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


visualisation | contemporary painting | spatial agency | graphic facilitation | participation | architectural representation | spatial negotiation

Practice-led PhD Research: Visual Agency: Participatory Painting as a Method for Spatial Negotiation
Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London (first two years at the School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Westminster, London)
Director of Studies: Professor Jeremy Till

Supervisor: Bernice Donszelmann


This interdisciplinary practice-led research investigates how the act of painting can contribute to the processes of architectural design. The aim is twofold: to reveal existing practices that employ painting in order to directly engage with the discipline and processes of architecture, and to design a method using contemporary painting to facilitate the processes that go into spatial production. The question at the core of this project is what painting can do as active agency, rather than what it is as a passive matter.

The methodology follows a constructivist approach, and builds upon the concepts underlying spatial agency and critical spatial practice. In this research, painting practice is understood simultaneously as a medium with inherent material properties, a method of presentation and representation, and a practice which reflects a critical and engaged project. The practice develops through an iterative process of three studies:

- The first study investigates how a painting can reflect the idea that architecture is inherently contingent on people and time, against the historical development of architectural representation and the idea of visual rhetoric.


- The second study explores ‘relational painting’ against the discourse on contemporary painting, shifting the focus from the product to the process of painting.


- The third study employs participatory painting to facilitate spatial negotiation between experts and non-experts within the discipline of architecture, by drawing on the emerging practice of graphic facilitation.

The critical reflection on the collaborative painting sessions, with a diversity of practitioners, students of architecture and architects, reveals how painting plays a role in the process of achieving ‘visual agency’, a concept developed through this research project. Visual agency is the transformation that occurs as a result of critically reflecting upon one’s approach to spatial production through collaborative visualisation, consequently feeling inspired and empowered to act with responsibility and empathy.


See also my Academia research profile and my University of the Arts website profile.