Art and design, visual and material culture research
Explore our research expertise in histories and theories of art and design, visual and material culture
Our research locates the historical and contemporary production and consumption of art, design, visual and material culture in wider social, cultural, political and economic contexts. We explore how the meanings of artefacts are not just fixed at the point of production — they change through time, having multiple and sometimes conflicting meanings. We have a particular interest in curation and exhibitions.
Our research covers the following topics
- Visualising history
- US and UK popular culture
- Cultures of collecting
- Curatorship and curatorial practice
- Spectacle and display
- Domestic design
- History of the home
- House histories
Methods and facilities
We use qualitative research techniques, such as ethnography, visual
and textual analysis. We also use practice and theoretical research in curation.
Our primary research is conducted in museums, galleries and archives on historical artefacts and related documentation.
We have facilities to explore practical experimentation and prototyping – these include the Eldon Production Centre (EPC) with 3D printers, plastic, wood and metal workshop, digital fabric printers, screen printing workshops with letter press and photography studio. We also have access to facilities in CCIXR.
Collaborations and funders
We've worked with the Wellcome Trust, the V&A museum and others to curate exhibitions using their large collections. We're supervising Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships with the Science Museum and Portsmouth City Museum and Art Gallery and previously with Hampton Court Palace.
The Wellcome Collection’s exhibition ‘Brains: The Mind as Matter’, was directly informed by our research and the curatorial practice of guest curator, Dr. Marius Kwint. Marcus also co-curated the acclaimed Biennale collateral event ‘Frontiers Re-Imagined: Art that Connects Us’.
Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan is series consultant and onscreen expert to the BBC Two documentary series, ‘A House Through Time’ (Twenty Twenty Television).
Recent funders for our work include the AHRC, British Academy, Paul Mellon Centre, Ruskin University, the Film Hub SouthEast and the Henry Moore Foundation. We've also been involved with EU funded projects.
Recent project highlights include
- Oliver Gruner, Gutter politics: graphic novels in the age of Trump
- Oliver Gruner, Visions of the past: the graphic design student as historian
- Simon Hobbs, 'Everything's a pound here, come and 'ave a look': fandom and the car boot sale
- Marius Kwint, Imagining the Brain: Six artists explore the inner workings of the brain
- Deborah Sugg Ryan, Trading Spaces
Discover our areas of expertise
Fashion, textiles and material futures
Our fashion, textiles and material futures research is addressing important issues around fashion and textile design and its associated industries.
Graphic and communication design
Our research is looking at the history of design, and ethnographic studies in relation to design, design usability, legibility studies, design knowledge, and epistemology.
Illustration, Drawing, Artists Books and Zines
Our research explores how self-publishing can allow a more diverse range of authors to communicate with an audience and investigates authorial illustration as an emerging genre.
We're using the photographic image in its expanded field as an investigative tool. Our research explores photography as a medium, and investigates how photographic practices shape individual subjectivity and modernity.