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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., 2020. Atopia Project, Castlefield Gallery.

Gartside, S., 2020. Holden Curatorial Project, Holden Gallery.

Barber, F., 2019. Elliptical Affinities: Irish Women Artists and the Politics of the Body 1984-present, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda, Ireland, 16/11/2019 - 25/1/2020.

Griffiths, A., 2018. Disrupt The Channel - transient_space, Manchester School of Art, 15/10/2018.

Gartside, S., 2018. Holden Gallery Project (revised 2018 version), Holden Gallery.

van Aitken, J., Manousakis, M., Ward, T., Bokos, C., Kontouris, V., Drymonitis, A., Koutsomichalis, M., Goumpouros, P., Korai, C., Tebinka, M., Poulou, A., Garrelfs, I., Izquierdo, E., Karadedos, T., McCafferty, C., Meirelles, M., Nakou, E., Pechuan Roca,, 2018. Soundscapes Landscapes/City Above-Life Below, Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens, 11/2/2018.


Krase, J., DeSena, JN., 2020. 'Gentrification around the World Innovative Approaches', Palgrave Macmillan.

Trustram, M., Gelder, G., 2019. 'Inside Museum Ricklundgården', Editions etaion shrdlu.

Child, D., 2019. 'Working Aesthetics: Labour, Art and Capitalism', Bloomsbury Academic.

Burgess, A., 2018. 'Obscenity & The Arts - Anthony Burgess', Pariah Press.

Book Chapters

Sykas, P., 2021. 'Folding Pattern Cards: Marketing Lancashire Fustians in the 1780s'. In Gray, T. (eds.) The Exeter Cloth Dispatch Book 1763-1765, Boydell and Brewer.

Faulkner, S., Guy, H., Vis, F., 2021. 'Right-wing Populism, Visual Disinformation, and Brexit: From the UKIP 'Breaking Point' poster to the aftermath of the London Westminster Bridge Attack'. In The Routledge Companion to Media Misinformation and Populism, Routledge.

Sykas, PA., 2020. 'Entente cordiale: Anglo-French exchange among calico printers'. In Oberkampf et la toile imprimée XVIIIe-XIXe siècles: Production, création, consommation, pp. 70-78, Musée de la Toile de Jouy, Jouy-en-Josas, France.

Sykas, P., 2020. 'Holker, technical innovation and the hot cylinder press'. In John Holker's livre d'échantillons (working title).

Slater, A., 2020. 'Listening to Dress: Unfolding Oral History Methods'. In Mundane Methods: Innovative Ways to Research the Everyday, Manchester University Press.

Aulich, J., 2020. 'Protest and Political Transformation since 1789'. In McGarry, A., Erhart, I., Eslen-Siya, H., Jenzen, O., Korkut, U. (eds.) The Aesthetics of Global Protest: Visual Culture and Communication, Amsterdam University Press.

Child, D., 2020. 'Reconsidering Contemporary Artistic Practice as a Condition of Labour'. In Thessaloniki Biennale Publication (Title TBC).

Faulkner, S., 2020. 'Visibility, Photography, and the Occupation: The Case of Activestills Collective'. In Visioning Israel-Palestine: Encounters at the Cultural Boundaries of Conflict, I. B. Taurus/Bloomsbury.

Faulkner, S., 2019. 'Photography and Protest in Israel/Palestine: The Activestills Online Archive'. In The Aesthetics of Global Protest Visual Culture and Communication, Protest and Social Movements.

Sykas, P., 2019. 'The Polynesian print'. In The Tahitian Pareu: Spirit of the Islands, Prospect Park Books (unconfirmed).

Faulkner, S., Vis, F., Umoja Noble, S., Guy, H., 2019. 'When Twitter Got #woke: Black Lives Matter, Twitter, and the Appropriation of the Aesthetics of Protest'. In The Aesthetics of Global Protest Visual Culture and Communication, Protest and Social Movements.

Hunt, L-A., 2018. '"The emperor Michael VIII (1261-1282) and Byzantine/Melkite-Genoese cultural agency between Constantinople and the Near East: Art at Sinai, Behdaidat, and the pallio of San Lorenzo in Genoa, and in Egypt"'. In Chitwoog, Z., Pahlitzsch, J. (eds.) Ambassadors, Artists, Theologians: Byzantine Relations with the Near East from the Ninth to the Thirteenth Centuries, Eds. Z. Chitwood and J. Pahlitzsch, Schnell & Steiner.

