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Art & Design Research Studentships 2015
Deadline: 5th June 2015

Art & Design Research Degree Studentships 2015

School Contact: Professor Anne Massey, 0208 4115 331 Email: a.massey[a]mdx.ac.uk

The School welcomes applications in the following areas:


1.  Art Practice as Investigation

We are seeking a broad range of proposals where the research investigation is conducted through fine art practice.  We are particularly interested in those that reflect upon the nature of artists’ processes and research methods, and examine the relationship between thinking and making. These proposals may develop and demonstrate new and established forms of documenting and archiving artists’ processes and statements. Proposals may emerge from all fine art media and subjects including, but not restricted to: painting; photography; drawing; fine art pedagogy; collaborative practice; writing within visual art as well as all other fine art mediums and subjects.

Contact: Professor Rebecca Fortnum - R.Fortnum[at]mdx.ac.uk


2.   CREATE/Feminisms

This research cluster extends the paradigmatic work begun by Middlesex’s Visual Culture group. A mix of practice-led and text-based staff provide a distinctive critical mass for feminist research. Doctoral supervisors come from all parts of the School, and include artists, designers, critics, historians and journal editors (including n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal), all engaged with contemporary histories and analysis.  We seek proposals which articulate with the history and practice of feminist art. This could include, but is not limited to, research on Black women artists, UK histories, studies of particular practitioners or writers, and projects which explore theoretic and discipline-specific areas, such as critical theory, psychoanalysis , social practice and globalisation.

Contact: Professor Hilary Robinson - h.robinson[at]mdx.ac.uk


3.   Architecture, Design and Urban Cultures

This research cluster takes an interdisciplinary approach to architectural and spatial design and explores the diversity of human experience of the built form. The cluster includes a vibrant community of researchers working on topics related to cultural heritage. Wherever possible we encourage collaboration with museums, galleries and other heritage organisations. Current projects include work with ICA, Sir John Soane's Museum, and the National Maritime Museum. Members’ work on urban space includes collaborative projects with the Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara, the Sorbonne and Tianjin University. This Cluster has links in Japan, The Netherlands, South Korea, Canada and USA with research in/on postcolonial cities, post-industrial re-use, creative cities, branding, place-making and mega-events.  We welcome proposals that address topics in architectural history, cultural heritage and/or urban cultures in Europe or beyond from the eighteenth century to the present day. We welcome comparative archivally based studies, as well as those with a theoretical focus.

Contact: Professor Dana Arnold - d.arnold[at]mdx.ac.uk


4.   Diasporas

This research cluster builds upon the paradigmatic work at Middlesex of, for example, Lola Young, Baroness Young of Hornsey and Kobena Mercer, now at Yale University. It also has close alliances with the Visual Culture and Curating Research Cluster. We particularly welcome proposals that engage with our key curatorial and archival projects: the BLK Arts project, re-examining the movement of the 1980s; the Black Arts and Modernism project, challenging the prevailing narratives of twentieth century art; and contemporary Chinese visual culture in British and wider contexts.

Contact:  Dr susan lok - s.lok[at]mdx.ac.uk


5.   Electronic and Digital Arts

Members of this practice- and text-led research cluster facilitate and develop interdisciplinary approaches and creative works in sonic arts, music, still and moving image, illustration, animation and games. Research is based in aesthetic, historical and humanitarian methodologies and theories and includes interests in experimentation, (non-) narrative form, interactivity, intermediality and archival-based projects. The cluster contact is Editor of animation: an interdisciplinary journal. The cluster has links with national and international NGOs, media, HEIs, museums, subject associations and festivals, for example Amnesty International, The Guardian, The Occupied Times, the Ars Electronica Center, Music and Sonic Arts Symposia (MuSA), and the Museum of Design Zurich. The Lansdowne Centre for Electronic Arts is shared with the School of Media and Performing Arts (MPA).

We welcome proposals in the following areas:

Project title: UK Independent Animation: The Dick Arnall Collection

Dick Arnall (1944-2007) was a champion of non-conventional, experimental animation filmmaking who produced over 70 independent films though his company Finetake in collaboration with Channel 4 and the Arts Council animate! scheme. The project is an opportunity to develop a doctorate around Arnall's legacy and the company’s history, film politics, production methods, in the UK and beyond. Research would include metadata research and evaluation of over 30 boxes of materials from Arnall's Archive located in the School of Art and Design (production reports, artwork, media, correspondence, international and multilingual ephemera). The project has conceptual links with the John Landsdowne Archive also located at Middlesex University, and it is affiliated with the Electronic and Digital Arts Research Cluster.

Project title: Animation in Mixed Media, Performance, and Installation

This studentship offers the opportunity to explore and contribute to interdisciplinary theory and practice of animation as a central component in mixed media art, performance, exhibitions, urban projections and installation art. It encourages a notably wide conception of digital and analogue animation as moving image form that can experienced on a range of platforms and screens, such as live theatre stages, architectural façades or portable screens and online. Themes and related disciplines include public art, dance, and theatre, the performative, cultural politics and visual narrative. Projects can be text- and/or practice-led, and can have a curatorial component.

