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Vice-Chancellor’s talks

Our VC talks will be continuing throughout Spring and Summer term with a new set of speakers announced.

23/24 Talks

Autumn term

Thursday 26 October: Melanie Keen, Director of the Wellcome Collection
Thursday 9 November: Rathna Ramanathan, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Central St Martin’s
Thursday 14 December: John Kenneth Paranada, Curator of Art and Climate Change, Sainsbury Centre

Spring term

Thursday 18 January: Tim A. Shaw, Co-founder of Hospital Rooms
Thursday 15 February: Sakib Khan, multidisciplinary artist, curator and producer.
Thursday 14 March: Ali Smith, author, musician, and photographer.

Summer term

Thursday 18 April: Professor Elizabeth Price, Turner Prize winner.
Thursday 9 May: Kirsty Ogg, independent curator and educator.

The vision for the Vice-Chancellor’s talks

To encourage a more ambitious culture of critical creativity across the University, this new series of around 10 talks will take place on selected Thursdays across the academic year 2022/23, starting at 5pm in our DSR Production Theatre.

For the series we have invited outstanding and distinguished practitioners, thought leaders, researchers, and educators to talk to our community of staff and students about their latest experiences and developments in their fields of expertise, to inspire us all. The series will include speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines who will share topical and important ideas and debates and cover many areas of contemporary practice and culture including film, visual art, design, architecture, fashion, creative technologies, philosophy, music, and science.

Simon Ofield-Kerr, Vice Chancellor.

Past 2024/2023 talks

What can contemporary curatorial practices learn from pre-18th century egalitarian pirate communities? Kirsty Ogg, Curator and Educator

Thursday 9 May

In this VC talk Kirsty Ogg explored ideas around non-hierarchical networks, and how the notion of care might be better practised in the art world’s systems and structures.

Through investigating her roots in DIY artist-led projects in Glasgow and Norwich, she examined what the art ecology might learn from pre-18th century egalitarian pirate communities and how ideas of radical democracy that were utilised in the Golden Age of Piracy, could be applied to contemporary curatorial and institutional practices

The Otherworlds and Underworlds of the Archives. Professor Elizabeth Price, Moving Image Artist

Thursday 18 April 2024

In this talk, artist Elizabeth Price (Turner Prize winner 2012) discussed her work in moving image art, specifically addressing her use of archival documents in relation to the history of artists’ critical interventions in archives and collections.

You can find Elizabeth’s book, Sound of the break, and more on her work in the library.

Knowing your worth: The value of connection in the creative process. Ali Smith, author, photographer and musician

Thursday 14 March 2024

In this talk, Ali Smith discussed her decades-long careers in music, photography and writing, and how she used each medium to deeply explore the human condition with a focus on women’s lives.

Ali Smith is a photographer, author and musician, originally from New York but now based in the UK. The vibrant style she has brought to her writing and photography was forged in New York’s underground music scene where she played bass in the seminal punk / blues / avant-garde band, Speedball Baby.

Ali’s memoir, The Ballard of Speedball Baby, is available in the library.

How I got here: Fashion, fabrics to fine art. Sakib Khan, multidisciplinary artist, curator and producer

Thursday 15 February 2024

Sakib Khan is this year’s guest curator for Queerfest Norwich shared their path to this point in a colourful and very untraditional career.

As an artist, Khan’s work aims to weave together the many different strands of their intersectional identity. They are a Queer neurodivergent person of South Asian heritage, and this intersectional identity has become an unconscious underlying influence across their work.

Hospital Rooms: Art and change in mental health hospitals. Tim A. Shaw, Co-founder of Hospital Rooms

Thursday 18 January 2024

Hospital Rooms is an arts and mental health charity that commissions extraordinary artworks for NHS mental health inpatient units across the UK. They collaborate with mental health service users and staff, and have worked with artists including Sonia Boyce, Julian Opie, Tschabalala Self, Hurvin Anderson and Nick Knight. 


Tim A Shaw is an artist. With Niamh White, he is co-founder of arts and mental health charity Hospital Rooms. He is also co-founder of Making Time Arts, a social enterprise that delivers arts training to dementia caregivers; and programmes and co-curates the Dentons Art Prize, an arts award for exceptional emerging talent, now in it’s 11th round. He has been a curator on a number of projects including the public sculptures commissions for Horizon 120 in Braintree and has authored a book, Draw & Be Happy, published by Chronicle Books, Quarto, Ilex and Octopus. He is a Senior Research Fellow at Norwich University of the Arts.

Sediment spirit: Do we need to loot the planet in order to heal it? John Kenneth Paranada, Curator of Art and Climate Change, Sainsbury Centre.

14 December 2023

John Kenneth Paranada presented his interdisciplinary curatorial practice and the exhibition Sediment Spirit, which shone a light on various intersectional approaches tackling the complexities of climate change.

The talk drew on art, philosophy, ecologies, climate science, design, architecture, and the environment. It will highlight the vital role of museums and cultural spaces as a platform for interdisciplinary exchange of information and transmission of diverse knowledge, which can become a catalyst for social change.

What is intercultural practice? Dr Rathna Ramanathan, Pro Vice Chancellor, Central St Martin’s

9 November 2023

Digital connectivity, international migration and a climate and global health crises have necessitated an urgent reconsideration of our approach to art, design and communication. Rathna Ramanathan’s talk evaluated western canons and frameworks of art and design, and considered why taking an intercultural approach to creative practice is critically needed.

Dr Rathna Ramanathan is a typographer, researcher and academic known for her expertise in intercultural communication and alternative publishing practices.

Things Fell Apart, Melanie Keen, Director of the Wellcome Collection

26 October 2023

In late 2022, Wellcome Collection closed a 15-year old gallery that was never meant to be open beyond 10 years. Following the public announcement, the organisation faced an unprecedented wave of public and media criticism that flood-lit the work of museums and the role of cultural workers. This talk covered the fall out of what happened next.

Melanie’s talk was not recorded but you can hear her speak on the subject on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row (opens in a new window).

Melanie Keen is Director of the Wellcome Collection in London, a museum of health and human experience. Under her leadership, there is a strong commitment to reshaping cultural assumptions around race, disability and gender, and the human relationship to planetary health. 

Past VC talks

Past VC Talks
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