Main Speakers

The Arts Conference will feature plenary sessions by some of the world's leading thinkers and innovators in the field, as well as numerous parallel presentations by researchers and practitioners.

Garden Conversation Sessions

Main Speakers will make formal 30-minute presentations in the plenary sessions. They will also participate in 60-minute Garden Conversations - unstructured sessions that allow delegates a chance to meet the speakers and talk with them informally about the issues arising from their presentation.

Please return to this page for regular updates.

The Speakers

  • Eileen Adams

    Eileen Adams’ consultancy work links art, design, environment and education, and is underpinned by a wealth of experience as a teacher, lecturer, examiner, researcher and writer, both in the UK and worldwide. She was Director of the Schools Council Art and the Built Environment Project and of the research project Learning through Landscapes. Eileen is Director of POWER DRAWING, the professional development programme of The Campaign for Drawing. Current consultancies also include an evaluation of the Partnership Programme for the Solent Centre for Architecture and Design and the preparation of an education strategy for SAFLE, a new organisation that integrates art and environment, as well as preparation of web-based publications for The National Grid for Learning (Wales) and Visit Wales. She is a visiting academic at Middlesex University, a Commissioner for the Design Commission for Wales and an adviser to the Centre for Drawing Research at Wimbledon School of Art.

  • Caroline Archer

    Caroline Archer has worked in the typographic industry since 1988, and has a holistic approach to the subject being not only a practicing typographer but also a teacher of its theory, a researcher of its history, and a writer and journalist championing the typographic cause. Recently appointed Honorary Research Fellow at Birmingham City University, Caroline has a Phd from the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading.

    She is a Partner in Typevents ( a UK-based partnership which provides a consultancy, networking, education and information service to the international typographic communications industry, including type and graphic design, print, paper and publishing. Amongst other things, Typevents organizes an annual international typographic conference, which attracts delegates from across the profession; exhibitions of typographic art; expositions of agency work; walking tours and supper clubs. Caroline is also Director of Plus Expo Ltd (, a not-for-profit company dedicated to raising the profile of graphic communication. Plus organizes an annual international design festival, which showcases all that is innovative and original in the world of international graphic design. It also acts as a forum for design in the West Midlands, represents typography and design in the region whilst promoting design commercially and creatively. Plus acts as a lobby for design both nationally and internationally. This is does through the organizing of year-round events and through partnership with professional organizations, the public sector and the wider business community.

    As an author and journalist specializing in the typographic arts Caroline has written 4 books on the subject (The Kynoch Press: the anatomy of a printing house, British Library, 2000; Tart Cards: London’s illicit advertising art, Mark Batty Publisher, 2003; The St Bride Notebook, Incline Press, 2003; and Paris Underground, Mark Batty Publisher 2005) and contributed to a further 5 titles. She writes a weekly column for Print Week, ( the UK’s largest title for the printing industry to which she is also a regular contributor of full-length articles. In addition Caroline writes for a number of UK-based titles including baseline,( Computer Arts Project, ( Eye, ( Design Week, ( and The Independent on Saturday ( and several non-UK titles including Print Magazine USA, ( and Print & Publishing, India (

  • Tressa Berman

    Tressa Berman is a cultural anthropologist (PhD UCLA) who specialises in visual culture studies, museum studies, and contemporary art of Native North America and the Pacific. She is a curator, writer, and an educator whose work spans disciplines and transnational sites. Her international exhibition, Cultural Copy had its final iteration in conjunction with Common Ground’s Cultural Diversity Conference, where it was featured at the UCLA Fowler Museum. Her museum career includes positions at the Smithsonian Institution, most recently as a Rockefeller Fellow at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. As former Director of the International Conference on the Arts in Society, she has curated the Arts Conference in conjunction with the Edinburgh Festivals (2006) and Documenta12 (2007). Currently, she is Visiting Faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute’s graduate program in Exhibition and Museum Studies, and Adjunct Professor at the California College of the Arts’ Center for Art and Public Life.

    Her books include Circle of Goods (SUNY Press, 2003), and the forthcoming edited volume, No Deal! Indigenous Arts and the Politics of Possession. Berman has written on contemporary art and cultural policy for various publications, such as New Art Examiner, Museum Anthropology, Cultural Survival Quarterly, International Journal of Cultural Diversity and Art Papers. She is an active member of ArtTable – a national women’s arts organization in the US – and the recipient of numerous awards, including a NEA project grant. In her work with historically under-represented artists, she directs BorderZone Arts, a community-based arts organization with affiliations in San Francisco and Melbourne, Australia.

