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Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

Overview of Art and Design History, Practice and Theory 

Researchers in this Unit of Assessment at Middlesex University are based in the School of Art and Design. This REF submission demonstrates the development of established research areas, coordinated through the Art and Design Research Institute (ADRI) at Middlesex, and outlines infra-structural and organisational investment aimed at enhancing research activity and relationships between research, teaching and practice.

REF 2014 results highlights

  • Art and Design had 78% of research judged as internationally excellent (3 star) or above, of which 21% world leading (4*), 78% at 4 star and 3 star. 99% was rated as internationally recognised at 2 star, 3 star and 4 star
  • Art and Design had GPA ranking of 26th out of 84 institutions with the GPA 2.98, up from 2.26 in 2008
  • GPA rankings put Art & Design above competitors such as Southampton, Leicester, Brighton, Kingston, UCL (Slade), Oxford, Birkbeck, Brunel, Plymouth, Reading, Goldsmiths, UEL, De Montfort, Northumbria, Glasgow School of Art, John Moores, Manchester Met, UCA, Bristol, Herriot-Watt, Norwich, Nottingham Trent, Hertfordshire, London Met, Falmouth
  • Art and Design power ranking has almost doubled from 36 in 2008 to 70.3 in 2014, placing Art & Design above UCL, Leeds, UWE, Kingston, Birkbeck
  • Art and Design had 100% of their impact judged as very considerable (3 star) or outstanding (4 star)
  • Art and Design had 90% of their environment judged as internationally excellent and world leading (3 star and 4 star)
  • Other highlights: 3rd in London on GPA for practice (after Westminster), 6th in London on power and 18th on outputs.

Our research strategy is based upon the continuity and development of outputs submitted to the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2001 and 2008, developing the clusters identified in the RAE 2008 and deepening our thematic research. Our established research base has been enhanced by substantial investment, supporting internationally significant research and affirming commitment to A&D education and research.

The Unit of Assessment case studies are:

Middlesex sold the company to private investors in 2008 but remains in partnership with Argentium International Ltd and retains a board seat. Beneficiaries include the silversmithing and craft industries, jewellery retailers, and users of Argentium Silver.

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'Imagining change': articulating tidal protection

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Simon Read is a practising artist specifically engaged in the investigation of interdisciplinary approaches to environmental change – notably estuarine and coastal processes. His research over two decades began with a tidal protection installation, explored further through the value of drawing as a tool for imagining change between researchers and coastal communities.

This then led to greater involvement with other researchers, public sector bodies and water engineering companies in coastal/estuarine management and mediation, and to further art and design commissions, which together have had an impact on policy and practice via specific engagement with professionals, catchment communities and policymakers.

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Visual culture: curating Leon Golub

The Leon Golub retrospective at Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum introduced Golub's politically engaged work to a city with a radical political history. Curated by Jon Bird, Professor in Art and Critical Theory at Middlesex and a leading authority on the American painter, the exhibition examined how Golub's depictions of political and military power impact upon individual and collective social bodies. It also related Golub's work to paintings by Goya and Picasso.

Extensive public and media response to the retrospective, particularly as it spread through the Spanish-speaking world, confirmed the achievement and topicality of Golub's practice and the significance of the exhibition.

Consideration of the role of painting as a mode of political commentary in itself, and as a catalyst for broader discussion of the visual representation of dictatorships and state violence was found amongst curators, critics, and the general public. Bird's curatorial approach was informed by Middlesex University's critical legacy of visual cultural studies, emphasizing works of art as social, material and expressive cultural objects.

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