John Renshaw

Emeritus Professor of Fine Art

John was appointed Emeritus Professor of Fine Art, in 2012. Formerly Head of Fine Art, he has also served as a visiting tutor at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Department of Textiles & Fashion (Drawing) and at the Royal Academy Schools, London (Painting). In April 2003, he was an invited visiting artist at Plattsburgh State University, New York.


John joined the Department in 1986, having been awarded a teacher fellowship (sponsored by DfE and Cheshire Education Services), and was appointed as a member of full-time staff in 1987, maintaining undergraduate and postgraduate teaching responsibilities in both Fine Art and Art Education until 1998.


John taught Art and Design in secondary schools and Adult Education (1972–1975), including occasional drawing workshops for The Embroiderers Guild & Cheshire Textile Group. In 1975, he began an 11-year involvement with post A Level Foundation Art and Design education, firstly as a lecturer at Stockport College of Further and Higher Education and subsequently (from 1981 to 1986) as lecturer in charge of Foundation Studies at Cheshire School of Art & Design, Mid-Cheshire College, Northwich.

In addition, from 1981 John began a collaboration with Cheshire Education Services as tutor on in-service courses for primary and secondary school teachers, plus school-based workshops for pupils (primary, secondary, special needs). He served as a tutor on 6th form residential art courses, cultural study tours in Italy, and teachers’ courses in Italy, Paris and New York. He also contributed to in-service courses for a number of education authorities, and to National HMI/DES courses in Art & Design education.

In 1986-1987, John completed a Department of Education and Science Teacher Fellowship in Art Education with Chester College & Cheshire Education Services, and in 1987 joined the full-time staff of Chester College (now University of Chester), maintaining undergraduate and postgraduate teaching responsibilities in both Fine Art and Art Education until 1998. Alongside teaching commitments within Fine Art, John also held responsibilities for art education at undergraduate and postgraduate level, which included working with MEd students in Hong Kong.

1981-1995: INSET/Teacher, pupil and student courses (Primary/Secondary/FE/HE) inc. Cheshire, Sunderland, Salford, Wirral, Surrey, Oldham, Staffordshire LEAs.

1989-1990: Course Tutor: Primary Art Education Project/Open College of the Arts (for Cheshire Education Services) Member of Working Party/Consultant/Art Education - curriculum policy statement (5-16)/Cheshire LEA.

1983-1988: Summer Schools/Art & Design for Children with Special Needs. Cheshire Education Services.

During this period (and in collaboration with Cheshire Education Services), John directed ‘The Art Education Agency’. The Agency provided short INSET courses for teachers of Art at Key Stages 1 and 2 of the National Curriculum, and included validated programmes for Wirral and Cheshire LEAs and school-based workshops for pupils and teachers.

1992-2003: Director of Community Mural Projects. These included: Mural for Refuge Assurance connected with commercial/social and spiritual life of Chester City (in collaboration with Chester City Council involving school pupils and teachers, business, and University of Chester). Mural connected to the regeneration of local site (The Old Port, Chester) – Chester City Council. Mural for Chester City 2000 Heritage & Architecture (sponsors Chester City Council & Marks & Spencer plc.). Coordinator - student commissions for Chester Cathedral visitors centre and Debenhams, Chester.

John served as a visiting tutor at Manchester Metropolitan University, Department of Textiles & Fashion (drawing)*, The Royal Academy Schools, London (painting) and as Visiting Artist, Plattsburgh - State University of New York in April 2003.

(* see Springall D. Inspired to Stitch – 21 Textile Artists. (pp. 180, 183, 235), AC Black Publishers, London 2005. ISBN 10: 07136-6986-1)

Career history

2012 - present Emeritus Professor of Fine Art - University of Chester

2009-2012 Senior Lecturer in Fine Art.

2009-2010: Acting Head of Art & Design.

2006-2009: Head of Fine Art.

2005-2006: Deputy Head of Art & Design and Programme Leader BA (Hons) Fine Art.

