Dr Sarah Taylor


Head of Postgraduate Studies

Dr Sarah Taylor is Head of Postgraduate Studies at the University, where she leads on the development and delivery of the Masters Courses. The vision for Postgraduate Studies is to promote an inclusive, vibrant culture, providing students with the opportunity to think resourcefully and flexibly. Sarah is the module leader for the shared core module, Research for Professional Context & contributes to the MA in Fine Art. Prior to taking up the role of Head of Postgraduate Studies, Dr Taylor established and led the dynamic undergraduate fine art painting strand.

With a background in Fine Art Painting, Sarah trained for her MA at Chelsea (University of the Arts, London) and was subsequently awarded a Junior Fellowship in Painting at The University of Wales, Cardiff. Since completing a full time PhD at the University of Ulster, Belfast (funded by The Department for Employment and Learning) Sarah’s practice research continues to investigate how painting is situated within codes of class and gender as they relate to questions of aesthetics in painting. Recent collaborative film work investigates and frames aesthetic hierarchies between concepts of art and concepts of domestic design within the evolution of gendered notions of colour.

Sarah has extensive teaching experience of working with students in higher education on BA, MA and Doctorate programmes. She is currently the External Examiner for the MA and Professional Doctorate in Fine Art at UEL (The University of East London). Sarah is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and heads one of the University's research clusters, Crossing Borders. The aim of the cluster is to support and explore national and international links and cross-disciplinary activity.

Background to Research

Taylor’s research stems from her doctorial investigation which introduced the concept of Aspirational Beauty. The concept of Aspirational Beauty is to understand creative endeavours and practices that are outside of, or marginalised from established theoretical conventions and definitions. The concept is traced and articulated through a process of writing through multi- disciplinary perspectives that incorporate and link painting, history, material culture, literature, sociology and fine art practice. Aspirational Beauty, Taylor argues, is a creative resistance to conforming to socially inscribed ideals of respectability. Taylor’s research considers Aspirational Beauty as a possible position in establishing aesthetic resistance to class shame.

Areas of Expertise: to support a research enriched curriculum.

  • The relationship between gendered working-class identity and painting as a value-laden form of aesthetic practice.

  • International contemporary painting survey exhibitions and the accompanying catalogues: 1980-2000.

  • Life writing at the intersection of class and feminist politics.

  • Colour: Investigations in painting and film, exploring hierarchies of theoretical contexts of colour, celebrating the importance of female colourists.


Taylor, S. and Gaffney, S . (2018) ‘Regenring…visual lives’, Journal of Writing in Creative Practice, 11 (2), pp. 217-232.


Taylor, S. (1999) Wavy Line [Artists book].

Book Sections

Taylor, S. (2016) Aspirational Beauty: Painting Class…the importance of personal narrative in painting. In: I. Hartshorne, D. Moloney and M. Quaifem eds., Teaching Painting How Can Painting Be Taught in Art Schools?. London: Black Dog, pp. 72-77.

Taylor, S. and Paul, L. (2015) Catalytic Commoning. In: S. Mills ad D. Bernath, eds., An exploration between film, architecture and the city.

Rowley, A. (2013) Aspirational Beauty. In: S. Taylor and S. Cameron, eds., A Fakes Progress [Exhibition Catalogue]. Crescent Arts.

Taylor, S. and Paul, L. (2008) Generational Experience. In: R. Lucas and G. Mair, eds., Sensory Urbanism Proceedings. The Flanêurs Press, p. 58.


Taylor, S. and Paul, L. (2017) Little Pink Bush. Drive Through Movie, Gaylordsville, Connecticut, USA. 15 May – 19 May 2019.

Taylor, S. and Paul, L. (2017) Little Pink Bush. Outpost, Shortwave, London. 21 May – 15 June 2018.

Taylor, S. and Paul, L. (2017) Little Pink Bush. CGP Southwark Park, London. 22 November – 10 December 2017.

Taylor, S. (2017) Making…Making Research. The Studio Theatre Gallery, Blenheim Walk, Leeds Arts University, 16 November – 01 December 2017.

Taylor, S. (2015) Catalytic Commoning. The Tetley, Leeds. 12 November – 22 November 2015. Co-curated by S. Mills and D. Bernath.

Group Exhibition. (2015) ‘Models of Value’ in POOL. CGP London. 8 July – 26 July 2015.

Group Exhibition. (2014) Tacit Knowledge. The Wall, Syracuse University, USA. 13 November – 29 November 2014.

Nougarède, M. and Taylor, S. (2014) Labour Exchange. BayArt, Cardiff, Wales. 27 May – 20 June 2014. Curated by H. Sear.

Taylor, S. (2013) A Fake’s Progress 3. Crescent Arts, Scarborough, Yorkshire. 2 March – 6 April 2013. Curated by S. Cameron.

Group Exhibition. (2013) Sculpture, Photography and the Index. 41 Cooper Gallery, The Cooper Union School of Art, New York, USA. 5 November – 9 November 2013.

Taylor, S. (2013) One Way or Another II. SMART Gallery, Aberdeen, Scotland. 4 May – 9 June 2013.

Taylor, S. (2013) Classification. Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, Leeds. (Curator). 8 July – 16 August.

Taylor, S. (2013) A Fake’s Progress 2. Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, Leeds. 13 November – 8 December.

Group Exhibition. (2012) Local Imagination. San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, USA. August 2012.

Group Exhibition. (2011) Concretum. Dilston Grove, London. 10 March to 27 March 2011.

Taylor, S. (2011) A Fake’s Progress 1. The Gallery, University of Ulster, Belfast, The Island of Ireland. 8 August – 16 September 2011.

Creative Projects

Taylor, S. and Paul, L. (2019) London Spinner.

Conferences, Talks & Presentations

Taylor, S. Painting Class: Lost in Transcription, at The International Conference on Arts, Culture and Education, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, China, 27 November– 29 November 2020.

Taylor, S. Aspirational Beauty: Painting Class, Higher Education Academy Annual Arts and Humanities Conference: Inspire – sharing great practice in Arts and Humanities teaching and learning. Brighton. 3 March – 4 March 2016.

Taylor, S. and Paul, L. Artists talk and workshop, Making Research, Northern Film School Research Seminar Series. 18 May 2016.

Taylor, S. and Paul, L. Investigating the Processes of Design and the Teaching of Design, Opening event of Catalytic Commoning. 12 November – 22 November 2015.

Taylor, S. Aspirational Beauty: Painting Class…the importance of personal narrative in painting. Teaching Painting. Whitworth Museum, Manchester. 29 October – 30 October 2015.

Taylor, S., Nougarède, M. and Sear, H. In conversation, A gendered perspective? Labour Exchange. BayArt, Cardiff. 23 May 2014.

Taylor, S. Artists Talks, One Way or Another 2. The SMART Gallery, Aberdeen, Scotland. 4 May 2013.

Taylor, S. and Cameron, S. A Fake’s Progress: In conversation. Scarborough Art Gallery, Yorkshire. 2 March 2013.

Taylor, S. Artists Talks, One Way or Another 2. The SMART Gallery, Aberdeen, Scotland.

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