Agnieszka Mlicka | 'artist in theory, researcher in practice'


VISION | My research and practice is driven by the question of how visual communication can enhance our engagement with the world, from collaborating with others to gaining new knowledge and organising ideas. The aim of my work is to facilitate interaction through visual language by bringing creativity into the process of collaboration, by creating a more democratic (visual) platform for critical discussions, and by improving active listening which is at the core of empathetic understanding.


RESEARCH | I have developed this approach to collaborative visualisation in my practice-led interdisciplinary PhD research at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, University of the Arts London (UAL). The concept of visual agency, which I situate between the practice of spatial agency and graphic facilitation, is about empowering people to take initiative, responsibility, and stimulate self-reflection through the parallel use of verbal and visual communication. I have employed this method in the architectural context, by engaging architects, students of architecture and a diversity of practitioners in conversations about spatial production. In my thesis, which I am currently writing up, I explain why collaborative painting is particularly suitable for spatial negotiation within the architectural discipline.

ACADEMIA | Alongside my PhD research at UAL, I am currently a Visiting Researcher at the Department for Arts and Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen. Furthermore, I am actively engaged with the academic community by presenting at international conferences and through the writing of articles. To explore the idea of dialogue and negotiation in academic publications, I have recently started to explore alternative methods of writing as co-responding/corresponding. I also contribute to the Journal of Contemporary Painting (JCP) as anonymous peer-reviewer and newsletter designer.

TEACHING | I am passionate about teaching as a natural extension of my collaborative practice. My teaching experience encompasses both fine art and architecture departments, and I am interested in innovative pedagogical approaches in which knowledge is exchanged through debate and emerges from practical endeavours. I prioritise student-centred learning in my teaching methodology, emphasising critical discussion and fostering engagement with contemporary events.

BACKGROUND | My interest in communication, languages, cultural differences and the production of space stems from my multicultural background, with two nationalities (Polish and Dutch) and having lived in five countries (Poland, the Netherlands, the UK, Italy and Denmark). I am fascinated by cultural differences, in particular how people engage with their urban environment and social context, and many of my older works have been inspired by linguistics, architecture and psychology. For my MA thesis at Wimbledon College of Art (University of the Arts London), I wrote on the visual representation of cities, in particular the relationship between methods employed by architects and artists to visualise the city, and the intentionality underlying these architectural drawings and fine art paintings. This built upon my earlier work on the psychological effect of the architectural interior on its inhabitant in painting, which was the topic of my BFA at The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.


ART AS ENGAGEMENT | My work has taken a 'social turn' over the past four years. While previous work often related to the viewer in the form of site-specific installations, I have started to directly engage with people through participatory painting sessions. My interest in the visual as functional means of communication has, in a way, always been evident in my long-term interest in web-based interfaces, through website and newsletter design. This move from art production (the making of objects) to art praxis (engaging in social processes and relationships) stems from my increasing interest in how the arts can become functional and directly engaged in contemporary political events. As a member of Avaaz, I am very excited about the emergence of people-powered movements that bring democracy to a new level. I am interested in global contemporary developments, in particular immigration, women's rights and emancipation (for example through microfinancing organisations like Kiva). As a PADI qualified advanced open water diver, I care deeply about the protection of the oceans. I believe that empowering people, who subsequently can demand change (equality, transparency, accountability, responsibility, ethical practice) is the best way forward in light of the complexity and interrelatedness of contemporary global problems. My creative practice, teaching and social engagement is a small and humble contribution towards this.





PhD Candidate, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, UK
Thesis: 'Visual Agency: Participatory Painting as a Method for Spatial Negotiation'

Interdisciplinary, practice-based doctoral research project supervised by Professor Jeremy Till and Bernice Donszelmann.

2010-2012 MPhil/PhD Candidate, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster, London, UK
2006-2007 MA Painting, University of the Arts London, Wimbledon College of Art
Dissertation: 'Drawing the City: Motives and Methods'

BFA Fine Art, University of Oxford, The Ruskin School of Art, St Edmund Hall
Dissertation: 'The Psychology of the Interior'

  Conferences and Presentations
2016 ‘Visualising multivocality through participatory painting’, paper presentation at the MEDIATIONS Conference  'Art & Design Agency and Participation in Public Space', RCA London, 21-22 November (forthcoming)
2015 'The Transformative Potential of Collaborative Painting', presentation at the 'Drawing Conversations: reflecting upon collective and collaborative drawing experiences' symposium, Coventry University (UK), 4 December

'Facilitating Spatial Negotiation', participatory painting workshop in collaboration with Social Street, 'Past, Present and Future of Public Space' International Conference on Art, Architecture and Urban Design, Bologna, Italy, 25-27 June

