experimental publishing research group

Leeds School of Arts

Our researchers in the Experimental Publishing Research Group question the role, purpose and forms that publishing, writing and reading might take today across the arts. The Experimental Publishing Research Group aims to develop and produce new approaches to publishing, experimental and conceptual writing. Several researchers within the group are founders and leading members of publishing imprints and design agencies including the publishing imprint Information as Material, established by Professor Simon Morris in 2002; the design studio field.studio co-founded by Jonny Briggs; and the graphic arts & design studio dust, for which Mick Marston is studio lead for Art Direction and illustration. Morris is also editor of the new multi-platform journal Inscription, working in collaboration with researchers Dr Gill Partington from the University of Exeter and Professor Adam Smyth from the University of Oxford. Other academics like Dr Sean Ashton publish experimental writing across many different formats including authored books, art criticism (including winning second prize in the International Awards for Art Criticism, Shanghai 2017), poetry, and short stories.   

The Experimental Publishing Research Group focuses on the following key strands: 

  • Conceptual writing 
  • Experimental writing 
  • Multi-platform publishing 
  • Visual writing in graphic design 

Curating Research Group Members

Sean Ashton studied sculpture at the Royal College of Art (1995-97) and Fine Art at Goldsmiths (2000-04), where he completed a Ph.D focusing on the readymade. He writes fiction, poetry and criticism. From 2007-2011, he was associate editor of MAPMagazine, and wrote for Art Review from 2012-17. In 2017 Ashton published the novel Living in a Land (Ma Bibliothèque), a fictional memoir written in the negative, and has just published a poetry collection Sampler, a selection of excerpts from an imaginary encyclopaedia written entirely by poets. His fiction sometimes imposes severe literary constraints, while, as a poet, he often adopts lyric personae rather than converting his own ‘true’ experiences into verse – perhaps in the belief that the formal nature of literary composition produces an alternate rather than authentic self.

Kat Atkinson is currently researching multi-platform publishing for fashion marketing, drawing on her professional expertise and insights into social media marketing for fashion brands.

David's work is predominantly print-focussed and with an illustrative bias. Much of it incorporates traditional forms of graphic design, but he is also interested in ways of working not normally associated with the role of the graphic designer such as sound, sculpture, moving image, and photography. Whatever the process, however, there’s the tendency for his work to adopt a bold, colourful, geometric, and often brutally reductive aesthetic.

Jonny has worked for over 15 years in the design industry, working for a broad range of studios, including being a director at dust c.2005. His commercial activities involve working for a number of high profile clients, including UEFA, The Royal Mail and The University of Sheffield. For the past five years Jonny has been Owner and Creative director of Field, an experimental, Sheffield based design agency, that practices within education and the arts. 

A large part of Lizzie's photographic practice has been to use portraiture and the pop-up studio as a tool of social engagement in a variety of settings and locations.
An example of this is I'm Carnival Happy which she completed in 2017 and was a joint commission with Leeds Inspired and Leeds West Indian Carnival, to celebrate the carnival’s 50th birthday. She hosted 15 pop-up studios in Leeds, including a swimming pool, shopping centres and a lunch club.

The portraits were shared via a free newspaper distributed across the city (1000 printed and included every portrait taken), on a variety of bus shelter advertising hoardings, as an installation outside the Reginald Centre (Chapeltown) during the 50th carnival weekend (August 2017) and in an exhibition at Room 700, Leeds Central Library (October – November 2017). The images were also seen on BBC Look North and carnival websites and press.

Alan's current research is twofold. One area concentrates on the recent technical developments in electronic billboards and their potential to host artistic content. In January 2016 he curated one hour's worth of content for Europe's largest moving image screen opposite Lime Street station in Liverpool, commencing his 'FOUR WORDS' project that has since seen iterations at Bath Spa University, Leeds Tech Hub and on Channel 4. 

The second area is an ongoing investigation into the relationship between sound art and the everyday, using live events, CDs and broadcasts to introduce new audiences to audio material from a range of professionals and community members. This research has been recognised by Arts Council England amongst others as good practice in the development of non-gallery cultural practice and by academics in relation to sound art pedagogy.

Edwards has extensive experience of cross-disciplinary partnerships with artists, architects, writers, public bodies and community organisations. His practice attempts to converge the positive disciplines inherent in graphic design with the creative reach of artistic enquiry. 

Personal research converges on an interest in vernacular graphics, ephemera, type and nationalism. He is working on ‘Nothing Worth Saving’, a book / exhibition / generative online resource celebrating ignored and quotidian graphic design: a kind of visual and expansive update of Roland Barthe’s ‘Mythologies’ for salt sachets. 

Entwistle’s research interests lie around site, memory, association and place. Trudi Entwistle is a practising artist working in the public realm. Her artwork lies between land art, sculpture and design. More recently Entwistle has been experimenting with artist books as part of an interdisciplinary way of working as a way of revisiting the themes of past projects through publishing.

