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Dr Simon Ofield

Simon Ofield was appointed Dean of Kingston University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture in August 2006; prior to this he was Academic Group Chair for Art, Philosophy and Visual Culture at Middlesex University. 

Simon is currently completing a series of articles on the connections between visual / spatial culture, and male social / sexual practices and pleasures in and around London after the Second World War, focusing on the work of Francis Bacon, Cecil Beaton, Keith Vaughan and David Hockney.  The most recent in the series is ‘Cecil Beaton: Designs on Francis Bacon’, Visual Culture in Britain, Volume 7, Issue 1, 2006.  He has an ongoing research interest in interdisciplinary studio practice and its relationships with historical and theoretical inquiry, and he was a member of the GLAADH Steering Group

For discussion

Kingston University is just about to commit to a major investment in the environment occupied by its Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture.  So - like many others - we are currently pre-occupied by this ‘opportunity’ and what it might mean for the delivery and development of current and future courses. 

At the moment our physical and academic structures pretty much match one another – pretty discrete studio-based subjects, situated in disciplinary schools and located in designated studios, with different spaces for history of art and design / visual culture, and a range of shared Faculty workshops and a university Learning Resource Centre.  The arrangement of what is mostly designated space makes both casual inter-disciplinary encounters unlikely and more formal inter-disciplinary learning a challenge to orchestrate.  Further, the physical environment seems to make it clear that different forms of learning - and different forms of visual pursuit – are more suitable in some places than others. 

Alongside this physical environment, we have a number of projects that are establishing digital locations for our students and staff, some which replicate and others question our physical organisation.  Much of this arrangement of physical and digital space seems to be based on a commitment to retain, or sustain in new circumstances, a ‘studio-based culture’.  Within this environment we also have some ambitions - a greater integration of different activities within a course, a commitment to interdisciplinary forms of curriculum delivery and development, and an expansion of practice-based research – but what forms of space are needed to serve these ambitions? 

This session will focus on exploring the relationship between changing academic priorities and ambitions, and the 'opportunity' to re-organise physical, digital and academic environments. 

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