Dr Mary-lou Barratt
Mary-lou has held a range of academic positions, including associate lecturer with the BA (Hons) Fine Art course at Oxford Brookes University and course tutor with the BA (Hons) Visual Art and Communication course at Canterbury College of Higher Education.
She has been a studio tutor and taught contextual and critical studies across several UCA courses, including BA (Hons) Illustration, the Graduate Diploma in Art and Design and the International Foundation in Art and Design. Currently Year One Tutor with BA (Hons) Fine Art at UCA Canterbury, Mary-lou has recently initiated a research project focusing on enhancing understanding of the year one experience: The First Year Experience: Undergraduate Retention and Engagement in the context of a Specialist Institution and Creative Arts Courses.
Mary-lou’s specialist area can be summarised as the meshes of radically expanded art and socio-political activism, post-1960. Mary-lou has developed this specialist interest over the many years she has spent working as a freelance socially-engaged artist, often as part of the collaborative B+K. This has involved a wide range of initiatives, such as setting up and running an Artist in Residence programme with a L’Arche Community, and working with various organisations and constituencies including Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the London Biennale, the Dream Plan Project, English Heritage, the Public Art Research Centre, several youth groups and Kent County Council. Mary-lou has also furthered this interest through her studies.
After Mary-lou gained her BA (Hons) Fine Art and MA Fine Art with Kent Institute of Art and Design, she took up a PhD with Oxford Brookes University. Her doctoral thesis, We are the Revolution? The ‘Creative Social Action’ of La Fiambrera, Skart and Superflex, and its Contribution to Sustainable Social Change, examined the utopian thinking, participatory strategies and value-orientation of contemporary radically expanded art practices in order to shed new light on how such practices might effect radical social changes.
Since 2010, Mary-lou has also been an Associate Researcher with, and member of, The Sculpture Question, a research project initiated through the Schools of Fine Arts and Postgraduate Studies at UCA that investigates the challenges contemporary ‘sculpture’ presents to art education, and the possibilities that these challenges open up.
With a specialist focus on the role of radically expanded art in sustainable social change, Mary-lou’s research interests include investigating theories of revolution, and the experience of ‘rents in the real’ and ‘aesthetic enlivening.’ For example, she is currently exploring the anaesthetising force of normative structures that dislocate us from our innate ‘power-to,’ and ways in which these structures might be challenged.
Mary-lou is pursuing this through academic research and her practice as a BASE jumper. Her research encompasses areas such as:
- Radically expanded notions of art/social sculpture
- Mind-body as a locus for radical socio-political change
- Notions of power – power-over/power-for/power-to
- Notions of participation – how/for who/in what/why
- Beuysian notions of the permanent conference and the individual as political
- Psychogeography/psychogeographic practices
- The genderisation of risk
- Approaches to, and uses of, fear
Mary-lou has recently completed UCA’s Doctoral Supervisor training programme.
Current UCA research student:
- Anna Falcini (Mary-lou has recently joined the team as third supervisor)
Professional Membership, Affiliation and Consultancy
Since 2010: Associate researcher with, and member of, The Sculpture Question - a research project initiated through the Schools of Fine Arts and Postgraduate Studies at UCA that investigates the challenges contemporary ‘sculpture’ presents to art education, and the possibilities that these challenges open up.
- AHRC Doctoral Award in the Arts & Humanities, Oxford Brookes University (2006–2010)
- Oxford Brookes University PhD Studentship in Social Sculpture (2003–2006).