Information about previous AWG events


Thursday 22 June 2017, 13:30 to 17:30
£10/£5 concessions. → Book:…/publishing-art-writing-now

Publishing art writing as a collaborative and creative process.

An afternoon of propositions, interventions and conversations by writers and editors who distribute their ideas through a range of formats, from blogs to magazines and artists books.

Guest presenters will include: Simon Grant, the editor of the newly re-launched Tate etc magazine; Gilda Williams (author of “How to Write about Contemporary Art”) Sam Playford-Greenwell, co-editor of Doggerland Journal; and Art Writer’s Group residency holders Mary Paterson, Lizzie Lloyd, Tom Jeffreys and Patrick Langley.



Wednesday 03 May 2017, 18:30 to 19:30
£6/£4 (Free for UWE staff and students with ID)

Writer and critic Brian Dillon discusses the essay as an expanded artistic practice. Presented in collaboration with the Art Writers Programme and UWE Fine Art.


The essay is a form of writing, thinking and making with a long history and an uncertain attitude to the future. The great literary essayists such as Michel de Montaigne, Thomas De Quincey and Virginia Woolf established a genre that is intimate, erudite, digressive and stylish. Contemporary essayists such as David Foster Wallace, Maggie Nelson and Mary Ruefle have pushed at the boundaries of the form, where it edges into fiction and poetry. But ‘essayism’ is also a way of making art: the film essay and photo essay are established modes, but I want to argue that literary essays ancient and recent may point the way to an even more expanded artistic practice of the essay.

Brian Dillon is a writer and critic, and UK editor of Cabinet magazine. His books include The Great Explosion (Penguin, 2015), Objects in This Mirror: Essays (Sternberg Press, 2014), Sanctuary (Sternberg Press, 2011) and Tormented Hope: Nine Hypochondriac Lives (Penguin, 2009). His writing has appeared in the Guardian, London Review of Books, The White Review, Gorse, frieze, Artforum and The New York Times. He teaches critical writing at the Royal College of Art. Book Here
Tate Collective workshop – May 6th: Patrick Langley will be working with young people connected with Tate on critical and interpretive texts.


May 7th: Newlyn workshop with Patrick Langley focusing on writing about place and its relation to art. This will coincide with the Newlyn painting exhibition curated by Blair Todd. Confirmed for this are the artists Ben Sanderson (who is part of the show) and the young writer Tim Martindale, who recently completed a PhD on fishing communities and art history in the area. Owners of a local quarry  are granting  access (hard hats and all) in the afternoon. This will round off an event.



Thursday 11 May 2017, 18:30 to 20:00
£6/£4 (Free for UWE staff and students with ID)

A performative reading by the award-winning writer Maria Fusco, presented in collaboration with the Art Writer’s Programme and UWE.

Maria Fusco will make performative readings from her recent works Legend of the Necessary Dreamer (London: Vanguard Editions, 2017) described by Chris Kraus as “a new classic of female philosophical fiction” and Master Rock, a repertoire for a mountain, commissioned by Artangel and BBC Radio 4. She will discuss and display the creases, methods, obsessions and problematics of interdisciplinary writing.

Maria Fusco is an award-winning Belfast-born writer based in Glasgow, working across fiction, criticism and theory, her work is translated into ten languages. Previous solo-authored books are With A Bao A Qu Reading When Attitudes Become Form, 2013 (Los Angeles/Vancouver: New Documents, 2013), Gonda, 2012 and The Mechanical Copula, 2011 (both published Berlin/New York: Sternberg Press) and she is founder of The Happy Hypocrite, a journal for and about experimental writing. She is currently a Reader in Interdisciplinary Writing at the University of Edinburgh and was Director of Art Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. Book here


16/17 March (Thursday 1 – 5.15pm / Friday 9.45am – 3pm):

Art Writing for Organisations: A Two-Day Seminar at Plymouth Arts Centre

Fee: £40

This seminar is designed for people working in arts organisations in the South West who want to develop their writing skills. It focuses on writing different kinds of text, from press releases to exhibition labels and online content, providing practical experience and fresh insights for anyone working in education, curation, marketing, management or visitor services.

Led by two professional writers, ‘Art Writing for Organisations’ offers an opportunity to work creatively with language and ideas, exploring authorial voice and writing for diverse audiences. Including a mixture of discussion and workshop sessions, the seminar will also be a chance to meet and share ideas with others working in arts organisations in the region.

