School of the Arts, English and Drama

Postgraduate research

Antoinette Burchill

Photo of  Antoinette Burchill

Antoinette Burchill is a visual artist, writer, performer and mischievous instigator. She completed a BA in Fine Art at Derby University (1998), and an MA in Art and the Public Sphere at Loughborough University (2013). During her MA, she received the Graduate School Prize (2012) and Creative Student Award (2013).

She was awarded a research studentship from the School of the Arts, Loughborough University (2013). Prior to starting her PhD, she was a Local Authority Arts Officer (2006-2011), and a Freelance project manager, specializing in arts & culture, and Research Assistant (2012-2013).

Selected research projects include: Public Communications: Art, Technology & the Public Sphere, EPSRC-funded (co-investigator); Performative Mischief (symposium convener and project manager); and Interdisciplinary Research: Academic Matchmaking (project manager). Selected performance, publication and visual art projects include: BACS: Bankers on Active Community Service (2013) Circuit Training (2012) both in collaboration with The Delegates street theatre company; Shrinkles of Dissent (2013); The Fool King (2013). Curatorial Projects include Light Relief (2012) at Royal Derby Hospital; The Village Green Stage (2012) at The Pedal Powered Festival; and Derby: City of Invention (2011) on empty shop hoardings, Derby city centre.

During 2013, Bankers on Active Community Service was performed in the City of London; Kendal Mintfest International Festival of Street Arts; Devizes International Street Arts Festival and Bedlam Fair at the Bath Fringe Festival. The film version was presented at The Arts Party Conference and Generations of Dissent: Marxism Maters? conference at De Montfort University, Leicester.


Thesis Title:

Mischief: art, politics & participation


In situating the practice of mischief within art and the public sphere (a field characterised by opinion formation and dissent through the structures of publishing, performance and participation); mischief functions to present participatory encounters, premised on paradoxes that satirically question how our society is organised.

Research questions:

  • What does an articulation of mischief bring to the practice of dissent?
  • How does mischief operate within the public sphere?
  • How does the activation of mischief as a strategy enable participation and active (critical) citizenship?
  • What are the implications, and potential value in using mischief to reimagine the world we live in, and potential agency for democratic participation?

My research positions mischief within the field of art and the public sphere, and considers the potential value and agency mischief holds within a vibrant democracy. In defining mischief - a compound word of mis and chiefmis denoting something ‘amiss’ (Burchfield 1989:842) or awry, and chief, representing the ‘head of a hierarchical structure’ (Brown 1993:385). I propose that this combined word - signifying an errant authority contains the seeds of paradox, friction and dissent.

The public sphere, as a critical apparatus, frames my research, and the circuits of publicity and publishing I engage with, critique and add to. In using the term, public sphere, I am considering participatory encounters that spark, as defined by Miles, ‘social dialogue’ and contribute to the ignition of a ‘critical social imagination’ (Miles 2006).


Brown, L. (ed.) (1993) The New shorter Oxford English dictionary on historical Vol.1, A-M, Oxford:Clarendon Press.

Burchfield, R. W. (ed). (1989) Oxford English Dictionary Vol.9, Look-Mouke. Second Edition Edition: Clarendon.

Miles, M. (2006) Reclaiming the Public Sphere  


Dr Jane Tormey and Professor John Downey, School of Social Sciences and Humanities