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Dr Rosemary Shirley

Senior Lecturer
Art History

Dr Rosemary Shirley

Rosemary Shirley is a lecturer in Art History. 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.

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. She has taught at Art History at Goldsmiths, Arts Management at Birkbeck and Cultural Studies at Sussex.

She has 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 a-n The Artists Information Company, writing many articles and reviews for a-n Magazine and working as an editor for their online critical writing platform interface

Rosemary's research blog


Always Greener: Views from the Contemporary Countryside

I have curated this exhibition for PM Gallery in London. It 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…

Enid Marx and her Contemporaries: Women Designers and the Popularisation of Folk Art 1920 - 1960

A one day conference at held at Compton Verney organised by Desdemona McCannon, Rosemary Shirley and Jane Webb. 13 September 2013. Details…


Rosemary Shirley is a member of:

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.

Book Chapters

Shirley, RA., 2018. 'Cultures of Connectivity: Visual Representations of a Networked Countryside in the Early Twentieth Century'. In Rural Modernity: A Critical Intervention, Edinburgh University Press.

Shirley, RA., 2018. 'The Wide Margins of Modernity'. In 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.

Journal Articles

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.