Mary-lou Barratt has been a studio tutor and taught contextual and critical studies across several UCA courses, including BA (Hons) Illustration, the Graduate Diploma in Art and Design and the International Foundation in Art and Design. Currently Year One Tutor with BA (Hons) Fine Art at UCA Canterbury, Mary-lou has recently initiated a research project focusing on enhancing understanding of the year one experience: The First Year Experience: Undergraduate Retention and Engagement in the context of a Specialist Institution and Creative Arts Courses.
Mary-lou’s specialist area can be summarised as the meshes of radically expanded art and socio-political activism, post-1960. Mary-lou has developed this specialist interest over the many years she has spent working as a freelance socially-engaged artist, often as part of the collaborative B+K. This has involved a wide range of initiatives, such as setting up and running an Artist in Residence programme with a L’Arche Community, and working with various organisations and constituencies including Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, the London Biennale, the Dream Plan Project, English Heritage, the Public Art Research Centre, several youth groups and Kent County Council. Mary-lou has also furthered this interest through her studies.
After Mary-lou gained her BA (Hons) Fine Art and MA Fine Art with Kent Institute of Art and Design, she took up a PhD with Oxford Brookes University. Her doctoral thesis, We are the Revolution? The ‘Creative Social Action’ of La Fiambrera, Skart and Superflex, and its Contribution to Sustainable Social Change, examined the utopian thinking, participatory strategies and value-orientation of contemporary radically expanded art practices in order to shed new light on how such practices might effect radical social changes.
Since 2010, Mary-lou has also been an Associate Researcher with, and member of, The Sculpture Question, a research project initiated through the Schools of Fine Arts and Postgraduate Studies at UCA that investigates the challenges contemporary ‘sculpture’ presents to art education, and the possibilities that these challenges open up.