Current research students

Our PhD students work across four schools researching a wide array of topics. Current NCAD PhD students within each school are listed here.

Clyde Doyle - Towards the Omnicentre  
Supervisor(s): Dr. Marcus Hanratty, Dr. Caoimhe McMahon

Record of bird encounters on Derry’s city walls during the Lines of Flight workshop (participant Jaci Wilde)

It has become increasingly clear that our modern human modes of living are incongruous with the natural systems that sustain us and other lifeforms on our planet. Modern design has been a major contributor to these systemic conditions of structured unsustainability, what Tony Fry calls its ‘defuturing effects’. What is required of design are more than minor adjustments to methodologies, or new design tools, but a radical shift in perception, comprehension and practice. My research-by-practice attempts to create conditions for new ways of seeing and thinking about ourselves (humans) and others (the more-than-human) with the aim of not just de-centring the human but moving towards a shared centre with the ultimate aim of facilitating ecological design practice. Using a diffractive methodology, I am currently developing experiments and experiences for design practice (experiential learning opportunities) which can be described to varying degrees as radical, relational, bio-regional, non-verbal, ontological, troubling, embodied and performative. These can be used by designers, design educators, and non-designers to listen to those more-than-human voices, challenge the unecological status quo, trouble current modes of design practice, and hopefully engender new ones.

Avril Buttle - Cross curricular opportunities observed in the secondary school visual art classroom.
Supervisor: Dr. Isobelle Mullaney

What are the cognitive aspects of art education?

How can engagement with art processes inform human development in other areas/subjects/professions?

Can art specific methodologies and practices benefit other subjects?

Art teachers are often isolated in the Irish secondary school context and often feel neglected in terms of subject recognition and academic respect. With a curricular shift across the board that encourages students to be more self-critical and reflective of their learning, does art as a subject have anything to offer other subjects in terms of collaboration and sharing reflective critical skills that are embedded within art practice? Art students practice self-reflection daily through use of the sketchbook and engagement in the ‘art crit’ and look and respond sessions. Studies have shown that engagement with the traditional ‘art crit’ develops student resilience along side the practice of keeping a reflective learning artefact (sketchbook/notebook/annotation of progress and work). Could these practices improve the teaching and learning in other subjects? Contrastingly, could art teachers learn from other subject teachers through engaging in professional observations?

The researcher (full time visual art secondary school teacher) proposes to explore the research questions using the action research method. It will be carried out in a co-educational Irish community secondary school context. The school serves a rural catchment area in southeast Ireland and has a current enrolment figure of 461 mainstream students. The school is part of the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools initiative and is a National Behaviour Support Service partner school.


Fiona Byrne (MLitt) - Building sustainable education reform: Can a design-led approach to teaching and learning support highly effective and responsive teaching practices?
Supervisor: Dr. Dervil Jordan


Fiona King - What does it mean to teach and make art that is of and for our time?
Supervisor: Dr. Dervil Jordan


Lucy Hill - 'Posthuman material literacy' - A tool for early childhood visual art education (Irish Research Council Postgratuate Scholar)
Supervisor: Dr. Dervil Jordan

‘Fieldwork’ 2017 Lucy Hill

My project explores the intersections between Art as a ‘poetic force’ (or that which brings something new into being) and early childhood learning and care. While situated within the historically established, pedagogical importance of active learning through engagement with materials in Early Childhood Education, it also aims to acknowledges the complex ethical, ontological, epistemological and pedagogical value of young children’s everyday encounters with materials. Through Spinozist Posthuman philosophy, Feminist New Materialism and Affect theory, the research finds processes of literacy, learning and caring to be affective material assemblages, rather than anthropocentric modes of self-expression or intentional meaning making. From the starting point of the decentralised human subject in non-verbal artistic practices with materials in early childhood, the research contributes to thinking about the implications of the entangled nature of learning and caring as always materially, and thus ethically, located concerns in the context of the Anthropocene.

Awards related to this research

Irish Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship 2018

Exploring and Thinking Bursary Award 2019, Dublin City Council 

Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Award 2017

Presenter & Panel Participant, Rosi Braidotti Summer School, (Posthuman Ethics in the Anthropocene) Utrecht University 2017.

Inaugural John Coolahan Early Years Artist in Residence, The Ark Children’s Cultural Centre. Dublin 2018.

