Dr Daniel Fountain
Lecturer in AHVC (E&R)
Dr Daniel Fountain is a Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter. Stemming from their background as an exhibiting artist, Daniel's research interests relate to queer contemporary art and craft. They are currently writing two books. The first, Crafted With Pride: Queer Craft and Contemporary Activism in Britain (Intellect, 2023) is an edited collection of essays, oral histories and creative responses from artists, activists, academics and curators engaging with the material cultures of LGBTQ+ activism in Britain from the 1980s to present day. The second, a single-authored monograph provisionally titled Queer Crafts: Materiality, Identity, Contemporary Practice (Bloomsbury, 2025), is the first book to explore how creative practitioners engage with a range of craft materials and processes to explore queer and trans identities.
Daniel also has extensive experience as a cultural producer and they have co-produced public programmes with a range of organisations such as Crafts Council, National Museums Liverpool, Watts Gallery, The Grundy Art Gallery, Tate and Paul Mellon Centre. Before joining Exeter in 2021, they held various teaching and research positions at Loughborough University, Nottingham Trent University, Manchester Metropolitan University and The Royal School of Needlework. Daniel was awarded a PhD from Loughborough University where they completed a practice-based project in the Centre of Feminism, Sexual Politics and Visual Culture.
Office: Queens Building, BG33
Office hours: In Term 1 22/23 my office hours are Monday 10am-12pm and Thursday 9am-10am. Please email for an appointment. These are conducted via Microsoft Teams or in my office upon request and dependent on availability.
Internal roles: Academic Conduct Officer, LGBTQ+ Staff Network Co-Ordinator
My research is always grounded in, or informed by, creative practice. It is often collaborative, interdisciplinary, and has social engagement at its core. There are two main strands to my work:
While much has been written about women’s engagement with handicrafts, especially textiles, its role in queer art and culture has often been overlooked. My research seeks to revise understandings of how we understand craft materials and processes in relation to both gender and sexuality. This draws upon my own embodied experience and longstanding artistic practice which has used textiles in particular to explore themes of gender and sexuality because of its longstanding gendered associations, malleability, metaphorical capaciousness, and historic position as a ‘low’ form of art-making. I explore craft not just as a mode of creative or visual expression, but as a way of theorising the ways in which many LGBTQ+ identities and communities enact processes of ‘crafting’ on a daily basis, from tailoring clothes to fit trans bodies, to the crafting of activist objects. As Principal Investigator of a Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre, I developed an edited collection titled Crafted With Pride: Queer Craft and Activism in Britain which is forthcoming with Intellect Books. It focuses on the material cultures of activism –from banners, badges, zines, and hand-made t-shirts – and how these reflect the ways in which we craft our identities and comnmunities. Following from a series of peer-reviewed articles in journals such as TEXTILE: Cloth and Culture and MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture, I am now developing a single-authored monograph with Bloomsbury Academic, provisionally titled Queer Crafts: Materiality, Identity and Contemporary Practice. This book explores how a range of creative practitioners engage with textiles, ceramics, paper, wood, metal and glass to explore queer identities and communities.
Abjection and Queer Waste
Previous research has focused on the social and political dimension of waste, especially from a queer perspective. I have suggested that concepts surrounding the abject are not limited to objects such as waste or ‘dirty’ matter alone but that people and practices can also be understood through abjection. Furthermore, I have particularly been interested in the materiality of waste. This includes how artists have used waste materials to transform the deprecated into powerful sites of self-expression and as a vehicle to explore the wider socio-political experiences of marginalised lives being treated as ‘disposable’. In the forthcoming collection Queer Trash and Feminist Excretions (SUNY Press, 2022), I explore waste’s convergences, alignments, and reverberations with the camp produced by sexual minorities as a form of cultural recycling. I also recently contributed to the first major publication of the work of leading contemporary artist Paul Yore, published by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for the exhibition WORD MADE FLESH. I discuss how Yore's work engages with found images, materials and texts to create loaded assemblages which celebrate the 'messiness' of hybrid and fluid identities and processes of queer worldmaking.
I have experience of supervising and examining both written and practice-based PhD projects in my areas of research. I am currently accepting proposals from prospective students wishing to explore the following topics:
- Contemporary art
- LGBTQIA+ history, art and culture
- Activism and material culture
- Craft, particularly textiles and dress history
- Waste and queer ecologies
2022— Sarah K. Godfrey, 'Material Potentials: Expressing transgender and non-binary identity through textile practice', Director of Studies. Co-supervised by Dr Conor Wilson, Bath Spa University (SWW DTP funded).
