Works in progress

We are currently looking for contributions from cluster members to feature your works in progress on the Material Encounters website. It would be really helpful if you could let us know what you are working on at the moment by sending us some images and texts about your works. It may sound ambitious, but we think it is possible to create an online space where we could see what our peers are doing, much like having others working in their studios beside us! (Click to see an example)

Everything seems tentative and surreal at the moment with the pandemic, and it has definitely affected the ways we connect with people and ideas. The difficulty of accessing the practices of others, particularly tacit knowing through material engagement, is further compounded by our remote connection with other practitioners.

It would be interesting to see how works evolve through time and in tandem with others, much like a working document. We are not expecting anything perfect or even complete, but something that would keep us all engaged with our making.

You could also send us links to your social media pages. This could be your blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin and other social media sites you are currently using. Imagine the dynamic connections one could experience starting with a single site!

If you are interested to share, please send the relevant information to either or


From 10 – 17 December 2020, Jennifer Ng presented ‘Peranakan Whispers’ at The Substation Gallery in  Singapore. The “Blackboard Schemes” Exhibition featured artists of the Fertile Art Refinery (FAR), creating an experimental and process-centric platform to promote collective reflexivity and connectivity. This organic unity with a multiplicity of practices by 30 artists include themes such as society and the pandemic, representation of women, bio ecology, the ideas of craft and fine art, and other intriguing artistic lenses.

Whispers – a strange way to speak, speaking in secrecy, speaking in a way that only close ones can hear you, a private conversation.. can you actually hear it ? what do you really hear?

This performance video with a Singaporean collaborator Wilson Goh, was developed as part of Jennifer’s experiment to articulate displaced or lost meanings/objects through dialogue/non-dialogue, connection/ disconnection/reconnection through interfacing portals between distant lands.

Big Draw award

Remember Jim, Matt and Deb? Canadian Artists Jim Holyoak and Matt Shane shared their drawing experiences with the Cluster in 2019 as they took a day out from their immense all gallery drawings at Mac Birmingham. Debbie Kermode the CEO and Artistic Director of Mac shared with us the curation history behind the show and what was planned. This included drawing days in Cannon Hill Park and a Big Draw day in the gallery, not on the walls, but on the floor! They and their work at Mac has been awarded the Big Draw Best Museum and Gallery award.

Matt and Jim explain rabbit inspiration
Debbie Kermode at Margaret Street

“The Big Draw Festival 2019 Award Winners Announced”

The Big Draw has recognised the work by awarding Mac, Jim and Matt with the Best Museum and Gallery Award for the day’s work. ‘Among their many events, MAC coordinated a large-scale collaborative work which was later displayed in the public foyer.’ Big Draw:

Jim and Matt led the public engagement day where anyone entering the gallery could pick up a mark making tool and draw on the floor. They introduced the day with short presentations of their drawing inspirations and motivations which became inspiration for a constant flow of drawers throughout the day. The final floor wide drawing was celebrated with its hanging in the Mac foyer alongside a time lapse video of its making.

More about the show on Mac website and watch the time lapse to see how the full floor drawing was created.

Big Draw Press release:


 From the Expression Editors:

It is a pleasure to offer you a complimentary copy of EXPRESSION 30.    This issue, the fourth one to appear during the Coronavirus pandemic,    faces a crucial theme, that of identity, which bothers a large   percentage of the human beings, of societies and of nations. It also    concerns students and scholars, trying to define the identity of past    and present cultures. The selected articles range in different    directions and should stimulate other contributions on the same    general topic: the identity of a culture, an age, or a social trend.    Five articles face the problems of identity of different ages and    different nature, in four different continents: Africa, America, Asia    and Europe. Amélie Balazut considers the paintings of French    Paleolithic caves, looking at the problem of human identity in    Paleolithic times, seeing the totemic animal counterpart of man as a    source of identity. How did Paleolithic people conceive their images    of half human and half animal beings? Stavros Kiotsekoglou analyzes    the meaning of the similarity of two archeological sites, one in    Greece and the other in Italy, stressing coincidences and what appears    to be common elements of identity despite the geographical distance:    cultural identity or pure coincidence? Jitka Soukopova faces the    confrontation between two different cultural identities,    hunter-gatherers and pastoralists, of a few thousand years ago, in the    oases of North Africa, when what is now desert was greener. How do    their rock paintings help defining their cultural identity? Emmanuel    Anati deals with the earliest known urban settlement in the Near East,    which came into existence in the age of hunter-gatherers, searching    for the identity of its founders and for the process that led to its    birth and development. What was the function of a fortified town among    clans of hunters? And Giuseppe Orefici explores the identity of the    makers of the extraordinary geoglyphs at Nasca, in Peru, their    religious beliefs and their social performances. What was the function    of miles-long cleaned and managed grounds and of the large size images    which are hardly visible from the ground? The attempts at defining    identity will be further considered in forthcoming issues. We hope    that you will be stimulated by these cases of cultural identity.    Those having something to say on the topic are welcome to participate    in this open sharing of knowledge and ideas.    Expression 30:    <;;sdata=4av3jRNNjPEsLEoPr3BtrSUUmBS%2BqaVf2oUCcNVgx%2Fw%3D&amp;reserved=0>    

Cordial regards and best wishes for the coming festivities and for a    new year free of pandemics!    Emmanuel Anati    (EXPRESSION General Editor)

Impact Printmaking Journal

The IMPACT Printmaking Journal has been published online. In is the second edition of the journal borne of the IMAPACT Print Biennale that is in its twentieth year. Some ME members will know of IMPACT as they have participated in the international Conferences, most recently in Santander in 2018. The Journal is edited by Wuon-Gean Ho, who suggests it would be lovely to hear from you. ME member Edward (Jonnie) Turpie has an article in the new journal.

IMPACT stands for ‘International Multi-disciplinary Printmaking: Artists, Concepts and Techniques’, which takes the form of a conference that is run every other year. The next are scheduled for March 2021 in Hong Kong, and 2023 in Bristol.

The IMPACT Printmaking Journal is an open-access peer-reviewed academic publication. There is no fee to submit and no fee to read the articles. All articles published from Autumn 2020 onwards are published under a creative commons licence CC BY 4.0. For more information on this licence please see here 

IMPACT Printmaking Journal supports scholarly and critical debate in the field of print: advancing technological knowledge, contextualizing print, talking about the poetry and language of print, and maintaining a showcase for print practitioners. 

Novel contributions from academics, scientists, writers, philosophers, students, graduates and independent artists alike are warmly welcomed. All contributions will be peer-reviewed by a panel of peer-reviewers. ​

The IMPACT Journal is published by the Centre for Fine Print Research (CFPR) at the University of the West of England.     ISSN 2732-5490  

PRACTICE-SHARING EVENT: Unknowing, Process and Material Thinking

1st December 2020 | 14:00-15:00 GMT | Online |

The next Material Encounters cluster event will focus on practice-sharing where cluster members will talk about their research practice for up to 5 minutes, using a ‘piece’ of their practice as a starting point. This could be, for example, an image, object or piece of sound; that is, something that embodies or represents in its materiality or (im)material form their research.

In art, there is“… a very specific sort of knowing, a knowing that arises through handling materials in practice. This form of tacit knowledge provides a very specific way of understanding the world, one that is grounded in material practice or (to borrow Paul Carter’s term) “material thinking”. The concept of material thinking offers us a way of considering the relations that take place within the very process or tissue of making. In this conception, the materials are not just passive objects to be used instrumentally by the artist, but rather, the materials and processes of production have their own intelligence that come into play in interaction with the artist’s creative intelligence.” [1]

In reference to the quote from Barbara Bolt above, cluster members will specifically talk about things that have prompted or encapsulate the unknown, process and/or material thinking.

Our aim is to prompt discussion from member’s practice-sharing, as well as to potentially initiate further collaboration and networking.

[1] Bolt, Barbara. “The Magic is in Handling” in Practice as Research Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry, edited by Estelle Barrett and Barbara Bolt, 29-30. New York and London: I.B.Taurus & Co, 2007.

Association for Art History annual conference

Bringing together current research and critical debate about art, art history and visual cultures

Online Event
Wednesday 14 – Saturday 17 April 2021

Who should attend the 2021 Annual Conference?
The Annual Conference is open to all.  If you are doing research about art, art history or visual culture this online event is a perfect opportunity to share your research ideas. Or you can come along to listen and engage with new research. The Annual Conference is popular with academics, curators, artists, phd students, early career researchers, publishers, writers and anyone engaged with art history research. The conference is open to art historians and non art historians, and to members and non members. Everyone is welcome.

More details and booking link:

DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP: Peer-review, publishing and editorial roles

17th November 2020 | 15:00-16:00 GMT | Online |

Cluster members, PGR and ADM BCU staff are invited to join us for the first in a series of Cluster Writing Workshops that will take place over the coming academic year. This informal session will include feedback from two current doctoral students, Harriet Carter and Edward (Jonnie)Turpie, who have both recently been through the peer-review process attached to journal/publication acceptance. This can be a daunting process however, being informed from the outset can make the process far easier to navigate towards a successful outcome. Joining Harriet and Edward, cluster leads Dr Catherine Baker and Dr Jacqueline Taylor will also share their editorial insights. This event is designed to shed light on both sides of the process, highlighting potential pitfalls, following guidance and the importance of permissions and copyrights.

