Past VC Talks

The vision for the VC talks

To encourage a more ambitious culture of critical creativity across the University, we introduced new series of around 10 talks that take place on selected Thursdays across the academic year 2022/23, 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.

Spring term 2023

Thursday 9 March 2023, 5-6pm – Lady Rachel Cooper OBE, Professor of Design Management

In this talk Professor of Design Management, Rachel Cooper OBE, offered her reflections on 30 years of design research applied to cities, health and wellbeing, digital lives, sustainability and more. She explored why designers need to go beyond design, think differently and design radically.

Rachel’s books The Handbook of Design Management and Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide (vol II) are available as eBooks in the library.

Thursday 26 January 2023, 5-6pm – Eduardo Kac, Brazilian contemporary artist

From Telepresence to Space Art

Renowned artist Eduardo Kac revisits key highlights in his forty-year career, with emphasis on his current space artworks. Kac is internationally recognised for his ground-breaking work in contemporary art and poetry. His singular and highly influential career spans poetry, performance, drawing, printmaking, photography, artist’s books, early digital and online works, holography, telepresence, bio art, and space art.

Kac’s books and further resources are available via the library.

Winter term 2022

Thursday 13 October 2022 – Simon Ofield-Kerr, Vice-Chancellor at Norwich University of the Arts

What are we doing here?

A personal reflection on the critical relationships between being a Vice Chancellor, a queer theorist, a gay dad, an art historian, and a creative practitioner, which makes some proposals for what happens – at different times and in different places – when we make, interpret, analyse, historicise and teach creative practice.

Simon studied Fine Art at Exeter College of Art and Design and has an MA in the Social History of Art and a PhD from the University of Leeds.

He started his academic career at Leeds and held a series of key academic and leadership roles at Middlesex University and Kingston University, where he was Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture. Before joining Norwich University of the Arts, Simon was Deputy Vice-Chancellor at University of the Arts London (UAL). Prior to joining UAL in 2017, he was Vice-Chancellor at University for the Creative Arts, which has campuses across Surrey and Kent.

Simon’s research explores the relationships between social/sexual practices, pleasures and identities, and their connections to the making and interpreting of creative practice, at different times and in different places.

Watch Simon’s talk on YouTube here.

Resources mentioned in Simon Ofield-Kerr’s talk: resource list.

Thursday 20 October – Professor Catherine Harper

‘Women, life, liberty’

5 – 6pm, Duke Street Riverside Production Theatre. Free, open to all students and staff

As part of the Northern Irish feminist diaspora, Professor Harper’s creative practice and research – in both text and textiles – circle around concerns with land, cloth, body and memory. These are specifically in the context of Irish women’s fight for bodily autonomy, reproductive rights, and the free expression of eroticism, sexuality and identity. This talk will be situated within these interconnected areas of interest.

Professor Catherine Harper holds a PhD in Composite Textile Engineering, is Editor-in-Chief of TEXTILE (Taylor & Francis), and Chair Professor of Design at Woxsen University, Hyderabad, India. She has published one monograph, Intersex (Berg, 2007), the four volume Textiles: Critical and Primary Sources (Bloomsbury, 2012), chapters including in Erotic Cloth (Millar, L. et al, Bloomsbury, 2017), and scholarly articles such as Oestrogen Rising 2016: Ireland’s Stained and Bloodied Cloths in Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture.

A visual artist before turning to writing, she has exhibited internationally, with work collected by, for example, the Irish Government, NHS, and Tyrone Guthrie Centre. Her textile work is currently exhibited in the 12th ‘From Lausanne to Beijing’ International Fiber Art Biennial, China, where she will shortly deliver a keynote lecture at the Hangzhou Triennial of Fibre Art. Having just completed two essays for the Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia of World Textiles (published 2023), she is currently finalising an edited volume for Peeters Publishers, Belgium.

Students and staff can access many of Professor Catherine Harper’s articles online via the library catalogue, Discovery.

Watch the talk on YouTube here:

Thursday 3 November – Jonathan Grant

The New Power University: The social purpose of higher education in the 21st century

5 – 6pm, Duke Street Riverside Production Theatre. Free, open to all students and staff

In a changing world, what is the social purpose of higher education? Combining a critique of contemporary universities, a manifesto for the future and a provocation to stimulate change, this talk will examine how higher education can flourish in the 21st century.

Reviewing his book of the same title, he will use the framing of ‘new power’, to illustrate how a different purpose for universities is necessary, through the application of a new set of values that puts social responsibility at the core of the academic mission, allowing the university to become an advocate of the policy and political issues that matter to its communities.

Jonathan Grant is Vice President of Kings London & author of the “New Power University”.

Students and staff can borrow Jonathan Grant’s book from the university library: The New Power University or read the ebook.

Watch the talk here: Vice-Chancellor’s Talks: Jonathan Grant, 3 November 2022 – YouTube

Thursday 1 December – Dr Jago Cooper

Artist, Art, Audience!,?,*

This talk will consider what role art museums should play in society in the 21st century. In many ways museums are stuck in a Victorian era model of why they exist in the UK. A transforming world in the 21st century provides both challenges and opportunities for some radically different ways for how museums should exist and operate.

The Sainsbury Centre was created in the 1970s as an anti-museum to fundamentally challenge museological orthodoxy. It is time to think a little about the future for an institution created with radical ambition and a different framework for relationships between art, artist and audience.

Students and staff can borrow Dr Jago Cooper’s book from the university library: Peru: a journey in time

Jago’s talk was not recorded, however, you can view his talk with the British Museum on Peru: a journey in time.

Thursday 15th December – Benjamin Zephaniah

Poetry Saved My Life

A talk by Benjamin Zephaniah, award winning poet, novelist, playwright, actor and musician.

Benjamin Zephaniah cannot remember a time when he was not creating poetry. In this talk, the celebrated writer and dub-poet will discuss how he has used poetry and other creative art forms as a means of moving away from a life which was close to death. Encapsulating this is his belief in the importance of the oral tradition, which “gives voice to those who would’ve otherwise been voiceless”.

With a career that has spanned many aspects of the arts and creative industries, it is a pleasure for us to be able to welcome Benjamin to Norwich University of the Arts, to share his thoughts and experiences with staff and students.

Students and staff can borrow Benjamin Zephaniah’s autobiography from the university library: The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah

This talk wasn’t recorded, however you can view many of his videos on his official YouTube channel: