Precarious people, places, and practices: mapping, mediating and challenging the instability of artists’ studios in Belfast

This talk will reflect research on the precarity of artists’ studios in Belfast across a theoretical and practical spectrum since 2018.

Speaker: Jane Morrow (she/her) Chair: Benedetta d’Ettorre (she/her)

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Jane’s PhD research focuses on the precarity of artists’ studios in Belfast through three key lenses: people (artistic labour), places (the adoption and adaptation of meanwhile space, subsequent implications for accessibility) and practice (the growth of instrumentalised and dematerialised practices and decline of others that rely on space, time, equipment and the legacy of site-specific artist work/relationships). 

Research into precarity has been growing for a decade across fields including economics, social sciences and the arts. It is indisputably a response to factors such as the long-term fallout from the global financial crisis, government-imposed austerity measures, neoliberalist agendas, and – most recently – the Covid-19 pandemic. Jane’s research is broadly positioned within discourses that affect our public and cultural spaces: cultural democracy, the built environment, instrumentalisation and disinvestment in culture.  

The arguments made throughout are for increased recognition and value for artists’ work and workspaces, and their unique offer within the infrastructure, as well as enhanced support and funding resources, and innovative models that are informed by national and international initiatives but bespoke to Belfast. The gap addressed by Jane’s enquiry is to support an understanding of why studios are necessary and why they are overlooked, how they are used and how they are undervalued, who they support and who supports them, where they are situated and why this matters.  

It also includes elements of practice, which Morrow terms ‘expanded curatorial practice’; one that focuses less on my previous curatorial work in exhibitions, collections etc. and has become something more ephemeral: a mode of working with artists that prioritises care, development, resourcing, promoting, opportunities generation and collaboration.


 Jane Morrow is an independent visual art curator, writer and PhD researcher with a specialism in artist development. She is interested in infrastructure for artists; working across network and production contexts, and through creating formal and informal developmental platforms for practitioners.

Resourcing, nurturing and profiling others’ practices has been a longstanding facet of her approach. Jane’s PhD research focuses on the precarity of artists’ studios and workspaces; labour and practice, collaborative and co-operative models, and permanence and peripateticism. 

She develops curatorial projects, writes essays and reviews for arts press, teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She freelances for a number of arts organisations operating Ireland-wide. Jane is on the board of University of Atypical – a disability arts organisation – and is the Secretary of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA Ireland)