1998-2006: Senior Lecturer in Painting and Programme Leader BA (Hons) Fine Art, University of Chester. Undergraduate Development and Revalidation Officer (2001-2005).

1987-1998: Senior Lecturer in Painting and Art Education: Co-ordinator – Art Education Agency.

1986-1987: DES Art Education Fellowship – Chester College/Cheshire Education Services.

1981-1986: Tutor in charge of Foundation Studies, Cheshire School of Art & Design, Northwich.

1975-1981: Lecturer in Foundation Studies: Stockport College of Further & Higher Education.

1972-1973: Art Teacher/Head of Art: Broken Cross Secondary School, Macclesfield, Cheshire.

1968-1972: Undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Manchester College of Art (now MMU).

External Examining / Consultancy:

Member of Working Party/Consultant/Art Education - curriculum policy statement (5-16)/Cheshire LEA. & for ‘The Cheshire Scheme of Work for Art at KS1 and KS2’ (published 1998)

External Advisor: Validation Event:  Coleg Harlech, University of Wales. Foundation Certificate: February 2006

External Examiner: BA (Hons) Fine Art. University of Wales. Bangor. 2004-2008

External Advisor & Member of Validation Panel: BA (Hons) Contemporary Art and Illustration. University of Huddersfield 29th July 2011

External Assessor/Advisor: Validation Panel: MA Fine Art / Re-validation: BA Fine Art, School of Life-Long Learning. University of Bangor: 14th May 2012

Served on, and chaired numerous University of Chester committees, including validation, re-validation panels and annual and quinquennial reviews. Also from 2001 to 2003, undertook the role of Development and Revalidation Officer for all undergraduate programmes within the Department of Fine Art. From 2006 to 2010 served as a member of the Faculty Management Group for Arts and Media.


Research interests

Associated research interests currently situated at an interface between pedagogy and aspects of Fine Art practice - particularly drawing. Current paintings, informed by the legacies of modernism and paintings histories, has become the site for a collision of visual experiences and discovered meanings. Continuing reflection on the strategies employed during their origination suggests not only a continual revision of recurring visual issues but testify to the significance of intuition, memory, identity and the fragility of style. Formal concerns are matched against paintings unique and traditional function as a means of picturing. This paradox serves as a focus for development within established conventions - paintings as a window on the world, and paintings as objects in the world. The paintings and drawings may stand as metaphors and analogies for experience, or serve as a catalyst, stimulating memories, unexpected associations, correspondences or potential narratives. The process inevitably promotes conversations with art of the recent and distant past.

Recent paintings

A specific intention is to allow current paintings to exist not only as visual propositions in themselves, but to also serve as signifiers or catalysts leading ultimately to a collection of related photographs. Such images, (often prompted by an intuitive response to clues contained within the paintings), seek to negotiate both visual analogies and conceptual correspondences, raising questions concerning relationships between both forms of visual representation. This ‘visual exchange’ or ‘transaction’ relates both to my position as maker /originator and the process of interpretation, perhaps extending a form of critical engagement beyond the paintings completion. The extent to which this process evokes connections with the practice of appropriation, ambiguity, the status of abstraction and my relationship with visual experience continues to raise interesting questions.

Published work

Selected Exhibitions

University of Manchester/ School of Architecture 1970

Northern Young Contemporaries Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester 1965/1969/1970.

Northern Young Contemporaries -University of Stirling 1970. (Young Contemporaries (Selected Exhibition by Douglas Hall, Keeper of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art). 1971

Manchester Academy of Fine Arts  City Art Gallery, Manchester.1966/76/77/78/79/80/97

Joint winner; Stowells Trophy Painting Prize, London 1970-71.

Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington. 1976.

John Renshaw & John Webber - Lantern Gallery, Worsley , Manchester & Portico Library, Manchester 1978

Stowells Exhibition (past winners) RA Diploma Galleries, London 1979

New Grafton Gallery, Old Bond Street, London, 1981-85 "Artists of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow"

New Grafton Gallery, Old Bond Street, London, 1982 - 20th Century English Painting & Drawing.

