Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Painting

  • Academic
  • Research
Dr Moyra Derby

Dr Moyra Derby is an artist and researcher working with painting and pictorial conventions, with an emphasis on the spatial and durational contingencies of exhibition and the curatorial as a research process. Moyra works to develop links to regional arts organisations and networks, facilitating professional practice opportunities for students and graduates. Currently Lead Tutor for Year 2 on the BA Fine Art at UCA Canterbury.


A painting-based studio practice informs exhibitions, writing, curation and collaboration, engaging with emerging research in neuropsychology and cognitive science to explore the perceptual and attentional conditions of painting and the social, political and ethical aspects of pictorial encounter. 

Born in Omagh, Northern Ireland, and now based in East Kent, Moyra studied at the University of Ulster at Belfast and Cheltenham School of Art before graduating with an MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art and has recently completed a practice-based PhD at the University of Kent that reimagines attentional capacities for painting. A founding Trustee of Crate Studios and Project Space in Margate, an arts organisation that brings a radical social consciousness to supporting artists and cultural producers, and with a history of innovative curatorial initiatives and networked projects, including the Crate Curatorial Bursary and Collaborative Research Group.

Writing on painting and the pictorial includes: The Productive Inadequacy of Image for Contemporary Painting: Image Based Operations in the Work of Beth Harland, Jacqueline Humphries and R H Quaytman, in The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts, Vol 2:1 2021, Models of Attention in the Journal of Contemporary Painting, Vol 5:1 2019 and Indexing Notes on Painting, a catalogue text for Notes on Painting II, London 2018, Constraints between Picture and Painting: Some considerations at a distance, Journal of Contemporary Painting Vol 2:2 2016, Depth as Breadth in Rotation: Tableau as Holding Apparatus, Journal for Visual Arts Practice, Vol 12:1, 2013, Visualising Painting: A Space Drawn in Ratio catalogue text for catalogue essay to accompany exhibition ‘Limber: Spatial Painting Practices’ at Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury and Grandes Galeries de L’Erba, Rouen

Recent exhibition projects include Diagramming: The space of a painting, the space of a room a solo show at The Foundry Gallery, London in 2023, In Correspondence: Moyra Derby and Della Gooden, a 2 person exhibition and exchange, exploring spatial and material contingencies and the duration of experience for painting, RAUMX, London in 2022, and room plan solo installation at Studio 3 Gallery, Jarman Building, University of Kent 2022, Grid Narrative for Sophie Germain, Sibson Building, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science, University of Kent 2022, Notes on Painting II a group exhibition at Koppel Project Central, London 2019, Interval [ ] still : now at Tintype Gallery, London 2018. 

Also with a background as a curator, with co-curated projects at The Nunnery Gallery London, Le LAAC, Lieu d'Art et Action Contemporaine, Dunkerque, The Metropole Galleries, Folkestone, Herbert Read Gallery, Canterbury, Arch 402 Gallery, London, and Artary Galerie, Stuttgart.

Research statement

The capacities of painting to capture, hold and disperse attention, connecting the social, political and ethical aspects of pictorial encounter with neuropsychological and cognitive research. The durations and spatial contingencies of looking, and the rapport between painting and architecture supported by research into perceptual processes, multi-sensory collaboration, memory and imagination. The work involves mathematical systems and exponential sequences, storing associative approaches to colour and material. Often made in research conversation with specific art historical sources that challenge or complicate the category of painting, their status as paintings interchangeable with their potential as shelves, screens, or storage within interior space.

Research supervision

Moyra is interested in proposals from research degree applicants in areas that connect with research concerns in painting, pictorial practices, curating, pictorial art histories, image studies, the neuropsychology of attention, distraction as a creative cognitive mode, painting as material encounter, the ethical aspects of visuality.

Professional Membership, Affiliation and Consultancy

  • Editorial board of the Journal of Contemporary Painting since 2016
  • Founding Trustee of Crate Studio & Project Space
  • Partner in ‘Thinking Deep’ at Royal Holloway, London
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 
  • 2018-22 External Examiner, BA Fine Art Extension Degree Goldsmiths, University of London
  • 2016-19 External Examiner, MA Painting, Wimbledon College of Art, UAL
  • 2009 External Panel Member Painting Revalidation, Royal College of Art  
  • The Basil H Alkazzi Travel Award to New York
  • RCA Cité Internationale des Arts Residency
  • British Institution Fund Painting Award
  • Royal Overseas League Commonwealth Travel Scholarship 
Dr Moyra Derby