2021—Cecilia Neil-Smith, ‘Mermaids and Sirens as Figures of Indeterminate Gender in Victorian Art and Literature (1860-1910)’, Internal Examiner. Supervised by Dr João Florêncio and Dr Patricia Zakreski.
Research through practice
Queerly Made is a curatorial project that started as an Instagram page in May 2020 (@queerly_made), where I featured the work of LGBTQ+ artists as a means of exploring queer approaches to materials and practices. Since then, the project has evolved into a much larger platform to spotlight the work of LGBTQ+ artists. In 2021 it was selected by UK New Artists as part of their Future Producers programme and awarded funding from Arts Council England. This enabled me to commission new work by emerging UK-based artists Claye Bowler, Dan Chan and Matthew Rimmer, whose practices all explore themes of queer transformation and transitioning which led to a multi-site exhibition at Abingdon Studios and Grundy Art Gallery.
Crafted with Pride emerged from my practice-research which has often uses textile processes and techniques to explore themes of gender and sexuality. Commissioned by the Queer British Art Research Group, a sub-group of the Tate and Paul Mellon Centre’s British Art Network, Crafted with Pride began as a curated public programme. Rather than conceptualising craft as a fixed set of objects, I suggested that we might think about the term as a process – of crafting identity, crafting community, and crafting change. I curated a full day of discussions and workshops to explore the role of craft, broadly speaking, within queer activism in Britain. Working with a number of the academics, artists, activists, and curators who presented at the event, I am now in the process of developing an edited collection to ensure these stories of LGBTQIA+ art and culture can be told more widely. The collection is under contract with Intellect Books and will be published in 2023.
Re-imagining Citizenship is an ongoing interdisciplinary research project, a collaboration of the Politicized Practice, Anarchism and Theatre Activism Research Groups at Loughborough University. Since 2014, artists, researchers and associates of the three Research Groups have organised exhibitions, installations, performances and events to explore the potential for art practices to re-imagine what citizenship means in theory and practice. This included exhibitions at the Martin Hall Exhibition Space and at Nottingham Contemporary. As part of the 2019 Venice Biennale, we also had our Activity Station work installed at Palazzo Mora, distributed copies of the Re-Imagining Citizenship Activity Book, and several members ran workshops and reading groups.
ALPHA, AIR Gallery, Manchester, 23 September – 22 October
Diverse Voices in Textiles, Martin Hall Gallery, 6 June – 29 July
Breeding Grounds, Two Queens, Leicester, 16 – 18 July
Festival of Quilts, National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, 29th July – 1st August
Two Queens Members Show, Two Queens, Leicester, 22 October – 31 October
TOUCH ME, Online, 19 September – 8 November
Queer Contemporaries, AIR Gallery, Manchester, 27 August – 19 September
Riposte X Club, Virtual Exhibition and Club Night, 9 May
Queer Art(ists) Now, Archive Gallery, London, 13 – 22 March
LANDED, Loughborough University, 28 February
Slippery and Subversive, Wellington B. Gray Gallery, North Carolina, 6 – 26 January
Personal Structures – Identities, 2019 Venice Biennale, Palazzo Mora, European Cultural Centre, 11 May – 24 November
Crafting Change, Parkside Gallery, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, 12 – 29 March
Re-Imagining Citizenship, Martin Hall Gallery, Loughborough University, 13 – 29 March
Vinylism 2.0, Tent Gallery, Edinburgh, 3 – 14 July
Vinylism, Edinburgh Central Library, Edinburgh, 11 – 30 May
Equal/Human, University of Leicester, March
Aberystwyth Printmakers, Minerva Arts Centre, Llanidloes, 4 – 19 April
Aberystwyth Printmakers, Oriel Q, Narbeth, 20 March – 25 April
The Open: Young Wales, The Royal Cambrian Academy, Conwy, 9 – 20 January
External impact and engagement
I am deeply committed to working in collaboration with community partners, curators and creative practitioners to ensure that my socially-engaged research has a wider impact beyond academia. I regularly deliver public talks at museums and galleries and have been commissioned to curate a range of public programmes. Key highlights relating to external engagement and impact include:
2022 Pride at the Crafts Council: the UK’s national charity for craft commissioned me to curate a series of workshops for LGBTQIA+ families to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Pride. This was delivered in collaboration with leading artists Liaqat Rasul, Al Hil, and Jacob V. Joyce. I have since acted as an independent equality advisor and have published work on their website and in their prestigious magazine Crafts about the activist-ceramicist, Angus Suttie.
