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3 - Susan Atkin

Visual Culture Research Group

Members of the Visual Culture group explore theories, histories, practices and reception of the visual manifestations of culture. Our wide-ranging research is linked by the role of visuality in creating and communicating meaning; and by its focus on visual experience and visual literacy.

The Visual Culture Group is concerned with the broad range of knowledge and understanding centred upon images as means of conveying and creating cultural meaning. Members research histories, theories, and practices of the visual manifestations of culture their production, circulation, and reception as well as visuality and spectatorship across various artistic and commercial media and display forms.

The Group explores the dynamics of visual media in contemporary and historical institutions, power systems, discourses and conflicts: political ideology, post-colonialism, commodification, globalisation...

It promotes the study of visual culture at its margins, real and imagined borders, and in its intersections with other disciplines: transnationality, the ‘other’, urbanism, folk culture, the everyday, fashion...

Methodological approaches integrate empirical study with conceptual perspectives: place, modernity, identity, consumption, memory, representation, authenticity...

Encouragement is given to collaborative activity, especially with visual repositories. Work encompasses curatorship and the study of forms of visual presentation. It also includes the interpretation of archives and collections as research resources for the art and design community.

Research Areas

  • Art and geopolitical borders
  • Commodification of culture
  • Dress and memory
  • Gender and representation
  • Graphic propaganda
  • Mapping and movement
  • Museums, collecting practices and psychoanalysis
  • Rural modernity / rural mythologies
  • Textile patterns and merchanting practice
  • Urban space and modernity
  • Visual dimensions of conflict
  • Visuality of magazines
  • Women and the popularisation of folk art

Recent Projects

Simon Faulkner and Jim Aulich are co-investigators in a groundbreaking ESRC-sponsored research team spanning four universities and the private sector that aims to build a research tool to aid researchers in capturing and analysing the visual data of social media for academic study.

Beccy Kennedy leads an AHRC-funded project that will create a new international network of academics, curators, artists and designers from Britain, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. Five research networking events at the partner venue will culminate in a summative conference at Manchester Metropolitan University. The network aims to produce a body of research on the effects of border crossings upon art and design practice in Greater China.

Rosemary Shirley’s monograph challenges the typical conception of the rural as unchanging, standing apart from the modern, and even its passive victim. She recasts the rural as an active and complex site of modernity, a shift that re-thinks the rural and provides a new perspective on the everyday.

Professor Jim Aulich with Professor John Schostak from ESRI in conjunction with the Co-operative College, are heading up a team of researchers from Education, HLSS and Business and Law interested in the visual and material culture of the co-operative movement.

Dani Child’s used Herbert Read’s classic essay as a starting point to query the role of visual culture under today’s global capitalism. She asks what critcally engaged artists, activists and theorists can do to critique the commodification of culture, and what an art counter to capitalism would look like.

John Davis is a leading visual archivist pioneering the preservation of slide collections as material and visual culture. His popular posts on Flickr give a taste of the staggering visual wealth of the collection he cares for. Recent posts by students and staff explore slides as material objects.


Exhibitions & Publications


Gartside, S., 2016. -scape, Holden Gallery, 11th April - 20th May 2016.

Gartside, S., 2016. Up/Down, Holden Gallery, 15th January - 4th March 2016.

Gartside, S., 2015. Model Behaviour, Holden Gallery, 26th October - 11th December 2015.

Aulich, J., 2015. Modern History Volume III: Posters The Third Eye, Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre, 18th September - 21st November 2015.

Gartside, S., 2015. Not: the art of resistance, Holden Gallery, 19th January - 27th February 2015.

Gartside, S., 2015. Platform, Holden Gallery, 10th July - 21st August 2015.

Gartside, S., 2015. Trial/Error/Art, Holden Gallery, 16th March – 8th May 2015.

Brittain, D., 2014. 'Corridor' presented by the Exhibition Centre for the Use and Abuse of Books, International Anthony Burgess Foundation, August 15 till 19 September.

Gartside, S., 2014. (Dis)order: the compulsion to collect, Holden Gallery, 27th October - 12th December 2014.

Kennedy, B., 2014. Pop-up Republics, Imperial War Museum North, exterior, 25th September 2014 - 20th November 2014.

Gartside, S., 2014. Urban Psychosis, Holden Gallery, 14th July - 22nd August 2014.


Trustram, M., Kinnunen, HM., 2015. 'Each Day at a Time', Finnish Broadcasting Company, 3 April 2015.

Trustram, M., Saloranta, E., 2015. 'Windows. A correspondence between Elina Saloranta and Myna Trustram OR Sisters are doin' it for themselves', Nordic Summer University, Druskininkai, Lithuania, 23 July 2015.