Contact: Professor Suzanne Buchan - s.buchan[at]mdx.ac.uk


6.   Socially Engaged Practice

This cluster draws on longitudinal environmental art and design, major socially-engaged work and citizen-led social arts innovation in the UK and internationally. Members are integral to the ongoing AHRC Connected Communities project: Hydrocitizenship under the Communities, Cultures, Environments and Sustainability programme. Others work with inner-city communities on social housing, urban design, and crime and community safety. We invite proposals which engage with socially-and community engaged practice in art and design. The student will join a vibrant,  multi-disclipinary research network of universities and collaborating institutions, developing creative arts and humanities approaches to situated environmental and sustainable development. The Middlesex research team leads a case study in the Lower Lee Valley, including the Olympic and Lee Valley Parks, offering opportunity for intensive fieldwork.

We welcome proposals in the following area:

Project Title: Mega Events

The use of mega or hallmark special events such as EXPOs, Olympics, and international cultural and sporting events to build identities, (re)brand a city and accelerate area-based regeneration and city extensions is a universal phenomenon. This is evident in summer Olympics in Athens, Beijing, London, Rio; EXPOs in Milan and Shanghai; and European Capitals of Culture. The role of the arts and design in both celebrating and in political resistance movements and activism is the topic for this studentship. This will range from the extent to which inclusive design is evident in event facility, location and planning; the legacy use of facilities and the contrast between new-build and re-use of event facilities; to the role of artists and cultural organisations in cultural programmes and in opposition movements to resist the displacement and gentrification effects associated with these major events. Middlesex University hosts the RSA’s Mega-Events Research Network and seminar series and the student will benefit from this international network resource. The research is likely to focus on specific mega-event case studies and their legacy, as well as comparative/historical analysis.

Contact: Professor Graeme Evans - g.evans[at]mdx.ac.uk


7.   Visual Culture and Curating

The Visual Culture and Curating Research Cluster builds on the legacy of visual culture at Middlesex. This interdisciplinary inquiry considers fine art, design, film and photography within a broad critical and political context.  Staff within the cluster are concerned with all aspects of the visual, and continue to produce internationally renowned work in published and exhibition form; our practice is curating and writing. We work in collaboration with a range of museums, galleries and arts organisations. Current collaborations include projects with the Photographers’ Gallery, ICA, Hatton Gallery, Tate and the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg. We are currently seeking a research student to work with the Delfina Foundation.

We welcome proposals in the following area:

Project Title: The Delfina Foundation: Design, Networks, Space

This research project seeks to explore a network-based approach beyond art history and exhibition studies, to capture the networks of influence and inspiration, which characterizes the contemporary and recent creative industries. Making the invisible visible, the aim is to extend existing research beyond the accepted parameters of the art-work and the artist. Therefore, a doctoral student working with the approaches of design studies and network theory would gain from being part of this collaborative project, and be able to work with the Delfina Foundation to make visible its own narrative.

In 2013, Delfina Foundation expanded its premises in Victoria into an adjacent property, doubling the number of residencies as well as the size of its library and exhibition spaces. Working collaboratively with Studio Octopi in London and Shahira Fahmy Architects in Cairo, the redevelopment sought to highlight the driving ethos of the Foundation to provide meaningful and multi-layered cultural exchange to its inhabitants, but also exposed some of the hidden weaknesses within the organization.

The expansion unearthed what had become the closure of knowledge that previous individualized studio spaces had retained. The decision to open up the spaces of the building to collective dialogue has literally changed the flow and retention of creative knowledge within the network.

Contact: Professor Anne Massey - a.massey[at]mdx.ac.uk


General Guidance: Applicants should submit an outline research proposal (max. 2 sides A4 including references plus illustrations, if appropriate) within the broad theme, explaining their interest in this topic. Applicants should have a good first degree (minimum 2.1) in an arts or social science discipline and preferably a Masters degree and post-qualification experience in a related field.

The bursaries re offered on a full-time basis to EU/UK and overseas applicants and cover a maintenance award and fee payments (at the UK/EU rate, currently £14,057 and £4,052 respectively*). The Scholarships are for three years, subject to satisfactory progress. The level of the maintenance element of the Scholarships is linked to the level of corresponding awards made by UK research councils and is subject to regular review. The studentship bursaries are free of both tax and national insurance contributions.

In addition to work on the doctoral research project, successful applicants will be expected to contribute to associated activities within the School.

* International Applicants will be required to cover the difference between the UK/EU and International Student fee (currently £6448pa).


Applicants must have a minimum of a first or an upper second class honours degree or equivalent, and preferably a good Masters degree, in a relevant area. If your first language is not English, you should have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in each component).

How to apply

To apply for a research studentship, please download the application form.

General enquiries to: studentship.research@mdx.ac.uk or call 0208 411 5739/ 0208 411 3422

The deadline for applications is 5th June 2015 and interviews will be held in June/July 2015.