Funded PhD Opportunity A Comparative Study - Artists Run Spaces and Organisations and Managed Art Spaces and Organisations in NI/Ireland

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory


From the 1970s through to the 1990’s there was series of critical, political and creative activities in Belfast that saw the establishment of a significant artists run infrastructure and environment. Initiatives such as the Art and Research Exchange (ARE), inspired in part by the visit of Joseph Beuys and his Northern Ireland workshop of the Free International University was a central catalyst in those early years. ARE was an artist led organisation responding from a marginal position of emerging and early career artists in what Chris Coppock (2006) identified as ‘ideological times’ where social issues and politics had a significant effect on both the philosophy and practice of art. ARE was responding to a significant lack of infrastructure for young artists who were disadvantaged in the hierarchical and conservative arts infrastructure in Northern Ireland at that time. These artists recognised that they needed considerable support and platforms to address the discriminatory and divisive categories of ‘community’ and ‘fine art’ practices and to establish critical dialogues to interrogate the structures and perceptions that perpetuated these divisions and differences. Internationally, artist led initiatives and their critical and discursive conversations, actions and conceptual practices pushed at the boundaries of what were established infrastructure, funding structures, curation and practice accepted in the arts.

On this basis this PhD project proposes a comparative study that takes some of the following questions as a starting point;

*Can a comparison of Artist Run Spaces/Organisations, (I.e. Catalyst Arts, Belfast), with other Managed Arts Spaces/Organisations in Northern Ireland/Ireland, provide insights into their differences and qualities?

*What can we learn from Artist Run Spaces/Organisations in light of the development and establishment of Arts Management, Socio-Economic Policy and Cultural Policies, over the last 30 years in NI/Ireland?

*What differences and distinctions exist between Artists Run Spaces and Organisations, and other Managed Art Spaces and Organisations in NI/Ireland?

*How does the artist’s practice and experience of art practices be shown to influence and contribute to the evolution and running of artists resources, spaces, galleries and organisations within the contemporary visual (Fine) arts sector in NI/Ireland? (What does the experience of contemporary Fine Art Practice enable or provide within the Artist Run sector?

*Can the Artists Run Model provide, or help establish, a sustainable counterpoint to Cultural Management Policies or Socio-Economic Policies for Art and Culture within the area or research?

*How might the Artist Run Model be developed or assisted, supported and sustained, in relation to contemporary and evolving socio-economic agendas within the region of research?

*How might the Artist Run Model best be sustained and supported?

*What socio-economic arguments can be found that support the rational and ethos of the artist run spaces/organisations?

Applications are invited for the PhD project outlined above. This research builds on extensive research and activity in this field and we are interested in receiving proposals to develop a body of research (either a combination of visual and text-based research, or a solely text-based research proposal) for a three-year full time PhD.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Practice-based research experience and/or dissemination
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

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The PhD training programme and regular supervision contacts have provided the direction and support necessary to ensure that I deliver a quality thesis in a timely manner.I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working at Ulster University and feel it has put me in a better position to sustain a full time career as an artist and academic in the years to come.

Jacqueline Wylie

Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
12th to 16th March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr Cherie Driver

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #237477 when applying for this PhD opportunity