‘More Than a Thesis: Different Approaches to PGR Study’ Exhibition

A collective group exhibition organised by Winchester School of Art (WSA) postgraduate research students was held in The Winchester Gallery between 29 June – 26 July 2023. This was the first collective PGR show at the Gallery, facilitated by Professor Louise Siddons, and curated by researchers Yimeng Li and Elio Hao, bringing together the work of 12 students and visiting scholars.

The works were created specifically for the exhibition and aimed to represent not only the artists research but their thoughts and processes that they apply to their work, providing a platform to celebrate their daily lives, interests, and voices.

A virtual tour of the exhibition, produced by Lian Pan, is now available:


The exhibition provided a unique opportunity to bring visibility to the experiences and achievements of the students, while fostering a sense of belonging and collaboration to the WSA, University community and wider audiences in this public exhibition.

A broad variety of work was showcased utilising a range of mediums and practices, including painting, installation, sculpture, textile work and the AI generation of texts and images. Topics embraced papercut, silent poetry Queerness and dream worlds, hobbies as methodology, devices that articulate actor network theory, recreations of a WWII desk, abuse, passions, silver stickers, desire, co-curation, and cultural rootlessness of international students and the ‘unknown’ vegetable, Pak Choi.

Curators Yimeng and Elio explained:

“Curating this exhibition has been a great challenge for me, as it was the first time we curated an entire gallery space within such a short period. Despite the difficulties, the experience has been incredibly valuable, and we have learned so much from this journey. As a curator, I am delighted to have been able to contribute my knowledge and skills to the PGR community and to WSA. It is great to see our efforts making a positive impact and increasing the visibility of our community. This experience has not only strengthened my expertise as a curator but also reinforced the importance of teamwork and collaboration in creating something truly exceptional. It has been great to work with Elio too. Thanks a lot for everyone who helped and assisted us!” Yimeng Li

“This is the last year of my PhD, and I have been a student rep for the previous three years, so I think, and I know this is the first time we (the WSA PGRs) have had an opportunity to make and show work in a public space. WSA is an art school, and we pretty much all deal with art or design-related research, and I’m very grateful that the university offered us this tremendous opportunity and the support from many University departments. This is my first time being a curator, and I need to thank Yimeng for taking me on board. It feels very empowering. “Elio Hao

We hope this will become an annual event and would welcome collaborations with PGRs across the University of Southampton.

Text courtesy of WSA Rotunda

WSA Alumni published in Journal of Contemporary Painting

Many congratulations to the two WSA PGR Alumni who have published articles in the latest issue of Journal of Contemporary Painting (vol. 6 issue 1-2). It is wonderful to see alumni making such a contribution to art criticism. Some details below of both these contributions to scholarship

Feng Jie (2021) ‘Writing from the other side: Critical reflections on the calligraphy of Zhang Qiang’ Journal of Contemporary Painting, Vol. 6, Issue 1-2, pp. 131-148 [available here].

This article presents the specific case of a contemporary practitioner of Chinese calligraphy, Zhang Qiang, a notable figure within the current Avant-garde movement. After outlining aspects of his practice, which has been controversial along gender grounds, the article turns to his specific project of ‘bi-directional’ calligraphy. It is argued this work opens up a more rewarding way into his work as an enquiry into writing, which bears connections with Derrida’s deconstructionist account of writing and trace. However, in a brief exchange at Tate Modern, Zhang offers a form of ‘writing lesson’, which both helps takes us towards the decontructionist account of general writing, yet equally reveals a reliance upon the cultural category of ‘Chinese calligraphy’, which takes us away again—arguably symptomatic of a wider struggle for Chinese contemporary art to gain recognition in the West.

Cheng-Chu Weng (2021) ‘Making minimalism disappear…’  Journal of Contemporary Painting, Vol. 6, Issue 1-2, pp. 149-164 [available here].

‘Making minimalism disappear…’ presents an essay regarding my approach to ‘expansion painting’, and specifically provides a study of another kind of minimalist aesthetic. The account begins with a signature work, Shoji (2015), which is proposed as a way to unfold what expansion painting is. I describe my approach as drawing upon painterly compositional methods but developed through site-specific considerations of architectural spaces, bodies and differing levels of consciousness. The works ‘take place’ when interacting in these layered spaces, or what I refer to as a ‘sense’ of painting space. The article goes on to articulate how—in terms of a western discourse – my works might ‘look’ minimalist but, in fact, are not minimalist art. This article—in representing my practice and providing broader critical analysis—leads us to question an ideology of art history around the enigma of minimalist art, and gives rise instead to another shadowy form of minimalist art. Hence, this article can be said to make minimalism disappear in being haunted by it.

You can also see Cheng-Chu’s PhD practice and contributions to WSA’s PhD researcher community featured on this blog here.