Dr Cathy Gale


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. 

Academic responsibilities

Course Leader


  • PhD (Brighton University)
  • MA Graphic Design and Art Direction (Royal College of Art, London)
  • BA (Hons) Graphic Design (Newcastle Polytechnic)

Teaching and learning

Qualifications and expertise

  • Senior Fellowship of the HEA (2016)

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught


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.  

Qualifications and expertise

  • PhD University of Brighton (2015)
  • External Examiner (PhD)
  • PhD supervisor
  • MA (RCA)
  • Distinction in BA (Hons) Graphic Design

Areas of specialism

  • Critical design / thinking
  • Collective design strategies and practice in a social context
  • Ludic heterotopias (nightclubs)
  • Design activism
  • Performative Pedagogy

Research student supervision


Number of items: 14.


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,

Book Section

Gale, C. (2020) Immediate reaction to David Parkes' provocation. In: Campbell, L., (ed.) Leap into Action. Peter Lang AG. pp. 206-209. ISBN 9781433166419

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

Conference or Workshop Item

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)

Still/Graphic Work

Gale, Cathy and Gregory, Jason (1999) Illustrations for the BT Intranet site. (Illustrations).

Gale, Cathy (1997) Foxtrot. (Illustration). 600 mm x 450 mm.

Gale, Cathy (1997) 'Tattie boggle'. (Illustrations).

Gale, Cathy (1997) The Viking saga of Harri Bristlebeard. (Book illustration). London, U.K. : Walker. ISBN 0744560888

This list was generated on Tue Apr 16 06:32:18 2024 BST.

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