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Dr Nicola Foster PhD

Senior Research Fellow

Faculty of Creative Industries, Architecture and Engineering


Nicola joined Solent University in 2017 to develop the PhD programme in visual arts, including practice-based research. Coming from an academic background in art practice (Goldsmiths College), continental philosophy and art history (Essex University), Nicola became actively involved in the debate that led to the establishment of 'practice-based' research in the UK. This led to her early engagement with practice-based supervision and examination of PhD research projects.

Nicola has taught visual arts and supervised research students at the University of the Arts London, Cardiff University, Arts University Bournemouth, Arts University Norwich, the Open University and the University of Suffolk.

She was a member of the AHRC College Peer Review (2007-2016) and was invited to sit on Panel B meetings. She still serves on the AHRC when required. She served as a trustee of the Association for Art History (2011-2017). She was also member of the Editorial Board of Women's Philosophy Review (1998-2004) and the Editorial Board of the European Journal of Artistic Research (2011-2016).

Nicola currently supervises PhD students in the following topics:

  • Contemporary art interventions in/with/at Natural History Museums
  • Changing perceptions of east Asian art: the history of curatorial practices in private and public museums
  • Walking with Benjamin and Freud in Japan
  • Irish input in the construction of Japanese culture
  • Visualising illness
  • Art and the internet
  • Citizenship and the representation of cultural identity at moments of crisis
  • Princes and witch in the woods: a contemporary look at fairy tales and the construction of gendered norms
  • Contemporary curatorial practices
  • The Sharjah Biennials
  • The other story of colonialism: vernacular narratives in the Philippines and Mexico

Previous theses included:

  • Disobedient Daughters: Anna Aitkins cyanotypes
  • The State Corporate Military Complex: It's Representation, Visualisation and Constitutive Subjectivation – the politics and ethics of war photography and representations of violence
  • The Home I carry with me: Mapping the Home through drawing practices
  • Drawing and Becoming Otherwise: The Archaeology of Linear Practice
  • drawing/writing (an) autobiography: uncovering/covering women's space with nushu

Nicola welcomes enquiries from prospective students in visual arts (practice-based, practice-led, text based or other approaches to visual art and culture, art institutions, the art market, exhibitions and curatorial practices).

Further information

Research interests

Nicola's research interests focus on gender and ethnicity in art history, mostly in the modern and contemporary period.

She is am currently working on an edited volume on global restaging of exhibitions, a book Drawing Across Cultures, contemporary curatorial practices, contemporary art in East and South East Asia all in the context of debates on the temporality of the contemporary, history, identity, cultural difference, cultural exchanges and issues of globalisation. She takes the above to be part of a wider set of issues which are social and political, hence her research area includes curatorial practices, exhibitions, art institutions, funding institutions, the art market, the role of collectors and politics.

Recent publications - books, chapters and articles

Books and chapters

Chapter 'Drawing/writing: Constructing an Artistic Female Genealogy Through a Commemoration of Nushu' (Dessiner l’écriture : construction d’un héritage artistique féminin à travers la commémoration de “l’écriture des femmes” nüshu dans l’œuvre de Lo Yuen-yi) in Christophe Comentale et Marie Laureillard (eds), Passages entre écritures et images dans le monde chinois moderne. Expected 2019

Chapter "Le don : Uli Sigg et le canon émergent de l'art chinois contemporain", ('The Gift: Uli Sigg and the emerging Chinese Contemporary Art Canon') in Marie Laureillard et Cléa Patin (ed.), À la croisée de collections d’art entre Asie et Occident (du XIXe siècle à nos jours), Paris, Hémisphères Editions, 2019, p. 92-105 ISBN: 978-2-37701-048-6

Chapter ‘Anthropology, Mythology and Art: Reading Beuys Through Heidegger’in Beuysian Legacies in Ireland and Beyond: Art, Culture and Politics, ed. Lerm-Hayes LIT Verlag as part of the European Studies in Culture and Policy series, 2011

Chapter ‘Nikki de Saint Phalle's Hon: An Ethics Through the Visual?’ in Art, History and the Senses P. di Bello and G. Koureas (eds.) 2010, Ashgate

Co-editor (with P. Florence), Differential Aesthetics: Art Practices, Philosophy and Feminist Understandings. 2000, Ashgate.

