Staff profile

Dr Ian Neal

Senior Lecturer: Visual Culture


Art and Design


College of Arts, Humanities and Education


School of Arts

Research centre

Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre




Markeaton Street, Derby Campus



I am Module Leader for historical and theoretical modules on various design disciplines at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. These come under the rubric of Visual Culture, a disciplinary field which accommodates the historical and theoretical investigation of art and design disciplines. My objectives are to complement students' burgeoning practical skills with intellectual inquiry around art and design disciplines which is meaningful, purposeful, and enlightening.

I believe strongly that the development of critical skills and scholarly study is an integral aspect for the education of illustrators, artists, and designers.

Teaching responsibilities

I teach on a range of courses, primarily delivering historical and theoretical modules to undergraduate and postgraduate art and design students.

Research interests

My research interests are in British art and illustration of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. I have looked at the relationship between writing on the unconscious in emergent British psychology of the nineteenth century and the concurrent popular trope of depictions of figures in states of daydream, trance and hypnotism. I have also published work on the artist and illustrator John Minton; in particular Minton’s mid-century illustration work and its relationship with Neo-Romanticism in fine art. My aims are to help develop new theoretical inquiry into the discipline of illustration, which has largely remained under the shadow of fine art scholarship.


Recent conferences

Shaping the View: Understanding Landscape through lllustration

7th International Illustration Research Symposium, Edinburgh College of Art , November 10th and 11th 2016


Time Was Away: A Notebook in Corsica

During the nineteen forties and fifties, artist John Minton (1917-1957) was a successful illustrator. Scholarship on Minton as illustrator is lacking. Instead, attention has focussed on Minton the Neo-Romantic artist and his struggle to accept new directions in art, notably abstraction. This paper focuses on his illustrations for Time Was Away: A Notebook in Corsica published 1948. The book was the result of collaboration between Minton and author/poet Alan Ross (1922-2001). Commissioned by publisher John Lehmann, it was a “lavish anti-austerity production” (Spalding, 2005) featuring nearly one hundred illustrations, half of which are landscapes. Praised by contemporary critic John Lewis, Minton’s illustrations “are both complementary to and an enlargement of the text.” Lewis placed Minton’s work in the company of Bewick, Tenniel, Caldecott and Cruikshank, and identifies him as a successful, contemporary example of those illustrators who “enrich the author’s meaning” (Lewis 1949).

The paper examines the range in Minton’s approach at two levels. Firstly, it considers his dual strategies of Romanticism and Realism. Minton conflates topographical concerns with Neo-Romantic tendencies and draws on the landscape traditions of the sublime and picturesque, and the trope of the figure in the landscape. Secondly, the paper examines the images within a register of autonomy. Some images, operate autonomously, procuring primarily aesthetic responses; in contrast, others demand more literal intertextual readings; still, a further category of semi autonomous images are identified which subtly evoke elements of the text, without being hostage to Ross’s prose. These works in particular, I argue, invite the reader/viewer to re-assemble text and image so as to re-envision and re-imagine the Corsican Landscape.

By examining text-image relationships, the place of landscape in post-war illustration, collaborative practice, and the relationship between fine art and illustration, the paper aims to contribute to forwarding the theorisation of illustration.


Additional interests and activities

Musician/Composer/Music Production

Currently working on a fourth album. My previous three albums have all been influenced by various instrumental genres and coloured by my interest in 1970s progressive rock, alongside both classical music and contemporary electronica.

In the media

Invited to speak on BBC Radio Derby about the concept of reverie and daydreaming:


Recent publications

Neal, I. (2018) Illustrating Corsica: The modernist landscapes of John Minton’s Time Was Away. Journal of Illustration. Volume 5 Number 1