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Personal profile

Research interests

Susan Diab is currently Artist-in-Residence at the Pitt Rivers Museum in conjunction with Oxford University's Medical Research Council's Brain Network Dynamics Unit and the Oxford branch of Parkinson's UK. The aim of this project is to develop wearable technologies to assist people living with Parkinson's to negotiate its effects. Susan's role is threefold: to visualise prototypes, to interpret the Pitt Rivers Collection of artefacts for clues it may yield towards the project aim and thirdly to facilitate the participants' creativity as expert co-designers.

She is a visual artist (sculptor) and writer with a context- and circumstance-specific practice, meaning that how she works is responsive both to place and to events occurring at the time of working. With a first degree in Modern Languages (French and German) and a second in Fine Art - Sculpture, her practice works across making and writing with both activities often interrelating. She is a founder member of the group artist studio APEC (Art Producing Economic Community), an association of around 15 artists sharing and co-running space in Hove. APEC regularly puts on Open Studio events to welcome the local community in to its activities. 

At the University of Brighton, where she has been teaching for 20 years, she is a Senior Lecturer on the Fine Art Critical Practice (FACP) BA(Hons) course. In this role and in keeping with her own practice focus, she set up and runs the Fine Art Placement Scheme after the model of the Artist Placement Group. These Fine Art Placements afford Level 5 students the opportunity to spend one semester in a non-art setting within the University in order to gain new impetus for and insights into their work. 


Supervisory Interests

As mentor on the MA Fine Art she is able to draw on her experience of working as an artist advisor on the ARC scheme, which was originally set up by Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth. As Artist Advisor she was responsible for delivering personal 121 mentoring to over 450 artists within the South East of England over several years. This work gave her a view into the working lives of those artists and an understanding of the conditions and challenges that running a fine art career brings with it. 

She has also supervised and been an examiner on the Masters in Research (School of Art). 

From 2003 - 2005 she was Course Leader on the ArCH Programme (Arts and Cultural Heritage) post-graduate course. 

Scholarly biography

For two decades Susan Diab has worked in collaboration with public museum collections including Hove Museum, Hastings Museum and Art Gallery, Towner in Eastbourne, the Booth Museum of Natural History and most recently the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Interpreting collections and making new work in response to them, often by facilitating the active participation of the visiting public, she has exhibited mainly across the South East region of England. Her visual works employ media determined by the ideas the work is dealing with and may take the form of e.g. digital projections, neon signs, performance works, mixed media friezes and ceramic objects to name but a few. 

Since 2016 her art practice has broadened to include academic autoethnographic writing within its scope. 'Writing Gown' published in 2017 in 'Surviving Sexism: strategies for feminist leadership' (Routledge US) was an evocation of a visual artwork through the process of writing experimentally. Other autoethnographic chapters revisit e.g. childhood school projects in order to connect the experiences of making images and writing across the span of a lifetime. 

Pedgagogy forms the subject of other academically published articles, for instance reflecting on and considering the role of the Fine Art Placements within the teaching of Fine Art (co-written with Matthew Cornford). Elsewhere she analyses the benefits to students of doing a Fine Art Placement with reference to a transcript of a discussion with students and the co-founder of Artist Placement Group artist Barbara Steveni. 

Writing texts for publication since 1988 the range of her output includes, in addition to those outlined above, experimental essays in art zines, exhibition catalogue introductions to other artists' exhibiitions, blogs resulting from residencies as well as early articles about German Romantic poetry. 

Approach to teaching

Susan's approach is that teaching art is a collaborative learning journey with students, best practised when actively engaged in making work oneself. To undergo the challenges that making one's creativity public entails, alongside students making that effort, keeps the processes and exigencies of art alive. To this end she is always engaged at any time in one or more professional projects. The teaching of art is, she believes, about assisting students to find their own voices and to develop the courage of their own convictions, which can often bring with it some unlearning of previously dearly-held assumptions. In sharing the journey with students and understanding what is at stake she is able to teach empathetically, encouragingly yet critically. 

Susan Diab has been teaching since 1984 when she undertook a year out from her first degree in Modern Languages to teach English conversation in a German secondary school in the Rhineland Palatinate. She has taught German in English Further Education and, in conjunction with Creative Partnerships, worked as a Creative Practitioner and as a Creative Agent in Primary and Secondary school settings.

In addition to formal education, she has been employed within the gallery education sector since 1999, where she has worked with the visiting public at a number of galleries in the South East including the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea and Towner in Eastbourne. As well as this she has worked with a broad range of constituent groups of people in conjuction with the appropriate social agencies. These include e.g. homeless people, young people in care, young people in secure settings, people negotiating addictions, older people, visually impaired people, adults with learning difficulties. 

Susan was able to consolidate her knowledge-by-experience of working in such a range of ways when she spent 7 years working as a Set Advisor on the Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education at the University of Brighton alongside her teaching of Fine Art. In this capacity she was facilitating the study of and learning about teaching for new lecturers at the University.

In 2011 she gained the Award for Excellence in Facilitating and Empowering Learning from the University of Brighton. 

Education/Academic qualification

The Learning and Teaching Hub

Sep 2004

Award Date: 20 Apr 2019

University of Sussex

Sep 1998Sep 1999

Award Date: 1 Jun 1999

Bachelor, University of Brighton

Sep 1992Jun 1995

Award Date: 1 Jun 1995

University of Hamburg

Sep 1988Jun 1990

Award Date: 1 Jun 1990

University of Oxford

Sep 1986Jun 1988

Award Date: 1 Jun 1988

Bachelor, University of Oxford

Sep 1982Jun 1986

Award Date: 1 Jun 1986

External positions

External Examiner, Staffordshire University

1 Sep 2017 → …

Creative Agent, Creative Partnerships


Artist Advisor, ARC - Aspex Gallery


Creative Practitioner, Creative Partnerships


Studio Member, APEC Artists Studios, Hove

1 Jan 2004 → …


  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • Sculpture, Critical Practice, Autoethnography


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