Owen Atkinson


My project draws on my interdisciplinary background in English, History of Art and Cultural Studies, and develops from my broad interest in various forms of creative media, alongside questions of history and politics. The central question this project aims to answer is: what are the possibilities for artwork described as portraiture to be realist. By realist, in brief, I mean artworks that explore the tensions of the works’ contemporary moment within the form and content of the work itself. In line with this, I am particularly focusing on artworks which omit portraiture’s traditional unity of time and instead explore the portrait through time-based media. The two immediate implications for this investigation are, firstly, for the study of art itself and the question of how or whether portraiture as a form has persisted into the early years of contemporary art, and secondly, if this portraiture does reflect on its contemporary moment, what can we learn about that historical moment by returning to these reflections.

This project is supported by Amanda Burton Scholarship. 

Research interests

My interests include aesthetics and politics, moving image from artists’ film to Hollywood, Critical Realism and 20th Century American history. 


  • MA History of Art, University of Leeds (2014)
  • BA (Hons) English Literature, University of Surrey (2013)