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Dr. Cathy Gale (SFHEA) is engaged in a critical practice that employs the tools and strategies of graphic design to envision more expansive notions of the discipline. She set up the Alternative Art School as a radical pedagogic research project in 2014: a critical space for student autonomy and provocations across disciplines and institutions. This socio-political approach is developed through her roles as a graphic artist, DJ and design educator. Dr.Gale's research, practice and teaching are informed by a critical engagement with the relationship between visual culture and the contested ideal of social agency. More recently, her focus has been on collective systems, dialogic design and non-tribal community identities in a shift towards promoting a socio-cultural transition from isolated precarity to more collaborative and co-operative modes of pedagogy and practice. In addition to producing discursive experiences, she maintains that contemporary graphic design is infused with an untapped potential to test concepts, assumptions and boundaries. In public debate, she explores the generative potential of graphic design as a set of conceptual tools, creative methods and critical actions. In this way, she aims to stimulate debate, integrate practice and theory, and frame designers as critical agents in the techno-social sphere. Dr.Gale is a PhD supervisor, external examiner (Chelsea College of Art & Design, UAL; Arts University Bournemouth), and Professor of Ludic Heterotopias at The Free University of Seething Wells.
Art school is a transformative locus for risk: a conceptual-architectural site for knowledge but also a temporal space of subversion. I am inspired by the possibilities of liminal spaces in design practice and pedagogy, in exploring the edges of conventional thought and teaching. My practice is engaged with pushing the boundaries of how graphic design is understood and received, how interventions and provocations can catalyse shifts in behaviour, and perceptions of the social sphere. I am an active agent in this process and am committed to collaborative and collective modes of ideation and problem-solving in the guise of project leader, actor, DJ, prop maker, and spokesperson. By repudiating the dominant narrative of individual genius, the collective creates more space to think through social relations, to manipulate or subvert expectations of success, and to bring about cognitive change.
Gale, Cathy (2020) Art school as a transformative locus for risk in an age of uncertainty. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 19(1), pp. 107-118. ISSN (print) 1474-273X
Gale, Cathy (2019) Free!* Reclaiming 'freedom' from the neoliberal lexicon. Message, 4, (In Press)
Gale, Cathy (2017) #AlternativeArtschool // an interstitial space for creative dissent. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 16(1), pp. 99-115. ISSN (print) 1474-273X
Gale, Cathy (2016) Critical design practice : mapping a new territory for the discipline (or 'Are we nearly there yet?)'. Message : Communication Arts Research, 3(6/6), pp. 85-106.
Gale, Cathy (2015) Problem-finding as a research strategy connecting undergraduate learning with staff research in contemporary education institutions. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education, 14(2), pp. 145-159. ISSN (print) 1474-273X
Renton, Lucy and Gale, Cathy (2014) Blog post describing HEA funded one day Seminar at Knights Park campus entitled "Collecting as a form of material knowledge across design disciplines: a narrative research method from FE to HE to lifelong learning.". Higher Education Academy blog,
Gale, Cathy (2020) Disco Dissent Collective : a performative nexus of the political, subcultural and creative. In: Campbell, Lee, (ed.) Leap into action companion : critical performative pedagogies in art & design education. New York, U.S. : Peter Lang Publishing. pp. 33-44. ISBN 9781433166440
Gale, Cathy (2019) Wall of words : dialogic activism in collective design. In: Bieling, Tom, (ed.) Design (&) activism : perspectives on design as activism and activism as design. Mimesis International. pp. 139-153. ISBN 9788869772412
Renton, Lucy [Research team member], Postle, Paul [Research team member], Gale, Cathy [Research team member] and Blair, Bernadette [Research team head] (2012) Presentation on Open Educational Resources in FADA. In: Practising Open Education: developing the potential of open educational resources in art, design & media; 15 Sep 2012, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)