Mixed Exhibitions. E.J.B. Gallery, Kensington, London. 1978-84.

Mixed Exhibitions. Mercury Gallery, Cork Street, London 1981-86.

Five Northern Artists. Stockport Art Gallery. 1985.

Six Cheshire Artists - Touring Exhibition / Cheshire County Council

Cheshire Art in Tuscany/ Palazzo D’Arnolfo, San Giovani Valdarno/ Provincia di Arrezzo, Italy. October 1993.

Royal Institute of British Watercolour Painters, London. 1988

New English Art Club, London.1992

Mixed Exhibitions : Lynne Stern Associates, Dover Street, London 1991-3

Artizana, Prestbury, Cheshire, U.K. 1992-7

St. Helens ‘Open’ Exhibition: October 1995 / 1997

Seven for Seven - Masterclass ' Group Show - Gallery 7, Hong Kong 1995.

Summer Exhibition - Gallery 7, Hong Kong 1996

Cygnet Fine Art, Toronto 1995

Department of Fine Art, University of Chester: Staff Exhibition: Alvarno College, Milwaukee, USA, 2002

University of Chester: Department of Fine Art Staff Exhibition: ‘Profiles' Grosvenor Museum, Chester, October/November 2002.

Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London 1992 / 93 / 94 / 96 / 99 / 2001 / 2002

Solo Exhibition: ‘Anthology: John Renshaw - Recent Paintings'. Ligne Roset, Manchester 2004.

curated by Comme Ca Art, Manchester.

Transactions: An Experimental Exchange: Joint Exhibition: Daniel Boetker-Smith  (Photography) John Renshaw (Paintings): Grosvenor Museum, Chester: 18.11.06 - 21.1.07.

Exhibitor: Conference & Exhibition Kurt Schwitters in England – Authenticity, Reproduction, Simulation July 10 - 11, 2009  - University of Chester in conjunction with the Littoral Arts Trust : Keynote speakers: John Stezaker, Roger Cardinal & David Evans University of Chester in conjunction with the Littoral Arts Trust

Novas Contemporary Art Centre, Liverpool. 2009

Cube, Manchester 2010

The Conversation. Christ Church Chester 2012

Ludlow Open, Millchope Gallery, Ludlow 2012


Exhibition of drawings selected from the Museum collection: Grosvenor Museum, Chester. 10. 9.05 - 6.11.05. Accompanying Catalogue: Renshaw J. ‘Drawing: Looking and Thinking. Marks and Meaning' Chester Academic Press 2005. ISBN 1-902275-76-4.

Selected Conference Papers/Published work

Lectures / Seminars linked to  ‘Records of Achievement in Higher Education project : U.C.C. & Leeds. 1993-4

'On the issue of teaching drawing and painting: the search for a personal visual language’. National Society for Education in Art & Design: Annual Conference. Forum Hotel, London. 3rd - 5th November 1995.

‘Drawing - habit or adventure’. Cheshire Education Services/ Annual Cheshire Art Teachers Conference: Lakeside Hotel, Cumbria:  27th -29th January 1995.

Short article & photographs published in 'DADA"/ Premiere Revue d'Art pour enfants / Lyon. (Art Education / documenting B.Ed. student project  - 'The Paper Clothes Show')  “ Experience” - Le Costume dans tous ses etats pp 36 - 39 inc. May 1995 issue. ISBN 2 7404 0447 6

October 1997 - Visit to South Africa in connection with ‘Arts Education ‘ initiatives. Consolidation of links between Chester College, Cheshire Education Services and Soweto College. Lecture / Seminar presentation (J. Renshaw & Dr. P Harrop) at one day Conference - “Redress, Access, Equity “ - Transforming Arts Education in South Africa -Johannesburg Art Gallery 2 -9 - 97.

