Archive | January 2018

Call for Papers: Portraiture: an Interdisciplinary Conference

Durham University July 13th-15th 2018

Hosted by the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture

Keynote speakers: Professor Elizabeth Cowling and Professor Viccy Coltman

Conference outline

The study of portraiture is beginning to come into its own now that old assumptions about the low status of the genre have been challenged and contextualised. The ubiquity and diversity of portraits means that they can be used as evidence to address a wide range of questions, while the very idea ‘portrait’ is immensely rich.  The conference is designed to open up fresh perspectives on a potent form of visual culture that is of continuing importance yet unevenly distributed in time and place.

We invite contributions of short papers for the conference. Please send an abstract – maximum 250 words – together with a one page CV by March 1st 2018 to and include ‘portraiture conference’ in the subject line.  Proposals may deal with any period and location.  Papers are especially welcome that explore the interdisciplinary potential of studying portraiture and that address the following themes:

The ways portraits create, sustain and comment on occupational identity

Portraits and/in institutions

‘Portrait’ as an idea and its metaphorical dimensions

Portraits where the face is not present

Portraiture in the North East of the UK

Comparative approaches to portraiture, which might focus on place, time, occupation, race, social status and/or gender, for example.


Please note presenters of short papers will need to cover their own costs, which will be kept as low as possible. There will be no conference fee for speakers.

This conference follows the summer school Visual Intersections 3 (July 11th-13th).  Early career researchers are especially welcome at both events.



Ethical issues in using visual methods in participatory research

In November 2017, the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action and the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture, Durham University, UK held a workshop on Visual Methods on Participatory Research: ethical and practical issues on working with refugees and other groups. The workshop proved very popular,  attended by representatives from community organisations, national charities, local government, museums and postgraduates and academics from universities. Keynote speakers were Caroline Lenette (University of New South Wales, Australia)  and Caitlin Nunn (Durham University, UK) with a team of Syrian young people and an artist, who discussed ethical issues, including tensions arising with institutional ethical processes when using visual methods and challenges when using film and photographs. A choice of workshops covering different visual methods included performing family stories, digital storytelling with refugee women, the walking interview biographical method (WIBM), participatory video with young migrants and refugees and participatory drawing.

Report of workshop available here: