Material Culture in Action: Practices of making, collecting and re-enacting art and design (Sep 2015, Glasgow UK)

Dates: 7-8 September 2015
Location: Glasgow School of Art, UK
Contacts: Dr Frances Robertson ( and Dr Elodie Roy (
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15 March 2015

This two-day international conference will investigate new directions in material culture studies by focusing on creative, critical and theoretical engagement with the material culture of art and design, both within and beyond the art school. The material culture of art and design covers a wide range of art practices, from professionally designed works within the art school, to the less official works of the self-taught amateur. An emphasis on processes means paying close attention to places of production; from the art school, the studio, the print workshop, the pressing plant, the factory, the street, to the discrete – yet equally significant – realms of domestic life. Although places of consumption and display have been readily mapped out in academic and non-academic literature (Attfield 2007; Bronner 1989; Zola 1883), little has been written about the eminently complex environment of the studio and the art school. As such, the aim of this conference is to discuss these under-explored areas in material culture studies. For instance, traditional approaches fail to fully engage with the multi-materialities and ‘plasticity’ or flexibility of works of art and design, or with the affective resonances of objects (Andrews and O’Sullivan 2013; Moran and O’Brien 2014). We would like to engage more explicitly and more closely with the sensorial aspects of the object and realms of seeing, touching, hearing, making. By recentering our attention on material practices and processes, on artists and makers, we may be able to reconcile the study of material culture with that of affect and aesthetics–and politics.We hope to generate a cross-disciplinary dialogue, engaging theorists and artists, thinkers, makers and collectors/connoisseurs of objects.

We will welcome proposals for 20-minute papers, 60-minute panels and 5-minute poster presentations, from researchers and practitioners. 300-word abstracts and short biographical notes – as well as any enquiries – should be sent to Dr Frances Robertson ( and Dr Elodie Roy ( before the 15th of March 2015. Candidates will be informed of the outcomes in April 2015. We hope to publish a selection of conference papers in an edited book.

About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is

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