Refereed articles and reviews

'Decolonising the Africa Room at the British museum: Two Accounts of Time', Journal of Critical Heritage Studies, (expected Jan 2020)

'Re-Staging Difference: Re-staging Origin?' Journal of Curatorial Studies, (Intellect, expected Nov 2019)

'The Art Market and Politics: The Case of the Sigg Collection', Art Market Studies, on-line May 2019

'Nüshu in translation', Art in Translation, Vol 10 Issue 2, November 2019

‘Chineseness’: The work of Lo Yuenyi in Memory of the Women of Nushu, Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, vol. 3 issues 1&2 (131-152) Autumn 2016

Review article on Sandford's Plato and Sex for Radical Philosophy, Nov 2012

'Photography and the Gaze: The Ethics of Vision Inverted', Parallax Issue 47, vol. 14, number 2, (78-92), Spring 2008

‘The Eurydice Complex', review article on Matrixial Borderspace for Radical Philosophy, January 2008,

Photography as social Archaeology: Riga’ article and photographs Street Signs autumn 2006, published by the Centre for Urban and Community Research, Goldsmiths College

Review of Gender and Aesthetics, by Carolyn Korsmeyer & Differences and Excess in Contemporary Art, by Gill Perry, British Journal of Aesthetics, (July 2005, Vol. 45, no 3)

Book Review of The Continental Aesthetic Reader (ed. Clive Cazeaux), Women's Philosophy Review, (2004)

‘Boundaries of Sight and Touch: Memoirs of the Blind and the Caressed’ (Re-Reading Drawing(s): Derrida, Irigaray and Nancy Spero), Published in (CD format) Drawing Across Boundaries, ed. Judith Mottram, LUSAD, 2000. Now also in Tracey Issue 1, 1999, on-line.

Review of Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics, eds. P.Z. Brand and C. Korsmeyer. Women’s Philosophy Review no. 19, Autumn 1998

Review of Body-and Image-Space: Re-Reading Walter Benjamin by S. Weigel. Women’s Philosophy Review, No. 18, Spring 1998.

‘On Husserl’, Women’s Philosophy Review, no. 17, Autumn 1997.

Recent publications - conference and other papers

Conference papers

'The Ethics of Intangible Art' in Bridging the Gap: Conservation of Contemporary Art. University of Maastricht 24-27 March 2019

'Decolonising Colonial Artefacts at the British Museum' in Decolonising Heritage: Border Thinking, Border Practices. University of Hangzhou 1-6 September 2018

'Bracketing Categories: Contemporaneity' in Changing Global Hierarchies of Value? University of Copenhagen 20 Aug 2018

'A Controversial Contribution to Art and Culture: Jiang Qing and the Cultural Revolution' in Celebrating Female Agency in the Arts, Christie's Education, New York (USA) 26-27 June 2018

'Re-Staging the Rent Collection at the 48th Venice Biennale: Re-thinking Temporality', Re-staging Exhibitions: Past, Present, Futures? CAA Los Angeles (USA) 2018

'The Visual Discourse of “Home” Through the Ideological Divide', joined paper with Fran Norton in Narrating Home in Visual Arts Through an East West Divide. University of Stockholm 24-25 January 2018

'China at the Venice Biennale: Art and Politics'. The Politics of Display: Collateral Events and Pavilions at the Venice Biennale, University of St. Andrews 24 November 2017

'The Contemporaneity of Nushu in the work of three artists: Tan Dun, Helen Lai and Yuenyi Lo', The Contemporary Contemporary, Aarhus Denmark, 16-18 June 2017

'The “Opacity” of Contemporary Chinese Art Histories' (AAH Annual Conference) University of Loughborough, 8 April 2017

'Gender and Patronage: 3 Women Collectors of Contemporary Chinese Art'. With Sylvia Schlegel. University of Loughborough, 6 April 2017

'The Promise of Art for an Urban Future'. Imagining the Future: Community Innovation and Social Resilience in Asia. The Chinese University of Hong Kong. 20-23 February 2017

'China Dream meeting another Dream: the case of Uli Sigg'. University of Stockholm, Exploring the China Dream. 15-16 August 2016

'The case of Uli Sigg: Collector,gent, Advisor and Promoter of Contemporary Chinese Art'. Warburg Institute, University of London, Collecting and Display: The Art market, Collectors and Agents: Then and Now 13 July 2016