The Arts Council Travel and Training Award 2017

Three book chapters forthcoming (2020) in Routledge, Sage and Springer publications.

Ali Raza - Genocide, trauma, memory, and art: The Kurdish experience
Supervisor(s): Des Bell, Philip Napier, Dr. Ronit Lentin (TCD)


Pamela Jean Calore - Migration struggles in Europe and along borders in the US and Mexico
Supervisor(s): Dr. Mick O’Kelly, Dr. Emma Mahony

Wedding on the Mexico/USA border

I investigate links between cultural and geographical divides, focusing on international borders, migration of people, goods and labor. My practice is creating art-based mixed media projects covering personal migration stories, preservation of cultural rights, and my own life experience of growing up in the transportation industry.

My research goals are to dive deeper into the documentation of displacement in Europe, and the borders issues between Ireland and the United Kingdom. The purpose being to unpack the ways in which art can transcend dehumanizing political dialogue about migration. To address the negative conations of the word migrant, by personalizing the individuals through the art of refugees, migrants and relief workers.

• How might art capture and bridge the gap between cultural divides that exist because of political turbulence within societies?

• How does migration affect cultural rights and how does a migrant community maintain (La Survivance) the survival?

• How can art be used as a form of communication that crosses borders and forms bonds in places where alienation separation and displacement exist because of war, social inequality, and nationalism?

“En Los Migrantes vemos nuestras humanidad” ' “In Migrants we see our own humanity” (La Posada ,Dec. 2019) US/Mexico


Robert Clarke - Practice based project on exploration of co-existence of ephemerality, alchemy, queer aesthetics, and documentation
Supervisor(s): Philip Napier, Brian Hand

Brendan Dowling - The Invention Of Greek Landscape: The Role Of Fred Boissonnas Photography and Western Hellenism In The Creation Of The Imagination Of Greek Landscape
Supervisors: David Crowley, Des Bell

Permission of Thessaloniki Museum of Photography

My research is focussed on examining Photography and the Greek Landscape through the work of  Fred Boissonnas.

The work of Swiss photographer Fred Boissonnas was arguably one of the most important in Modern Greek history. Spanning some thirty years from 1903 to 1933, Boissonnas photographed the ancient Greek landscape and its archaeological ruins, documenting the expansion and unification of modern Greece. His practice was indebted to the C19th practice of archaeological photography and, as such, might be seen as its extension into early C20th politics.   Boissonnas framed his subjects in a manner that drew upon long-established visual tropes. Western Hellenism and art historical painterly sensibilities regarding the ancient Greek landscape, impacted on the imaging practices of Boissonnas. His idealised picturing of Greece and its people sustained a national imaginary, which sought to legitimise Greek claims to extend its territory and sovereignty based on classical Greek archaeology and heritage.  My research is based on three case studies.

1 - History Into Landscape: Photography of Ancient Greece And Greek Government exhibition at The Paris Peace Talks Of 1919, examines the role of Fred Boissonnas in the Greek government photographic exhibition at the end of the first World War. Here the need and process for reimagining the Greek landscape in 1919 is explored. The study examines how important it was to reconfigure western Hellenism and appropriating it to suit the political aims and territorial claims of the Greek state. It looks at how Fred Boissonnas’ images  played a significant role in the formation of a nationalist imaginary by creating a popular geographical imagination which promoted Greece as an emergent state. The association of image,  texts and modes of display forged a  popular imagination with regards to Greece.

2 - Myth Into landscape – Photographic Movement Through Space examines the journey taken by Boissonnas and Victor Bérard to recreate the voyage of Ulysses and its photographic work and subsequent publication “Dans La Silage D’Ulysse - In the Wake Of Ulysses”. This study focuses on the choice and arrangement of the photographs for the book of 1933 and how they operate as a body of images. It examines how the still images deployed by Boissonnas are cinematic. I  argue that it is because of the influence of photography and because of cinema that Boissonnas takes this approach. In addition, I argue that Boissonnas adopts a unique phenomenological approach to his representation of the Homeric subject.

3 - People Into The Greek Landscape, examines how Photography and Ethnography combine through the practice of Boissonnas and are employed and adopted by the state. I also examine how his work influenced the image of Greece and how he effectively establishes a kind of set of viewing positions, for anybody representing the Greek landscape. This study further examines his influence on the important Greek photographer Nellys and compares his work with her images of the 4th August regime.



