Our Arts research

The Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre (DMARC) is the academic research centre for our School of Arts. Our focus for DMARC is to increase understanding of the shifting boundaries and new relationships within artistic research practice and theory.


DMARC is the home to artistic research from the disciplines of Performing Arts, Music, Media, Art and Design within the School of Arts. Among other forms, our researchers explore the potential of hybrid art forms made possible by using digitalisation alongside the traditional arts, collaboration and working across disciplines. We share our research through our practice, exhibitions and published text.

We are active in many national and international research events and activities, such as the FORMAT International Film and Photography Festival held in Derby and the Heritage Lottery-funded DerwentWISE project. 

An exhibition of the artistic research of our academics celebrates the uniqueness of artistic research and its possibilities. Books, films, objects, drawings and prints are among the creative artefacts included to show the diversity of artistic delivery that is possible. We held our Arts Research Exhibition 2018 at our Markeaton Street site in Derby.

Angela Bartram dogs and owners

Our research groups

Our DMARC research is based around seven research groups.


Animal is a term used widely to name any living creature other than the human. We use it to describe physiological, behavioural or psychological difference. And it designates the non-human in a manner that is often pejorative.

The interdisciplinary field of animal studies has, as a consequence, grown in significance in recent years. It has scholars and artists dedicated to challenging anthropocentrism (centred on humans) and exploring what it is to be animal in its many forms.

The researchers in our group contribute to this debate, as they interrogate what it is to be beyond the human. We look at microbes, mammals, political action, marginalisation, extremity, resistance and beastly behaviour.

This group offers thoughtful and provocative readings of this world of difference through practical and theoretical acts of research and dissemination. It is led by Ang Bartram and Graham Rowe.

Recent research projects: 


A/r/tography is a research methodology that addresses pedagogy through the lens of the multiple identities of the artist/creative, researcher and teacher. The artistic medium engages the self through embodied learning to reflect on one’s practice as a teacher through their artistic sensibility. The methodology offers a fluid and dynamic orientation that is not based on a final research outcome, but a deepening of understanding through a living inquiry of one’s practice. This is not reliant on logical development, but explores the intuitive self and the many tensions and contradictions through the creative process.

A/r/tography is about self-study in the context of a community of a/r/tographers to find new meanings through the dynamics of this inter-connected relationship. The research group offers opportunity in a community context to develop oneself as a researcher/creative to inform teaching practice. The intention is to develop a supportive network to share visual artworks, designs, films, installations, dance, musical compositions, dramatic work, poems, stories and research narratives to inform professional development through a co-creative dynamic. It is through the co-creative dynamic that new knowledge of pedagogy is constructed.  

Led by Drew Bird


We will explore disability and inclusiveness in a project that will include two feature-length films, articles and exhibitions. The group is led by Christine Parker.


CivicLAB is an interdisciplinary research group centred on participatory culture, creative dialogue and experiential design for social impact. How do we build communities (Manzini, 2019) and how can we create the conditions in which those communities can sustainably develop, innovate and thrive within the social, economic, environmental and cultural challenges of the 21st century?

It is led by Dr Rhiannon Jones and Matt Hawthorn

Find out more about CivicLAB

Research Arts and Wellbeing (RAW)

The main aims of the RAW research group are to support colleagues from across the College and wider University in stimulating and collaborating in research around all aspects of arts in health and wellbeing, across all forms of visual and performance arts as well as all forms of arts therapies. By offering a range of lectures and talks from colleagues from across the University and further afield, it will assist all staff in identifying potential collaborators and facilitating communication between researchers and teaching staff, and lead to publishing collaborative research papers, books, and book chapters in these related fields.

The group will be chaired by Dr Clive Holmwood, Associate Professor in the Discipline of Therapeutic Arts, and Co-chaired by Professor Susan Hogan, both based within the School of Arts, within the College of Arts, Humanities and Education.

Work within RAW includes Birth Shock!, an extension of The Birth Project, that uses film to explore the experience of birth. The aim is to share insights with practitioners and the broader public and embed the films into future training.


This research group considers the work of artists, photographers and filmmakers in both a historical and contemporary context. We will also investigate the issues of creating spaces for work to be shown or disseminated. There is a particular interest in the work of women artists who are under-represented in terms of visibility and exhibition space. The group will also consider different ways to curate, exhibit, and display work in order to enhance circulation, visibility and critique. The focus of Spaces/Places will emerge via discussion and participants’ research interests.

Spaces/Places is partly inspired by the work of Agnès Varda. She included art, photography and filmmaking within her work and challenged ideas about representation and inclusion. We are interested in the ways in which women’s art and other work has often been marginalised and the extent to which visibility and access can create further discourse and dialogue. The spaces explored may be physical or digital, traditional or alternative and will place artists and their work within a wider critical dialogue. Spaces/Places welcomes members who are within and external to the University and collaboration is a significant aspect of our approach. The group is led by Teresa Forde.

Alice Marshall dance performance
Robert Burstow Sculpture in the Home Exhibition

Your PhD - study with us

We welcome applications for PhD artistic research study in practice and theory. We can offer you an intellectually stimulating environment through the subject clusters of Media, Performing Arts, Art and Design. Our PhD programme gives you a freedom to pursue new and innovative ideas within and beyond these areas, guided by experienced and leading academics in the field and sector.

Interdisciplinary and cross-school research projects are considered, such as those that straddle Arts and Health and Arts and Humanities. We are open to discussing proposals that stimulate and engage through creative exploration and invite you to enquire about ways we can support your PhD study. We also have a number of self-funded PhD options that are aligned to the research strengths of our staff.

If you would like to discuss your project proposal with us, then please contact Dr Angela Bartram, Head of Arts Research and DMARC, at a.bartram@derby.ac.uk and Dr Robert Burstow, Post-Graduate Research Lead for the School of Arts, at r.burstow@derby.ac.uk.

Alternatively, please contact the project supervisor/s of the self-funded PhD you are interested in pursuing. 

Sadie Wechsler's Takeoff of a rocket heading through the clouds

FORMAT International Photography Festival

FORMAT is the UK’s leading biennial festival of contemporary photography and is organised in Derby by QUAD and our Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre (DMARC).

Find out more about FORMATFind out more about FORMAT

Our objectives

The objectives of DMARC are to:

Marc Bosward Untitled Work in Progress collage

Our events

We hold our regular Arts Talk series with guest speakers. 


Paul Hurley

5-6pm Wednesday 28 November

Room MS146 School of Arts,
Markeaton Street,

Michael Schwab

5-6pm Wednesday 14 November

Room MS023 School of Arts,
Markeaton Street,

Steve Baker
Between theory and practice: art and the question of contemporaneity

5-6pm Wednesday 31 October

Room MS146 School of Arts,
Markeaton Street,

Dr Michael Lent

5-6pm Wednesday 17 October

Room MS146 School of Arts,
Markeaton Street,

Tim Etchells  5-6pm Wednesday 26 September Room MS146 School of Arts,
Markeaton Street,
Confetti falling at S.H.E.D

S.H.E.D (Social Higher Education Depot)

S.H.E.D is our mobile arts commissioning venue and public space. Transformed from an old garden shed, it is now a place for conversation and an alternative site for artistic practice.

Find out how you can use S.H.E.D to engage your audienceFind out how you can use S.H.E.D to engage your audience