Ian Brown

Job Title and Responsibilities

Senior Lecturer in Fine Art

Steering Group Member, I-ACT Research Centre


BA (Hons) Fine Art and MA Fine Art


I produce video, photographic, sculpture, performance, print, sound, web-based and other interdisciplinary artworks both as an individual artist and as part of the artist’s group, Common Culture. The work is disseminated across a breadth of platforms; through galleries, publications, website and screenings or events.

I have experience in working with various external institutions, having recently worked and engaged with Royal Botanic Gardens Kew; National Maritime Museum, London; Los Angeles Maritime Museum and the English Folk Song and Dance Society, London.

I can offer a great deal of experience and knowledge of curatorial practices, having curated a number of exhibitions, including individual projects, co-curated projects and festivals. I have taught and lectured on curating at Staffordshire University, London Metropolitan University and California College of the Arts, San Francisco.



Research and Interests

I produce artworks both as an individual artist and as part of an artist’s group.

Common Culture

I am part of the collaborative artist’s group, Common Culture, with David Campbell and Mark Durden. The group has taken part in group and solo exhibitions in Europe, Asia and North America.

Through sculptural, photographic, performance and video projects, Common Culture explores how contemporary social identity is constructed through the rituals of consumption within popular culture. Often collaborating with workers from the entertainment industry, we engineer strategic collisions between the elitist assumptions attached to Art and its institutions, and the perceived commonplace and vulgar aspects of popular culture. Previous work has addressed the issue of alienation and exploitation of workers as the logical, but culturally invisible, consequence of commodity consumption. Stand-up comedians, nightclub bouncers, fast-food shopping, tribute singers, discos, television actors and the collective's own status as an exhibiting artist have all been used to explore how venerated and vernacular cultural forms are unequivocally bound up with issues of taste, class and notions of national identity. This body of work was exhibited in group exhibitions in the UK, Ireland, Russia and Portugal, culminating in solo exhibitions at Void, Derry; Solar, Vila de Conde, Portugal and Bad Faith, Golden Thread Gallery, Belfast.

In 2010 we were selected for Manifesta 8 – The European Biennial of Contemporary Art in the Region of Murcia, Spain. For Manifesta 8, we produced a narrative project exploring the phenomena of cultural consumption, tourism and the tradition of the historical Grand Tour. This commissioned work, The New El Dorado, narrates an encounter between the specific characteristics of a place and the culture of others. This work resulted in notable reviews in Art Monthly, MAP, CMagazine, Artforum and Frieze, and screenings at conferences held at The Banff Centre, Canada, and Goldsmiths College, London.

We are currently working on new projects that further develop themes present in this work, looking at notions of utopia and cultural hybridity.  We have forthcoming solo exhibitions with Oriel Mostyn, Llandudno and New Art Exchange, Nottingham and are working on projects with Grizedale Arts.

Common Culture were nominated for the 2011 Northern Art Prize.

Personal practice

As a starting point, my own practice began with investigations into the advancements of technology –testing the progression and optimism associated with these developments against the problems of our everyday usage of them. A range of works were utilised to explore this area including: performative and installation based video works, computer generated photographic prints and web based artworks.  A focus was the notion that the commercial drivers for public access to these advancements are often at odds with how we are able to, or wish to, utilise and interact with them. My practice has since expanded to consider the relationship between the invented world and the natural world.

In 2009 I curated a touring exhibition Trying To Cope With Things That Aren’t Human (Part One), which received funding from Arts Council England and the British Council. To the extent that it discussed difference, this exhibition also tried to find the common ground, or indeed the threshold, between our ability to cope with the things that we have created, to make our lives easier, and our struggle to relate to the natural world.

