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Our people

Professor Jiang Jiehong
Founding Director   

Jiang Jiehong (Joshua Jiang) moved to England from Shanghai in 1998 for his postgraduate study in MA Fine Art at BIAD. After obtained a PhD in 2002, Jiang has continued his research on contemporary Chinese art and visual culture.

In 2007, Jiang set up the CCVA in the Faculty, which constructs a unique academic network with two leading art institutions in China, Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing (CAFA) and China Academy of Arts in Hangzhou (CAA).

He is now Professor of Chinese Art, Head of Research as well as the Director of Centre for Chinese Visual Arts. He develops and delivers the annual short course of Research Method for doctoral studies as Visiting Professor at China Academy of Art, and has lectured at more than 30 art institutions across China.


Dr Monica Merlin
Programme Leader, MA Contemporary Arts China

Dr Monica Merlin is the newly appointed Programme Leader for the MA Contemporary Arts China at Birmingham City University. She joins BCU and CCVA after a post as lecturer in the MA Arts of China at Christie’s Education (London).

Following a BA in Chinese Studies specialising in Chinese Art and Archaeology at Ca’ Foscari University (Venice), Monica lived and worked in Beijing for two years. She returned to Europe to pursue an MA in Asian Art at SOAS (2007), and after two years as curator in a contemporary Chinese art gallery in London, she continued her studies gaining a DPhil (2013) at The University of Oxford with a thesis on early modern Chinese art.

Monica conducted her post-doctoral research (2013-14) at the Tate Research Centre: Asia with a project on contemporary Chinese women artists. Her major research interests lie in contemporary Chinese art and visual culture, women artists and gender, socially and politically engaged art, and transcultural communication.


Dr Jieling Xiao
Lecturer in Environmental Design

Jieling obtained her MArch in Urban Design from University College London (UCL) and her BArch in Architecture from Wuhan University of Technology in China (WHUT). She then completed her PhD from the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, exploring smellscapes in intermodal transit spaces in the UK and China. Her doctoral study generated a framework of interpreting, evaluating and designing smellscapes in intermodal transit spaces. Jieling’s research focuses on theories and practices of place-making and environmental design through people’s sensory experiences, particularly soundscape and smells cape. 


Dr Heather Connelly   
Research Fellow

Dr Heather Connelly is currently assisting the expansion of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts and the development of the new MA Contemporary Arts China at Birmingham City University. She is also a practicing artist and has exhibited and presented her research in the UK, USA and Europe. Professionally, she has initiated, managed, coordinated, facilitated and delivered public arts projects, devised a region-wide public art strategy for a regeneration agency, and co-founded New Research Trajectories, an AHRC funded PG network and InDialogue a biannual international symposia and platform for artists and researchers to interrogate dialogic practices. Heather’s own research concerns art-and-translation as a conflated, transdisciplinary practice. She is particularly interested in practice-based research, specifically how art practice can create new ways of thinking about and engaging with linguistic translation and encourages a critical approach to intercultural communication. More generally, how art practice has the potential to create new forms of knowledge and alternative forms of dissemination, which contribute to and reach beyond scholarly debates within their own field.


Hiu Man Chan
Research Assistant & Leverhulme Project Facilitator

Hiu joined CCVA in September 2016, through Professor Jiang Jiehong's recent research funding award - the Leverhulme International Networks Award for a two-year project titled "Everyday Legend: reinventing traditions in Chinese contemporary art". Her role at the Centre includes facilitating the Leverhulme project and the Centre's general research activities,  assisting the Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art's editing, as well as coordinating the Centre's international publicities.