Dr Rosemary Shirley
Art Theory and Practice
Dr Rosemary Shirley is a Senior Lecturer in Art Theory and Practice and Award Tutor for BA(Hons) Art History and Curating. Her research centres on everyday life and visual culture, with a particular emphasis on contemporary rural contexts. She is interested in how the English landscape might be explored through notions of national identity and discourses of modernity. This has led her to write about topics as diverse as litter, motorways, folk customs and scrapbooks. She is also interested in how contemporary artists engage with landscape as a place that is lived in rather than simply looked at or visited.
She has published widely on this subject including her monograph Rural Modernity, Everyday Life and Visual Culture (Routledge 2015).
Her most recent curatorial project is Creating the Countryside, a large scale exhibition at Compton Verney (March-June 2017) featuring the work of over 100 artists including Gainsborough, Turner, Constable, Grayson Perry, Ingrid Pollard, Anna Fox, Georgina Barney and Rebecca Chesney.
She is currently working with partners: Whitechapel Gallery, Istanbul Biennial, Wysing Art Centre, Myvillages and Aberystwyth University on a project of events culminating in a conference and publication in 2019 on The Rural: Contemporary Art and Spaces of Connection.
Rosemary joined the department in Spring 2012. Previous to this she completed her PhD at the University of Sussex where she was supervised by Dr. Ben Highmore. She has an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths and a BA(hons) in Fine Art which she studied at Winchester School of Art and Ontario College of Art and Design. She has taught at Art History at Goldsmiths, Arts Management at Birkbeck and Cultural Studies at Sussex.
Prior to academia, she worked in a variety of art gallery contexts including Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth where she set up and managed the Artists’ Resource Centre (ARC) to provide high quality professional development opportunities for artists. She has also maintained a long working relationship with AN The Artists Information Company, writing many articles and reviews for AN Magazine and working as an editor for their online critical writing platform interface www.a-n.co.uk/interface. Most recently she has commissioned and edited a series of 10 articles for AN on artists working in rural places.
Rosemary welcomes PhD enquiries in the following areas: Contemporary art in rural places, the English landscape, representations of landscape/countryside in visual culture, art history and popular culture, curatorial strategies, the study of everyday life, modernism/modernities, folk cultures, craft.
I was invited to curate Always Greener: Views from the Contemporary Countryside for PM Gallery in London in 2012. The exhibition brings together artists who challenge preconceptions about the contemporary countryside and explore it as somewhere that is constructed from powerful cultural, economic and political forces; a place that exists in our imaginations as much as anywhere on the map. Details…
Exhibition: Creating the Countryside: Thomas Gainsborough to Today Held at: Compton Verney Art Gallery, Warwickshire, 18 March – 18 June 2017 Curated by: Dr Rosemary Shirley and Verity Elson Creating the Countryside was a large-scale exhibition featuring almost one hundred works of art from the seventeenth century to present day. Artists included: Blake, Constable, Gainsborough, Claude Lorrain, Mat Collishaw, Grayson Perry and Ingrid Pollard. Details…
A one day conference at held at Compton Verney organised by Desdemona McCannon, Rosemary Shirley and Jane Webb. 13 September 2013. Details…
Working the Whitechapel Gallery, Instanbul Biennial, Wysing Arts, Myvillages amd Univeristy of Aberystwyth. This project takes the form of a special series of events and conference dedicated to exploring how artists engage with the contemporary rural sphere. Details…
Rosemary Shirley is a member of the Visual Culture Research Group.
A selection of recent research outputs.
Shirley, R., Elson, V., 2017. Creating the Countryside: Thomas Gainsborough to Today, Compton Verney, 18/3/2017 - 18/6/2017.
Shirley, RA., 2015. Research in Translation, School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, 19/6/2015.
Shirley, R., 2012. Always Greener: Views from the Contemporary Countryside, Pm Gallery, London, 3 May – 24 June 2012.
Shirley, RA., 2012. Always Greener: Views from the Contemporary Countryside., PM Gallery, Pitzhanger Manor, London, 4/5/2012.
Elson, V., Shirley, R., 2017. 'Creating the Countryside The Rural Idyll Past and Present', Paul Holberton.
Shirley, RA., 2015. 'Rural Modernity, Everyday Life and Visual Culture', Ashgate.
Shirley, RA., 2018. 'Electricity Comes to the Countryside: Visual representations of a Connected Countryside in the Early Twentieth Century'. In Bluemel, K., McCluskey, M. (eds.) Rural Modernity in Britain: A Critical Intervention, pp. 50-65, Edinburgh University Press.
Shirley, RA., 2018. 'The Wide Margins of the Century; Rural Modernism, Pastoral Peasants, and Economic Migrations'. In A Companion to Modern Art, Wiley Blackwell.
Shirley, RA., 2017. 'Artists Interviews with: Rebecca Chesney, Anna Fox, Hilary Jack, Sigrid Holmwood, Ingrid Pollard, Delaine Le bas, Andy Sewell.'. In Creating the Countryside: The Rural Idyll Past and Present, Paul Holberton Publishing.
Shirley, RA., Elson, V., 2017. 'Creating the Countryside: Introduction'. In Creating the Countryside: The Rural Idyll Past and Present, Paul Holberton Publishing.
Shirley, RA., 2017. 'Smells Like Rural Idyll'. In Creating the Countryside: the Rural Idyll Past and Present, Paul Holberton Publishing.
Shirley, RA., 2016. 'Pylons and Frozen Peas: The Women's Institute Goes Electric'. In Transforming the Countryside The Electrification of Rural Britain, Routledge.
Shirley, RA., 2015. 'Speed and Stillness: Driving in the Countryside'. In Affective Landscapes in Literature, Art and Everyday Life: Memory, Place and the Senses, Ashgate.
Shirley, RA., Cartiere, C., Willis, S., 2008. 'A Timeline for the History of Public Art: The United Kingdom and the United States of America, 1900-2005'. In the Practice of Public Art, Routledge.
Shirley, RA., 2017. 'Festive Landscapes: The Contemporary Practice of Well-Dressing in Tissington', Landscape Research, 42 (6), pp. 650-662.
Shirley, R., 2013. 'Folk Goes Electric: Women's Institute Golden Jubilee Scrapbooks', Enid Marx and her Contemporaries: Women Designers and the Popularisation of Folk Art, Compton Verney, Warwickshire, 13 Sept 2013.
Shirley, R., 2013. 'Performing the Village', Visualising the Rural, University of Cumbria, 4-5 July 2013.
Shirley, R., 2013. 'Pylons and Birdseye: The Women's Institute goes Electric', Transforming the Countryside: Rural Electrification Conference, Leeds Trinity Univeristy, March 2013.
Shirley, R., 2012. 'Scattered Papers: Litter Trails and the productivity of collage in the Mass Observation Archive', Mass Observation Anniversaries Conference, University of Sussex, July 2012.
Shirley, R., 2012. 'Speed and Stillness: Driving in the Countryside', Affective Landscapes, University of Derby, May 2012, in Affective Landscapes in Literature, Art and Everyday Life.