Book your free ticket via Eventbrite here.

Any queries can be made directly or via the new email address. 

Additional Writing Workshops will be hosted online over the year, the second of which will focus on writing funding bids and it will take place in December 2020, further details to follow.

Thinking Through Drawing

‘Teaching drawing online: a showcase of examples and resources for artists and educators’

Material Encounters member Chloe Regan delivered a workshop with the University of the West of England Drawing Research Group on ‘Teaching drawing online: a showcase of examples and resources for artists and educators’ at Thinking Through Drawing Symposium 2020

Contributors to the workshop presented their experience and advice on teaching drawing online and included:

Chloe Regan, Material Encounters Lecturer and Flying Faculty in Visual Communication at Birmingham City University and Birmingham Institute of Fashion and creative arts in China.

Dr Catherine Baker, Material Encounters Associate Professor in the school of Fine Art at Birmingham City University, who has lectured widely on and participated in a number of international drawing initiatives.

Drawing Room, London, is an internationally renowned gallery, unique library and arts organisation that is dedicated to opening up the world of contemporary drawing to everyone. ROCK PAPER SCISSORS is a major part of Drawing Room’s engagement programme which puts children at the centre and explores with them – alongside their teachers, schools, families and artists – what drawing can be.

The Good Ship Illustration, offer no nonsense advice to illustrators and image makers navigating a creative career. They offer online courses and a Friday night art club on Instagram.

Jake Spicer, Draw Brighton: Draw is an independent drawing school in Brighton and has been providing flexible and affordable painting, printmaking and drawing classes since 2009. Under usual circumstances Draw accepts 10 students a year on the long-term Atelier course and provides a daily tutored and untutored programme for over 1000 different drop-in students a year; currently Draw is providing life drawing resources and online classes during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sarah Hyndman, a graphic designer, author, and public speaker, who leads international typography workshops using drawing.

Meg Buick, an artist and Associate Lecturer at UWE Bristol. Meg studied at the Royal Drawing School in London, and exhibits her drawings internationally.

Chloe Briggs, an artist and teacher of drawing. Since 2008 she has been Head of Foundation at Paris College of Art. In 2013 she created, ‘Drawing is Free’ an initiative that brings different  people together through collaborations and events to draw.

Stefan Gant, an Artist and Senior Lecturer in Drawing and Digital Practice at the University of Northampton. Stefan’s practice and research explores intersections of traditional drawing processes and interdisciplinary digital practice. He is currently artist in residence with The School of Archaeology, University of Oxford (2019-2023) based at Blenheim Palace.

The online international symposium was held in collaboration with Indiana University Southeast, State University of New York at New Paltz, and The Big Draw.

Full symposium programme:

Introduction to the workshop:

The workshop:

Drawing as a Research Tool

As we have a number of researchers who are interested in Drawing Research, we thought that you might be interested in this Volume of Studies in Material Thinking (sadly no longer funded):

There are other volumes but this one focuses on Drawing as a Research Tool. Perhaps a reading gathering might also be a good idea?

Devious Tools

Blame the Tools: 

Crafty Robots, Well-behaved Implements and Disobedient Devices

2-6pm, 8 October 2020 (NEW DATE)


There has been a long-standing recognition in the arts, humanities, and the social sciences, of the importance of tools and implements, and the ways in which they are used to create, transform and enhance objects. The character of these tools – the ways in which tools are handled, the skills and practices that underpin and enable their use and application – has received less attention. Yet it is the character of the tool and its embodied use, that becomes critical in the creation of – and our encounter with – objects and artefacts. 

Together with practitioners and academics from across disciplines, this symposium invites makers, curators, crafters, designers, historians, artists, collectors, architects, storytellers, users and social scientists to share understandings of the tool from multiple viewpoints:

·    How might digital technologies create new affinities with traditional tools and craft practices, and provide distinctive new ways of creating and encountering material objects?

·    What is the importance of imagination and adaptation in the use of traditional and non-traditional tools?

·    How does tool use contribute towards structures and practices of co-making and social agency?

·    And what part does it play in circular economy?

Keynote: Phil Ayres – architect, researcher and educator. He is Associate Professor at Centre for Information Technology and Architecture (CITA), which he joined in 2009 after a decade of teaching and research at the Bartlett, University College London. 

Full programme will be announced soon!

Tickets: Free via Eventbrite

The symposium is convened by Dr Jason Cleverly and Professor Adrian Friend.

Project partners: King’s College London and London Craft Week.