Gem is a woman of impact!

Timely congratulations goes to BA Interior Architecture Course Leader Gemma Barton, who on International Women’s Day was recognised as one of University of Brighton’s ‘Women of Impact’.

Gemma’s research interests lie in the power of imagination; her own, and that of her students – she sees the world and its possibilities with a filmic gaze, preferring to wander the grey area between reality and representation rather than exist in the binaries that life and academia often favour. As an author and academic, Gemma has published on the subjects of gender and feminism, film and spatial production, narrative and story telling, reality and representation, career and enterprise, academia and teaching, interiors and architecture. In her role as Course Leader for Interior Architecture at the University of Brighton these interests converge in a course identity that centres around the theme of ‘experimental realisms’.

Gemma has spoken at the Design Museum, the Royal College of Art and for the Architecture Foundation; she has exhibited at Tate Britain and MOCCA; she is Chief Examiner of Design programmes at Glasgow School of Art; and is a peer reviewer and advisory board member for academic journals and institutions internationally.

Gemma’s book Don’t get a Job, Make a Job: how to make it as a creative graduate(March 2016, Laurence King) is published in English, Spanish and Korean and is sold all around the world and is a key text for many colleges and universities.

Her research on zero hours contracts, early career academics and the future of teaching has seen her present at the designED conference in Chicago and act as guest editor for a special issue of Charette, the journal of the Association of Architectural Educators. Her interest in fictionality sees her tackle current issues such as gender and queer practices through the use of fiction wiring, such as her short story Architecture 2.0 published in The Gendered Profession’ (Editors Harriet Harriss, Ruth Morrow, James Soane, James Benedict Brown. RIBA Publishing 2016)

In the design studio that she leads at the University of Brighton alongside set-designer Amelia Jane Hankin called the Near Futurists’ Alliance, students are asked to question the human notions of certainty and look to the (near) future for redemption and progress (Marc Auge).

The Near Futurists’ Alliance builds on the premise that architects/designers conceive of things that do not (yet) exist. We explore cinematic story telling and ficto-critical approaches to imagined environments using textual-play and soft surveying techniques. We borrow from the world of production design (the architects of the screen) to generate new realisms borne from the indeterminate. With the goal of communicating that fiction can be grounded by reality and conversely a reality can be displaced by fiction. The Alliance focuses on the development of character/identity and the critique of social and architectural convention, by way of the study of film and production design. These drivers are identified as ‘places’ where the impossibilities of reality can be stalled and imagination can lead to an exploration of new realisms.

Gemma believes that interior space is an expression of society’s successes and misgivings, of its needs and its wants, of its ideals and principles – as these things morph, so do spatial qualities – this is where she is embedded, in the possibility of this transformation.

To mark International Women’s Day, The University of Brighton is highlighting the achievements of female academics and researchers the main website see the University of Brighton’s Women of Impact.