Job title: Chair of Contemporary Art Practice & Theory

Role: MA Contemporary Art Theory Programme Director | School of Art Exchange Coordinator

Tel: Zoom PMI 250 606 2887


Office address: ECA Main Building

Contact time: UTC+0

Research outputs: Professor Neil Mulholland on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Craft magic. Not too much. Mostly fake.*

​My research and learning interests in paragogy and weirding coorespond with two inter-related corporations (Shift/Work and Confraternity of Neoflagellants).

Both of these corporations are primarily concerned with methodological inventiveness, co-constructing para and extradisciplinary methods that systematically re-frame artistic research as an open ended inquiry: a careful, continuous quest driven by curiosity.

Contemporary art is a parasite; a host forever seeking other hosts. To these ends, I often work collaboratively, forming a distributed corporatus populated by shared avatars.


I have long worked as a critic for many international art publications. I still write for literary and political magazines, the popular press, television, commissioned monographs and artwriting publications and have curated exhibitions as part of international biennials as well as numerous projects at artist-led organisations. Additionally, I continue to produce original archival research on contemporary art in Britain since the 1970s.



  • 2022 Open Networked Learning (ONL221),
  • 1998, Doctor of Philosophy, History of Art, The University of Glasgow
  • 1995, MA (Hons.) History of Art with English Literature, The University of Glasgow

Academic Leadership

I have held a number of senior management roles and been an academic leader at a Scottish, GB and European High Education Area level.

As Postgraduate Dean for the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences in The University of Edinburgh I was responsible for 200 taught postgradute programmes (7,500 FTE students) and 2,200 PhD students across 11 Schools: Business School; Centre for Open Learning; Divinity; Economics; Edinburgh College of Art; Health in Social Science; History, Classics and Archaeology; Law; Literatures, Languages and Cultures; Moray House School of Education; Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences; Social and Political Science.

As Dean I also-co Chaired our Senatus Researcher Experience Committee, responsible for all 5,750 PhD students in the University of Edinburgh (now our Doctoral College).

I represented The University of Edinburgh in the Russell Group, Coimbra and the League of European Research Universities.

I was Exec Member of the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science and Scottish Graduate School for the Arts & Humanities.

I have also been:

Director of PGT and PGR Learning & Teaching in Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh

School of Art PG Director and Director of MA and MFA Contemporary Art Programmes, University of Edinburgh

School of Art Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange and Programme, University of Edinburgh

Director of the Centre for Visual & Cultural Studies, Edinburgh College of Art (as SSI HEI)

Director of Taught Postgraduate Studies, Edinburgh College of Art (as SSI HEI)

Director of 8+ taught postgraduate programmes

Before joining ECA, I was a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art at the University of the Creative Arts, Surrey and  Visiting Lecturer in Historical & Critical Studies at The Glasgow School of Art and in History of Art, The University of Glasgow

Quality Enhancement of Learning & Teaching

2023: Chair of External Evaluation Committee (EEC) for the Republic of Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.

2022: Chair of External Evaluation Committee (EEC) for the Republic of Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.

2018-2022 Chief External Examiner Fine Art & Examiner, BA (Hons) Fine Art Critical Practice and all BA Critical Studies modules, University of Brighton, England

2021: Chair of External Evaluation Committee (EEC), Art, History and Theory (BA, Masters, PhD), Department of Fine Arts, Cyprus University of Technology, for the Republic of Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.

2017-2020 External Examiner, Master of Research, Royal College of Art, London, England.

2017-2020 External Examiner, Visual Culture: BA Fine Art and BA Visual Art Programmes, Dublin School of Creative Arts, Dublin Institute Technology, Ireland.

2019:  Chair of External Evaluation Committee (EEC), Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art, University of Nicosia for the Republic of Cyprus Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education.

2014-2018 Chief External Examiner and External Examiner MA Creative Practice, Leeds Arts University, Leeds, England.

2016 BA and MFA Fine Art Revalidation Panellist and Reviewer, School of Art & Design, Ulster University, Belfast, Ireland.

2013-2017 MA Fine Art and MFA Programmes at the University of Leeds, England.