Caroline O'Brien - Fashioning material that matters: An examination of design and making at the National Ballet of Canada
Supervisors: Dr Lisa Godson, Hilary O’Kelly


Suzanne Feeman - Reading Materials. A practice-based-research investigation into interpreting the artefacts of James Joyce’s Ulysses for exhibition (joint registration with UCD) Supervisors: Dr Lisa Godson, Dr Emily Mark-FitzGerald (UCD)


Henry Martin - American women art dealers: Establishing movements and markets for modern art between 1920-1950
Supervisor(s): Dr. Francis Halsall, David Crowley

Portrait of Edith Gregor Halpert by Samuel Halpert, 1928, oil on canvas, Palmer Museum of Art

My research examines the way women dealers promoted modern art in America and the impact they had on the careers of artists and the development of artistic movements and communities. This interest was first established when I researched the dealer Betty Parsons for my biography Agnes Martin: Pioneer, Painter, Icon and expanded in my MRes dissertation Beatrice Judd Ryan: creating a modern art market in San Francisco 1925–1957. Nominated dealers for my PhD research include Marie Sterner and the Marie Sterner Gallery, Katherine S. Dreier and the Société Anonyme, Beatrice Judd Ryan and the Galerie Beaux Arts and Edith Gregor Halpert and the Downtown Gallery. One aim of this research is to explore how these dealers formed a bridge between two generations of art patrons: the Gilded Age collector (e.g. Isabella Stewart Gardner) and Depression Era museum founder (e.g. Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney). Another aim is to examine the evolution of professionalism in American art; and the role of gender therein; particularly the relationship between gender and the avant-garde. 


Hugh McCabe - Ontology of the Digitally-Generated Image (working title)
Supervisors: Dr Francis Halsall, Dr Rachel O’Dwyer

Still from Lost State, Hugh McCabe and Suzanne Walsh, 2017.

My research is an investigation of contemporary digital image-making practices and techniques. In particular, my interest is in the situation whereby the generation of the image has become a process that is increasingly entangled with both algorithms and with data. Proceeding from the assumption that this entanglement represents a significant shift in our visual culture, the aim is to explore the implications of this with respect to our relationship to the image, and to attempt to elucidate exactly how such imagery does or does not differentiate itself from other forms of imagery which have been more rigorously theorised. A key theoretical touchstone for the project is the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, and specifically his work on cinema, which decenters the role of the subject in the analysis of the image and emphasis notions of process. By examining in detail some key elements of digital image-generation - such as the rendering algorithms used in computer graphics - through the lens of this theoretical framework, I hope to contribute to an understanding of exactly how the integration of algorithms and data into image-making might require us to rethink what an image is.

Hugh McCabe is an academic, lens-based artist and musician. He lectures in Creative Digital Media at the TU Dublin Blanchardstown campus.

McCabe, H. (2019) 'We Have Always Been Virtual: Gilles Deleuze And The Computer-Generated Image' in Proceedings of Artech 2019 (Ninth International Conference on Digital and Interactive Arts), Braga, Portugal, Oct 2019.


Kay Byrne - An investigation of the crime scene photograph encompassing history, criticality, and practice, from forensic science to its manifestation in art photography
Supervisors: Dr. Declan Long, Feargal Fitzpatrick

Kay Byrne, Crime Scene, 2015. Published in Creative Review Photography Annual, (Issue 12, Volume 35), 2015: Selected Student Section, pp.18-19.

My research centres on the observation that while the aesthetic influence of the crime scene and its related photographic documentation in contemporary photography is highly visible, limited examination or analysis exists which specifically addresses the intersection between the two areas. This is in contrast to crime scene photography within forensic science, where extensive research exists regarding technical advancements, refinements in method and clarifications on photography’s evidential and legal application.

The purpose of my dissertation is to evaluate the position of crime scene photography in terms of contemporary photography, via the intersection of existing theory and photographic practices. I investigate the appropriation of crime scene photography principally between 1970 and the present; situating the work of select European and North American art photographers in relation to the history and conventions of crime scene photography as undertaken in police investigations. To achieve this, I initially examine crime scene photography within its established setting of forensic science. Secondly, I apply this new knowledge to consider how crime scene photography has influenced the creation of art based photographic works. Finally, I critically examine the intersection between crime scene and contemporary photography. To do so, I employ a cyclical method where I interlace existing theory, contemporary photography and my own photographic practice. This occurs via a question-and-answer process, in which the answers from one question shape, direct and inform the ensuing question, until a viable thesis is reached.