For further information, please contact


Michael Bird is a writer, art historian and radio broadcaster. His books include The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Place and Time, 100 Ideas that Changed Art and a history of art for children, Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories. Michael lectures widely on art and has made features for BBC Radio on Alfred Wallis, Peter Lanyon and the historic Cornish flower industry. He has worked as a consultant with cultural organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Museums, Archives and Libraries council, and has written exhibition script for museums in the UK, Nigeria and Sweden. He is a Goodison Fellow at the British Library.

Mercedes Smith is director of Fine Art Communications and an independent arts journalist and PR writer. A graduate of Falmouth University, Mercedes previously worked in communications at Tate St Ives and as arts editor of Devon Life. She is a regular contributor to many print and online publications. Most recently her writing has been published in Cornwall Life, Cornwall Today, BBC Arts Get Creative, Culture 24, AN News, The Guardian, Ceramic Review and Craft & Design. She is a visiting tutor at Truro College and Newlyn School of Art. Book Here

Following the Art Writers Group Q&A session at Plymouth University on the 25th January, we  offered the opportunity to work more closely with writers Lizzie Lloyd and Tom Jeffreys over the course of two workshops.In the first workshop, which will take place on Weds March 15, Lizzie will work closely with a small group to develop your creative and critical writing skills; in the second, Tom will take each person through the editing process on a one-to-one basis. At the end of the process, three attendees will be selected for a paid commission in “Made in Plymouth”. 10 writers were selected following an open submission process.

Morgan Quaintance Wednesday 01 March 2017, 18:30 to 19:30
£6/£4 (Free for UWE staff and students with ID)

Quaintance will discuss his approach to writing, broadcasting and curating. The lecture will include reference to his reviews and commentaries on contemporary culture as well as his curatorial experience as a founding member of the curatorial collective DAM PROJECTS, and the 2015/16 curatorial fellow at Cubitt Gallery, London. As a presenter Quaintance has worked with the BBC, Channel Four, Artfund, the Royal Opera House, National Theatre and Roundhouse, and is also the producer of Studio Visit, a weekly hour-long interviews-based programme, broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM, featuring international contemporary artists as guests. Morgan Quaintance is a London-based writer, musician, broadcaster and curator. Born in South London, he is a regular contributor to Art Monthly, and has written for The Guardian, The Wire, Art Review, Frieze,, and a number of curatorial sites and blogs. He is a contributing editor for E-Flux’s online publishing portal Art Agenda. Book Here

Mary Paterson, AWG art writer in residence for Arnolfini and Spike Island, gave her introductory talk on Tuesday 21 February at 6 pm at Arnolfini. Mary Paterson is an art writer who works between critical writing, poetry and live art. “It Moves” a text on art writing, will be published as a chapter of The Creative Critic (Routledge). Book Here

Art Writing Evening Class, lead by Colin Perry as part of the Art Writers Programme: 23 Feb, 2 March, 9 March and 16 March: 6.00 to 8.00 pm. £80 for course of four sessions. An informative and practical guide to art writing, this short course at Arnolfini is intended for arts professionals, students and enthusiasts. Book Here

Following the Art Writers Group Q&A session at Plymouth University on the 25th January, we  offered the opportunity to work more closely with writers Lizzie Lloyd and Tom Jeffreys over the course of two workshops.In the first workshop, which will take place on Weds March 15, Lizzie will work closely with a small group to develop your creative and critical writing skills; in the second, Tom will take each person through the editing process on a one-to-one basis. At the end of the process, three attendees will be selected for a paid commission in “Made in Plymouth”.

At the Jill Craigie Lecture Theatre in the Roland Levinsky Building (Plymouth University) from 1.30 – 4.30 pm on Wednesday 25th January the Art Writing Programme in Plymouth opened with a Q&A event investigating the core skills needed for good arts writing. Our two writers-in-residence (Lizzie Lloyd and Tom Jeffreys) shared their  experience and gave advice.