Aulich, J., 2018. 'A Ring of Paper. East Central European Posters from the First World War: Identity and Identification'. In catalogue Emotions in Arms - Poster art in the First World War (1914-1918), Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest.

Aulich, J., 2018. 'A Ring of Paper. East Central European Posters from the First World War: Identity and Identification'. In Emotions in arms - Poster art in the First World War (1914-1918), Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest.

Faulkner, S., Vis, F., D'Orazio, F., 2018. 'Analysing Social Media Images'. In Burgess, J., Marwick, A., Poell, T. (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Social Media, SAGE.

Faulkner, S., 2018. 'Photographic witnessing, the occupation and Palestinian politics'. In Schankweiler, K., Straub, V., Wendl, T. (eds.) Image Testimonies: Witnessing in Times of Social Media, Routledge.

Oliver, E., 2018. 'Tasting Joyce (curated event)'. In Oliver, E. (eds.) Tasting Joyce, pp. 15-25, Manchester Metropolitan University, Sheffield Uk.

Macdonald, GE., 2018. 'Traces, tiles and fleeting moments: art and the temporalities of geomedia'. In Gekker, A., Hind, S., Lammes, S., Perkins, C., Wilmott, C., Evans, D. (eds.) Time for mapping : cartographic temporalities, Manchester University Press.

Internet Publications

Faulkner, S., Vis, F., Guy, H., 2020. 'Verifying and questioning images.',

Junior, CG., Greenfield, L., Roar, P., Trustram, M., 2018. 'Four Approaches to the Journal',

Ong, J., 2018. 'It's Nice That - Transient Space is a public gallery in a non-space',

Journal Articles

Child, D., 2020. 'Artistic Economies: Shelter, Food and Clothing', Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry, 49, pp. 107-114.

Atkin, SL., 2020. 'Fashion in Motion', tbc.

Aulich, J., Ikoniadou, M., 2020. 'Ghost Stories for Grown-Ups: Pictorial Matters in Times of War and Conflict', Humanities, 9 (2), pp. 44-44.

Sykas, P., 2019. 'Design', Textile History, 50 (1), pp. 73-81.

Sykas, PA., 2019. 'Fabric-covered cars: motor engineering and fashion', Aspects of Motoring History, 15, pp. 3-15.

Faulkner, S., 2019. 'Late photography, military landscapes, and the politics of memory', The Open Arts Journal, 3 (3), pp. 123-136.

Manley, J., Trustram, M., 2018. ''Such endings that are not over': The slave trade, Social Dreaming and affect in a museum', Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society.

Oliver, E., 2018. 'From Gaze to Witness: Masculinity and Loss in George Shaw's Paintings of Tile Hill', FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & the Arts, 27.

Barber, F., 2018. 'Performative Self-Portraiture, Femmage, and Feminist Histories of Irish Art: Amanda Coogan's Snails, after Alice Maher (2010)', Études irlandaises, 43 (43-1).

Non-Peer Reviewed Articles

Sykas, PA., 2019. 'Nenadic and Tuckett, Colouring the Nation: The Turkey Red Printed Cotton Industry in Scotland c. 1840-1940', The Scottish Historical Review, 98 (1), pp. 152-153.

Sykas, PA., 2018. 'Karen Finch, OBE 1921-2018', Textile History, 49 (2), pp. 224-227.

Conference Papers

Child, D., 2019. 'Reconsidering Contemporary Artistic Practice as a Condition of Labour', STASIS #1: Art and labor, MoMUS, Thessaloniki ,Greece, 30/11/2019 - 30/11/2019.

Child, D., 2018. ''Fabricating Value (The Invisible Hand of the Maker)'', King's College London/Courtauld Institute of Art.

Sykas, P., 2018. 'Design: Reflections and Directions', Pasold Research Fund Conference 2018: Fifty years of Textile History: Cloth, Dress, Fashion, Museum of London, UK, 16/11/2018 - 16/11/2018.

Sykas, P., 2018. 'Travels in the archive: From conventions of production to cultural meaning', Facing the objects: Methods for object-based textile research, Nordiska Museet, Stockholm, 25/10/2018 - 25/10/2018.

Other Outputs

Child, D., 2020. 'Labouring Bodies: Art, Work and History'.