas of drafters and comics producers and distributors. The chapter shows how polygraphy produces comics, considering the work of William Hogarth, Katsushika Hokusai, Rodolphe Töpffer, Marie Duval, George Herriman, Winsor McCay and Osamu Tezuka. Through this cast of creators, the chapter also foregrounds important moments in comics history such as the boom in periodical print in the nineteenth century, the influence of acting and performance practices and later movie. This chapter equips readers with the necessary tools to understand the fundamental means of visualising stories in comics – drawing – and offers a comics history contextualized through relevant developments in popular visual and print culture.
  • Drawing from life model and recitation of the Rosary: ​​The importance of repetition for embodied practice

    McGuirk, Tom; University of Chester (Revue Proteus, 2022-11-30)
    Repetition and ritual are shared aspects of two very different activities: life drawing and saying the Rosary. Both activities require entry into a quasi-meditative state which is facilitated through a disengagement from thought patterns and cognitive models that are valorised within Western culture, particularly within higher education. This text adopts a somatic approach to examining these phenomena, one that repudiates the dualistic Cartesian epistemological model that emphasises the separation of subject and object, to favour a situated, embodied, engaged, and concerned model. This paradigm, as Critchley (in the text) explains, is one whereby "[ones] being and that of the world are not distinguished for the most part." Saying the Rosary and life drawing bring about states where the inherent isolation of Cartesian subject-object dualism yields to a radical situated-ness, characterised by "focused attention", "open monitoring" and "automatic self-transcending." In such states the quality of our epistemic engagement with the environment, as embodied, situated and engaged agents is greatly enriched. French Version: La répétition et le rituel sont des aspects communs à deux activités très différentes : le dessin d’après modèle vivant et la récitation du Rosaire. Toutes deux nécessitent d’entrer dans un état quasi méditatif, plus facile à atteindre si l’on se détache des structures de pensée et des modèles cognitifs valorisés dans la culture occidentale et en particulier dans le secteur de l’enseignement supérieur. Ce texte adopte une approche somatique pour examiner ces phénomènes, une approche qui délaisse le modèle épistémologique du dualisme cartésien mettant en exergue la séparation entre sujet et objet en faveur d’un modèle situé, incarné, engagé et concerné. C’est un paradigme selon lequel, ainsi que Critchley l’explique (dans le texte), « [notre propre] être et celui du monde ne sont pas différenciés pour l’essentiel ». La récitation du Rosaire et le dessin d’après modèle vivant font naître des états dans lesquels l’isolement inhérent au dualisme sujet-objet cartésien cède la place à une mise en situation radicale, caractérisée par une « attention focalisée », une « observation ouverte » et une « auto-transcendance automatique ». Dans de tels états, la qualité de notre engagement épistémique avec l’environnement, dans notre rôle d’agents incarnés, situés et engagés, est grandement enrichie.
  • Dishes of Rotherham

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester
    Cooking, dishing up and eating together might appear to be ordinary activities. Across every time and culture, they are also important community activities, providing identity, skills, a sense of connectedness, tradition and mental as well as physical well-being. In the 1820s, 1830s and 1840s, one of the most famous and spectacular ways to dish up was provided by the porcelain tableware made by the Rockingham Pottery in Rotherham. The Rockingham Works made some of the most colourful, exuberant, lavish and expensive tableware available at the time, for a national and international clientele. This book brings together food made by 10 cooks from contemporary Rotherham and some of the Rockingham tableware from Rotherham Museums, Arts and Heritage collection. The cooks come from different cooking traditions, including Pakistani, Sudanese, Guinean, Ukrainian, Czech, Yemeni, Malaysian and British. Each cook visited the Museum, chose an item of Rockingham tableware, and then cooked and styled their dishes to be served on the Rockingham items themselves. Professor Simon Grennan organised the dishing up and worked with each cook and with photographer Sally Robinson to spectacularly style their food and dish it up on the Rockingham. Stills from a new film by David Sánchez Marín about the making of these displays appear alongside Sally’s photographs of the cooks' food. Portraits of each cook, drawn by Simon, recipes and personal stories from the cooks complete the work.
  • At the Painting’s Edge: A Practice-Based Investigation into Liminality, Inside-outness and the Painting as a Quasi Person

