Dr Staff is currently Reader in Fine Art as well as Course Leader for the MA Fine Art and Senior Lecturer in 2D Studio Practice and Curation. He has taught at the University of Northampton since 2003, having completed his PhD in Fine Art (Painting) at Nottingham Trent University and his MFA (Distinction) at the University of Ulster.
Craig’s research challenges the assumption that ‘practice’ and ‘theory’ are mutually exclusive, a methodology that informs his teaching and postgraduate supervision. This approach builds on his early research, which sought to examine how a particular model of painting is able to refer to its own status and condition.
Craig is on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Contemporary Painting.
Dr Staff teaches theory and practice-based modules across the BA Fine Art and MA Fine Art programmes. He is interested in how students engage with ‘theory’ in terms of their studio practice. His research challenges the assumption that ‘practice’ and ‘theory’ are mutually exclusive. This methodology informs his teaching, wherein students are asked to consider how they might engage in a theoretical form of practice and, equally, how they might ‘practice’ theory.
Dr Staff’s recent research has been geared towards the analysis of how painting has been able to assert itself as a legitimate form of enquiry within a critically discursive and divergent milieu.
Recent research includes After Modernist Painting: The History of a Contemporary Practice (I.B. Tauris, February 2013), a publication representing the critical re-evaluation of the contested nature of the painting medium over the last 50 years. As a peer-reviewed, single-authored publication, After Modernist Painting: The History of a Contemporary Practice examines issues that pertained to painting during the period in question rather than the practice of art per se, as previous studies have attempted to do. This research examines debates that inform the practice of painting today and builds upon findings of the previous study, Modernist Painting and Materiality (McFarland, April 2011).
Other recent publications have sought to critically engage with certain historiographies that have been constructed around the production and reception of art broadly within the context of late or so-called ‘high’ modernism. These have included “Embodiment, Ambulation and Duration” in Modes of Spectating, (Intellect, 2009) and “A Poetics of Becoming: The Mythography of Cy Twombly” in Contemporary Art and Classical Myth, (Ashgate 2011). “Towards a Differential Ontology of Painting,” my contribution to A Future for Modernism? The Possibilities of Re-inhabiting an Abandoned Critical Position, (MIRIAD, 2007), was subsequently translated into Japanese by Katsumoto Ishizaki, curator of the Mie Prefectural Art Museum in Mie, Japan and published in 2009 in the Japanese art journal, Rear.
He is currently preparing Monochrome: Darkness and Light in Contemporary Art, the first account of the monochrome’s continued relevance within contemporary art. The forthcoming publication (under contract with I.B.Tauris) will present a particular account of the monochrome’s presence within the multifarious nature of art today. Also under preparation are “Burrowing Under the Apparent: The Blindfold Drawings of Claude Heath,” in On Not Looking, (ed. Frances Guerin) and “Rubbing Against the Grain: Eleanore Mikus and American Modernism c. 1961” inTransitional Generations: American Women Artists, 1935 to 1965, (ed. Helen Langa and Paula Wisotzki), due to be published by Ashgate in 2014.
His research also engages with debates that are organised around the currency of drawing. In 2011 he co-curated a group exhibition of drawing entitled The 43 Uses of Drawing at the Rugby Museum and Art Gallery in Warwickshire. The curatorial premise of the exhibition was to examine the cross disciplinary status of drawing as both an activity and a form of visual communication. Critical responses included an exhibition review in the fine art periodical Studio International (September 2011).