History of Art


Dr Jess Bailey



a young woman with short brown hair wearing glasses and a white shirt smiles at the camera. There is a quilt hanging in the background behind her.

Dr. Jess Bailey (she/her) is an Associate Lecturer in the History of Art at UCL working with Medieval and Early Modern European art and material culture. She also teaches classes on theory and methodology.

Bailey's research engages disability and gender studies to consider how art historians write about the human figure. Working across mediums from drawings to textiles, Bailey studies the ways artists grappled with interpersonal and state violence. Her published work addresses 16th century works on paper about military sex workers and the role 19th century collecting played in disability art history. Bailey's current book project combines these interests in the body, gender, and imperialism to write an art history of Western gun violence before modernity.

Bailey joins UCL from a two year research fellowship at Wellcome Collection where she worked on disability visual culture alongside both contemporary artists and fellow art historians. Bailey completed a PhD in art history at the University of California at Berkeley (2022) where her doctoral research addressed the entanglement of technology and gendered violence in the first illuminations and drawings of gunpowder made in Europe.

Her work has been supported by a Junior Research Fellowship at The Paul Mellon Centre and by the Institute für Kunstgeschichte at Universität Bern under the direction of Dr. Beate Fricke’s EU funded research group Globale Horizonte in der Kunst des Mittelalters. Bailey has taught BA students at UC Berkeley, the Prison University Project, Universität Bern, and MA students studying disability art history at Universität Zurich. She has guest lectured at the IFA and LMU Munich. Bailey has organized conferences and public arts programming with the Warburg Institute, The Abegg-Stiftung, Wellcome Collection, and the SF MoMA.

Passionate about the wider accessibility of art history, Bailey writes for grassroots arts initiatives. Her publication Many Hands Make a Quilt: Short Histories of Radical Quilting was featured in the Sunday Times and is distributed to bookstores by Art Data London. Coming from generations of hand quilters herself, Bailey runs community art projects such as the LION Quilt. A collaboration with the educational platform Decolonise the Garden, the project engaged artists and home plant dyers from eleven countries in order to make a community quilt from donated cloth during COVID lockdowns. The subsequent quilt raffle raised 19k for UK racial justice initiative Land in Our Names while sharing the local and colonial histories of plant dye. 
Contact Details

Office: 402, 20 Gordon Square
Office Hours: Tuesdays 14:30-16:30 - please book here
Email: jess.bailey@ucl.ac.uk


Associate Lecturer (Teaching) in the History of Art

Dept of History of Art

Faculty of S&HS


Research THEMES

Medieval visual culture; disability and gender studies approaches to the representation of the body and violence. 

Selected Publications

“Disability at the Edge of War, Gendered Violence in the Graphic Practice of Urs Graf,” Ann Millett- Gallant, Elizabeth Howie, editors, Disability and Art History from Antiquity to the Twenty-First Century, Routledge, April 2022. 
“Consider the Quilt: a conversation between Bhasha Chakrabarti and Jess Bailey," Curatorial Affairs (vol. 1), 2022.
Many Hands Make a Quilt: short histories of radical quilting. Common Threads Press, 2021.
“Exhibiting Health and Difference at Henry Wellcome’s Historical Medical Museum,” Dis_ability Art Hisotry, Kritische Berichte, (vol 48, 4), December 2020.