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Material and Theoretical Practice

Research cluster leader:

Professor Fiona Hackney
Tel: +44 (0)1902 32 2656

Deputy: Dr Christian Mieves
Tel: +44(0)1902 32 8542

Material and Theoretical Practice

This group brings together researchers rooted in studio-based, creative and professional practices with the aim to explore and advance different methodological and conceptual approaches through the manipulation of material in fine art, applied arts and design, including analogue and digital approaches to glass, ceramics, metals, fashion/textiles and product and interior design.

The group's scope is inter and cross-disciplinary. It encompassed a broad range of approaches, including theoretical, applied, and practice-led research for the investigation of concepts, materials and methods. Thinking through making is an important driver, using tacit knowledge generated through practice as an important source of informing research.

The group forms around two broad main foci:

Firstly, cross-disciplinary hybrid practices are used combine analogue and digital approaches to craft and design as well as psychological approaches to advance social and ecological sustainability and well-being. This focus is exemplified through applied research into design for health, specifically “designing for people with dementia”, which is conducted with European partners from health and industry.

The second focus arises from the shared history of the Fine and Applied Arts. While both have shared roots, today, among other things, they are distinguished by differing attitudes to the ornamental. This drives research into the perceived borders and boundaries of the politics of ornament through material practice to reveal and comment on the underlying politics, and to find or create synergies to question and overcome old controversies. Research in this area includes theoretical and practice-led work into concepts such as ‘ornament’ and ‘erosion’, including the organisation of national and international exhibitions and symposia, such as the symposium ‘Erosion and Illegibility of Images’.

Research active staff

PhD students

  • Tara Baoth Mooney
  • Brenda Miller
  • Rachel Magdeburg