This curatorial project developed and progressed through three exhibitions, which started in San Francisco in January 2009 and ended in London in October 2009, and a publication of newly commissioned artworks by some of the exhibiting artists alongside new works by Paul Rooney and Francis McKee. The exhibitions included existing and newly commissioned works by Ryan Gander, Heather and Ivan Morison, Annika Ström, Marcus Coates, Ian Brown, Alex Pearl, Mariele Neudecker, Richard Hughes, Johanna Hällsten, Richard T. Walker and Alan Currall. The exhibition attracted critical attention and generated reviews in Artforum (critics choice), Art Monthly, A-N and The Guardian.

Ongoing research considers our relationship with mechanical/technological disasters and natural disasters – both real and fictional. The work exists in interdisciplinary forms between song, object, film and print, and used a breadth or strategies offering forms of evidence and records. New wax cylinder recordings, letterpress printed broadside sheets and video documentation re-presented hybrid stories of disaster films and disaster songs. This work has been exhibited in the solo show Stories of Alienation and Disaster at Die Raum, Berlin, The Animal Gaze Returned, at London Met gallery and Needle In A Cloud at Fold Gallery, London.

I am currently working with Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, with initial research being funded by HEIF, working towards further funding from AHRC, Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England. At Kew I am working on a project, An Incredible World Of Beauty And Terror, which seeks to enquire about our relationship with plants. It brings together diverse positions from botany, archival processes, scientific illustration, natural history documentaries and science fiction writings.

Witnessing the Wilderness, a co-curated exhibition with Geraint Evans, will take place in April 2013 at Wimbledon Space, London. The exhibition considers how the boundaries of the term ‘wilderness’ can be defined in relation to exploration, habitation and ownership.

Selected Publications

2012  Now I Gotta Reason, Jerwood Space, London, UK. Curated by Grizedale Arts and Marcus  Coates, as Common Culture.
2012  Needle in a Cloud Fold Gallery, London. UK
2012  If You Look Like Your Passport Photo You’re Too Ill To Travel. Sheffield
  Institute of the Arts Gallery, Sheffield, UK, as Common Culture
2011  The Animal Gaze Returned, London Met University, London, UK
2011  Stories of Alienation and Disaster (solo), Die Raum, Berlin, Germany
2011  Endlos Umstritten, Ewig Schön, D21Kunstraum, Leipzig, Germany, as  Common Culture
2011  The FACE: evolution of portrait in photography The State Novosibirsk
        Historical Museum, Novosibirsk, Russia, as Common Culture
2010  Common Culture at Miami Art Fair, Miami, USA, (solo) curated by Sara Black
2010  In View Golden Thread, Belfast, UK, as Common Culture
2010  X-ray presents ENDPOINT, The Perseverance, London. UK
2010  Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain, as Common Culture
2010  LOOP Festival, Barcelona, Spain
2010 Bad Faith (solo), The Golden Thread, Belfast, UK as Common Culture
2009 Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), Cell Project Space, Bethnal Green, London. UK
2009 Tales from the Trophy Room, (solo),  Solar, Vila do Conde, Portugal, as Common Culture
2009 Ūdensgabali/Waterpieces, International video and contemporary arts festival, Riga, Latvia
2009 XV International Biennial of Cerveira, Portugal, as Common Culture
2009 Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
2009 Grin & Bear It Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork, Ireland, as Common Culture
2009 Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), David Cunningham Projects, San Francisco, USA
2008  Örebro International Videoart Festival, Sweden
2008 The 2nd Novosibirsk International Festival of Contemporary Photography, LeVall gallery, Novosibirsk, Russia, as Common Culture
2008 Variable Capital, The Bluecoat, Liverpool, UK, as Common Culture
2008  EV+A – Too Early for Vacation curated by Hou Hanru, Limerick, Ireland, as Common Culture
2007 Joking Aside, Bury St. Edmunds Art Gallery, UK, as Common Culture
2007 Pop Trauma (solo), The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK, as Common Culture.
2006 Spent, Three Colts Gallery, Bethnal Green London, UK
2006 Pop Trauma (solo), Third Space Gallery, Belfast, UK, as Common Culture
2006  Pop Trauma (solo), Void, Derry, Ireland, as Common Culture


