New Head of School Here at Gray’s

Professor Chris O’Neil has been appointed as the new Head of Gray’s School of Art at Robert Gordon University (RGU), Aberdeen.

Professor Chris O’Neil joins Gray’s after six years as Executive Dean at Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), during which he oversaw the creation of a £61m state-of-the-art BIAD development.

He brings a wealth of experience to the role, built up over a career which spans almost three decades and which has seen him run his own studio, document life in Southern America and take on management positions in a range of further and higher education institutions.

Professor O’Neil said: “I am delighted to have been appointed as Head of Gray’s School of Art, an institution which boasts an extremely rich history and which occupies a key cultural position within Aberdeen and the surrounding area.

“I am very much looking forward to working with staff and students in developing the important role that Gray’s has to play in influencing the north-east of Scotland – it is vital that we help to ensure the cultural and creative economy is seen as being as valuable and as necessary as the other economies in the country.”

He added: “Any cultural plan that is developed for the north-east has got to be integrated and the exciting thing about Aberdeen is the potential that exists to really push things forward. For me, it is about attracting talent to the area, developing our own talent and retaining that talent – the only way we do that is in an integrated manner and culture is a key part of that development.

“I want to attract the best students, the best staff and provide the best opportunities for them to create links with different sectors and individuals.”

Professor O’Neil is also looking forward to the opportunity of creating a bespoke space that will benefit students and staff, as part of RGU’s on-going campus development.

He said: “When artists and designers start to think outside the box who knows what will happen? What we need to do is to provide them with an environment that enables them to do that that.”

Professor O’Neil studied at Cardiff School of Art before going on to specialise in sculpture at Wimbledon School of Art and the Royal College of Art.

Thereafter, he established Tower Bridge Studios with his partner Louisa and started exhibiting his sculpture in the UK and Europe. He also spent a period of time in Georgia, producing documentary photography which has been exhibited in the UK and the USA.

Professor O’Neil’s previous academic roles include Head of School at Cardiff School of Art and Design and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Thames Valley University.


Release by
Jenny Rush

Communications Officer | Design and Technology

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