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Our research – University of Reading

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  • New modes of art practice that stimulate public discourse

Our research

We are led by a desire to support artistic research, propose new modes of art practice and stimulate public discourse around art.

We make a distinctive contribution to knowledge through practice-led, theoretical and art historical modes of enquiry. Our aim is to develop innovative research in art, stimulated by an inter-disciplinary environment and discussion on the production, distribution and mediation of art.


Pil and Galia kollectiv


Key areas of focus include exhibition and curatorial practice, publication projects and critical art writing, underpinned by an emphasis on digital technologies as a format for the production, dispersion and interpretation of art. We believe that emerging and innovative art practices forge new audiences and users. We work with international museums, galleries and collections in sharing our research to both specialist and non-academic audiences. 

Research projects

The excellence and impact of our research is evident in our exceptional record of major, externally funded research projects. These projects have built on strong links with national and international cultural institutions. Our current and recent projects include:

Reading International

A three-year contemporary visual arts research programme directed by Professor Susanne Clausen, promoting and commissioning major exhibitions and events including performances, film screenings, workshops and talks as well as offsite projects and temporary public artworks.

Hosted by a rich mixture of partners within the town, Reading International produces several major projects each year, in which artists and curators are given a platform to make new work in response to the unique social and historical context of Reading and wider Berkshire.

Reading International is supported by Arts Council of England's Ambition for Excellence Programme, and Reading Borough Council.  Visit the Reading International website.

Sensory Objects

An AHRC-funded project,  led by Dr Kate Allen, which aims to  to make museums more inclusive by listening to, and acting on, research by people with learning disabilities.

In its initial three years, Sensory Objects held more than 60 sensory art and technology workshops at the National Trust's Speke Hall in Liverpool, MERL, and the British Museum. Key to the project is engaging people with learning disabilities as co-researchers.

The Sensory Objects project proved so successful that it now has further AHRC funding to work with RIX Research & Media and The Tower Project's Job Enterprise and Training Service, an inclusive employment agency, to co-develop STARS (Sensory, Technology & Art Resource Specialists), providing sustainable employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities to work in museums.

Sensory Objects has helped create new working practices for people with learning disabilities, made public heritage sites more inclusive and enhanced public awareness of learning disability. Visit the Sensory Objects website.

Dwoskin Archive

The unique and significant archive of artist and filmmaker, and co-founder of the London Film Maker's Co-op, Stephen Dwoskin, is held in our Special Collections. "The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin's Personal Cinema" is a major research initiative led by Dr Rachel Garfield in collaboration with LUX, BFI and researchers from University of Glasgow.

Exploring the historical importance of a key figure in independent film and his ground-breaking work, this project develops innovative research into the fields of experimental film, history of media arts, TV commissioning and disability aesthetics. Initial iterations of the project include a dedicated dossier in Screen, a leading international journal of academic film; a major symposium at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London; international exhibitions and screenings; and an homage by Filmkollectiv  Frankfurt at the Deutsches Film Institute in Frankfurt.

The Dwoskin archive also has two funded students, one with the LUX as a partner.

Picturing ideas? Visualising and Synthesising Ideas as Art

An AHRC research project led by Professor John Russell utilised virtual digital imagery in exploring critical and aesthetic implications of 'picturing' or 'visualisation' of philosophical and political ideas as art. Outputs included the production of a series of images developed in response to an on-going dialogue with specialists in the fields of philosophy, contemporary art and psychology.

Discover more about our staff and their research.


Work by John Russell


Research collaborations

We lead international research collaborations in curating and exhibition making. Our Research Platform in Curating with Zurich University of the Arts, Switzerland understands curating or the curatorial as a practice that is deeply involved in politics of display, politics of site, politics of transfer and translation and regimes of visibility. By engaging with critical research and knowledge production we seek to innovate within the expanding field of curatorial practice. The research platform disseminates its work through a variety of formats. A series of international symposia are staged with important figures in the field of curating and contemporary art alongside digital publishing platforms such as the e-journal and print journal

As part of Reading Assembly we will be collaborating as Tate Exchange Associates programming participatory workshops, activities and debates that share our research interests from Spring 2018.

Art as part of the School of Arts and Communication Design our research has forged creative collaborations with other departments at Reading and with other universities in the UK and internationally. The Art Research Division carries out cutting-edge interdisciplinary research under the University's Heritage & Creativity Research Theme. Facilitation is available from the Heritage & Creativity Institute.


Symposia at Basel


Public lectures and seminars

Every Autumn and Spring we host weekly Visiting Artists Lecture with invited speakers presenting their latest research.  Past contributors include:

  • Sanja Iveković
  • Sidsel Meineche Hansen
  • Katrina Palmer
  • Olivia Mole
  • Francesco Pedraglio
  • James Richards
  • Heather Phillipson
  • Benjamin Noys
  • Paul Clinton
  • Liv Wynter
  • Megan Nolan

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