Edinburgh Research Explorer

Neil Mulholland

Personal Chair of Contemporary Art Practice and Theory

Profile photo

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Supervision of PhDs in the following fields: Para-humanities, Neomedievalisms, nonmodern, ambience, (premodern) futurity, 'weirding', neomaterialisms, History of Art and Criticism in Britain since 1968, Peer-2-Peer, artists' initiatives, Post-creative Economies ('hypereconomics'). Supervision of Artistic Practice PhDs in Art + Education (Paragogy), Art + Anthropology and Participatory Visual Methods.

Education/Academic qualification

1995Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Glasgow
Why is there only one Monopolies Commission? Art and its Critics in Britain in the Late 1970s
1991Master of Arts, University of Glasgow
MA (Hons.) History of Art, 1st Class

Current Research Interests

My research applies postdisciplinary, para-humanities frameworks to the production, distribution and consumption of contemporary art. It is a pour of historical, critical, materialist and fictional approaches to writing charged and torn with curatorial, paragogical and artistic work. In the pursuit of para, 'pata and psuedo-disciplinary methods, I frequently work collaboratively, adopting shared avatars that have interpretive flexibility.

As a member of the International Art Critics Association, I am a critic for many international art publications, write for literary and political magazines, the popular press, television, commissioned monographs and artwriting publications and have curated exhibitions as part of international biennials as well as numerous projects at artist-led organisations. Additionally, I continue to conduct research on Contemporary Art in Britain since the 1970s.

My research and learning interests in neomedievalisms, paragogy and weird materialisms coorespond directly to three inter-related collaborative projects (Confraternity of Neoflagellants, Shift/Work, Atelier). Each of these projects is concerned with methodological inventiveness, intermediality and postdisciplinarity.



Collaborative Activity

I work with the artist Norman Hogg (Concordia, Montréal, QC) as the Confraternity of Neoflagellants (@neoflagellants). Our research on and through nonmodern theory and practices can be found here: confraternityofneoflagellants.org.uk

I work with Dan Brown (Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop) on Shift/Work, a knowledge exchange that uses action-research to develop workshop models for artistic paragogy, participatory visual methods and open educational resources. shift-work.org.uk

With Dr Angela McClanahan (School of Art) and Prof Richard Baxstrom (Social Anthropology) I co-direct the research network Atelier: Making Research Material Across the Arts & Social Sciences in the University of Edinburgh.

I am Director of the Art & Learning research group in Edinburgh College of Art.

Collaborative Activity

Confraternity of Neoflagellants: We use distributed methods of production and exhibition and diverse post-media narratives to produce works by contemporary and fictitious artisans, journeymen, hosts, anchorites, avatars, Sherlockers and hyper-economists. Our intermedial research has taken the form of books, zines, videos, artefacts, paintings, articles, talks, performances, parties, academic papers, shops, music… and has featured in a wide range of galleries, art catalogues, artists’ books, art journals, and academic journals traversing the disciplines of contemporary art and medieval studies. We have been invited to give artist talks on our work at art schools across the USA, Canada, Belgium, Iceland and the UK and have presented numerous peer-reviewed papers at artistic and medievalist conferences in the USA, Canada, Iceland, Ireland, UK, Poland and Germany. In 2014, Goldsmiths College hosted Neomedievalisms, a symposium responding to our theory-fiction book thN Lng Folk Investigating Future Premoderns™ (Punctum, 2013 punctumbooks.com/titles/thn-lng-folk). In 2015, we chaired “Neomedieval Aesthetics in the 21st Century” at the Leeds International Medieval Congress and performed at congresses in Toronto (BABEL Group) and Edinburgh (Environmental Humanities).  Our work, Mobilitas Loci, was commissioned for the artist Amanda Beech’s bookwork CAVEAT EMPTOR (LGP, England, Nov 2015), which included a re-print of Reza Negarestani's First and Final Machines and a new text by Ray Brassier. Our theory-fictions presented at conferences in Edinburgh, Montréal, Warsaw and Reykjavik during 2016. In 2017 we chaired a panel at The Middle Ages in the Modern World (Manchester) and published WeRLtd. in Black Mountain Vol. 11 (London). In 2019 we completed a new boke (pan-pan, Punctum, New York) and a solo exhibition (pan-pan, SAW, Ottawa).

Collaborative Activity

Shift/Work has examined and reconfigured ways in which we can facilitate comprehensive workshop-based approaches to artistic production that are theoretically informed, practical and participatory. We facilitate new experiential knowledges, practices and tools for artists and art educators to adapt and implement.  In 2015 we presented papers on Unlearning at conferences in Poznan and Brighton. In 2016, Shift/Work developed new workshops on Decisions at ESW, Malmö and Reykjavík and faciliated 'Groundcourse' with Prof Roy Ascott. We presented the results of these workshops at academic conferences in September 2016 (ITAC3, Scotland) and February 17 (Blip Blip Blip, Leeds). We composed a new 'Speculations' workshop at ESW for the Kochi Biennale, India in March '17 and Kristiansand, Norway August '17. In October 2017 we presented two papers on Speculations at ISSOTL17, Calgary, Canada.