The afternoon’s event was  divided into three sessions which began with a short reading followed by a discussion and an open Q&A:
Experimental/creative responses to art
More conventional art writing
The writing and editing processes
Lizzie Lloyd and Tom Jeffreys, prepared four articles  to read before the event. These articles were  at the centre of the four talks/Q&A sessions. You can download them at the links below:
Tom Jeffreys, Nature Reserves catalogue essay:
Lizzie Lloyd, What Elsewhere Is:
Tom Jeffreys, Brian Sewell interview:
Lizzie Lloyd, Niamh O Malley review:

Notes from the Hestercombe Assembly 07/12/2016


The Art Writers Group is a new association formed by Peter Stiles and Jo Lanyon.

On Wednesday December 7 we launched our new programme at Hestercombe, a new Somerset venue for contemporary art just outside Taunton. The day included contributions from Greg Neale, the editor of Resurgence (, Phil Owen,Tertulia and Arnolfini ( and introduced the AWG’s writers in residence; for Plymouth (Tom Jeffreys – and Lizzie Lloyd –, Bristol (Mary Paterson – and West Cornwall (Patrick Langley –

Other responses to the day can be found at


The Art Writers Group has limited resources. We see the next six months acting as a pilot, where we try out various kinds of projects and see which ones work best.

Josephine Lanyon explained that the group was interested in art writing that held a breadth of influence and purpose. The submissions for the residencies confirmed that this is a hybrid activity with applicants ranging from poets and fiction writers to academics and journalists. This day was about celebrating art writing as a discipline in its own right and nourishing a culture of ideas, creativity and expression.

Peter Stiles agreed to write up the first four speakers and Jo Lanyon said she would take over after the interval.

The afternoon was divided into three sessions and opened by the writer Patrick Langley who set the tone for the day as far as this note taker was concerned, in that his ten minute talk proved impossible to condense into a single paragraph.
He began by talking about replicating experience – how his fiction creates experience while his criticism recreates and illuminates. His lack of an art history background is sometimes a problem when he is situating an artwork and he acknowledged that the past and present are porous.
However, his emphasis on his own experience would not necessarily meet with approval with an academic audience.
Patrick thought there was a move in art writing today towards creating an immersive, rich experience in itself – and trying to entertain.
His vivid response to art was triggered by images that wounded or moved him.
Patrick illustrated his talk using a single image – a photograph of a sculpture by Huma Bhabha at the Stephen Friedman gallery. He spoke about the thing that can’t be captured in a photograph (in an age of rampant mechanical reproduction).

An interesting starting point for writing about art. After all, what is there to say about a work of art that can’t be expressed more potently by an image of that art work? The answer is not only factual information but an individual’s unique response – the metaphor for the nature of that response being the walk around the sculpture, on the smooth hard floor, in the dry air of the gallery hearing the muffled noises of the city outside and the sculpture’s entrance into that experience.

He talked about art writing’s relationship to memoir; its explicit emphasis on a subjective response moving through time. Describing his visit to the Sensation show when he was 11 years old – whatever he feels about that work now, he remembers an illicit encounter and his sense of danger.

Three more writers that I’ve never read, Maggie Nelson, Ben Lerner and Claudia Rankine were recommended and he talked about his work at The White Review and the reasons why it was set up in the first place. The idea that it was necessary for a writer wishing to earn a living to multi task made its first appearance of the day.

Lizzie Lloyd continued the theme of the importance of a sensual, bodily response to art. Her text on “Figures in a red boat” by Peter Doig written for was language as a re-creation not only of image but the process of making that image, down to the imagined sound of Doig’s brushfull of paint moving over the canvas.

She paced up and down while describing her text and only came to a halt when she read from the transcript. Eyes down, writing my notes in the front row I saw her boots cross my line of vision again and again as I tried in vain to transcribe her rapid conversation. Perhaps a better writer would have been able to remember more about what the boots looked like – dark grey? Fawn plastic heel?

Despite the presence of a video projector the picture itself was not shown. Lizzie wanted a re-imagining of the painting. The web site that she wrote the piece for, publishes and then wipes the text after two weeks. There is no archive.
Lizzie quoted Gertrude Stein’s remark about writing in the continuous present. Another remark she quoted by ? (an indecipherable squiggle – I must have been distracted by the boots again) about the relationship between the objective and subjective bought to mind S.T.Coleridge who in his prime, lived not far from Hestercombe in Nether Stowey. And I thought that he would not have found much that he disagreed with from either Patrick or Lizzie thus far.
She talked about making the acquaintance of a work of art via description, not classifying but getting inside the always incomplete process of looking – language as a kind of dance – moving between different states.
Incomplete sentences, shapes of thoughts, atmosphere loaded into image, style and tone as argument and the boots walking up and down – Wordsworth walking up and down the gravel path while composing his poetry while Coleridge’s verses appeared as he staggered and lurched along brambled footpaths.

