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ActiveStills display, Tel Aviv, 2007 - Simon Faulkner

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.

Barber, F., McAtackney, L., O'Donnell, K., 2016. Con and Eva: gendering revolution, Public Records Office of Northern Ireland, Belfast and touring throughout Ireland: Irish World Heritage Centre Manchester, Belfast April 2016: Manchester March-June 2017.

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

Faulkner, S., 2015. Documenting Political Struggle in Israel/Palestine, Archiv Kabinett, Berlin, November.

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.

Boydell, S., Faulkner, S., Guy, L., Webb, J., 2015. We Want People Who Can Draw: Instruction and Dissent in the British Art School, Special Collections, Manchester Metropolitan University, April-July.


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.


Barber, F., 2016. 'Constructing Constance (and some other women)', HIghlanes Gallery, Drogheda.

Faulkner, S. Reeb, D., 2015. 'Between States', Black Dog Publishing.

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

Book Chapters

Barber, F., 2017. 'After They've Gone: : W.B. Yeats’ The Circus Animals’ Desertion, Gender, Creativity and Irishness in the Work of Ghislaine Howard'. In Michael Howard< Ghislaine Howard, Micah Purnell (eds.) Ghislaine Howard: the Human Touch. Paintings, Drawings and Prints 1980-2016, 226-228, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester.

Faulkner, S., Vis, F., D'Orazio, F., 2017. 'Analysing Social Media Images'. In Jean Burgess, Alice Marwick, Thomas Poell (eds.) Sage Handbook of Social Media, Sage Publishing.

Faulkner, S., 2017. 'The Politics of Here and There'. In Jane Brake (eds.) All Materials of Value: Responses to Walking in Salford, Institute of Urban Dreaming, Manchester.

Faulkner, S., 2017. 'Visibility, photography, and the occupation: The case of the ActiveStills collective'. In Gil Pasternak (eds.) Insight Palestina, I. B. Taurus.

Aulich, J., 2016. ''Ducking and Diving: The imagery of aerial and submarine warfare in posters issued by Britain and the Central Powers during the First World War''. In K.Hoffmann, H.Mehrtens and S.Wenk (eds.) Myths Gender and the Military Conquest of Air and Sea, 69-94, BIS-Verlag der Carl von Ossietzky, University of Oldenburg, 2015, pp69-94.

Hunt, L-A., 2016. 'An Icon and Gospel Book: The Assimilation of Byzantine Art by Arab Christians in Mamluk Egypt and Syria'. In Studies in Coptic Culture: Transmission and Interaction. Ed. Mariam Ayad, American University in Cairo Press.

Faulkner, S., 2016. 'Contentious Displays: Activestill's Street Exhibitions'. In Vered Maimon and Shiraz Grinbaum (eds.) Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel, Pluto Press, London.

Trustram, M., 2016. 'Each Day at a Time'. In Agnieszka Piotrowska and Ben Tyrer (eds.) Psychoanalysis and the Unrepresentable: From culture to the clinic, 222-230, Routledge, London.

Barber, F., 2016. 'Painting, History and a Fistful of Grass'. In John Hyatt and Sam Windrim (eds.) Ammemoriam, 4-7, Righton Press, Manchester School of Art.

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.

Ryall, H. and Macbeth, P., 2016. 'The Digital Print Room- A Bespoke Approach To Print Technology'. In Nithikul Nimkulrat, Faith Kane & Kerry Walton (eds.) Crafting Textiles in The Digital Age, 6, 77- 89, Bloomsbury Academic London & New York.

Kennedy, B., 2016. '‘ ‘What is Chineseness?’ and Other Rhetorical Questions'. In CFCCA (eds.) 30 Years of Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Cornerhouse, Manchester.

Faulkner, S., 2015. 'Aylan Kurdi and the Movability of Images'. In Farida Via, Olga Goriunova (eds.) The Iconic Image on Social Media: A Rapid Research Response to the Death of Aylan Kurdi, Visual Social Media Lab.

Hunt, L-A., 2015. 'John of Ibelin's Audience Hall in Beirut: A Crusader palace building between Byzantine and Islamic art in its Mediterranean Context'. In Featherstone M, Spieser J-M, Tanman G, Wulf-Rheidt U (Eds) (eds.) The Emperor's House: Palaces from Augustus to the Age of Absolutism, pp. 257-91-257-91, De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston.

