Joan Smith is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Art. She is a practicing artist with longstanding interests in archaeology, anthropology and anatomy. A graduate of the MA Fine Art degree (University of Edinburgh) and then the post-graduate MFA (Edinburgh College of Art/Heriot Watt University), Joan trained as a painter, printer and art historian. She has exhibited widely and her work is held in private and public collections across the UK and abroad.
Joan has taught art at Edinburgh College of Art for thirty years, first in the School of Drawing and Painting and First Year Studies and then the Centre for Continuing Studies before joining the School of Art full time in 2011.
For many years Joan worked with lifelong learners in the Centre for Continuing Studies (2001 – 2011) where she was Programme Director for the part-time, flexibly delivered Combined Studies Degree. At the same time she ran the portfolio preparation Saturday Morning Classes for school children planning to apply to study art.
Joan has had a longstanding interest in widening participation in art and her first teaching experience was gained when, as a post-graduate student at ECA she ran evening classes in drawing and painting. She taught at the National Galleries of Scotland and Artlink, helping to run art courses for people from a variety of backgrounds and levels of ability. She was External Examiner for accredited degree-level lifelong learning programmes at Sheffield University and Glasgow University and was recently part of a consultation group who advised on the Art and Design access programme at the University of Edinburgh. She is currently External Examiner for the Leith School of Art foundation course.
From 2014 to 2017 Joan was ECA’s Director of Undergraduate Studies. In this role she had responsibility for overseeing undergraduate programmes across Art, Design, Music, History of Art and ESALA. She chaired the ECA Board of Studies and ECA Undergraduate Studies Committee as well as being the School Academic Misconduct Officer for ECA.
After completing a sabbatical in semester 1 of 2017/18 Joan undertook the role of Acting Head of Art for the whole of 2018.
Currently Joan is course organiser for ‘Anatomy and Art’, a level 8 20 credit course which closely connects with her own research. She also organises the 20 credit first year core course, ‘Art: Studio 1A’ and third year 20 credit courses ‘Art Practice 3A’ and ‘Art Practice 3B’ as well as contributing to supervision on the MSc in Interdisciplinary Creative Practice.
Joan is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
Trained as a painter, printmaker and art historian, Joan has maintained a consistent art practice throughout her career at Edinburgh College of Art, exhibiting work regularly in solo and group exhibitions in the UK and abroad.
She explores cross-overs with other specialist subjects as a way of creating new knowledge, and is a member of the research group, the ‘Bones Collective’, based in Social Anthropology in the University of Edinburgh, and the art/science research group, ‘Fusion’ as well as the ‘Narrative’ research cluster in the School of Art. Joan is a professional member of the Society of Scottish Artists.
Recent collaborative projects have enriched her practice while contributing to others’ research. In ‘Smugglerius Unveiled’ (2009) Joan collaborated with anthropologist, Dr Jeanne Cannizzo, making work inspired by the important ecorche cast known as Smugglerius and the project culminated in an exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery. The exhibition gained extensive press coverage. Later collaborative projects included working with the School of Veterinary Medicine (including the PTAS funded ‘Where Art Meets Science’ research and ‘Bone Library’ exhibition at Summerhall in 2014) and Anatomy in the Medical School (including her ‘Skull Colour Chart’ which Joan has been working on since 2017). From 2016 – 2019 Joan was part of an international research project, ‘Dead Images’ (part of the Horizon 2020 funded TRACES project www.traces.polimi.it), which explored contentious collections through Creative Co-Production between artists, anthropologists, and others. As well as contributing to the artistic and conceptual research behind Dead Images, Joan co-curated the ‘Dead Images’ exhibition at Edinburgh College of Art, project managing the complex installation and line managing a Research Assistant and Exhibitions and Exhibitions Intern to help run educational events. The exhibition and related conference were internationally recognised, gaining excellent feedback.
In 2018 Joan worked with fellow artist, Susie Wilson, on research in to the photographic archive and journals of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals in the First World War. This research resulted in an exhibition with accompanying publication, ‘Field Notes’, shown at Surgeons Hall Museum in Edinburgh. Opening in November 2018 it was part of the WW1 centenary commemorations.
PhD Supervision Topics
art and anthropology, art and anatomy, interdisciplinary practice, painting, printmaking, drawing