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Dr Fionna Barber

Reader in Art History

Dr Fionna Barber

Dr Fionna Barber is Reader in Art History in the Manchester School of Art and Doctoral Lead for Art and Performance. Her research interests are contemporary and twentieth century Irish visual culture, feminist art history, temporality and embodiment.

She is currently co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Irish Art (forthcoming 2025).

Recent research projects include 'Elliptical Affinities: Irish Women Artists and the Politics of the Body 1985-present' exhibition curated for Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, Ireland 16 November 2019 - 26 January 2020

temporality and the remaking of feminist art histories
art practice and embodiment
postconflict trauma and art in Northern Ireland
art practice and geopolitical borders
Irish modernist women artists

She welcomes research enquiries in all these and related areas.

PhD by Publication, Manchester Metropolitan University 2018
MA Social History of Art, University of Leeds, 1981
BA History of Art, University of Sussex, 1979

Professional activities

Membership of Association of Art Historians, British Association of Irish Studies,Nordic Irish Studies Network, Women on Ireland Research Network
Visiting Professor in Critical Theory, Kunst Institut Trondheim, Norway, 2004-2005


Art and Geopolitical Borders

Art and Geopolitical Borders: contested sovereignty and art practice One day symposium, Manchester School of Art, PLEASE NOTE NEW DATE Friday 20 November 2015 In recent years there has been a growth in interest in the ways that art practice can both acknowledge and articulate the issues around geo-political borders. Borders have long functioned as a vital component of state-formation and nation building, a role that continues within the shifting politics of globalisation. Details…

Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, April 2009: 'Irishness and Intertextuality'

Joint Organiser with Aidan Arrowsmith, Dept of English MMU. Details…

Culture and / after Conflict

Invited Participant in British Academy and Leverhulme Trust funded symposium, Tower Museum, Derry/Londonderry, N. Ireland, 13 December 2013 . Details…

Elliptical Affinities: Irish Women Artists and the Politics of the Body

Exhibition curated for Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, Ireland 16 Nov 2019 - 26 January 2020. Details…

Hanky Day: Recent Visual Representations of Conflict in Northern Ireland

Organiser of Symposium Hanky Day: Recent Visual Representations of Conflict in Northern Ireland, in association with Amanda Dunsmore exhibition, Grosvenor Building, Faculty of Art and Design, Manchester Metropolitan University, Saturday 26 November 2005 For more details about the symposium see: www.miriad. Details…

Northern Ireland Prisons Memory Archive

Between 1988 and 1990 I taught Art History for the Open University in Long Kesh/ The Maze prison. My testimony has been included in the Prison Memory Archive based at Queens University Belfast and has been incorporated in the film 'We Were There: Women of Long Kesh and the Maze Prisons' (Dir. Details…

Theory is Practice

I am a member of this research network based at Universite de Rennes focused around new materialisms and Irish culture. The network launched in 2016 with members from France, Britain and Ireland: future plans include a one-day conference in Rennes in 2018 and an edited volume of essays. Details…


Fionna Barber is a member of the Art and Performance Research Hub.


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.

Barber, F. and Johnston, M, 2010. Archiving Place and Time: contemporary art from Northern Ireland since the Belfast Agreement, Holden Gallery, MMU; Millennium Court Arts Centre, Craigavon, NI; Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Nov-Dec 2009 (MMU) then touring.


Barber, F., Hansson, H., McQuaid, SD., 2019. 'Ireland and the North', Peter Lang UK.

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

Barber, F., 2013. 'Art in Ireland since 1910', Reaktion Books, London.

Barber, F., 2009. 'After the War: Visual Culture in Northern Ireland since the Ceasefires', Routledge.

Book Chapters

McQuaid, SD., Hansson, H., Barber, F., 2019. 'A new geography of reference'. In Ireland and the North, pp. 3-14.

Barber, F., 2019. 'Severance: Rita duffy's paintings and the affective arctic'. In Ireland and the North, pp. 67-93.

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.

Barber, FC., 2017. 'Race, Irishness and Art HIstory: Margaret Clarke's 'Bathtime at the Creche' (1925), Motherhood and the Matter of Whiteness'. In Langford, M. (eds.) Narratives Unfolding: National Art Histories in an Unfinished World, pp. 62-80, McGill University Press.

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., 2013. 'Visual Tectonics: Post-Millennial Art in Ireland'. In Ruben Moi, Brynhildur Boyce, Charles I. Armstrong (eds.) The Crossings of Art in Ireland, 97-114, Peter Lang: Bern, Switzerland.

Barber, F., 2012. 'Basil Blackshaw’s Time and Place'. In Riann Coulter (eds.) Basil Blackshaw at Eighty, non.pag., F.E.McWilliam Studio Gallery, Banbridge, and Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin.

Barber, F., 2010. 'Double Vision: art and the recent past in Northern Ireland'. In Barber, F and Johnston, M (eds.) Archiving Place and Time, pp.4-9, Millennium Court Arts Centre, Craigavon.

Barber, F., 2009. ''The Hidden Lives of the Manchester School of Art''. In Artschool! Manchester School of Art since 1938, pp.3-7, Manchester School of Art / MMU Library Special Collections 2009.

Barber, F., 2005. 'An Iceberg's Collision with History: some recent work by Rita Duffy'. In Rita Duffy: The Essential Gesture, Belfast.

Barber, F., 2005. 'Excavating Room 50: Irish Art at the 1950 Venice Biennale'. In F. Cullen and J. Morrison (eds.) A Shared Legacy: Essays on Irish and Scottish Art and Visual Culture, pp 207-223, Ashgate.

Barber, F., 2005. 'The politics of feminist spectatorship and the disruptive body: de Kooning's Woman I reconsidered'. In Performing the Body/Performing the Text, pp. 139-149, Routledge.

Barber, F., 2004. 'Abstract Expressionism and Masculinity'. In Paul Wood (eds.) Varieties of Modernism, Yale University Press / The Open University.

Barber, F., 2004. 'Hybrid Histories: Alice Maher'. In G. Perry (eds.) Difference and Excess in Contemporary Art: the visibility of women's practice, pp. 88-103, Blackwell.

Barber, F., 2004. 'Surrealism 1924 -1929'. In S. Edwards and P. Wood (eds.) Art of the Avant-Gardes, pp.426-448, Yale University Press / The Open University.

Journal Articles

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.

Barber, F., 2013. '‘Rita Duffy’s Unquiet Relics', Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, vol 37: 1 / 2, 2011., 36-39.

Barber, F., 2010. ''Introduction'', Visual Culture in Britain, 10:2, July 2009, pp.117-111111213.

Barber, F., 2009. 'Disturbed Ground: Francis Bacon, Traumatic Memory and the Gothic', The Irish Review, no.39, pp125-138.

Barber, F., 2009. 'Ghost Stories: an Interview with Willie Doherty', Visual Culture in Britain, 10:2, July 2009, pp.189-199.

Barber, F., 2009. 'Ghost Stories: An Interview with Willie Doherty', Visual Culture in Britain, 10 (2), pp. 189-199.

Barber, F., 2009. 'Introduction', Visual Culture in Britain, 10 (2), pp. 117-123.

Barber, F., 2003. 'Hybrid Histories: Alice Maher', Art History, 26 (3), pp. 406-421.

Barber, F., 2001. 'The Instability of Otherness: Gender, Irishness and Identity', Visual Culture in Britain, Vol.2, No.2, Autumn 2001, pp.87-105.

Barber, F., 1994. 'Territories of difference: Irish women artists in Britain', Third Text, 8 (27), pp. 65-75.

Other Outputs

Barber, F., 2009. 'Archiving Place and Time: contemporary art from Northern Ireland since the Belfast Agreement', Symposium, November 2009.

Barber, F., 2009. 'Second Sight: modernity, exile and the visual in Ireland', Keynote address to the Visual Culture of Modernity in Ireland conference.

Barber, F., 2008. 'Foreword for exhibition catalogue,', Rita Duffy: Remnant,.