Marston’s research specialisms lie in printmaking and illustration. His practice is concerned with the role that good design plays in the education and wellbeing of children and has contributed to this sector with a book entitled ’50 Things To Do’ in collaboration with Julian Wood for Wybourn School and with an installation of prints at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for Artfelt. 

Simon Morris’ research appears in the form of exhibitions, publications, installations, films, actions and texts which all revolve around the form of the book and often involve collaborations with people from the fields of art, creative technology, literature and psychoanalysis. 

Simon Morris examines the relationship between reading and art. He proposes a new method of making art via conceptualist performed readings. This method grafts the aesthetic legacy of Conceptual Art on to various notions of writing (from literary composition to data management) in order to produce materially-specific poems as artworks that have in some way re-read a found object. This is an art of reading things differently. It starts from a premise proved by the impossibility of making purely conceptual art: that art is always aesthetical and conceptual. To that it couples an obsession with language as both material signifier and social activity. In doing so it establishes a mode of making art that asks: What could we write if reading could be a materially productive act of making art? How might a certain kind of reading-as-making problematise the understandings of authorship, production and reproduction ensconced in our cultural industries? Morris’ work celebrates reading differently as a praxis of exploring the elsewhere of what languages and their users can mean and do. Morris is committed to working collaboratively and against all-too-certain counter-productive divisions between contemporary art and contemporary literature. 

Dr Elisa Oliver’s research is interdisciplinary and addresses issues of class, masculinity and labour particularly in relation to Britain in the 1970s and 80s as part of a nexus of changing work and production conditions in the period. An interest in exploring the negotiations of these shifts through the utilisation of popular culture in the 1970s/80s in the work of artists Paul Housley, Paul Rooney and George Shaw formed the basis of her PhD research completed at Central St Martins, University of the Arts London. 

These concerns are also expressed in her work as Co-Director of FEAST www.feastjournal.co.uk a peer reviewed online journal that explores the function and resonance of food in our everyday and provides an important critical space for the reflection, writing and commissioning of new work in the growing arena of food and art related discourses. 

Casey is currently investigating the lives of women and young people through photographic portraiture. The themes running through the bodies of work include feminism, the female gaze, interconnectedness; migration; autobiography; invisibility; the annihilation of time and space; nature and wildness; lines and borders. Her projects have diverse outputs including print and publications, exhibitions, conference presentations, lectures and photo essays. 

Aidan Winterburn’s research interests are mainly centred around the role of writing within graphic design and typography, designing small chapbooks of his own poetry/ writing, making typographic projections onto buildings and essay films that emphasise the written and typographic form, particularly looking at the notion of writing with images through montage. Aidan also writes more critically for magazines like Varoom about illustration and specifically most recently about abstract children's book design. He is in the process of publishing a magazine Nonesuch about post-war brutalist architecture and graphic design and is writing a book called Standing Still which involves a critique of graphic communication as it is encountered in a number of distinct physical and virtual environments. 

Experimental Publishing Research Group Collaborators

Design for life, art & culture. Formed 2000, dust is a commercial graphic arts & design studio established in the UK — working internationally. dust provides consultancy, design and development for brand, environment, print and digital media to the arts, culture and sustainability sectors. 

du.st

For over 20 years our Creative Directors, Jonny Briggs and Katie Daniel, have been producing print, digital, branding and spatial design that informs, inspires and engages audiences from the biggest corporate and national brands to some of the most highly respected regional organisations. 

Working alongside Jonny and Katie, Field are a team of designers, illustrators, developers and copywriters, supported by a network of creative and digital collaborators. Together we are a studio of ambitious and inquisitive minds. We are committed to producing effective, authentic design and bring that motivation to everything we do. 

We work with our clients to produce consistently exceptional results, drawing on our years of experience in the industry to produce beautiful work that enables our clients to excel in their ambitions and in their industries. We also believe that simple is almost always better. 

At Field we bring the extraordinary to the everyday. 

field.studio

Information as material (iam) was formally established by the English artist Simon Morris in 2002 but has its roots in his self-published books of the late 1990s. Based in the North of England, iam operates as a collective of writer-editors and as an independent imprint that publishes work by artists who use extant material — selecting it and reframing it to generate new meanings — and who, in doing so, disrupt the existing order of things. 

The imprint’s activities involve writing, publishing, exhibiting, curating, web-based projects, lectures and workshops. Iam’s editorial team is Craig Dworkin, Kaja Marczewska, Simon Morris and Nick Thurston (2006-18); information on each of whom can be linked to via the BIOS page of this website, and contact details for whom can be found in the collapsable CONTACT tab at the top of this website. Likewise, further information about all of the authors / artists we work with can be linked to via the BIOS page. 

Our publications and editions are held in private and public collections around the world including Tate (UK), National Library of France (FR), and MoMA (USA). Our bookworks and DVDs are directly distributed internationally by Cornerhouse Publications (UK) and numerous bookstores.  

Information as material