Professor Neil Grant

Head of Department


Professor Grant joined the University of Chester as the Head of Department of Art and Design in June 2010 after a twenty-year career at Manchester School of Art where he progressed from Senior lecturer in Communication Design to Head of Department of Design.

Neil was born and raised in Ireland and came to England in the mid seventies to study Painting at the Manchester School of Art and later as a post graduate at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He established the Manchester Artists Studio Association and Castlefield Gallery and continued his curatorial interests as director of the Holden Gallery at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Neil’s art practice includes painting, photography, video and book arts. He is represented in art collection nationally and internationally. Neil has recently been appointed to the board of Chester Performs and is a consultant on postgraduate course development at Leeds Metropolitan University, University of Wolverhampton and Anglia Ruskin University Cambridge. His head of department role involves the management and academic leadership of a multidisciplinary art and design department with 300 students and 15 academic staff.  Additional responsibilities include the management / curation of Contemporary Art Space Chester a new gallery space on the university’s Kingsway site. Neil is also a member of the University of Chester's International Committee.


Neil has taught at every level in post compulsory art and design education. He lectured at undergraduate level in Fine Art painting, in Graphic Design, Commercial Printing, Illustration with Animation and at Post graduate level in Communication Design. He has academically lead courses in MA Communication Design and BA Illustration with Animation and held external examiner positions in a wide range of art and design departments in England.


In recent years Neil’s work has tended to be photographic and presented in artist book form. The key themes have been space, memory, narrative and chance. The book form is exploited for its archival and narrative context, which combined with found images and collected texts, encourages the viewer to construct meaning and trigger memory more complex and varied than the initial stimulus for the work. An underpinning interest has always been the manual dialogue with material and the tension between the conceptually driven simulated practice and the intuitive desire to make things and engage with physical material.

Published work

2010  ‘Bullitin 4’ Sound piece, Conversation collaborative exhibition Christ Church, Chester

2010  ‘Flag’ Artists Book, Righton Press, London Art Book Fair, Whitechapel gallery, London

2010  Windhorse’ exhibition collaboration with Vanessa Cuthbert University of Leeds, Art at the Edge Gallery, Second Life Project

2010  ‘Jug’ video cubist work, Cube Gallery, Portland Street, Manchester,

2009   ‘Jug’ video cubist work, Art School exhibition, Holden Gallery & Sir Kenneth Green Library. MMU

2009   ‘Windhorse’ exhibition collaboration with Vanessa Cuthbert All Saints Park, Manchester.

2008 Co-curated ‘Reflective Stories’ exhibition with Tim Dunbar. Holden Gallery. MMU.

2008   ‘Portable Rest’ video installation. Interval exhibition. UDO and Holden Gallery Manchester.

2007   ‘Work Series’ MMU China Show ‘All Go Digital’ Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, China.  Curated by Dr. TongYu  Zhou & Prof John Hyatt. Designed the catalogue for this exhibition.

2007   ‘Found, Voiced’ vocal performance with Mark Ryan, Verity May Henry, Jack Schwier & Dan Mason. at Found, Shared: The Magazine Photowork The Photographer’s Gallery London. Curated by David Brittain

2007   ‘Envelope Stories’ Found, Shared: The Magazine Photowork The Photographer’s Gallery London. Curated by David Brittain

2007    ‘The Rainbow Trail: Branded’ Bibliomania, Holden Gallery, Manchester.

2006    ‘Sitting Room’ collaborative group touring exhibition of artists’ books. Shown in Mexico, USA, Holland and Manchester, Winchester, Brighton, Bristol in the UK.

2006            ‘Found:Shared’ Interactive Page Turn Installation. Exhibition at CUBE Gallery Manchester. Curated by David Brittain.

2006 ‘Manual’ Contemporary Artists’ Books, RBSA Gallery Birmingham

2006 ‘View This Side’ artist book, collaborative touring exhibition Lafayette University USA.

2005 ‘Clearance:  Inheritance:  Remembrance:’ Sex Death and Flat Pack Furniture Holden Gallery Manchester.