History of Art


Between Dream and Disillusion: Group work and the art school

24 January 2024, 4:30 pm–6:30 pm

four people holding cameras

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Queenie Lee – History of Art


IAS Forum, Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)
South Wing
Wilkins Building

Focused on overlooked and yet significant developments in the city of Leeds, this presentation will address the world-making possibilities and challenges of group creation within the post-1960s art school. Eschewing the traditional focus on outstanding teachers or exceptional individual student-artists in most writing about art education, my case studies will instead include protean 'intermedia' groups from the early 1970s, late seventies art school bands, a feminist photography collective and Black art affiliates in the early 1980s. My historical reflections will explore the chequered place of group activity within the pedagogies and assessment processes of UK art school at a time when neoliberal realities began to assert themselves amidst a crumbling post-war consensus.
This presentation follows on from my recent monograph on art school bands No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk which explored the shaping force of UK art education upon the history of popular music. Building toward a larger history of group work in art education, my ongoing research asks: How might we learn from such histories in reimagining an art education of the present and for the future?

About the Speaker

Professor Gavin Butt

Professor of Fine Art at Northumbria University

Trained as a fine artist and art historian, Gavin is a writer, creative project organiser, and Professor of Fine Art at Northumbria University. Across his diverse output, he is interested in how the social worlds and aesthetic preoccupations of visual artists can be connected, sometimes in surprising ways, to those within popular music, queer culture and performance. His latest book No Machos or Pop Stars: When the Leeds Art Experiment Went Punk (Duke 2022) is a detailed cultural history of the subversive influence of UK art school on popular music culture, telling the story of how fine art painters and performers became post-punk and pop music pioneers. Gavin has written widely on queer art and culture, showing how LGBTQ+ artists have challenged us to think again about how aesthetic judgements are routinely linked to social ones. He often works collaboratively with other authors and artists on creative projects, including as co-director of research project Performance Matters (2009-2014), of feature film This Is Not a Dream (2013) and as compiler of the post-punk album The Art School Dance Goes On (2023) with Caroline True Records.

More about Professor Gavin Butt