Trustram, M., Graff Junior, C., Greenfield, L., Roar, P., 2014. 'Four approaches to the journal', Saudarkrokur, Iceland, 26 July 2014.

Trustram, M., 2014. 'Off by heart - an intervention into forgetting', Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, Vilnius, 28 February 2014.

Trustram, M., 2014. 'On Not Being Able to Read (Flying)', School of Arts, Birkbeck College, London, 30 May 2014.

Trustram, M., 2014. 'Performing the psychosocial: An enquiry into forgetting', Association for Psychosocial Studies Annual Conference 2014, University of Central Lancashire, 16 December 2014.

Trustram, M., 2014. 'Public conversation about autobiographical performance and a performance of Each Day at a Time', Month of Performance Art - Berlin, 14 May 2014.


Shirley, R., 2015. Rural Modernity, Everyday Life and Visual Culture, Ashgate.

Jointly Authored Book

Faulkner, S. Reeb, D., 2014. 'Between States', Black Dog Publishing.

Kennedy, B., Mitha, A. and Wainwright, L., 2014. 'Triennial City: Localising Asian Art', Cornerhouse, Manchester.

Edited Books

Macbeth, P. & Barber, C., 2014. 'Outside: Activating Cloth to Enhance the Way We Live', Cambridge Scholars, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Book Chapters

Barber, F., 2016. 'Race, Irishness and Art History: Margaret Clarke's 'Bath Time at the Creche (1925), Motherhood and the Matter of Whiteness'. In Martha Langford (eds.) Narratives Unfolding: National Art Histories in an Unfinished World FORTHCOMING, McGill University Press, Montreal.

Barber, F., 2016. 'Surrealist Ireland: the Archaic, the Modern and the Marvellous'. In Pam Meecham (eds.) Blackwell Companion to Modern Art FORTHCOMING, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken NJ.

Kennedy, B., 2015. 'Orienting and Reorienting Contemporary Korean Art.'. In Agnieszka Kluczewska-Wojcik (eds.) Korea art and artistic relations with Europe, Polish Institute of World Art Studies and Tako Publishing House, Torun..

Sykas, P. A., 2015. 'Textiles 1800-1920'. In Baxter, Denise (eds.) A Cultural History of Dress and Fashion in the Age of Empire, 1, Bloomsbury Academic: London.

Barber, F., 2014. 'At Vision's Edge: Post-Conflict Memory and Art Practice in Northern Ireland'. In Oona Frawley (eds.) Memory Ireland vol.3: The Famine and the Troubles, 232-246, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse.

Brittain, D., 2014. 'Citizens' Photojournalism: History's new first draft'. In Bull, S. (eds.) Companion to Photography, 28, Blackwell, London.

Detail of the 'Dead Star' manuscript by William S. Burroughs in My Own Mag, issue 13Detail of the 'Dead Star' manuscript by William S. Burroughs in My Own Mag, issue 13Cover of My Own Mag, Issue 13, August 1965 containing the 'Dead Star' manuscript by William S. BurroughsTaking Shots: The Photography of William S. Burroughs with an essay by David BrittainCreative Camera November 1982, a special issue on image and text, ran an essay by Victor Burgin on Barthes complemented with photographs by BurroughsPhotograph by William S. Burroughs

Brittain, D., 2014. 'Innerspace Documents'. In Allmer, P. and Sears, J. (eds.) Taking Shots: The Photography of Williams S. Burroughs, Six, 32 to 51, Prestel/The Photographers' Gallery, London.

MacDonald, G., 2014. 'Moving bodies and the map: relational and absolute conceptions of space in GPS-based art'. In Armin Medosch, Rasa Smite, Raitis Smits (eds.) Acoustic Space, 167-177, RIXC, Riga.

Faulkner, S., 2014. 'On Israel/Palestine and the Politics of Visibility'. In Katarzyna Marciniak and Imogen Tyler (eds.) Immigrant Protest: Politics, Aesthetics, and Everyday Protest, State University of New York Press.

Shirley, R., 2014. 'Speed and Stillness: Driving in the Countryside'. In Christine Berberich (eds.) Affective Landscapes in Literature, Art and Everyday Life, Ashgate.

Internet Publications (via Subscription)

Child, D., 2016. 'Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism: Entries on Collage, Michael Fried, Allan Kaprow and Jackson Pollock',

Internet Publications

Aulich, J., 2016. 'Graphic Arts and Advertising as War Propaganda', 1914-1918-online. International Encyclopedia of the First World War,

Trustram, M., 2015. 'Dear Bereaved', The Letters Page,

Brittain, D., 2015. 'Field theory in the Neoliberal Cultural Industries', Atiner Papers,

Child, D., 2014. 'Selection of articles for Red Pepper magazine', Red Pepper Magazine,

Journal Articles

Trustram, M., 2016. 'Performing the psychosocial: An enquiry into forgetting', Journal of Psychosocial Studies, 2016, 9 (1).

