Wash Hand Symbol


Dirty Practice: Don’t Wash your Hands!
Constructive Cross Contamination of the Arts and the Institution

Short Residency and Symposium / Wolverhampton School of Art / 1-5 July 2019.


To see the schedule for Dirty Practice 2019:
Please click here


Art theorist Boris Groys reminds us of the importance of external inspiration within art education, of what he describes as a modernist feature of the “other within”, or becoming other (2009, 32). In what he proclaims provocatively as ‘art as infection’, he traces the relation between the art school (and by implication the artist studio) ‘infecting’ or polluting the world and vice versa (30). Groys expands: ‘Artists need to modify the immune system of their art in order to incorporate new aesthetic bacilli, to survive them and find a new inner balance, a new definition of health’ (28).

In this year’s Dirty Practicewe announce: Don’t wash your hands!or How do we perceive ourselves within the sterile language of HE frameworks.

Bacteria, dirt and parasites, we could say, offer another breach of boundaries, though the paradoxical and often contrary overlap of activities: the parasite or bacteria, within biological, ecological realm can be both guest/host, active/passive harmful and beneficial. Michel Serres uses the figure of the parasite as a cypher that disrupts clear categorization, beyond the idea of infestation. It becomes ‘a break in the message’ where we are ‘parasites of each other and live amidst parasites’, while the notion who benefits from whom becomes impossible (Serres 1982, p. 8).

We invite responses that deal with educational structures (and spaces) through a wide range of artistic practices that reflect on the increasingly denigrated and ‘sanitised’ language of an institutionalised Art School environment.

Participants 2019:

Adkins, Kirsten , PhD candidate, WSA

Ayliffe, Maggie Wolverhampton School of Art

Beattie, Clare  UCA

Byrne, Sarah WSA

Sean Derrick  WSA

Holly Herzberg  WSA

Sacha Smith WSA

Collins, Rebecca WSA

Crawford, Holly  Artist, New York

Gale, Matt BCU

Griffin, Aaron  Staffordshire University

Kelland, Dean WSA

Kemshell, Edward WSA

Magdeburg, Rachel PhD candidate, WSA

Mccoig, Mac WSA

Metherell, Lisa Birmingham City University

Mieves, Christian WSA

Norton, Jan WSA

Rogers, Gavin WSA

Rohr, Doris Liverpool Hope University

Sanderson, Jackaline  WSA

Shirley, Stephen WSA

Ward, Henry Freelands Foundation, London



Screenshot 2019-05-17 at 14.40.17 Source: Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969!, Proposal for an exhibition ‘Care'” (1969)

Dirty Practice Event 2018

Art School Today: Who cares?

Developing a culture of care within a disembodied institution

Short Residency and Symposium

Wolverhampton School of Art

25-29 June 2018.


  • Studio Residence Talks Dirty Practice 2018 Art School Today: Who Cares?
  • Maggie Ayliffe, Christian Mieves, Dirty Practice 2018 Art School Today: Who Cares?
  • Dr Jenny Walden Portsmouth University
  • Frederiek Bennema Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen.
  • Dr Atsuhide Ito Solent University, Southampton
  • Jennifer Warren University of the Arts London, Dirty Practice 2018
  • Dr Dean Kelland, Wolverhampton School of Art
  • Dr Dean Kelland, Wolverhampton School of Art
  • Roundtable discussion With Contributions from Resident artists including Jackie Sanderson, Rachel Magdeburg, Patricia Newell, Mac Mccoig, Lisa Metherell, Paul Scull.
  • Michael Brennand-Wood, Dirty Practice 2018
  • Studio Residence Talks Thursday, 28 June 2018, 12-1 Laura Onions Wolverhampton School of Art


Fine Art programmes have been increasingly embedded into large HE providers and forced to operate on restricted, generic, fragmented teaching models shaped by managerialism. As result, a division of services prevent students and staff from developing a meaningful relationship to the course and subject. Responding to an intensified economic crisis and academic demands around success, ‘clamorous individualism’ seems to eclipse any consideration for community, the other or one’s own well-being.   Indeed, the ‘academic turn’ in art education since the 1980s (Elkins, 2018, X) correlates with a putative lack and inability to think and talk together: ‘Splitting up of institutions, courses into modules, showing a lack of communication, link, institutional structures that do not allow any identification, nor do they have often a direct personal line for communication for reasons of efficiency’ (Isaacs, 1999).

This ‘high performance culture’ within the current educational system effaces any sense of care or ‘indebtedness’ to the other, yet this seems essential within art education.  As curator Jan Verwoert argues: ‘To practice a politics of dedication and recognise an indebtedness to the other as the condition of your own ability to perform means to acknowledge the importance of care’ (2007, 99).

In this context we define the need and notion of ‘care’ as a value often marginalised in the institutional debate, but essential to the long-term and sustained maintenance of a person, place or object. The verb ‘to care’ implies a level of altruism, a way of being in the institution that is intrinsically different to the ‘clamorous individualism’ and neo-liberal economic agenda. Care then, as has been argued, shows the potential to ‘overrule’ the economic demands (Verwoert 2017,99).


