Art and Design: History, Theory and Practice

Working in collaboration with internationally renowned organisations, creative communities and practitioners to stimulate innovative practice and highlight the impact of artists and designers on us all. Strategic thinking in Art and Design helps people to develop the ability to work towards change.

Art and Design: History, Practice & Theory


Many of our partnerships are based on a genuine desire to tackle aspects of societal challenges facing local communities globally; the need for people to belong and to have their cultural contribution recognised, the need for cities to change to meet technological and economic shifts while taking various and varying communities with them on the journey and importantly, the need to play a central part in an ecologically sustainable strategy for the global built environment.

Our collaborations have been primarily forged, sustained and are maintained, within the public sector; including major international museums services; publicly funded art galleries; libraries; art and history archives, public record offices, county and city council arts development units, city planning units; cultural strategy groups; city re-generation agencies and a number of community arts projects. Most recently significant commercial partnerships have developed around sustainable materials for building.

Each grouping is infused with a passionate belief in art and design as a tool for change. During the past decade projects have made strong alliances, often making unconventional connections across sectors, and we are building upon this past local/international work by developing joint funding applications, innovative business partnerships and artists’ collaborations. We continue to press forward to influence major museum acquisitions, to disseminate the fruits of self- publishing projects across Europe and the U.S.A, share making facilities to embrace cross cultural international creative conversations and to keep the debates around the development of the region alive. We aim to do this whilst maintaining a fluid and ambitious approach to building upon future School partnerships in the international arena.


Making Histories Visible excavates creative histories and works with major museums to connect communities with their local and international heritage to ultimately encourage a sense of belonging and contribution across both. Our most recent collaboration with Tate Britain Thin Black Line(s) achieved more than one million visitors and sparked debates about recorded histories, acknowledged archives and the connectivity of diasporan cultural activity. Our collaborations have led to acquisition of work highlighted by the projects by major museums and galleries. This helps to ensure future display opportunities for the work itself, vital for sharing the creative histories of artists of African /Asian descent with audiences seeking reassurance and an integrated sense of belonging, as well as with academics seeking to integrate this research into the canon of British Art where it belongs. The display, access and development of our Black Art Archive on campus has encouraged, along with the dissemination of the on line journal ‘Colourcode’, a steady growth of interest in the recent history and development of work by artists from the Black Diaspora. We have in place plans to continue working with both regional and major internationally recognised museums to allow them to show sensitive and never formerly displayed material around slavery. This work will encourage extensive dialogue around collecting and display while facilitating a respectful dialogue with core audiences and culturally diverse partners.

Silicates Research Unit addresses the pace of new building development and the ever greater amounts of waste material that end up as landfill. We are exploring how these might be combined within a fusing process for the development of sustainable material with unique aesthetic qualities while examining the creative and commercial potential of the material for architects and designers. Potential applications include interior and exterior tiling, decorative facing brick and surface material, including kitchen work surfaces. The unit is currently working with Recycling Lives Lancashire and the research is moving towards commercial manufacturing.

In Certain Places continues to attract international artists and partnerships to work with the city such as Alfredo Jaar, Blast Theory, Jeppe Hein and others, as a result of its innovative approach to creating projects with artists which reveal, critique and provoke new understandings of a place and peoples. The programme commission’s temporary public artworks, projects typically last between one and two years, that examine the contribution that artists can make to the development of the city; whilst also engaging in a wider debate through the dissemination of texts and presentations. Strategies are employed to construct extended relationships with communities and their infrastructures while at the same time examining different approaches to gaining an understanding of a place’s complex socio- historical construction. The act of commissioning is a tool for investigation and will continue to develop as the project grows beyond the commissioning of a major feature film and into international partnerships across Europe. As a result of the impact of the work carried out so far it has been invited to work with Preston City Council planning department as part of its team to produce an Area Action Plan for the city centre

Collaborative Engagements consist of a cluster of four research projects with a broad reach across several creative communities. This grouping as a whole engages in cross project international activity in India, Pakistan, Poland, France, the U.S.A. and Germany.

  • Higher Education Research in Art & Design
  • Testing Space: interventions in independent publishing
  • Sound/Image Mix: encounters between sound, music and the visual arts
  • Fashion for Inclusivity: working with the clothed body

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