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.

Internet Publications

Aulich, J., 2017. ''The Life of Images: the Iconography of the photograph of Aylan Kurdi’s Body and the Turkish polIceman'', The Iconic Image on Social Media: A Rapid Research Response to the Death of Aylan Kurdi (eds) F.Vis & O.Goriunova,

Kennedy, B., 2017. 'Retelling Ancillary Stories', Black Artists and Modernism website,

Mike Thelwall, M., Goriunova O., Vis, F., Faulkner, S., Burns. A., Aulich, J., Mas-Bleda,A., Stuart, E., D'Orazio, F., 2016. ''Chatting through pictures? A classification of images tweeted in one week in the UK and USA', Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology,

Kennedy, B., 2016. ''Return of the Condor Heroes and Other Narratives.'', Third Text,

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

Faulkner, S., 2016. 'Images at a Distance', Regarding Spectatorship: Revolt and the Distant Observer,

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

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

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

Journal Articles

Manley, J., Trustram, M., 2016. ''Such endings that are not over': The slave trade, social dreaming and affect in a museum', Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society, Online First article 2016.

Kennedy, B., 2016. 'Border Praxis: Negotiating “Chinese-ness,” ‘Hong Kong-ese-ness” and “Taiwaneseness” in contemporary, political art practices,’', Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, 3:1-2, 111-130.

Thelwall, M., Goriunova, O., Vis, F., Faulkner, S., Burns, A., Aulich, J., Mas-Bleda, A., Stuart, E., D’Orazio, F, 2016. 'Chatting through Pictures? A Classification of Images Tweeted in one week in the UK and USA', Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67/11, 2575-2586.

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

Kennedy, B., 2016. '‘Zones of Seeing: Artistic, Touristic and Digital Interpretations of the DMZ.’', East Asian Journal of Popular Culture, 2:1, 287-303.

Macbeth, P. & Barber, C., 2015. 'Craft in Unexpected Places', Craft Research, Volume 6 Number 2, 275-285.

Child, D., 2015. 'Dematerialisation, Contracted Labour and Art Fabrication: The Deskilling of the Artist in the Age of Late Capitalism', Sculpture Journal, 24:3, 376-390.

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., 2017. ''Museum is where we start from'', Artistic research symposium of the Nordic Summer University, Saxnas, Sweden, 9-12 March 2017.

Child, D., 2017. 'Sculptor at work: Ghisha Koenig and the Representation of Labour', Henry Moore Institute Evening Lecture, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 31st May 2017.

Faulkner, S., 2017. 'The Iconic Image on Social Media workshop (with Farida Vis, Anne Burns, Ray Drainville, Alexandra Boutopoulou)', CCCBLab, Centre de Cultura Contemporánia, Barcelona, 18 February.

Child, D., 2016. 'Art & the Public Square: From decoration to declaration!', Artists' Critical Interventions into Architecture and Urbanism, University of Warwick, 15-16th July 2016.

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.

Trustram, M. Saloranta, E, 2016. 'Exploring slow museum time', Nordic Summer University, Orivesi, Finland, 29 July 2016.

Faulkner, S., 2016. 'Palestinian press photographers, Facebook, and the presentation of the political self', Picturing the Social 2016, The Whitworth, Manchester, 20 June.

Faulkner, S., 2016. 'Photography, politics, and visibility in Israel/Palestine: Activestills street exhibitions 2006-2014', Art, Expression, and Democracy, University of Sheffield, April.

Vis, F., Faulkner, S., 2016. 'The Iconic Image on Social Media: The Death of Aylan Kurdi', Understanding Visual Culture, University of Bologna, April.

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.

Faulkner, S., 2015. 'A Civil Contract of the Networked Photographic Image?', Selfie Citizenship, Manchester Metropolitan University, April.

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.

Faulkner, S., 2015. 'What is a Social Media Image?', What is an Image?, University of Copenhagen, April.

Faulkner, S., 2015. 'What is a Twitter Image?', International Visual Methods Conference, University of Brighton, September.

Other Outputs

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