2010-2015 External Examiner Visual Culture, History and Theory modules in the BA (Hons) Contemporary Fine Art, BA (Hons) Fashion and Textile Design with Enterprise, BA (Hons) Graphic Design, BA (Hons) Illustration and BA (Hons) Photography in the School of Art, Design and Media, University of Portsmouth, England.

2009-2013 External examiner of BA (Hons.) Fine Art Programmes at the School of Art, BIAD, Birmingham City University, England.

* Paraphrasing Michael Pollan In Defense of Food (2008)

I am Programme Director of the MA Contemporary Art Theory in the School of Art 

I established the MA CAT in 2001 as a post-studio programme that supports the practices of artists and contemporary art professionals. My research and teaching are fully integrated in this programme. Additionally, the theory and practice of teaching art is, in its own right, one of my key research concerns:

Contemporary Art & Open Learning

Open courseware with Dr Jake Watts and Beth Dynowski. The courseware is an Open Educational Resource that anyone can access online.

Contemporary Art + Anthropology

Taught with Frances Davis. This course combines artistic practice and social anthropology to create a hybrid interdiscipline.

Research Projects

Confraternity of Neoflagellants

With the artist Dr Norman Hogg (Ottawa, ON, Canada), I become Confraternity of Neoflagellants. CoN is a mismorphic weird-machine, a black box wherein ferments a deanthropotechnic, phosphorescent, and occasionally putrid cultic milieu.

CoN fabulates theory-fictions. One such theory-fiction is the para-discipline of neomedievalism. CoN's neomedievalism is akin to 'Weird Machine', an exploit that fabulates its own metaverse into existence by metastasising existing disciplines and practices such as Medievalisms Studies, New Weird, Weirding, Psychotronic arts, Comparative Esotericism and Magic. CoN's exploit generates magical methods for palimpsesting extant knowledges, for divining what is yet to be known, and for bleeding non/knowledge boundaries.

CoN technologies of enchanment enable a wide range of generative magical practices; each new effervescent brew cultivates another, more practised, form of magic. CoN subcreations are transmedial; shapeshifting into the form of books, zines, videos, artefacts, paintings, installations, articles, talks, performances, parties, academic papers, music, podcasts and ARGs. CoN have featured in a wide range of galleries, art catalogues, artists’ books, art journals, and academic journals traversing the disciplines of contemporary art and medieval studies.


I work with Dan Brown and Jake Watts on Shift/Work, a group that develops workshop models for artistic paragogy, participatory visual methods and open educational resources. Shift/Work has examined and reconfigured ways in which we can facilitate comprehensive workshop-based approaches to artistic production that are theoretically informed, practical and participatory. We facilitate new experiential knowledges, practices and tools for artists and art educators to adapt and implement.

In 2020, I co-created new open courseware in Contemporary Art & Open Learning with Dr Jake Watts, Dr Emma Balkind and Beth Dynowski. The courseware is an Open Educational Resource that anyone can access online.

Research Network

Atelier: Making Research Material Across the Arts & Social Sciences

With Professor Richard Baxstrom (Social Anthropology, UoE) I co-direct the research network Atelier: Making Research Material Across the Arts & Social Sciences in the University of Edinburgh. Disciplines within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and our external partners each have their own protocols and methods for making material available for study in the form of objects. Yet, as we make radically distinct objects from the same material, what remains to be formulated are the concepts, equipment, and techniques that might generate the truly collaborative ability to fabricate common research objects. We have developed new models of making and enquiry that bring together often separate visual and material research practices within the social sciences and humanities through the creation of ‘Atelier’.

An Atelier is a commons that allows us to make shared research ‘objects’ through collaborative research practices. A series of charrettes - participatory workshops involving interested colleagues across UoE, partners in the museum and gallery sector and local ‘user groups’, in turn, focus on a particular object that facilitates and contrasts different methods of material enquiry. By engaging with ’things’ in the custody/field of our non-academic partners, these charrettes have enabled us to map and improve conditions for cross-disciplinary collaboration, shifting the emphasis away from doing research towards the creation of research objects.

I teach a postgraduate taught course in Contemporary Art + Anthropology that forms a core component of my MA Contemporary Art Theory programme.

  • Find out more about Atelier
  • Keywords: Contemporary Art + Anthropology; Hybrid research methods; Weird materialisms and non-representationalism; Organisational studies pertaining to contemporary art (curating, arts programming)

Current PhD students