My thesis centres on the premise that truth and fiction are two co-existing rather than distinct singular entities that inhabit the photographic frame. This premise is drawn in part from the application and discussion of crime scene photography in court, and explored further through the critical thinking of Wolfgang Iser, Elaine Scarry and Susan Leigh Star on literary fiction and artefacts. Conjoined, these areas help underpin my formulation of the ‘fictive artefact’; where the fictive artefact is understood to denote a tangible object in which the real and fiction co-exist, where either or both emerge via context or interpretation in the formation of the photograph’s meaning and the photographic print. My research situates crime scene photography relative to established photographic discourse and practice, making viable its examination against comparable photographic genres and critical thinking, including the forensic aesthetic, aftermath/late photography and fictive documents.


Maeve Sookram Irish Identity through the Home: The Suburban Mid-Century Transformation
Supervisors: David Crowley, Dr. Lisa Godson

Sales promotion brochure for housing at Dundrum Heights, Dublin. Image courtesy of Wates Limited(UK).

This thesis contributes to our understanding of the material culture and social change which evolved in suburban Dublin homes from 1955-1975. It explores how contemporary affordable media influenced women in the decoration, design and management of their new privately-owned suburban mid-century homes. It systematically studies the shift from rural to urban living looking at public and private space, boundaries and mediates through new lifestyle options and choices available to the housewife.

As part of this thesis, oral history gives new understanding of everyday life and the challenges and opportunities that faced the family adjusting to and embracing modernity.

The focus of this research  includes:

  • Housing estate layouts, house design and decoration

  • Impact of affordable media on the role of housewife

  • Family engagement with new social space and new technologies


Micheal Earley - William Earley (1872-1956)-Ecclesiastical Artist.
Supervisors: Dr. Paul Caffrey, Dr. Lisa Godson

Panoramic window in Church of St John the Baptist in Blackrock, Co.Dublin photographed by Michael Earley

Research Aims:

  • To demonstrate the central role played by William Earley (1872-1956) in the development of the reputation of Irish Stained Glass in the period 1903-1950 while he worked in Earley Studios,Camden Street Upper, Dublin.
  • To compile a comprehensive catalogue of his work and to demonstrate how he used the medium of stained glass as an expression of devotional religious art while maintaining his artistic integrity with a recognisible individual style.
  • To show his development as an artist and his legacy to Irish Ecclesiastical Art.


This is a descriptive historical research project built upon library and field research. The library element consists of studying published books on stained glass , publications in NCAD and NIVAL (where there is an extensive Earley archive), Earley studio records still in family possession, and records of restored windows such as those of Abbey Stained Glass Studios. Church records and Dublin Diocesan Archives will assist in identifying relevant churches. Field research comprises on site recording of windows by photographic means having identified churches and convents with stained glass from Earley studios between 1900 and 1950. Further information will be gained by interviewing various family members and present day Irish stained glass manufacturers. The completed thesis will fill a gap in the history of a very fruitful era in Irish stained glass which spanned the first half of the twentieth century.


Sally O'Leary - Inside Outside – Outside Inside – Bringing Art Practice into the fabric of People’s Lives

Supervisor(s): Dr. Francis Halsall, Dr. Declan Long

Using second order cybernetics, examine the works and exhibition practice of Stephen Willats; consider how his practice has contributed to changing operational models and curatorial approaches, inside and outside of art institutions when engaging with the public.  

My research interest is the influence of systems theory and cybernetics on art theory and practice and how this has, over time, contributed to changes in curatorial approaches when engaging with the public, inside and outside of art institutions. Using the lens of systems theory and cybernetics, I will examine how the art and exhibition practice of Stephen Willats can be seen to have contributed to such changes. My intention will be to show how Willats' practice, founded in cybernetic principles, can be used as a model to develop a methodology that merges theory and practice as a circular self-corrective autopoietic system; a methodology that will consider how art institutions relate to the production of work, the means of its presentation and its mediation with the public. My methodology is based upon historical research of works from primary and secondary sources that enable a theoretical examination of the development and appropriation of systems theory and cybernetics, alongside research that sets systems theory and cybernetics within an art historical context. To expound my methodology I will further develop a case study that employs various sources; e.g. historical research, analysis of critical reviews and the conducting of interviews with managers / curators within specific art institutions.