2013  Witnessing The Wilderness (co-curated with Geraint Evans) Wimbledon Space, London, UK
2011  A Distance Between Two Points: Jo Coupe and Linda Persson, Airspace Gallery, Stoke-  on-Trent, UK
2011  Journeymen: David Blandy and Antti Laitinen, Airspace Gallery Stoke-on-Trent, UK
2010  Conjunction 10: Escape, Stoke-on-Trent, City wide, UK
2010  The Drowning World, Airspace Gallery Stoke-on-Trent, UK
2009 Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), Cell Project Space, Bethnal Green, London. UK
2009 Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), AirSpace Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent, UK
2009 Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One) David Cunningham Projects, San Francisco, USA
2008  Conjunction 08: Fantastic, Found and Fake Stoke-on-Trent, City wide, UK

Grants and Awards

2012  An Incredible World Of Terror And Beauty Heif (Higher Education Innovation Fund)
2011  Stories Of Alienation and Disaster Arts Council England Grants for the Arts.
2009/10 Bad Faith SAFLE commission, as Common Culture
2008  Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), Arts Council England Grants   for the Arts.
2008  Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), British Council Grants To    Artists

2012 Critical Dictionary, edited by David Evans (Black Dog, ISBN13: 978 1 907317 49 1), as Common Culture.
2011  A Distance Between Two Points: Jo Coupe and Linda Persson Exhibition Catalogue,    editor. ISBN-10: 0956145760
2011  Journeymen: David Blandy and Antti Laitinen, Exhibition catalogue, editor.ISBN-10:    0956145752
2010  Common Culture The New El Dorado, artwork for Prefix Photo Magazine (Canada),    November, by Scott McLeod.
2010  A Macguffin for Art, Artwork for Manifesta 8: Europe in the 21st Century, as Common    Culture. ISBN-10: 8836616976
2010  The Drowning World, Exhibition catalogue, editor. ISBN-10: 0956145736
2009 Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), Book. Editor and contributor. ISBN-10: 0956145701
2008 Variable Capital: A conversation with Common Culture. David Evans. Afterimage: The journal of media arts and cultural criticism, Vol. 36 No. 2
2008 EV+A Exhibition catalogue and DVD, as Common Culture
2006 Common Culture - Pop Trauma, Void, Derry. (Void ISBN-10: 095517631X)

2012  Lecture for California College of the Arts at For-Site Foundation, Nevada City, CA. USA.
2012  Art & Music lecture and presentation for California College of the Arts, USA
2011  Trashing Performance symposium (invited presenter and panel member) organised by    Performance Matters, Toynbee Theatre, London, UK, as Common Culture
2011 AC / On Collaboration Research Symposium, Invited presenter and screening of Screening of The New El Dorado, Goldsmiths College, London, UK
2011 MA Art Lectures – Summer Series: Common Culture University College Falmouth, UK, as Common Culture
2010 Banff International Curatorial Institute Symposium: Are Curators Unprofessional? Screening of The New El Dorado by Teresa Gleadowe, Banff, Canada.
2009 Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), Cell Project Space. Public talk with Lisa Le Feuvre, Marcus Coates and Johanna Hällsten.
2009  Artists & Animals, Jcamd Research Seminar Series,( May-June 2009 along with Bridget   Nicholls, Jacob Cartwright, Edwina Ashton and Karen Knorr) Sir John Cass, London    Metropolitan University. UK.
2009  Lecture on Trying to Cope with Things that Aren’t Human (Part One), California College   of the Arts, San Francisco. USA

Current Teaching

I teach across all levels of the Fine Art BA (Hons) course and undertake PhD and MA supervision


Ian Brown
t: +44 (0)1782 294512
e: i.brown@staffs.ac.uk