Edinburgh Research Explorer

Ms. Joan Smith

Academic Co-ordinator PT Degree

Willingness to take Ph.D. students: Yes

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

Education / Academic qualification

Master of Fine Art, Edinburgh College of Art
Master of Arts, University of Edinburgh
Jean Dubuffet and Art of the Insane

Professional Qualifications

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, FHEA

Area of Expertise

Research expertisepainting, printmaking, art and anatomy, art education


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 and printmaker and is a 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.

Joan is currently working 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 will bring 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’ is structured around five experimental Creative Co-Productions, of which the Edinburgh/Vienna partnership is one, and is 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 project started in March 2016 and will culminate with a number of outputs including exhibitions, publications and educational programmes, in 2019.

In the immediate future Joan will be working with artist Susie Wilson and colleagues at Surgeons Hall Museum in Edinburgh examining representations of women in the museum’s collection. The resulting exhibition, which will include objects from the Surgeons Hall collection, artworks and texts, will take place at Surgeons Hall in 2017.

Joan has taught at ECA for over 20 years, working with undergraduate students and lifelong learners. She is ECA’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, and has an overview of all undergraduate programmes in ECA.






Research outputs

  1. Field Notes: Scottish Women's Hospitals

    Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

  2. British Islanders: Drawing

    Research output: Non-textual formArtefact

  3. Exposure - Reflections on the display of contentious collections

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

View all (22) »

Research activities & awards

  1. TRACES conference and workshop

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference

  2. TRACES Mid-Term Meeting

    Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in workshop, seminar, course

View all (2) »

Research projects

  1. The Bones Collective

    Project: Other ProjectOther (Non-Funded/Miscellaneous)

  2. Morphologie

    Project: Other ProjectOther (Non-Funded/Miscellaneous)

View all (6) »

ID: 2804037