2022 RAAM About Town: commissioned by Creative Arc, Exeter Culture and RAAM, I led a public engagement project with Professor Jana Funke (English, Exeter), Dr Ina linge (German, Exeter) and Lena Worwood (EDI Advisor, Exeter), to explore Exeter’s queer heritage and future.
2021 First Outing: a multi-site exhibition at the Grundy Art Gallery and Abingdon Studios in Blackpool, funded by UK New Artists (UKNA) and Arts Council England. Included a micro-residency for LGBTQIA+ artists Claye Bowler, Dan Chan and Matthew Rimmer to explore marginality and research findings presented at the 2021 a-n Assembly, titled ‘The Coast is Queer’. We also received a range of press coverage, including a feature in Corridor8.
2021 Crafted With Pride: curated an online symposium in collaboration with the Queer British Art Network, Tate, Paul Mellon Centre and National Museums Liverpool. It featured workshops, talks, and in-conversations with artists, heritage professionals, curators, activists and academics. With many of these collaborators, I have produced an edited collection which is due to be published with Intellect Books.
2020 Being Human Festival: collaborating with Dr Freya Gowrley and Dr Cath Feely on producing a series of podcasts and virtual events with Derby Museums, Derbyshire Record Office, Derby Local Studies Library and the National Trust. Workshops I ran have been cited as a case of exemplary creative pedagogy in E. Bassett et al., ‘Getting Scrappy in the Classroom During COVID-19: Collaboration, Open Educational Resources, and Hands-on Learning for Humanities Students’, KULA: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination and Preservation Studies, 6 (1), pp. 1-18.
2019 Re-Imagining Citizenship: I worked with members of the Politicised Practice Research Group at Loughborough University to organise exhibitions, installations, performances and events that sought to redefine ideas of citizenship and nationhood that are not prescribed or restricted by the language of the political establishment or the media, but rather opened up and expanded by artistic research methods. This led to the publication of the Re-Imagining Citizenship Book (2019) and an exhibition at the European Cultural Centre - Pallazo Mora as part of the 2019 Venice Biennale.
Contribution to discipline
I am an Advisory Board Member of The Journal of Dress History; the academic publication of The Association of Dress Historians (ADH) through which scholars can articulate original research on the history of dress, textiles, and accessories in a constructive, interdisciplinary, and peer reviewed environment.
From 2019-2021 I served on the Association for Art History’s Doctoral and Early Career Researcher (DECR) Network Committee which provides a support system and platform for current PhD students and Early Career Researchers engaged with Art History and Visual Culture. I delivered an extensive annual programme of events and initiatives including our annual Professional Development Day, Dissertation Prizes, and symposia such as our 2020 New Voices Conference, Global New Voices: Art, Craft and Industry, which I co-organised. This conference provided a key opportunity for researchers, makers and practice-researchers to open a dynamic discussion about the similarities, divergences and interconnectivity of art, craft and industry taking place in a global context.
I have peer-reviewed book manuscripts for Bristol University Press and for journals including TEXTILE: Cloth and Culture, Craft Research and Revenant: Critical and Creative Studies of the Supernatural.
My artwork has been featured in a range of publications including Surface Design Association’s issue on Spontaneity and Play in Fiber Art, the Festival of Quilts Magazine, and Embroidery: The Textile Art Magazine. Alongside artists such as Catherine Opie and Zanele Muholi, Rise Art selected me as one of seven world-leading LGBTQ+ artists 'challenging the canon' of art history and I am also a featured artist on Craft Conscious as part of their ‘Craft and Gender’ series alongside artists including Harmony Hammond, Sheila Pepe and Faith Wilding.
I have written a range of art criticism for a range of popular journals such as Decorating Dissidence, Burlington Contemporary, and MAP Magazine.
I am Module Convener for Common Threads: Art, Craft and Activism (AHV2019) and Contemporary Visual Practices (AHV2007). I also teach on the MA Curation: Art and Business. In 2020, I was appointed a Fellow of Advance HE and have completed several qualifications on disability and mental health awareness.
- AHV1005 - Inside the Museum
- AHV1006 - Visual Media
- AHV1011 - Questions and Methods in Art History and Visual Culture
- AHV1012 - Approaches to Art History and Visual Culture
- AHV2002 - Debates and Contestations in Art History
- AHV2007 - Contemporary Visual Practices
- AHV2015 - Art History and Visual Culture Field Study for Blended Learning
- AHV2016 - Contemporary Art and Curation
- AHV2019 - Common Threads: Art, Craft and Activism
- AHV3000 - Art History and Visual Culture Dissertation
- AHVM002 - Arts of the Contemporary World