Kennedy, B., 2015. 'Outside Chinatown: The Evolution of Manchester's Chinese Arts Centre as a Cultural Translator for contemporary Chinese Art', Modern China Studies, 23: 1, 8-23.

Barber, F., 2015. 'The Elder Statesman of Irish Art: review of Eimear O'Connor, Sean Keating: Art, Politics and Building the Irish Nation', Irish Literary Supplement, 35/1, 26-27.

Anarchist Studies 23:2

Child, D., 2015. 'To Hell with (the contemporary commodification of) Culture!', Anarchist Studies, 23:2, 10-17.

Trustram, M., 2014. 'Asylum and the museum', American Imago, 71(1), 67 - 84.

MacDonald, G., 2014. 'Bodies Moving and Being Moved: Mapping Affect in Christian Nold's Bio Mapping', Somatechnics, 4:1, 108-132.

Faulkner, S., 2014. 'Late photography, military landscapes, and the politics of memory', Open Arts, 3.

Froggett, L., Trustram, M., 2014. 'Object relations in the museum: A psychosocial perspective', Museum Management and Curatorship, 2014, 29 (5), 1-16.

Slater, A., 2014. 'Wearing in memory: materiality and oral histories', Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty, 5: 1, pp. 125-139.


Child, D., 2016. 'Demystifying Labour in Contemporary Art History: Unproductive Labour and Social Reproduction', Association of Art Historians Annual Conference 2016, University of Edinburgh, 7th-9th April 2016.

Manley. J.,Trustram, M., 2015. ''Such endings that are not over': Social dreaming and the legacies of the slave trade', Imagination and Enquiry Seminar Series, School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire, 11 March 2015.

Sykas, P. A., 2015. 'Cotton for the calico printer', Textiles and the Origins of the Industrial Revolution, University of Hertfordshire and the Clothworkers' Centre, V&A Museum, 15-16 April 2015.

Child, D., 2015. 'Directors, Actors and Virtuosos: The performative shift in neoliberal social art practices', Historical Materialism Rome, Roma Tre University, Rome, 17th - 19th September 2015.

Trustram, M., 2015. 'Finding a form to enact grief or How I picked flowers for a year.', Trauma, Grief, Loss: The Art of Bereavement, University of the Creative Arts, Farnham, 15 May 2015.

Trustram, M., 2015. 'Little Madnesses: Winnicott, Transitional Phenomena and Cultural Experience', Round table with Annette Kuhn and Jackie Stacey, University of Manchester, 12 May 2015.

Sykas, P. A., 2015. 'Promiscuous prints', Veronika Gervers Fellow Annual Lecture, Royal Ontario Museum: Toronto, 28 October 2014.

Sykas, P. A., 2015. 'The Scottish diaspora of pattern books, design and business records: a personal view', Recreate Research Network, Paisley Museum: Paisley, 30 January 2015.

Macbeth, P. and Barber, C., 2014. 'Craft in Unexpected Places', Transitions: Rethinking Textiles and Surfaces, University of Huddersfield, 26-27th November, in In Conference Proceedings.

Trustram, M., 2014. 'Museum Melancholy: Loss in the midst of plenty', Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, Centre for Psychoanalysis, Middlesex University, 14 June 2014.

Trustram, M., 2014. 'The Shadow of the Museum: Visiting the museum with Winnicott and Bollas', Integration: Psychoanalysis, culture and society in 2014, Northern School of Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, Leeds, 27 March 2014.

Brittain, D., 2014. 'The Time and Space Travel of William Burroughs', Beyond the Cut Up: William S. Burroughs and the Image, The Photographers' Gallery, 15 Ferbruary 2014, in tbc.

Child, D., 2014. '‘From Labia to Labour: an alternative to the performed body in mid-1970s’ feminist art’', 11th Annual Historical Materialism Conference 2014, UCL Vernon Campus, London, 6th-9th November 2014.

Child, D., 2014. '‘Performing Action: the global theatre of art-activism’', Performing Protest: Re-Imagining the Good Life in Times of Crisis, University of Leuven, Belgium, 8-10th May 2014.

Other Outputs

Sykas, P. A., 2015. 'Susan W. Greene (2014) Wearable Prints, 1760-1860: History, Materials, and Mechanics', Book review.

Slater, A., 2014. 'Artists in Greater Manchester'.