Material Research Project
A defining characteristic of Slade Graduate Painting is the diversity of approaches to painting that includes paint on panels and stretched canvas, indoor and outdoor murals and installation-based painting in which objects, moving images, photography, printmaking and performance can play a significant role. This richness is shaped both by the culturally diverse global student cohort and in the last decade, by the practice of the four artists who taught on the programme from 2009 – 2019. These artists – Lisa Milroy, Estelle Thompson, Jo Volley and Gary Woodley – share a deep fascination with material culture and its relation to artistic transformation, which underlined the pedagogic thrust of the programme. The Material Research Project was a natural outcome of these critical perspectives.
The aim of the Material Research Project is to research and promote material knowledge. The project focuses on testing new ways to develop the relation between image and material, including the exploration of diverse cultural materials and methodologies. Research is conducted to resolve material-related problems to identify and appropriate material, process or application in order to develop and fine-tune the relation between material, idea and image.
The Materials Research Project is currently under the direction of Jo Volley and was co-directed by Jo and Lecturer Gary Woodley from 2010-2019.
The Materials Research Project is defined by three strands:
- Guided Exploration – Testing new ways of developing the relation between image and material. Different cultural materials and methodologies are explored, supported by a growing materials sample library. Technical Talks and seminars are conducted regularly on a wide range of materials-related subjects, such as the properties of industrial paints and varnishes; investigating material as immaterial; supports and surfaces – laminate, veneer, vinyl, acrylic, aluminium.
- Methods Surgery – Research was conducted to resolve a technical-based undertaking or problem that a student or staff member had encountered with a particular artwork.
- Documentation –The results of research were documented, ranging from recipes for paints and grounds to cataloguing materials and disseminating insights into experiences with materials. This gave rise to an ambitious project entitled Surface Photographs (close up imaging of painted surfaces) and the Pigment Library.