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Joan Smith


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Practice based painting; art and anatomy; drawing; art education

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Personal profile


Originally from Dundee, Joan Smith graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA (Hons) Fine Art degree in 1987 and went on to gain a post-graduate Master of Arts from ECA two years later. Joan is a painter, printmaker and maker and is a senior lecturer in the School of Art at ECA. 

Joan Smith’s research focuses on links between art and science with particular reference to historic objects used for teaching. In 2009-10 she worked with University of Edinburgh social anthropologist, Dr Jeanne Cannizzo, on a project about the anatomical écorché, ‘Smugglerius’, a copy of which is held in the ECA cast collection. The project culminated in a successful exhibition in the Georgian Gallery of the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh. In 2014 Joan worked on a PTAS funded collaboration between ECA staff and students and colleagues and students from the School of Veterinary Science. This project examined the teaching potential of 3d printed copies of anatomical specimens and encompassed both scientific and art based responses. More recently she worked on ‘The Bones Beneath the Face’, a collaboration between artists, anthropologists and forensic archaeologists which examined a skull from the ECA anatomy collection.

In 2019 Joan completed a major project where she worked with colleagues from Anthropology and Archaeology (John Harries and Linda Fibiger) at the University of Edinburgh as part of a Horizon 2020 European funded project called ‘Traces: Transmitting Contentious Cultural Heritages with the Arts’. This project brought together the team from the University of Edinburgh with artist Tal Adler, researcher Anna Szöke and Maria Teschler-Nicola from the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna.  ‘Traces’ was structured around five experimental Creative Co-Productions, of which the Edinburgh/Vienna partnership was one, and was supported and complemented by theoretical and empirical investigations pertaining to five main research fields: artistic research, ethnographic research on/with art production, research on education and stakeholder involvement, ethnographic fieldwork into contentious heritages, and contentious collections: research on material culture of difficult cultural heritage. This three year research ran from  March 2016, culminating in a number of outputs including exhibitions, publications and educational programmes, in 2019.

In 2018 Joan worked with artist Susie Wilson and colleagues at Surgeons Hall Museum in Edinburgh examining representations of women in the museum’s collection. The resulting exhibition, 'Field Notes', which included objects from the Surgeons Hall collection, artworks and texts, took place at Surgeons Hall from November 2018 (to commemorate the centenary of WW1) until March 2019. A publication, 'Field Notes' accompanied the exhibition.

Joan has taught at ECA for over 20 years, working with undergraduate students, lifelong learners and post-graduate students in the School of Art.





Education/Academic qualification

Master of Fine Art, Edinburgh College of Art

Award Date: 1 Jan 1989

Master of Arts, University of Edinburgh

Award Date: 1 Jan 1987


  • ND Painting
  • Art and Education
  • art science collaborations
  • NE Print media
  • NX Arts in general
  • History of Medicine


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