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Curiosity and Desire

As Research Lead for the School of Arts and Humanities I have become interested in art works that set a quest in motion, that have a desire to find something out. The work I have chosen has this research dimension, and indeed some of those selected will be progressing onto MPhil and PhD degrees within the School next year. It will be exciting to see how this work evolves into a longer-term project, as the students further articulate their questions and methods.

My own painting practice deals with forgotten histories and explores how, as artists, we can engage an audience by weaving stories, both true and fictional. In the work I have selected there is a strong narrative thrust that draws in the viewer or reader, and whets our appetite to know more. Sometimes these stories awaken my curiosity by dealing with uncomfortable observations, dwelling on aspects of life and fantasy often swept under the carpet. I like that.

Professor Rebecca Fortnum

Professor Rebecca Fortnum

Artist and academic Professor Rebecca Fortnum is Senior Tutor for Research in the School of Arts & Humanitites at the Royal College of Art. Fortnum oversees all aspects of staff research in the School of Fine Art, as well as strategic planning, grant submission and the supervision of Fine Art MRes, MPhil and PhD students. 

Rebecca Fortnum read English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford before gaining an MFA from Newcastle University and taking up a fellowship at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, USA. In 2009 Fortnum became Reader of Fine Art at University of the Arts London and in 2013 she was appointed Professor of Fine Art at Middlesex University, London. She has also been a Visiting Fellow in Painting at Plymouth University and at Winchester School of Art; a visiting artist at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago; a Senior Lecturer at Norwich School of Art and Wimbledon School of Art and an Associate Lecturer at Bath Spa University and Central St Martins School of Art, London. In 2018–2019 Fortnum is Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford University.

Fortnum's specialist interest in women artists resulted in the 2007 publication, Contemporary British Women Artists: in their own words. Her most recent publication is On Not Knowing: how artists think published by Black Dog, which she co-edited with Lizzie Fisher in 2013.

Fortnum was instrumental in founding the London artist-run spaces Cubitt and Gasworks. She also established Paint Club, an informal painting research network in 2008, and is Founding Editor of the Journal of Contemporary Painting published by Intellect.

Recent exhibitions include The Imagination of Children and a solo exhibition, Absurd Impositions, both at the V&A’s Museum of Childhood (2011). Fortnum's work was included in group exhibition Behind The Eyes: Making Pictures at Gallery North, Northumbria University Gallery, Newcastle (2013) and solo exhibition, Self Contained, at the Freud Museum in 2013 with an accompanying book published by RGAP that included essays by Louisa Minkin, Graham Music and Maria Walsh.

In 2014 she co-curated, Just what is it that makes today’s art schools so different, so appealing symposium at the ICA London and co-edited a special edition of the Journal of Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education on the challenges of Fine Art pedagogy.

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