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Professor Naren Barfield


  • Naren Barfield is an artist who has held senior academic leadership positions for several years, including leading research in two specialist art and design institutions, and currently Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost at the Royal College of Art.

  • Biography

  • Professor Naren Barfield is Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost at the Royal College of Art.  He has held a number of senior leadership positions in UK higher education and has contributed to the strategic development, support, leadership and assessment of research, knowledge exchange, innovation, and postgraduate research and taught programmes across the arts and humanities, both nationally and internationally.  Since 2011 he has worked at the Royal College of Art, and has led significant growth in postgraduate programmes, student enrolments, research intensity and quality, industry partnerships, executive education, and internationalisation.  He was a member of RAE2008 Sub-panel 63, REF2014 Sub-panel 34, and AHRC Peer Review Panel 2: Visual Arts and Media (2005-8), is a member of the V&A Research Institute Steering Committee (VARI), a graduate of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Top Management Programme (TMP18), and has been appointed as a Council Member for Research England.  Internationally, Professor Barfield has been appointed to the Working Group on Models for the Assessment of Higher Art Education Institutions by the European League of Institutes of the Arts (2018), and is an advisor and assessor on research in China, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, and has led international partnership agreements with universities in China, Japan, Singapore and the US.

  • Practice

  • Naren Barfield has maintained an active profile over many years principally in the areas of fine art and creative pedagogy. 

    His research and professional practice ranges across art practice, theory, materials and curatorship, and includes publication of books, chapters and papers in refereed journals and exhibition catalogues; curatorship at venues including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; more than 60 conference and public presentations internationally since 1991, and more than 80 individual and collaborative exhibitions since 1987 in the UK, Europe, USA, South Africa, Australia, China and Japan. 

    His practical work is included in a number of collections nationally and internationally, including the Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York; the British Museum; the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, Tokyo; the Victoria and Albert Museum; the Department for Culture, Media and Sport; and Baltic, Gateshead.

    Naren Barfield's research into the integration of computers within fine art practice resulted in the award of the first theory-and-practice PhD from Camberwell College of Arts (via the Open University), and he was the first artist working in this area to be commissioned by the British Museum. 

    Recognised as a leading authority in fine art digital printmaking, Barfield co-authored Digital Printmaking (A&C Black, 2001), the first such book in its field, and was a founder member of the International Association of Fine Art Digital Printmakers (USA, 1997). 

    He is published in the fields of digital arts, and relationships between space and art practice, and has been an invited speaker at the British Psychological Society, London, the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, and the University of Texas, Austin. He is recognised as a leading figure in creative practice research, and was a keynote presenter at the first national fine art supervisors meeting (Nottingham Trent University, 2004) and at the European League of Institutes of the Arts (Rotterdam, 2005), as well as being invited to participate in the 2007 GLAD conference on drivers for change in the student experience in art and design higher education, and contributing to the subsequent book on the subject.

    Barfield has separate qualifications in learning and teaching, and in research supervision, was an examiner for the research supervisors’ training programme run by the Centre for Learning and Teaching in Art and Design in London, and external examiner for postgraduate fine art at the University of Auckland, New Zealand (2008-9) and at the University of the Arts London (2010-2014). 

    He is an experienced PhD supervisor and examiner, has been an expert reviewer for refereed journals and for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), a member of the Standing Conference of Principals (SCOP) Research Network, and a member of the Artist Teacher Scheme National Steering Committee.

    Professor Barfield was a member of the Art and Design Sub-Panel for RAE2008, and REF2014 Sub-Panel 34, Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory; a member of the AHRC Research Panel 2: Visual Arts and Media (2005-08, continuing as a member of the Peer Review College); and a member of Universities Scotland Cultural Engagement Metrics Working Group. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a graduate of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Top Management Programme, and a trained QAA Subject Specialist Reviewer and trained QAA ELIR Senior Academic Reviewer, and represents the Royal College of Art at CHEAD, UKADIA, and the Higher Education Academy’s Pro Vice Chancellor’s Network.
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  • External collaborations

  • Professor Barfield has extensive experience of collaborative project research and management, and of linking this to wider participation and knowledge transfer and exchange, including Developments at London Institute (DALI), [email protected], the Arts Council/National Society for Education in Art and Design Artist-Teacher Scheme, and the Artists Access to Art Colleges Scheme (a Lottery funded project from the National Association for Fine Art Education in collaboration with National Artists Association).

    Membership Of Professional Bodies and External Committees

    2018– European League of Institutes of the Arts
    Member of the ELIA Working Group on Models for the Assessment of Higher Art Education Institutions, sponsored by the European League of Institutes of the Arts

    2017– Research England
    Member of Council

    2017– Victoria and Albert Museum
    Member of V&A Research Institute (VARI) Steering Committee

    2016– China Central Academy of Fine Arts
    Expert member of think tank for CAFA City Design School

    2016– China Central Academy of Fine Arts
    External member of 7th Design for Sitting seating design competition

    2011–2012 HEFCE REF Focus Group
    Representative for REF2014 Sub-Panel 34: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

    2011– HEA Pro Vice Chancellors Network
    RCA representative

    2011– UKADIA
    Board member

    2011– CHEAD
    RCA representative

    2011–2014 UK Funding Bodies
    REF2014: Member, Sub-Panel 34: Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory

    2010– Universities Scotland
    Knowledge Exchange Reporting Working Group

    2010– Universities Scotland / Scottish HEIs
    Member, REF Managers Group

    2009– Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee
    Member, International Benchmarking Postgraduate Research Student Experience working group

    2009– Arts and Humanities Research Council
    Member, Knowledge Transfer Peer Review College

    2009– Arts and Humanities Research Council
    Member, Research Peer Review College

    2008– Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education Scotland
    Senior Academic Reviewer, Enhancement Led Institutional Review (ELIR)

    2007– Higher Education Academy

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