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Steve McDade

Steve leads the Department of Fine Art at the University of Chichester.

He teaches across the broad spectrum of undergraduate and postgraduate fine art with a particular interest in critical theory and its relation to studio based practice.

Steve’s research encompasses a range of activities across different media but principally painting. 

A recent paper (July 2015) delivered to ‘Performing Places 3’ symposium articulated the way in which a series of recent paintings of particular domestic places and spaces act within a visual signifying process to represent the threshold of relationships between interior (psychological) space and exterior space.

Other recent work has been exhibited as part of ‘Liminal’ exhibition 2013. This followed on from two previous exhibitions of painting ‘Entrance to a Lane’ 2011 and ‘The Margins of the Lane’ 2012. 

This work focused on painting’s ability to oscillate between process and depiction in relationship to the genre of landscape paintings and to represent the borderline between urban and ‘natural’ spaces.

These exhibitions were central to three symposia held at the University of Chichester. 

The research theme of ‘Displacement’ has been the underlying ‘driver’ for the production of diverse bodies of work from painting to performance for a number of years.

Displacement encompasses the actual physical properties of materials such as the effects of immiscible liquids as well as associations with spatio-temporality such as projection screen versus ‘live’ performance as well as the socio-political in respect of forced movement across and between national borders.

Steve’s interest in the theory informs his teaching at postgraduate and undergraduate study.

He leads the History of Art and critical theory strand of the Fine Art programmes with particular interest in Deleuze and Ranciere and in recent developments with relational aesthetics. 

The 2010 performance piece ‘Techno/House’ centered on aspects of moving house with resonance with the nomadic/refugee. Taking place in the Research Space of the department the work further extended the notion of ‘displacement’.

Alongside visual artwork he performs as a drummer in improvisational and experimental sound and music collaborations with jazz groups.

(UK tours with 'On The Corner' with the late Dick Heckstall-Smith, Ed Jones, Rick Foot etc, playing the music of Charles Mingus.) ‘Displacement’ a live performance installation presented with the relationship between live performance and film with The Rick Foot trio.

His work is in public and private collections.


This performance by Steve McDade, was part of a lecture programme for second year students.

The performance, whilst being an independent  free standing ‘event’, was also used as an introduction to the theoretical framework of ‘Abjection’ and was a ‘provocation’ to the students, presenting an unfamiliar approach to constructing studio-based work. The performance owed much to the work of other artists, particularly that of Stuart Brisley who was one of Steve’s former tutors in the 1970’s.

“The term abjection literally means ‘the state of being cast off’. The abject is a complex psychological, philosophical and linguistic concept developed by Julia Kristeva in her 1980 book Powers of Horror. She was partly influenced by the earlier ideas of the French writer, thinker and dissident surrealist, Georges Bataille. Kristeva herself commented: ‘refuse and corpses show me what I permanently thrust aside in order to live’. In practice the abject covers all the bodily functions, or aspects of the body, that are deemed impure or inappropriate for public display or discussion”. (Tate website)

The performance, in the research space of the Fine Art department, introduced the concept and was followed by a formal lecture on ‘shock and abjection’  in contemporary art and cultural practices.