Dr. Fiona Woods

Fiona Woods works with aesthetics and critical spatial practice, often in a co-productive capacity with others. She employs social, public and institutional circuits to explore ideas of what we have ‘in common’. Her public art project, Walking Silvermines, is part of the Arte Util archive initiated by the Cuban-American artist Tania Bruguera. Woods has carried out commissions and research residencies in Ireland, the UK, Sweden, Lithuania, Australia, Canada and the US. She devised, curated and produced the Ground Up programme of rural public art for Clare County Council and co-curated Yak Yak, rural/art dialogues for the Swan Hill Regional Art programme in Victoria (AUS, 2013). Woods lectures at Limerick School of Art & Design, delivering modules at undergraduate and postgraduate levels that integrate theory and practice. She has been a contributing lecturer on the MA in Social Practice, LSAD (2013 – 15); the MA in Socially Engaged Art at NCAD, Dublin (2017); a visiting lecturer at BAVA Sherkin, (DIT); the University of Newcastle (AUS) and the University of Flensburg (DE). She is a Fiosraigh scholarship recipient (2015).

Walking Silvermines:
collection of minds: Contact:


Title: To test the poetic and political affects of an aesthetic practice-based engagement with the project of

Commons, to clarify the value of aesthetic practice as a productive interface between Commons and commoning.
Keywords: Commons: Politics of Aesthetics: Collaborative Practice: Counter-publics.Supervisors: Dr. Glenn Loughran and Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick

Overview: The aim of this practice-based research is to test the poetic and political affects that might result from the engagement of a socially engaged aesthetic practice with the knowledge-making and world-making project of Commons. Coalescing as a site of material and conceptual struggle, Commons is oriented towards modes of production and forms of value that refuse the extremes of privilege and possession embedded in current social structures. Commons has theoretical, discursive and political stakes, enacted through practices of commoning. Between that embodied sensorium of commoning on the one hand (what is sensed), and the theoretical-discursive aspects of Commons on the other (how we make sense of it), aesthetic practice may be found to operate as a productive interface. This hypothesis is being tested through a performative, collective, aesthetic process.

Research Question: What poetic or political affects might be discerned from an engagement between a performative, collective, aesthetic process of production and the knowledge-making and world-making project of Commons? Implicit in the research question are three propositions; that Commons amounts to a knowledge-making and world-making project; that there is analytic, aesthetical and political value to be drawn from the articulation of my socially engaged practice as a performative, collective, aesthetic process of production; and that the engagement of such a practice with the knowledge-making and world-making project of Commons could have discernable poetic and political affects.

Research Outputs

Academic Courses, Modules, and Workshops

Hack the City, Limerick School of Art & Design, 2018. I devised and deliver this module for third year undergraduate students from a cross-section of art & design disciplines at Limerick School of Art. The course employs a ‘city-as-classroom’ model, with sessions conducted in public and semi-public spaces across the city. The aim of the 12 week module is to introduce students to critical spatial practice as a field of theoretical and practice-based analysis. The intertwining of economic, socio-spatial and political matters in the shaping of urban space is explored through an engagement with contemporary theories of critical geography, radical architecture and art/design activism. Practice-based learning comprises a team-based research project assessing aspects of publicness at a chosen site in the city, and proposing interventions at a public event. Students produce a critical essay and a research portfolio.

Pedagogy and Practice, MA,SEA+FE, The National College of Art and Design, Dublin, 2017.

I devised and deliver this six week post-graduate course, the aim of which is to historicize and begin to critique the theory and practice of socially engaged art. Drawing on practices from within the history of art and external to it, key concepts including society, aesthetics, ethics, space, knowledge and activism are explored with a view to grasping some of the critical and social dynamics that inform the practice today. Tracing some of the critical impulses that can help practitioners to position their own socially engaged practice within an historical, ideological, and critical framework is achieved through lectures, readings and discussions.

Embodied Critique, MA,SEA+FE, The National College of Art and Design, Dublin, 2015.
This workshop, co-produced with the artistic practice Fold and Rise (Maeve Collins and Julie Griffiths), explored the idea of embodied critique using the Fold and Rise methodology of reading whilst kneading, using a sourdough culture that is continually re-formed in each Fold and Rise workshop.

Public workshops and events

Critical Cartography: public workshops exploring and cognitively mapping aspects of urban space. Various public venues, Limerick, 2017 – 2019.

The Politics of Context: This workshop has been developed for VISUAL Carlow at the invitation of Create, as part of Visual’s focus on collaborative arts practice in 2019. The workshop, aimed at artists working in collaborative and socially engaged arts, will consider the field of practice within which socially engaged artists operate, and explore some of the tools that can be used to critically assess and navigate its various and sometimes conflicting interests. The workshop will include theoretical considerations and practical explorations, supporting participants in an analysis and peer critique of their own modes of practice. The politics of institutions and ‘ekstitutions’ will also be discussed.

Luchtime social @ Ormston House, curated by Ciaran Nash. A discursive event designed around the Critical Cartography project.

Money, Space and Cinema, Four screening and discussion events exploring spatial enclosure and financialisation. March 2016, The Gaff, Limerick. Co-produced with Rod Stoneman.

Alternative Economies dialogues. A series of public dialogues, co-produced with Ciaran Nash, as part ofLaboratory of Common Interest. Various venues, Limerick.

Who cares for the commons? Banner-making and discussion project, a co-production with the Moyross Women’s Group. Limerick, ongoing.


Woods, F., 2017, Critical gaps: a curriculum for socially engaged art, in Whelan, F. , Murphy, A. and Carey, H. (eds), Transactions #2, Dublin: Create and National College of Art & Design.

Woods, F. and McCarthy, C., ‘Community Devastation Project’: visualising the contrary logics of regeneration, in Krase, J. and De Sena, J., (eds), Gentrification Around the World, Volume 2: Innovative Approaches, New York: Palgrave McMillan [due 2019].

Woods, F., 2018, Beyond Freedom, in O’ Shea, K. and Brunetta, V. (eds), Durty Words, Limerick: Durty Books Press.

Woods, F., 2018, A radical performance of world-making: in Journal of Political Power, September 2018.

Conference Papers

2016, Embodied Critique, Revolutionary Genders, Sibéal Conference, National University of Ireland, Galway. 2018, Social imaginary as urban commons, Visualising Spatial Injustice and Exploitation, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.
2018, A commonist aesthetics, InterNation, European Artistic Research Network conference, Dublin. 2018, ‘Community Devastation Project’: visualising the contrary logics of ‘regeneration’ through a collaborative

arts-research approach, Resilience and the City: Art, Education, Urbanism, ELIA Biennial Conference,Rotterdam, NL.


Resisting Displacement and Violence, Creative Time Summit event, NCAD, Dublin, 2nd November 2018. John Bissett, Lisa Crowne, Orla Hegarty, Lucky Khambule and Fiona Woods.

Art in Uncertain Times, Limerick Spring Festival of Politics and Ideas, LSAD, Limerick, 2018. Kerry Guinan, Dr. Dara Waldron, Dr. Eve Olney, Executive Steve and Fiona Woods.

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