Lizzie concluded her presentation by challenging the audience to think about what art writing meant to them and asked for a few words to be hung on a writing line in the neighbouring room. She began by reading a number of quotes:
“Criticism can cajole objects to speak’ Maria Fusco, “The aim of all commentary on art now should be to make works of art … more, rather than less, real to us.”, Susan Sontag

Mary Paterson’s presentation featured a different kind of walk. The Viking walk. Ignoring the bends of footpaths and well trodden paths, the Viking walk was the shortest distance from A to B. But her presentation, mixing different forms of language with image and full of sounds and colours stood in opposition to the utilitarian Viking – or perhaps just slowed him down, leaving time for some sight seeing. She opened with the phrase “This is a lie” and a second hand lie at that. How language is always soiled, always has a previous owner.
She used the phrase “Legal versus Ambulant” at one point and her image of language lacing fingers with art gives a sense of the way in which she managed to take the audience on a kind of holiday stroll. Or perhaps the kind of walk you take when you’ve pulled a “sickie” –
all the sweeter for being stolen.
At one point Theresa May joined us but her designer shoes, which have received so much praise of late, were condemned as unsuitable footwear for the kind of journey Mary had in mind – and we began to realise when she talked about refugees past and present, that despite the holiday atmosphere this walk might prove more demanding than we first thought. Words took on the status of migrants on a long journey – facility with words might act as a passport.

Phil Owen described the formation of Tertulia in 2010 with Megan Wakefield while they were both working as invigilators at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol. They wanted a peer crit group which could act as a forum for experimental work. They had no budget but tried to help out with travel and could put visitors up. He spoke about people being frightened to talk and creating an atmosphere where people could speak openly without self censoring. While aware of the association of the salon with privilege and class, the role of style and elegance in making such events a success was inspirational. At one point he referenced Gavin Butt’s “Between You and Me: Queer Disclosures in the New York Art World, 1948” which looks at gossip as a creative force in shaping an artist’s life and work.

Encouraged by such a validation I stuffed my face with cake and gossiped merrily away during the interval.

Tom Jeffreys spoke about the Learner Pig, an on-line magazine that he set up in 2013. He explained that the fact that the project is unfunded gave him a level of freedom, but sometimes felt slightly amateur and he questioned whether financial investment helps professionalism and integrity. The magazine focuses on art, thinking, nature and writing. The two main aims are to re-think humanity’s relationship to the natural world and to look at art in a broader context. The editorial role is shared by TJ with Crystal Belliss, Hester Peppe and Camilla Nearson and the approach is broad embracing fiction and poetry and art writing. LP published twice a week, contributions range from a Berlin based reporter with physical disabilities on a bike thinking about psycho geography to features questioning race as a biological truth. TJ invited those assembled to contribute to forthcoming call out on Wolf Crossing, inspired by a trip to Finland, TJ is looking for ideas on borders, breeding, translating and wolves in heraldry and literature.

Greg Neale generously suggested that all assembled could claim a free copy of Resurgence magazine on submission of an e-mail. The magazine was founded in 1966 as the Ecologist with its radical traditions and interests in social justice and the environment, covering topics from the plantation of peace gardens to healing. GN explained that he hoped to match the audiences interests in truth and art with economic imperatives. GN’s background is in journalism for Times and Guardian and as the BBC TV history correspondent. GN’s advice for those interesting in forging a career in this area was to expect the unexpected as the context is changing rapidly with technological advancements. GN also suggested writers should understand their audience, study the journal they are submitting to, deliver on time and to length and provide a 360 degree view. GN advised those gathered to remain germane, topical and relevant, think about writing as well as video and audio, remain flexible and responsive and build portfolio careers across a broad range of contexts.

At the end of the day there was an opportunity to view the art writing thoughts submitted by audience members these included:

“Art writing is obfuscation and illumination”, “Art writing shapes images for the mind’