Call for Papers

Dwelling on the everyday: architecture, ghosts, ellipses 

An international interdisciplinary symposium

8 and 29 July 2022 (via Zoom)


Helen Hills, University of York (

Alice Sanger, The Open University (

This symposium attends to the relationships between everyday architecture where people lived and what is left behind, salvaged, celebrated, or overlooked, but may sometimes be reactivated in powerful and unpredictable ways by those who come later. We are interested (though not exclusively) in the houses of artists and writers and the ways in which they are often treated like relics or holy shrines by subsequent fans and scholars. What, if anything, can we glean about artists (or others) from the places where they dwelled? And to what ends? What effects did their houses and places of residence exert upon them? How were they designed, bought, painted, furnished, divided, fought over, and lost? And in what ways and by whom were the houses lived in? What of children, spouses, extended family, caretakers and cleaners, au pairs and servants? And what of those places which are not celebrated but are quickly forgotten or ignored? Current scholarship on artist-homes and most museum presentations tend to collapse house into biographical facts / artist’s work. How might one avoid reducing the artist and their work simply to what is projected onto (what remains of) their home and vice versa?  

We are particularly interested in the ways in which the past resonates in places of dwelling, how it leaves its mark on places and how people leave their mark on their dwellings. What traces are left and how are they celebrated, fetishized, banished or ignored? What do the places inhabited reveal about those who inhabited them? How are these connections assumed or traced or made by visitors or scholars or those who come later? What role does temporality play in these relations?  How might the power of a place to conjure up the apparently vivid presence of its past be traced or accounted for? How is it triggered, enhanced, or suppressed? What role does such haunting have in academic writing, or in autobiographical or biographical pursuits? In what ways is it useful to seek such connections – or is it they which, in some way, rather seek one out? 

We are also interested in places beyond the house, where people actually spent most of their lives: where they grew up, where they died, or where they chose to be — if, indeed, this was a choice they managed to have. Is a ‘house’ too conventional or restrictive a limit to think through what is at stake here? What of the lodgings, apartments, offices, warehouses, factories, gardens, sheds, huts, workshops, tents, tree houses, or the places where they roamed and spent most time or were most restored? Is it the house where they lived that we should be concerned with, or, for instance, the homes of their friends, their favourite café, local pub, the market, or their mosque? What of those who were not rich and who lived in places where they left few traces? What of working-class homes? And what of people without a home at all: how might refugee camps and migrant houses be considered? How can we take them at least as seriously as rich people who splashed out on bourgeois trappings and property?

Format: We are planning two afternoon sessions on Zoom; with a combination of longer papers (20-30 mins) and short contributions (10-15 mins). Collaborative work will be particularly welcome. We will be delighted to receive abstracts of ca.500 words by 1 March 2022.  Please send to:  and

A special issue of the Open Arts Journal based on this conference is envisaged.


Edited by Fionna Barber and Eleanor Byrne

We are delighted to announce the publication of issue 8 of the Open Arts Journal (summer 2020).

Extract from the issue’s abstract:

This special issue offers a timely and current critical evaluation of the morbid symptoms and potential wounds of ‘Brexit Culture’ as its implications, causes and effects unravel in front of a global audience via multiple media in real time. Brexit cultures, for the purposes of our articles here, attends to the role of cultural production in forging political choices , and to  the cultural dimensions of Brexit – as a response to living in times of crisis and uncertainty. Departing from solely political or economic evaluations of Brexit’s effects, contributions to the special issue explore how the humanities and social sciences, artists and writers engage with the challenges, threats and potential disasters of Brexit. This issue interrogates how multiple constituencies that make up the inhabitants of the UK deal with a climate of continued uncertainty about definitions and effects of Brexit as they unfold in everyday cultural practices and specific locations, and what kind of responses or symptoms we can identify in current discourses of national and international culture. 

Issue 8 is available from our website now:


Issue 5: Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean

We are delighted to announce the publication of Issue 5 of the Open Arts Journal,

This themed issue, ‘Sustainable Art Communities: Creativity and Policy in the Transnational Caribbean’, brings together academics, artists, curators and policymakers from various countries in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean and their diasporas, the UK and the Netherlands. It explores how the understanding and formation of sustainable community for the Caribbean and its global diaspora may be supported by art practice, curating and museums. The collection was developed through a two-year international research project (2012-14) led by Leon Wainwright, with Co-Investigator Kitty Zijlmans (Leiden University), focused on major public events in Amsterdam and London. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO/Humanities).

The issue is available from our website now.

Issue 2: “Pavilions” – Forthcoming Winter 2013

Download the flyer for Issue 2 “Pavilions” (PDF, 325KB)

PAVILIONS | Issue 2, Winter 2013

This second issue of the Open Arts Journal pulls together a number of exploratory texts – some academic, some more creative in style – on the understudied subject of pavilions.