  • Oliver Bray

    Oliver Bray is a Senior Lecturer in Performance Practice at Leeds Metropolitan University where he is Course Leader on the BA (Hons) Contemporary Performance Practices degree. He is also Artistic Director of Until Thursday Theatre Company based in Manchester, UK. His theatre company tours nationally and he has also directed, performed and led master-classes internationally. His latest touring show It’s a Question of Taste explores the implications and influences of food consumption on the varied readings and understandings of global and performance politics in contemporary culture. This work has been shown across the UK and most recently in Sibiu (Romania).

    Oliver’s ongoing research interests include; the role of the academy within professional arts practice, ‘real & composed’ self-reflective performance strategies and ‘performance fusion’ - the performance outcomes of locating and presenting the rawest performative components of non-theatre source materials. Oliver is currently working on Christmas Dinner, a re-appropriation of the traditional pantomime – exploring the outcomes of approaching an established form, from the perspective of a contemporary, creative process. This work premieres at the greenroom (Manchester), where he is an Associate Artist, in December this year.

    Oliver has presented work at a number of major performance events including; the National Review of Live Art (Glasgow), NOW Festival (Nottingham), Liverpool Live (Liverpool), Depot Untapped (London), Inbetween Time (Bristol), Budva International Theatre Festival (Montenegro), ACT Festival (Bilbao), FIST (Serbia) and the Festival of International Theatre (Romania).

  • Bruce Brown

    Bruce Brown was Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Architecture for eighteen years. In October 2006 he took the role of Director for Research Development and joined the University's Senior Management Team. He was also selected by the UK funding councils as one of fifteen "distinguished academics" to Chair the main panel responsible for the assessment of research across the UK in the arts and humanities for the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) 2008.

    For six years he was also Director of the Higher Education Academy's Subject Centre for Art, Design, Media. Educated as a graphic designer at the Royal College of Art he has served on, and chaired, many national committees that have included those of the UK Council for Graduate Education, The Arts and Humanities Research Board, the Council for Higher Education in Art and Design, the New Zealand Qualifications Authority and the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation. He has been an external examiner for degree courses throughout the UK, Israel and New Zealand. He was, for some time, art director of Crafts magazine and his work has been included in British Visual Communication Design 1900-1985.

    In the past he has won research grants to study the Pre-Columbian civilisations of Peru and spent one year in South America working in the field. His current area of research deals with "Graphic Memory". He has published and lectured widely on this topic, at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, in Chicago and most recently in Germany, Norway, Estonia and Portugal. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1971 and was recently elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art.

  • Andrzej Klimowski

    Andrzej Klimowski is Head of Illustration at the Royal College of Art. Klimowski studied painting at St Martin’s School of Art, London and poster design at Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts where he worked under Professor Henryk Tomaszewski and Professor Kazimierz Urbanski (poster design and film animation). From the mid 1970s to the near present he has designed posters and book jackets ¬including novels by PG Wodehouse, Harold Pinter, Mario Vargas Llosa, Milan Kundera and Kazuo Ishiguro, and illustrations, TV graphics and animation.

    His work has more than once courted controversy, such as when his 1981 art film poster The Phantom of Liberty was banned by the London Underground. His stark 2001 full-page press advertisements for the RSPCA shocked. His cover designs for Oberon Books and Faber & Faber - memorable amongst them those for Milan Kundera, Harold Pinter and Dennis Potter - may be more familiar than his name. Klimowski’s influence is pervasive.

    He is currently Senior Tutor in illustration at the RCA. His work includes short films, illustrations and books, including Lo sguardo deviato (The deflected gaze), and most recently The Secret. His work has recently been subject of a retrospective at the National Theatre in London.

  • Mario Antonio Minichiello

    Mario Minichiello is the Head of Department and Chair of Visual Communications programmes at Birmingham City University BIAD, faculty of Art and Design, Britain. He is also a visiting research Fellow at the University of Sydney, School of art. An award winning artist and designer producing both inspirational and often controversial reportage artwork for broadcast media including television, broadsheet newspapers and magazines. Professor Minichiello has recently been a guest on a number of broadcast debates on the role of art in society and has most recently taken part in an interview with Press TV, this was broadcast on a number of international channels including al-Jazeera.

    Professor Minichiello’s work for BBC Newsnight¹s coverage of the ŒSpy Catcher trial was described by the leading human rights barrister, and Law Lord Anthony Lester QC: "a political cause célèbre, a clash between Government, the media and the courts - demonstrating for many the need for a Human Rights Act - one of the most memorable contributions were the works by Mario Minichiello." He was been involved in reportage work and academic discourse concerning the Afghanistan conflict, focusing on the impact of conflict on global media networks and its psychological effects on viewers. The resulting work has been featured in a number of academic publications as well as in collections of political and cross cultural art sites around the world. Most recently his work caused controversy when he drew at the APEC international summit as part of his research work with Sydney University School of Arts, a selection of these drawings were published in the Sydney Morning Harold and some original works are in the British Council¹s art collection.