    McGuirk, Tom; Robinson, Wayne (University of Chester, 2022-01-08)
    This research project is driven by a motivation to better understand the effect of painting’s internal and external space when interrupted by objects placed at its periphery. The research consists of two strands of exploration. Firstly, through the practice of painting and secondly, through theoretical research in support of that painting practice. By moving between painting and writing, it examines how phenomena such as the act of making, memory and object-agency can coalesce to form complex, new objects. The project places to the fore the importance of hand making and acknowledges how handmaking is central to the creative process of the painter, whilst engaging with how the presentation of the resultant work affects the generation and transmission of meaning. Another strand of this investigation calls upon how the evocation through practice and acts of remembering and forgetting can communicate autobiographical experience, to form dialogic relationships, via the making process. This is a circular process involving myself as maker, the painted picture plane, placed objects and the viewer. It also explores how painting embodies memorised data within its materiality and is additionally provoked by the effect of ‘trigger objects’. In addition, the thesis addresses how the painting object becomes imbued with the artist’s intention and how the mnemonic faculties of the human mind are prompted by sub-semiotic signs contained within the material of the picture plane, to generate the attributes of a ‘quasi-person’ (Graw, 2018). How this occurs and interacts with the picture plane, contributing to the painting’s status as a ‘subjectobject’ (Joselit, 2016) and the production of intended and unintended meaning (Alexander, 2010) is also considered. Through the practice of painting, the research explores how dialogue is formed between placed objects and the painted picture plane, and how objects of personal interest can in turn, steer subliminal conversation and how they thereby metaphorically ‘reach out’ and commune with the audience (Gell, 1998). Finally, the research interrogates the external edges of the picture plane, understood in terms of the parergon (Derrida, 1987) and the otherness of heterotopian spaces (Foucault, 1967). Such spaces share common characteristics of transition, uncertainty, between-ness and unknown-ness, all encountered at the periphery of the painting, the place where internal and external dynamics meet. This research encourages the viewer to adopt new viewing strategies, proposing this less certain space to be a desirable location in which to take the time to pause and consider.
  • The Plotlands: Improvised Housing in Coastal Britain

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester
    The Plotlands Archive is an online photographic database recording unconventional houses and chalets and their vernacular construction methods. Originally built during the interwar period and those which have since been adapted and modified. Situated on coastal strips and in river valleys, few estates from that period still remain. The archive is a celebration of resourcefulness, creativity and character, recording the many unique materials used and vernacular design largely unseen within urban housing developments. The archive has been developed by Tim over a thirty-year period, recording many buildings no longer standing and some which have been since renovated beyond recognition. The database provides searchable access to houses by construction materials used, type of building and even colour. Locations include Humberston Fitties, The Brooklands Estate at Jaywick Sands, The Bel Air Estate at Seawick, Leysdown on Sea, Almere Ferry on the River Dee and Eccles-on-Sea, Norfolk.
  • The Plotlands Archive: Visualising a personal image archive with open-source Piwigo.

    Daly, Tim; University of Chester
    Accessing visual resources online is a mediated experience shaped by search engine and image sharing algorithms, or via the individual agendas of closed, curated collections. Using my own Plotlands Archive as a case study, this paper outlines an alternative strategy for creating a user-generated, searchable online image archive. Without the clandestine algorithms of popular image hosting and sharing environments, the free and open-source Piwigo is an accessible and code-free way to create a visual archive. The Plotlands Archive website presents a searchable database of photographs of unconventional houses and chalets and their vernacular construction methods originally built during the interwar period and those which have since been adapted and modified. The archive is a celebration of resourcefulness, recording unique materials and designs largely unseen within urban housing developments. The database provides searchable keyword access to houses by location, material and construction type - each returning a unique, screen-based typology.
  • To See and be Seen: What can a woman do with a camera (phone)?

    Piper-Wright, Tracy; University of Chester
    This paper investigates how women can be empowered as photographers and visual storytellers and gain greater representation in visual culture. By analysing two historically divergent feminist photography projects, this paper argues that women’s diverse authorial perspectives are enabled by combining theory and practice in the formation of a critical counter-visuality and a process of self-realisation. The paper explores how women enact their visual resistance through the interrelated processes of seeing and being seen and draws on Jo Spence’s critical visual practice to explore photography that subverts expectations and creates opportunities for alternative modes of representation. Applying Spence’s key deconstructive tools of making visible and narrating the image, the paper maps out ways in which education and collective agency create the conditions for women’s participation and influence within photography.
  • Drawing Blood, Drawing Poison, Drawing Fire

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester
    The 20 new online animations and 8 workshops were inspired by an 1878 book in Gladstone’s Library: "Gladstone from Judy'’s point of view, from the last ten years". The book collects cartoons satirising liberal political opinion from the pages of conservative magazine Judy. The programme made use of these cartoons as starting points. The artworks and 8 workshops used public debate about hot topics in the 1870s to provide insights into the tone and topics of public debate today: workshop participants learned to draw cartoons considering issues of race, gender, sexuality, class and colonialism, seen through the lens of Victorian cartoons. The online exhibition and workshop programme was delivered with a new partnership of 9 institutions, on phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. Creative Arts Space Chester (CASC) and Gladstone’s Library hosted the online animations. Practical online workshops were provided for users of 8 local libraries in areas of marginal deprivation (20%–40% of average), where cultural funding is low (Broughton, Buckley, Mold, Deeside, Connah’s Quay, Holywell and Flint Libraries and Gladstone’s). The programme improved access to cultural activities for teenagers and older people; established an online community; developed the artist’s practice and provided practical training in drawing and thinking about personal and historic experiences. The project supported the emerging online programme at all of the libraries. The exhibition remains online.
  • Key Terms in Comics Studies_Cover Illustration

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester
    Cover image for the book 'Key Terms in Comics Studies'.
  • Book Review: Rebirth of the English Comic Strip: A Kaleidoscope 1847 – 1870.

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester
    Review of "Rebirth of the English Comic Strip: A Kaleidoscope 1847 – 1870." by David Kunzle.
  • A Practice-Based Approach to Defining Maximalism

    Liggett, Susan; Osanlou, Ardeshir; Jones, Paul; Pioaru, Ioana (University of ChesterWrexham Glyndwr University, 2021-02)
    This practice-based Ph.D. is an exploration of the concept of maximalism in the field of visual arts. Previous studies of maximalism in disciplines such as literature and architecture signalled a lack of rigor surrounding the use of the term maximalism with regard to various cultural productions. In addition, the relative scarcity of works addressing maximalism in visual art drove the development of this research, which aims to clarify the definition of maximalism through the practice of art. Through critical interrogation, the body of work developed within this project revealed insights into the nature of artistic maximalism. During the development of the project, a methodological research gap was identified as the absence of a set of procedures enabling the understanding and use of the concept of maximalism. To address this methodological gap, a theoretical framework describing maximalism in terms of formal parameters was constructed. Maximalism was investigated through the exploration of a variety of new and traditional media: holography, virtual reality (VR) artmaking, 3D printing, printmaking and drawing. The study revealed the intrinsically maximalist nature of holography in conjunction with VR artmaking. VR holography, a new art form resulting from this research, expands physical space by using a flat surface to render potentially infinite 3D content. It also connects the realms of the virtual and the real. Other forms of artistic maximalism revealed by this study include: the expansion of the space of art through para-artistic devices, intensity maximalism explored through miniature drawing, chromatic maximalism, durational maximalism and narrative maximalism. Maximalism as an artistic practice reflects an engagement of the artist in a continual process of becoming, as a method to access and explore new tools for artistic expression. The main contribution of the research is a twofold definition of maximalism. On the one hand, maximalism is defined as a mode of artistic expression intrinsic to the artwork, a definition which lends itself to a type of art analysis partially grounded in formalism. On the other hand, maximalism is proposed as a characteristic of the process of artmaking, referring to a strategy which the artist employs as a means of decentralising the artistic self. Investigating these forms of maximalism showed the potential usefulness, to art theory and criticism, of a theory of maximalism based on aesthetic formalism. The clarification of the concept of maximalism constitutes a contribution to the vocabulary and discourse of art.
  • Key Terms in Comics Studies: 22 Entries

    Grennan, Simon; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2022-01-04)
    22 entries in the book 'Key Terms in Comics Studies'.

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