Proof reader and review of contents for ‘Art in the National Curriculum - Schemes of Work ‘ document for Cheshire County Council (Education) - published 1998 - ISBN 0 - 9067 6022 - 4.

‘The Search for Meaning through Materials, Process and the construction of Personal Narratives': presented at - ‘Context - Locating and Developing Practice ': One Day Symposium organised by the North West Textile Forum October 2001: Chester College of Higher Education

Conference presentation / workshop: ‘The Original Creative Principle '. delivered at: the National Society for Art and Design Education Annual Conference - ‘Creativity in Art and Design Education' - at College of York St. John, University of Leeds. 5th. - 7th. April 2002.

Related paper published: ‘The Original Creative principle' in the International Journal of Art and Design Education: Volume 21. Number 3 2002. Special Drawing Issue. pp. 303 - 310.

Conference presentation / Drawing Workshop: delivered at a Symposium: ‘Enhancing Creative Thinking in Science and Engineering' - hosted by The U.K. Centre for Materials Education and The LTSN Generic Centre: May 2002, Armourers Hall, London. Supporting material published:

Invited Visiting Artist – including public lecture: ‘On Painting’ – part of Visiting Artists Series, Plattsburgh State University of New York: April 2003.

Solo Exhibition: ‘Anthology: John Renshaw - Recent Paintings’. Ligne Roset, 64 Bridge Street, Manchester, M3 3BN: 12th November 2004 – 18th December 2004: Solo Exhibition curated by Comme Ca Art, Manchester.

John Renshaw, Daniel Boetker-Smith: Transactions- Painting & Photography: an experimental exchange, Grosvenor Museum, Chester 18th November 2006 - 21st January 2007. – included an accompanying illustrated catalogue with contributing essay by Tim Dunbar, Manchester Metropolitan University : ISBN 1- 905929 -14 -5 / ISBN 978-1- 905929-14 -6

Contribution H.E.A. Art, Design, Media Subject Centre funded project - ‘Linking Disciplinary Research to Teaching in Art, Design and Media. NW project for ADM - HEA:  Case Studies in support of the Support for New Academic Staff (SNAS) Strand 3 projects 2007.

Repeat Repeat: An International two-day conference & exhibition organised through the Centre for Practice as Research in the Arts, University of Chester. Accompanying group exhibition – ‘Negotiated Positions’ – catalogue inc. 2 images and accompanying text: ISBN 978-1-905929-21-4 / 9-781905-929214: 19th and 20th April 2007.

Seminar Paper: ‘The physical manipulation of materials and the search for a personal visual aesthetic’: The International Journal of Art and Design Education. (iJADE.) Conference 2011 ‘The Centrality of Art, Design and Performing Arts to Education’ - October 6th and 7th 2011 - University of Chester Innovation Centre, Riverside Campus

Lecture: ‘Looking, thinking marks and meaning’. Part of lecture series–‘Modern Art. What’s it all about’ - for Friends of the Whitworth. Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester. 16th March 2012

Paper: An Original Creative Principle: on-line publication (process /Drawing / Drawing Out 2012) – in connection with ‘Drawing Out 2012 Conference’ 28th March – 30th March 2012 - A trans-disciplinary conference and collaboration between RMIT Melbourne & The University of the Arts London. Venues: National Gallery, London. Central Saint Martins, Chelsea College of Art & Design.

Selected Catalogues

Renshaw J. ‘Drawing: Looking and Thinking. Marks and Meaning’ Chester Academic Press 2005. ISBN 1-902275-76-4.

‘Negotiated Positions’ – Group exhibition to accompany ‘Repeat Repeat’- an International two-day conference organised through the Centre for Practice as Research in the Arts, University of Chester.  19th and 20th April 2007: personal entry in catalogue includes 2 images and accompanying text: ISBN 978-1-905929-21-4 / 9-781905-929214:

Transactions: an experimental exchange. John Renshaw / Daniel Boetker Smith. ISBN 1-905929-14-5 ISBN 978-1-905929-14-6: inc. essay Tim Dunbar: January 2007