Responding to the question ‘What is a pavilion?’, this issue proposes that the pavilion (as an ornamental garden structure, an exposition venue, or something more conceptual like a curated project or book) should no longer be neglected as a minor or inconsequential form of architecture. Although its origins may be in the modest tents of travellers, the pavilion as a structure has nonetheless been mobilized in strategies of world-making and unmaking, and this issue explores these creative manoeuvres.

The first section, ‘Historical themes and contexts,’ is a collection of mostly essay-length texts by Ihor Junyk, Jane Lomholt, Joel Robinson, Jaimee K. Comstock-Skipp and Karolina Szynalska, taking forward the genealogy of pavilions offered in the editor’s Introduction, ‘Big worlds under little tents’. A series of case studies introduces pavilions in their many forms during the modern period – picturesque garden ornaments, exotic structures that speak of remote times and places, and national exposition buildings at the world’s fairs and other exhibitions. Here, the pavilion is discussed as a monumental object as well as a receptacle for other objects, and a type of architecture that is rarely far away from imperialist or nationalist agendas. Long after it has served its original purpose, it may incite reflection on the decay and ‘afterlife’ of such structures.

In ‘The architecture of display,’ the pavilion is considered as a structure – architectural or otherwise – for framing the world, or putting a piece of the world on display. Texts by Brian Hatton, Flavia Marcello, Jennifer Way, Beccy Kennedy, Wendy Asquith, Jaspar Joseph-Lester and Michael Corris address the way in which pavilions mediate observation and knowledge of the world. This section probes the intriguing dynamic that pavilions set up between the container and the contained, and how they might even be said to deconstruct that dynamic while becoming works of art in their own right (e.g., sculptural objects like Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona pavilion).

The final section, ‘Contemporary projects,’ carries short statements, reviews and photo-essays by Sophie Kazan, Yam Lau, Sarah Bonnemaison, Harriet Harriss, and a longer text by Chris Tucker. They consider a range of sites from privately-funded exposition buildings and the high-budget ‘star’ architecture of the Serpentine Gallery commissions, to more modest works that intervene in public space. These projects raise questions about community outreach, participatory citizenship and direct democracy, and show up the ineffectiveness or emptiness of some of today’s official public art commissions. The issue concludes with a perceptive afterword by Michaela Giebelhausen: a Surrealist-inspired piece that takes a ramble through Paris – the city of universal expositions – and pauses on what remains of its exhibition grounds and public parks.

Launch event video now available

On Monday, 21 Oct 2013, the Open Arts Journal held an event at The Open University in Camden Town, London to mark its launch this summer.

Professor Marsha Meskimmon (Loughborough University), spoke about her article published in Issue 1, ‘The Precarious Ecologies of Cosmopolitanism’.

The presentation was filmed and is available here:

A panel discussion followed the research seminar, with Professor Berthold Schoene and Dr Ellie Byrne (guest editors of our inaugural issue, both at Manchester Metropolitan University), together with Open Arts Journal editor-in-chief Dr Leon Wainwright (OU Art History), and Q&A.

Film footage for the panel discussion is archived here:

Launch event, 21 October, London

Readers of the Open Arts Journal are warmly invited to join us to celebrate our recent launch.

On 21 October we welcome Professor Marsha Meskimmon to the Open University’s centre in Camden, London, to speak about her article, included in issue 1 of the Open Arts Journal, ‘The Precarious Ecologies of Cosmopolitanism’. The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with Associate Editors Berthold Schoene and Ellie Byrne, together with Open Arts Journal editor-in-chief Leon Wainwright, followed by Q&A.

The event is free and all are welcome but we ask that you please reserve in advance and inform us of any cancellation.  Please visit our event site to book your place:

Venue: 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden London NW1 8NP (map). Light refreshments from 6pm.  Formal presentations begin at 6.30pm.

Call for Papers

Submissions to the Open Arts Journal should meet several of the following criteria:

  • Original work, reflecting current concerns and critical issues in the subject area. (Open Arts Journal does not publish previously published material).
  • Valuable introductory work, opening up new areas of research and scholarship.
  • Makes a significant contribution to the global practice and understanding of the history of art, architecture and design, and visual culture and material culture.
  • Troubles the geographical scope and periodisation of the mainstream histories of art, architecture and design.
  • Theoretically innovative, expanding on the basic concepts of the discipline.
  • Shows how art history may interact with other disciplines, such as art practice, curating and museology, arts organising, cultural policy and the public understanding of art.
  • Enables cross-fertilisation between art, architectural and design history, film and media studies, material and visual culture studies and the broader humanities.

We welcome a full paper or a 200-word abstract of your proposed submission to the Editor, Open Arts Journal