'Two Exhibitions: The Shanghai Biennial and Guangzhou Triennial. University of Edinburgh' (AAH annual conference). Co-Convenor of the AAH Session: The City in the Biennial. 7-9 April 2016

'Contemporary art Collectors and Emerging art Canon: the Case of Uli Sigg'. Lyon, ESN & Muse des Confluences. The Far East: Collectors and Collections today, 23-24 March 2016

'Thailand and China at the Venice Biennale'. London, Senate House, The Venice Biennale and the Art Market 3-5 February 2016

'Towards The Construction of an Alternative 'Chineseness' in the work of Yueni Lo' – Indirect Speech, 'Chineseness' in Contemporary Art Discourse and Practice, Art Market, Curatorial Practices and Creative Process, Lisbon 16-19 of March 2015

'Heidegger's Late Work as Conceptual writing' – Annual conference of the American College of Art conference, Chicago 13 Feb 2014

'The Rhythm of East West Dialogues in the work of three Thai Contemporary Artists' – Annual Conference AAH Reading 2013

Conference paper (with Pat Hurrell) Ipswich the Art School in the 1960's 'transnational Flows in European Fine Art Education 1900-2000' AAH University of Reading 2013

Conference paper 'Photography: the Materiality of the Event of Art?' to be presented at the Association of Art Historians Annual conference at the Glasgow School of Art (April 2010)

Conference paper ‘Photography in the process of globalisation: a new form of (post-) colonialisation or the practice through which difference can emerge? Dublin School of Art and Design 27-29 June 2007

Conference co-organiser and Chair of Round Table: Goldsmiths College, London and the Society for Women in Philosophy: Philosophy, Feminism, Art and Society, Nov 2006

Respondent and Chair of the Round Table at the Photography Postgraduate Research Conference, University of Wales, Newport July 2006

Conference paper ‘Aesthetic Hybridity and the Dominance of the Visual’, Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, University of Leeds, 5-7 April 2005

Conference paper ‘The Use of Philosophy in Art and the use of art in philosophy’ in Uncertainty in Philosophy: The Learning Experience and Research, Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford, 29 October 2005

Conference paper ‘The Ethics of Performance: Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic’ in East 05: Ethics into Aesthetics, August/October 2005, Norwich School of Art and Design

Conference paper ‘Rethinking Aesthetics: performance and the Object’ Relics of Performance, University of Ulster, Belfast, April 2005

Conference paper ‘The Philosopher and the Poet/Artist: The Resistance of Embodiment and Art in Heidegger’s Ontology’

Society for European Philosophy, 7th Annual Conference, 26-28 August, University of Greenwich

Conference paper ‘Philosophy and the Work of Art: Aesthetics, History and Gender’, Discovering Aesthetics, July 2004, University College Cork, Ireland

Conference paper ‘Art, Truth and Gender in Heidegger’s Late works’, Aesthetics and Politics, University of Essex, September 2003, Society for European Philosophy

Conference Paper ‘Towards an Aesthetics of Difference’ (Invited Symposia paper) Writing Aesthetics, University of Leeds, May 2003, International Association of Philosophy and Literature

Conference co-organiser

Double Session Chair (with Jane Chin Davidson) of 'Re-staging Exhibitions: Past, Present, Futures? CAA, Los Angeles (USA) 21-25 February 2018

Session organiser (with Joel Robinson) The City in the Biennale Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, University of Edinburgh 2016

Co-organiser of the Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians 2012 at the Open University, Milton Keynes.

Co organiser of the annual conference of the Association of Photography in Higher Education 2008 at University of West of England

Goldsmiths College, London and the Society for Women in Philosophy: Philosophy, Feminism, Art and Society, Nov 2006

In collaboration with the University of Ulster

Relics of Performance, University of Ulster, Belfast 29 April 2005

Other papers

'Political legitimacy and Culture: the Case of China' – research seminar POLIS the Open University 28 April 2016

'Art and Politics in Thailand' – 20 June 2015 – Norwich Art Society

'Art and Politics in South East Asia Today' - 18 February 2015, University of the Arts London

'Modern, Contemporary or Global: Art in Thailand Today' – 17 Dec 2013, Arts University Bournemouth

'Practice as Research in the work of Ai Weiwei' - 14 February 2013, Norwich University of Art and Design