Call for Papers

Symposium 2016

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


Workshop: Tues -Thurs  20-22 September

Symposium: Fri  23 September 2016

Place: Fine Art Department, Wolverhampton School of Art, UK.



Aim and Purpose:

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.


Possible topics:

  • the role of the artist’s studio from a multidisciplinary perspective (including, but not limited to artistic practitioners, art theorists, curators, cultural geographers.
  • to what extent the teaching of creative disciplines through ‘dirty’ Fine Art practice (painting, sculpture, printmaking) ironically becomes a subversive activity for staff and students in today’s art schools.
  • the urgency for practice led-approaches and the conviction, that knowledge is derived from ‘doing and the senses’ in a way that could not be achieved through other approaches.
  • the concept of dirt, often defined as ‘matter out of place’ (Douglas, Purity and Danger, 1966) proves to be productive in artistic practices and re-visits notions of failure and the anti-systematic as effective strategies in artistic practices?
  • the creative potential of impurities or ‘anomalies’ (such as dirt) and in what ways such subversive potential stand in clear conflict with traditional classification (such as traditional skill sets or regimented environments).

Please submit abstracts of up to 250 words for either a presentation or a proposal for practice-based work to:


Extended Deadline: 15 July 2016.
Christian Mieves, Fine Art, Wolverhampton University