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Materials 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 international student cohort and by the practices of the four artists who teach on the programme. These four artists share a deep fascination with material culture and its relation to artistic transformation, and this investment underlines the pedagogic thrust of the programme.

The aim of the Materials Research Project is to research and promote material knowledge. This 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 an appropriate material, process or application in order to develop and fine-tune the relation between material, idea and image. The results of research and related information stemming from investigation include exhibitions in the Material Museum.

The Materials Research Project is led by Lecturers Jo Volley and Gary Woodley, and is developed in tandem with the Discourse Project under the direction of Lecturer Estelle Thompson.

The Materials Research Project has three strands:

  1. 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, aluminum.
  2. Methods Surgery – Research is conducted to resolve a technical materials-based undertaking or problem that a student or staff member has encountered with a particular artwork.
  3. Documentation – The results of research are documented. Information ranges from recipes for paints and grounds, to cataloguing materials and disseminating insights into experiences with materials, and includes a Pigment Library and a photographic project entitled ‘Surface Photographs’, which is close up imaging of the painted surface.

The Materials Research Project has received generous support from Winsor & Newton, John Purcell Paper, AP Fitzpatrick, Kremer Pigmente Pantone and Derivan.

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