Job title: Chair of Contemporary Art Practice & Theory, School of Art, The University of Edinburgh

Role: Programme Director, MA Contemporary Art Theory

Tel: Skype neilmulholland


Office address: E28 Main Building

Contact time:

Research outputs: Professor Neil Mulholland on Edinburgh Research Explorer


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

Collaborative activity

I work with the artist Norman Hogg (Concordia, Montréal, QC) as the Confraternity of Neoflagellants. We use distributed methods of production and exhibition and diverse post-media narratives to produce works by contemporary and fictitious artisans, journeymen, hosts, anchorites, avatars, Sherlockers and hyper-economists. Our intermedial research has taken the form of books, zines, videos, artefacts, paintings, articles, talks, performances, parties, academic papers, shops, music… and has 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. In 2014, Goldsmiths College hosted Neomedievalisms, a symposium responding to our theory-fiction book thN Lng folk 2 go: Investigating Future Premoderns (Punctum, 2013). In 2015, we chaired “Neomedieval Aesthetics in the 21st Century” at the Leeds International Medieval Congress and performed at congresses in Toronto (BABEL Group) and Warsaw (New Materialism). Mobilitas Loci, was commissioned for the artist Amanda Beech’s bookwork First Machine and Final Machines (LGP, England, Nov 2015), which includes writing by Reza Negarestani and Ray Brassier.

In spring 2019, we exhibited a new film in Whale Fall at Gossamer Fog in London and had a solo show - pan-pan - at SAW in Ottawa. We completed our new theory-fiction book pan-pan  (Punctum, 2020) while in residency at SenseLab in Montréal in the summer of 2019. In April 2020, we published 'Built this City' for Emotionarama a new edition by Andro Semiko and Andrew Hunt.

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 2015 we delivered papers on Shift/Work Unlearning at conferences in Poznan and Brighton. In 2016 we ran Decisions, Decisions at ESW (ITAC3), Malmö Art Academy and Reykjavík Art Academy and faciliated Groundcourse with Prof Roy Ascott. Shift/Work Speculations was composed in ESW and ran at the Kochi Biennial, India and at the Kristiansand Theatre, Norway in 2017. We recently ran a new workshop - IN/OUT - at Risky Business #3, Sheffield Institute of Creative Arts. I recently published a book - Re-imagining the Art School - that develops the paragogics of Shift/Work into a broader manifesto for art school reform and contributed a Shift/Workshop to Leap into Action a reader on Performatie Pedagogices in Art & Design Education (Peter Lang, 2019).

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

I supervise PhD students in artistic research and in visual and material studies. 

Current research interests

​My research and learning interests in neomedievalisms, paragogy and weird materialisms coorespond directly to three inter-related collaborative projects (Confraternity of Neoflagellants, Shift/Work, Atelier). Each of these projects is concerned with methodological inventiveness, intermediality and postdisciplinarity. At the moment, this means working collaboratively using Participatory Action Research Methods, co-authoring theory-fictions and fabulating methods such as the transdiscipline of neomedievalism

My research applies postdisciplinary, para-humanities frameworks to the production, distribution and consumption of contemporary art. It is a pour of historical, critical, materialist and fictional approaches to writing charged and torn with curatorial, paragogical and artistic work. In the pursuit of para, 'pata and psuedo-disciplinary methods, I frequently work collaboratively, adopting shared avatars that have interpretive flexibility.

As a member of the International Art Critics Association, I am a critic for many international art publications, 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 Visual Culture in Britain since the 1970s.

Research goup

With Dr Angela McClanahan (School of Art) and Professor Richard Baxstrom (Social Anthropology) 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. In 2016, Atelier have organised charrettes with National Museums Scotland (Edinburgh) and Atlas Arts (Skye) and hosted a keynote by Richard Sennett.

We have validated a new postgraduate taught course in Art + Anthropology that forms a core component of the MA Contemporary Art Theory.

Research students

Principal supervisor:

  • Kim Wilson | PhD Researcher, School of Art (SGSAH AHRC Scholarship)
  • Dane Sutherland | PhD Researcher, School of Art (SGSAH AHRC Scholarship)
  • Pau Cata | PhD Researcher, School of Art (SGSAH AHRC Award)
  • Patty McMeans | PhD Researcher, School of Art (UoE Principal's Career Development Scholarship)
  • Grianne Rice | PhD Researcher, School of Art (ECA Scholarship)
  • Frances Davis  | PhD Researcher, School of Art (SGSAH AHRC NPIF Scholarship)
  • Beth Dynowski | PhD Researcher, School of Art (SGSAH AHRC Scholarship)
  • Jennifer Thatcher | PhD Researcher, School of Art (SGSAH AHRC Scholarship)

Assistant supervisor:

  • Michael Dudeck | PhD Candidate, School of Art (Canadian Scholarship)

External supervisor:

  • Morven Gregor | PhD Candidate at Glasgow School of Art

Current PhD students

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications.

​​I currently supervise PhD students in artistic practice and in visual and material culture studies, specifically:

- Workshops

- Artists in Residency 

- Art & Learning (School of Art Research Group Convenor)

- Art & Anthropology (University of Edinburgh Atelier Network co-convenor)

- New Materialisms (Member of the School of Art Material Group)

- Neomedievalisms

- Fictioning / Theory-Fiction

- Histories of Art, Criticism & Theory in Britain since the late 1970s