    His current research interests include the globalizing affect of visual communications media and the potential empowering nature of handmade art - in particular its ability to reveal and retain cultural identity and communicate human values. He is investigating the application of art and design process to medical and social needs, including the functions of drawing as a mediator for the expression of cultural diversity and as an analytical tool. Publications and website based collections are available at: and And at

  • Colin Rhodes

    Colin Rhodes research is primarily in the areas twentieth century and contemporary art history and theory. He has written and lectured widely on Modernism, especially Expressionism in its many forms, and Outsider Art. His books include the influential Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives (2000), which has also been published in Spanish, French and Finnish editions, and Primitivism and Modern Art (1994), which has also been translated into French. He has a particular interest in the ways in which western art and culture has interacted with that of its perceived others, and in those cultures of production that exist in the margins of the dominant artworld. He is a regular contribitor to Raw Vision, Création Franche and The Burlington Magazine. He has a keen commitment to drawing and exhibits his own work occasionally.

    His awards include British Academy research grants 2002, 2003 Arts and Humanities Research Council research grants, 2002, 2005 Hohenberg Grant, University of Memphis, 2002. His publications include 'Vicios y virtudes del imperativo autodidictica, Expressionismo Brücke, ed., Aya Soika, Madrid, 2005; Les fantômes qui nous hantent: en écrivant Art Brut et Art Outsider, Ligeia: Dossiers sur lart, July-December 2004; Burlington Primitive: non-European art in The Burlington Magazine before 1930, The Burlington Magazine, February 2004,4; Fulfilments of Desire in the Work of a Self-Taught Artist: the intimate existence of Malcolm McKesson, Art History, 2002; Ian Breakwell: Vocals (4CD set of artist’s soundworks), Loughborough University School of Art & Design, 2003; Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives, 2000; Primitivism and Modern Art, Thames & Hudson, 1994.

  • Andrew Selby

    Andrew Selby is an award-winning illustrator. His work has appeared in national newspapers, on billboards and on the covers of major corporate reports for household names around the world for two decades. His work has been selected for many international awards, exhibitions and publications including, most recently, 3x3: The Journal of Contemporary Illustration (USA), Society of Illustrators of New York Illustrators’ (USA) and the Association of Illustrators’ Images (UK).

    Andrew writes regularly for the design press on visual communication issues using the subjects of illustration and animation to examine theory, inter-connectivity, commerce and practice. He reviews books and articles for publications such as Creative Review and the Society of Animation Studies, and edits and contributes to juried annuals and refereed academic journals. Andrew organises conferences on illustration and has been invited to contribute to related visual communication conferences, public lectures, design forums and events. He has recently completed his first book, Animation in Process (Laurence King, 2009) and his paper Chris Ware: Smartest Kid on Earth has been published by the International Journal of the Book (CommonGround Publishing). He is in negotiation to write two further books, Animation: Frame by Frame and Go Figure.

    Andrew is also a co-editor of TRACEY: the online journal of contemporary drawing research. TRACEY have authored the book Drawing Now: Between the Lines of Contemporary Art (I B Tauris 2007) and are developing new material for the book Hyperdrawing. He lives in Oakham, England and lectures at Loughborough University, UK.

  • Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis studied graphic design at Norwich School of Art and at the Royal College of Art graduating in 1984 when he joined Minale Tattersfield and Partners as a senior designer. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Art, and Deputy Head of the Communication Art & Design Department at the Royal College of Art in London with teaching responsibilities as the Head of Graphic Design. He remains active as a graphic designer having formed a design partnership in 1990 with his wife who graduated with him from the RCA in 1984. Perks Willis Design operates as a design consultancy to cultural institutions, corporate clients and educational establishments. He is a member of Design and Art Direction, the International Society of Typographic Designers, a member of the Sign Design Society and a member of the Higher Education Academy.

    His design practice has achieved a profile for working with Museums and socially motivated organisations such as English Heritage Outreach. Up to date his partnership has produced three major exhibitions in the Natural History Museum since 1999: the permanent exhibition ‘From the Beginning’, the travelling exhibition ‘Rhythms of Life’ and ‘Systema Metropolis’ which opened in the NHM in June 2007. For English Heritage Outreach they have become a project partner in no less than five projects since 2004: ŒTide Mills, ŒForgotten Heroes, Chattri Exhibition¹, ŒIsle of Wight¹, and ŒKent Gypsy Travellers.

    He has consciously moved his business focus away from commercial graphic design to satisfy a greater design ambition where research plays a critical role. The practice is motivated to produce graphic design work that is a collaborative experience, well researched, implemented and executed. They see themselves as problem solving graphic designers, who want to improve peoples’ lives, their understanding of their personal and collective social responsibilities, tolerance and sense of community. To do this effectively and for their design work to achieve tangible results they hold their own research practice at the centre of the design process. Their work is sited in places that reach the public, it is intended to educate, inform and entertain.