Doing art in the Country


Dr Menelaos Gkartzios, Senior Lecturer in Rural Studies, Centre for Rural Economy, School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Newcastle University, UK

Dr Julie Crawshaw, Lecturer in Art and Design History, Visual and Material Cultures, School of Arts, Design and Social Sciences, Northumbria University, UK

Dr Marie Mahon, Lecturer in Rural Geography, School of Geography and Archaeology, National University of Ireland, Galway.



This working group is focused on how art is practiced, contested and negotiated in the countryside drawing on increasing debates in rural studies (Bell and Jayne, 2010; Argent et al., 2013; Anwar McHenry, 2011). Across rural sociology, human geography and art studies, we seek to contribute to critical academic accounts surrounding what art and artistic practice do beyond the metropolis. We welcome papers from arts, humanities and social science scholars, and artists spanning visual, performance and literary disciplines, that explore, not exclusively:

  • understandings of the relational quality of art; 
  • the ‘doing’ or ‘doing-ness’ of artistic practice;
  • the well contested debates around creativity in rural studies (i.e. the rural application of the ‘creative class’ and ‘creative city’ ideas);
  • the role of artists through their artistic practice in imagining a more emancipatory, inclusive and just rural society and economy;
  • the contributions of artists to the development of local rural economies;
  • the role of art in rural social innovation models (art as transformation) and new rural development trajectories;
  • the role of art in conceptualising the resilience of rural places in periods of crisis;
  • the emerging hegemony of selective understandings of creativity, usually in economic terms, in rural policy accounts; or
  • the normative expectations on the positive role of art in community development.

We welcome papers from across scholarly and artistic research, and particularly encourage interdisciplinary perspectives (see Crawshaw and Gkartzios, 2016). We understand ‘art’ in all its possible manifestations. We are also keen to include papers from a wide variety of geographical and cultural contexts across Europe.


We expect primarily power point presentations, but we are extremely keen to welcome other practices of research communication through narration and performance, and one of the co-conveners (Julie Crawshaw) has experience in such formats. As the papers are targeting a special journal edition, draft papers of maximum 8,000 words will be collected and circulated to the WG participants prior to the conference. A reviewer will be allocated to each paper, offering a first peer review. We will keep the presentations short to ensure that they are concise, to provide more time for comments from other participants, and to make the WG appealing to the wider audience.


Anwar McHenry, J. (2011) Rural empowerment through the arts: the role of the arts and social participation in the Mid West region of Western Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 11, 245-253.

Argent, N., Tonts, M., Jones, R. and Holmes, J. (2013) A creativity-led rural renaissance? Amenity-led migration, the creative turn and the uneven development of rural Australia. Applied Geography, 44, 88-98.

Bell, D. and Jayne, M. (2010) The creative countryside: policy and practice in the UK rural cultural economy. Journal of Rural Studies, 26, 209-218.

Crawshaw, J. and Gkartzios, M. (2016) Getting to know the island: Artistic experiments in rural community development. Journal of Rural Studies, 43, 134-144.