Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies



Image of Ashley Gallant

Ashley Gallant

PhD Candidate History of Art,



Born in Norwich, England in 1986. Studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Nottingham Trent graduating in 2008 (1st Class).

While an undergraduate I exhibited in Nuremberg, Nottingham and London and received a scholarship to travel to and exhibit in Tokyo.

I then went on to co-found BACKLIT a gallery, studio complex and arts organisation based in Nottingham, I am still actively involved in BACKLIT as a trustee.

After two years supporting early career artists to exhibit at BACKLIT, I went onto study for an MA in Arts curating through the Nottingham Castle Scholarship, graduating with a Merit in 2011.

Since graduating I have held curatorial positions in contemporary and modern art at the Herbert in Coventry where I specialised in the art of conflict, peace and reconciliation.

At the Collection In Lincoln where I led an program of temporary exhibitions, including being awarded the Contemporary Art Society annual award for Museums.

I Currently work at Museums Sheffield where I am curator for Going public. A project that looks at the connection between private collections and public galleries.

Research Summary

My current research focuses on the intersections between copyright law, case law and the history of art.

I am interested in how copyright law can be used as a tool to define radical art practices.

My Phd asks

  • If changes in intellectual property law mirror changes in the theory, practice and production of art and visual cultures.
  • How copyright has defined what art is collected and displayed in galleries and museums

My aim in studying art that cannot be protected by copyright law or actively argues against copyright is to define and propose methods so that art may function more actively and radically for the public.

I have a specific interest in the copyright law of countries who's legal system utilise British common law and their relationships to indigenous populations of the pacific rim.

i am currently working on the below PhD thesis

Radical Art Practice: Copyright and the future of Public Collections

Copyright/Intellectual Property laws (IP) exert more influence on art histories than is recognised in scholarship. Its impact on art making, museums collection policy, curation and writing of art histories is yet to be fully interrogated. Addressing this evolving context, my research focuses on radical art practice, those challenging IP, and examines the challenges/opportunities these works create for audiences and institutions. New forms of practice based around concepts of 'hacking' or 'gleaning' produce works that are open source rather than unique, disrupting the conventional object/author/audience relationship. As a consequence, public institutions collecting contemporary art are faced with a dilemma -how can such work be publically owned?

This project is borne of experience of these changes. As a curator/collections manager with 8 years experience commissioning and collecting art in public institutions, I'm aware of the constraints imposed by IP. It legally privileges author and art objects over audiences, meaning art can't even be reproduced for promotion. IP is a barrier to audiences and controls relationships to art.

In 2013, Artist Oliver Laric and I 3Dscanned Lincoln's sculpture collection giving away scans copyright free - allowing audience use through print/editing the works at home. These projects' innovative approach to IP led to policy change allowing collection of 'usable' open source artworks. Legal and theoretical issues encountered inform my approach, emphasising changes in collecting policy from author to audience and from the singular object to usable artwork. I presented this topic at TATE and AAH Conference: Wetransfer: radical non-object based art in downloadable touring exhibitions.

This PhD provides curators better understanding of IP's limits to inform new approaches to collecting policy that focus on audience and use, exploring the possibility of public ownership of new forms of art that may be edited/shared/remixed by audiences.

Department of Cultural, Media and Visual Studies

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Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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