Speakers and participant artists:

Frederiek Bennema, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen
Michael Brennand-Wood, Artist, London
Gavin Rogers, Wolverhampton School of Art

Simon Harris, Wolverhampton School of Art
Atsuhide Ito, Fine Art, Solent University, Southampton
Dean Kelland, Wolverhampton School of Art
Robert Knifton, University of Leeds
Rachel Magdeburg, WSA
Mac McCoig, WSA
Lisa Metherell, Birmingham City University
Patricia Newell, WSA
Laura Onions, WSA
Jackie Sanderson, WSA
Paul Scull, Artist, Hertfordshire
Jenny Walden, University of Portsmouth
Jane Webb, Wolverhampton School of Art
Jennifer Warren, University of the Arts London




Download CFP


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Dirty Practice 2016:

The Role of the Artist’s Studio and
the Exploration of Failure in Artistic Practices.

Tues -Fri  20-23 September 2016
Fine Art, Wolverhampton School of Art, UK.

The symposium sets out to explore critically the current artistic framework where manual skills and studio based practices are increasingly denigrated in favour of conceptual or socially engaged art practices. This is partly mirrored in the educational structures (and spaces) found in the new HEI environment where Fine Art departments are increasingly relocated into non-purpose-built, inadequate office type spaces without workshop support.

It is also reflected in the way the artist studio has often been, in a simplifying fashion, linked to a specific art movement and specific type of art work, where the studio ultimately has become a target of the institutional critique or a ‘pathology of the modern.’These institutional and economical structures effectively mitigate against the of ‘dirty’ studio based practices and disciplines such as painting or sculpture. The Studio rather than being the cherished site of individualism and individual expression is potentially a liminal space where the demands of the individual and formal face the social and political scrutiny of the community and public realm.

The symposium aims to bring together divers views from artistic practitioners, theorists, curators, educators, policy makers to ask to what extent Fine Art departments, and the artist’s studio in general, face unprecedented economic and conceptual challenges. We wish to query from a pedagogic and art theoretical perspective ways to maintain and instil the traditional values of studio practice, circumvent the restrictions of economic and spatial organisation and provide a sustainable model of practice.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Speakers and participant artists:

Maggie Ayliffe, Wolverhampton School of Art.
Andrew Bracey, University of Lincoln.
Holly Crawford, Artist, New York, US.
Prof Rebecca Fortnum, Professor of Fine Art, RCA.
Claire Hickey, Artist,  Birmingham.
Sarah Gilbert, Pitzer College, Claremont CA, US.
Dr Simon Harris, Wolverhampton School of Art.
Danica Maier, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham.
Dr Christian Mieves, Wolverhampton School of Art.
Annie Morrad, University of Lincoln.
Christine Stevens, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham.
Elizabeth Wright, University of Lincoln.



Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 01.49.47


Dirty Practice 2015:

The Role of the Artist’s Studio and
the Exploration of Failure in Artistic Practices.

Tues -Fri  20-23 September 2016
Fine Art, Wolverhampton School of Art, UK.

Dirty Practice/ Painting Workshop

22-26 June 2015,  Fine Art, Wolverhampton School of Art

 The week-long workshop aims to provide students with the opportunity to both observe discuss and take part in a sustainable model of studio based practice alongside practitioners who engage in and teach through their own painting practice.

The specialist painting workshops in a ‘master class’ style, offer a small group of students the chance to engage with a professional practitioner, in a small project and engage in a in-depth discussion on painting.

Participant artists include:
Maggie Ayliffe, Simon Harris, Christian Mieves, David Gleeson, Simon Frances

Theme / Theoretical Background:
Art theoretical and educational debates in recent years have foregrounded practice led-approaches and the conviction, that ‘knowledge is derived from doing and the senses’ that could not been achieved through other approaches (Barett 2007, 2).[1]

However, many Fine Art programmes in large HE providers are operating on a restricted, generic model where classes and tutors are carefully timetabled and students work on a range of modules with distinct (but not media specific) learning outcomes.  Despite certain flexibility and free access to studios, students become increasingly comfortable with this mode of study. However our contention is that this framework does not provide an appropriate environment to learn an autonomous studio based discipline such as painting and we are increasingly forced to work ‘outside’ of the written curriculum to deliver a meaningful Fine Art education to our students.







@UWiS_wlv in partnership with the @WLV_Arts & the @WLV_SoABE are hosting the inaugural Stafford Art, Design & Architecture Exhibition at Stafford Shire Hall, 5th-31st Aug 10am-4pm (Mon-Wed-Fri-Sat)Take the Virtual Tour to see our amazing student work 👏👏

Wolverhampton Uni - 1 month to Artist Access to Art Colleges application deadline (9 Sept) for 6 placements (incl. 1 BA graduate & 1 Creative Writer) Opportunity to undertake research or realise a project using art college facilities. More info @WLV_Arts

Ikon is pleased to announce that Birmingham born artist Dean Kelland will be Ikon’s artist in residence for the next three years at HMP Grendon, Buckinghamshire. Funded by the Marie Louise Von Motesiczky Charitable Trust. Find the press release here:

It's the home of British ceramics. It's a creative & innovative city that attracts some serious talent. It's why we couldn't imagine being anywhere else as we celebrate the very best in ceramic art. Join us for #BCB19 from September 7:

Artists sought for 60ft wall painting on Livery Street in Colmore Business District.

The chosen artist will be paid £7,500 for the commission, to be completed in the autumn of this year. Applications must meet the theme of ‘green in the city’.

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