2013 'Painting Architecture: Visual Modes of Spatial Thinking', research and poster presentation at the 11th Conference of the European Architectural Envisioning Association 'Envisioning Architecture: Design, Evaluation, Communication', Politecnico di Milano, Italy, 25-28 September
2013 'Positioning Painting Architecture: Different Perspectives on the Visualisation of Spatial Thinking', Spring Research Symposium, Research Network University of the Arts London (RNUAL) 11-15 February
2012 'Potential and Pitfalls of Painting Architecture as Practice-Based Research Methodology', The Art of Research Conference, Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland, 28-29 November
2012 'Painting Architecture: Material Modes of Projective Thinking' (visual presentation), Interstices Under Construction Symposium 2012: Immaterial Materialities, The University of Technology Sydney, Australia, 28-30 November
2012 'Architectural Projection and Principles in Painting', Spatial Thinking Symposium, Institut für Gestaltung.Studio2, University of Innsbruck, Austria, 9-10 November
2012 'Improving the Construction of the Image: Painting as a Function of Architectural Terms and Conditions', The Media of the Metapolis Conference, the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, Germany, 24-26 May
2012 'The Exploitation of the Visual Arts in Urban Regeneration: Visual Rhetoric Masquerading as Spatio-temporal Geography', Theoretical Currents II: Architecture and its Geographical Horizons Conference, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom, 4-5 April
2011 'Who Manages Who? Art and Law in Conversation', collaborative presentation with Dr Hin-Yan Liu, Westminster Graduate Law Conference, University of Westminster, London, 16 November
2011 'Process as Proposition: On the Importance of Process in Painting as Proposition', The Journey as a Site for Creative Practice: A Symposium on a Train Ride to Folkestone, UK, organised by 16 Spaces, 25 June
2011 Talk on Professional Practice, A-N Air Activists Salon, New Gallery London, 11 April 2011
2010 'The Emerging Potential of Painting in Architectural Design', The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media Winter Symposium, University of Westminster, London, 16 December
2010 'Urban Complexity in Two Dimensions: Painting as Rhetorical Tool for Urban Planning', This Is Not A Gateway (TINAG) Festival on Cities, London, 24 October
2010 Artist Talk, St Cross College, University of Oxford, 4 Feb

Artist Talk, Polish deConstruction, London, May




Mlicka, A., 2016. Imagining a 'relational' painting. Journal of Contemporary Painting, 2(2), pp. 275–290.


Mlicka, A., 2014. Painting Architecture: Towards a Practice-Led Research Methodology. Studies in Material Thinking, 10, pp.1–19.

2013 Mlicka, A., 2013. Painting with Architecture in Mind ed. by Edward Whittaker and Alex Landrum (review). Leonardo, 46(5), p.503.

Mlicka, A., 2011. Engaging Artists in the Debate on 21st Century Cities. RSA Comment (Royal Society of Arts). Available at:


Solo Exhibitions and Projects

2013-2014 Visualising Connections, Biblioteca Comunale di Vaglia, Pratolino, Italy, Dec.-Feb.
2009 No Planning Permission, Blows Yard, London, Oct.
2008 Work by Agnieszka Mlicka, Polish deConstruction at Cargo, London, July
2006-2007 Overview of 2 years' work, H2O Venture Partners office, Oxford
2007 Mapping from Memory, public artwork, Art at the Centre, Queenborough, Sept.

Tracing Space, Centre for Drawing Project Space, WCA, London, Dec.

2006 Reflections, site-specific project for the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford, May
2005 Calibration, The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, Nov.
2004 Artificial Substitutes, The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, Nov.
2004 Life Lines, Dolphin Gallery, St John's College, Oxford, Nov.


Pygmalion, Stage Design, John Oldham Society, St Edmund Hall, Oxford, Nov.


Group Exhibitions

2012 The Art of Research, Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture, Helsinki, Finland, 28-29 Nov.
2012 Cities Methodologies, UCL Slade Research Center, London
2011 Romanticism in the Urban Environment, RSA Fellows Exhibition,The Portico Library and Gallery, Manchester
2010 Ponglish for Beginners, Part 2, From Space, Salford

Neal's Yard Galleries at Chiswick, London

2008 The Homeless Gallery, Shoreditch Town Hall, London
2008 Salon Locale 08, Gallery:Space, London
2007 Invasion, Castle Gallery, Queenborough, Isle of Sheppey, Kent
2007 Postgraduate Exhibition 2007, Wimbledon College of Art, London
2007 Currents, Trinity Buoy Wharf, London

Deutsche Postbank, London

2006 100 Degree Show, The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford
2006 The Boundary Art Prize, Boundary Gallery, London
2006 The Heat is Rising, Modern Art Oxford Café, Oxford
2005 Art Week, The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford
2005 Long Vacation, Magdalen Grove Auditorium, Oxford
2005 Unfocused, Lolapoloza Gallery, Oxford
2005 Montana Butch, Great Eastern Hotel, London
2005 A Week to View, Mary Ogilvy Gallery, St Anne's College, Oxford
2005 i am an artist, by OCAS, St Edmund Hall, Oxford
2004 Art Week, St Edmund Hall, Oxford
2004 Atomic Art Bomb, Modern Art Oxford, Oxford
2004 Prelims Schmelims, The Ruskin School of Art, Oxford
2003 Art Week, St Edmund Hall, Oxford

Transarte, Central Library Utrecht, The Netherlands


Grants and Scholarships

2011-2013 Awarded the Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust Grant (two consecutive years)


Scholarship in recognition of the excellent standard of work, St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford (two consecutive years)


Awards and Fellowships

2012 Associate Fellow of The Higher Education Academy
2010-2011 Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts
2007 Nominated for the Wimbledon Studios Drawing Prize
2006 Nominated for The Boundary Figurative Art Prize, Boundary Gallery
2005 Awarded the Egerton-Coghill Landscape Prize, The Ruskin School of Art


  The paintings which resulted from participatory sessions are in the ownership of the participants, or exist somewhere in public space. My own art works were either temporary installations, or are currently displayed in institutional and commercial collections, amongst others the University of the Arts London, H2O Venture Partners in Oxford and Clink Street Properties in London, as well as private houses in the UK, Poland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and New Zealand.