Shift/Work is my key contribution to the Art & Learning research group in Edinburgh College of Art.

Research Groups

I am co-Director of Atelier: Making Research Material Across the Arts & Social Sciences, a University of Edinburgh Research Network. 

Our meetings foregrounded a number of ways in which disciplines within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and our non-HEI partners each have their own protocols and methods for making material available for study in the form of objects. Yet, as we make radically distinct objects from the same material, what remained to be formulated within this multidisciplinary field were the concepts, equipment, and techniques that would generate the truly collaborative ability to fabricate common research objects. As such, we have developed new models of making and enquiry that bring together often separate visual and material research practices within the social sciences and humanities through the creation of an ‘Atelier’. Our Atelier is a commons that allows us to make shared research ‘objects’ through collaborative research practices. A series of charrettes - participatory workshops involving interested colleagues across UoE, partners in the museum and gallery sector and local ‘user groups’, in turn, focus on a particular object that facilitates and contrasts different methods of material enquiry. By engaging with ’things’ in the custody/field of our non-academic partners, these charrettes have enabled us to map and improve conditions for cross-disciplinary collaboration, shifting the emphasis away from doing research towards the creation of research objects. In 2016, Atelier have organised charrettes with National Museums Scotland (Edinburgh) and Atlas Arts (Skye) and hosted a keynote by Richard Sennett.

Research Groups

I am Director of the Art & Learning research group in Edinburgh College of Art.


Art & Learning aim to enhance artistic research and programming by advancing new theories, methods, practices and histories of artistic learning. As artistic methods become increasingly medial in comprehensive integrated curricula, much transformative educational praxis today takes the form of artistic practice.

Art & Learning understand the educational turn in art and the cultural turn in education as a fuzzy set. Pursuing porous forms of inquiry converging in the practices of art and learning, the group recalibrate artistic learning and inculcate teaching-as-research in, and beyond, the art school. We disseminate this artistic research and related SoTL as a contribution to open education and peer-to-peer learning (paragogy). Art & Learning researchers are affiliated with a wide range of international artistic and educational organisations and practise laterally in both fields.


Research students

Principal Supervisor:

  • Jennifer Thatcher | PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (SGSAH AHRC Award)
  • Frances Davis | PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (SGSAH AHRC NPIF Scholar)
  • Beth Dynowski | PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (SGSAH AHRC Award)
  • Kim Wilson | PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (SGSAH AHRC Award)
  • Dane Sutherland | PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (SGSAH AHRC Award)
  • Pau Cata | PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (SGSAH AHRC Award)
  • Patty McMeans | PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (UoE PCDS Award)
  • Grianne Rice | Part-time PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (ECA Award)

Associate (Third) Supervisor:

  • Morven Gregor | PhD Candidate at Glasgow School of Art
  • Michael Dudeck | PhD Candidate, School of Art, ECA (Canadian Scholarhship)

Post-doctoral, Second Advisor:

  • Dr Bronwin Patrickson  | SGSAH Creative Economy Engagement Fellow in Digital Design


Programme Director, MA Contemporary Art Theory, School of Art, ECA

I currently supervise PhD students in artistic practice and in visual and material culture studies.


Administrative Roles


Programme Director, MA Contemporary Art Theory, School of Art, ECA

Member of Senatus Academicus, The University of Edinburgh

External Examiner, Master of Research, Royal College of Art, London

Chief External Examiner, BA Fine Art, Brighton University, England.

External Examiner, Contemporary Visual Culture / Cultúr Físiúil Comhaimseartha, Dublin Technical University (TU Dublin).


Dean of Postgraduate Studies - College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science.

Co-Chair, Senatus Researcher Experience Committee, The University of Edinburgh

LERU Policy Group Member, Social Sciences and Humanities (EU)

Coimbra Group Doctoral Studies, UoE Representative

Director of Postgraduate Studies, Edinburgh College of Art

CAHSS Representative, QAA Enhancement Theme Institutional Team, The University of Edinburgh

Chair Panel B, Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities

Director of Research & Knowledge Exchange, School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art

Director of Postgraduate Studies (MA and MFA Contemporary Art Programmes), School of Art, Edinburgh College of Art

Director of the Centre for Visual & Cultural Studies, Edinburgh College of Art

Director of Taught Postgraduate Studies, Edinburgh College of Art 


Highlighted research outputs

  1. thN Lng folk 2go: Investigating Future Premoderns (TM)

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  2. Shift Happens: Developing Participatory Workshop Models for Educating Contemporary Artists

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  3. Artist Run Archive

    Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

  4. Bang the Whole Gang: Glam Art in Britain

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

View all (161) »

Highlighted research activities & awards

  1. Post-Creative Economy

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  2. Journal of Writing in Creative Practice (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesEditorial activity

View all (71) »

Research projects

  1. Shift/Work: You Cannot Be Serious

    Project: University Awarded Project Funding

  2. Shift/Work: Speculations

    Project: University Awarded Project Funding

  3. Shift/Work: Roy Ascott | Groudcourse

    Project: University Awarded Project Funding

View all (10) »

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